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The flat versus SPD pedal debate in the mountain bike world has raged on since the first days SPD pedals arrived on the market. Instead of choosing sides the folks at Five Ten have opted to provide an option for both groups of riders. Featured as one of Five Tens "free ride" shoes, the Hellcat SPD comes with a feature set that is on par with what the flat pedal community has enjoyed for years.
The Hellcat isn't screaming to get your attention from the outside which is a plus for this rider. With black as the only color option and subtle Five Ten graphics, other riders might think you are running a skate shoe. After a few minutes with the Hellcat it is obvious it's not a simple skate shoe.
Traction duties are carried out by Five Ten's Stealth S1 rubber, a slightly less sticky version than what comes with their flat pedal options. In those situations where I was unclipped and using the Hellcat as a flat shoe, the Stealth sole provided great traction.
If you are looking for a SPD shoe that you can feel comfortable in off the bike too, the Hellcat is an option to look into. Is there room for improvement on the Hellcat? Perhaps there is in the weight department. This isn't a light shoe, but I believe those looking for a SPD free ride/Downhill shoe probably won't find it to be an issue. (MSRP $144.95)
Born and raised in Southern California, Keith Pytlinski lives with his wife and two children near Los Angeles. He has 20 plus year on going love hate relationship with mountain biking, with a hate for the climbs and a love for the downhill.
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