This new mountain bike shoe from Five Ten is perfect for all sorts of applications including normal trail riding, freeriding, downhill, and more.
The uppers on the Maltese Falcon feature an Action Leather exterior that sheds muck easily, along with a large Velcro strap covering the laces for a secure closure.
While this is a relatively low-rise shoe, the Maltese Falcon has a solid toe box and a secure heel cup to keep your foot firmly in place while cranking on the pedals.
The sole is the true soul of all shoes, and the sole of the Maltese Falcon is no exception. Most notably, these shoes can be used on flat pedals thanks to the super-tacky-yet-tough Stealth Rubber, but they are designed to also be SPD compatible. Out of the box, a tough pad of Stealth Rubber covers the cleat recess, but once cut away a cleat can be added.
Since I’m a slave to clipless pedals, I decided to install cleats right after pulling these out of the box. I thought that it would be a simple procedure involving taking a pocket knife to the rubber, but I was mistaken. In the end, I used a combination of a durable pocket knife, a box cutter, and a pliers to remove the rubber cleat covering.
Sole with the rubber intact. / Peeling back the rubber. / Cleat installed.
The rubber is rather thick and pretty sticky, so don’t be afraid to get aggressive when cutting the square out. The pliers come into play because even once you’ve successfully cut around the rubber covering, it’s still glued to the sole, requiring you to forcibly peel it off. Once off, slap the cleats in place like you would on any other SPD compatible shoe, and you’re good to go.
Out on the Trail
Climbing for an hour? No problem. The high heel cup, tight velcro strap, and smartly-designed insole keep your foot in place and foster excellent power transfer to the pedals.
Where the shoes really shine is in freeride or downhill applications. The toe box is stiff and protective, blocking glancing blows from kicked-up rocks and other trail debris.
The Stealth Rubber is super tacky, providing excellent traction when hiking up to your drop-in point. This proven rubber compound provides great purchase on all sorts of surfaces: smooth wooden obstacles, slickrock, you name it–these are confidence-inspiring when your feet are on the ground.
While the sole of the shoe is still stiff enough to provide plenty of power when pedaling, it does have enough flexibility to offer some forgiveness when hiking.
In order to keep the pedal from getting caught in the sole of the shoe when disengaging the cleat (and it doesn’t get caught–not in the least), the cleat does have to poke out just the slightest bit. It’s not enough to make normal hiking or walking uncomfortable, but if you’re walking on pavement you’ll definitely hear and feel the crunching of metal on concrete.
I’ve recently been experimenting with other applications for gear designed for downhillers, and I’ve found that DH gear tends to offer durable, dependable performance that is suitable for a variety of situations. For instance, the Maltese Falcon is great for commuting duty.
I used to ride to school in my normal cross-country shoes, and either carry a pair of Chacos to switch into when I got there or just walk to class in my normal riding shoes. Carrying an extra pair of shoes around all day is a pain, and walking down the halls in normal XC shoes is loud and uncomfortable.
The Maltese Falcon mountain bike shoe offers the perfect compromise. It provides plenty of power on the uphill slog to school thanks to the cleat, and is comfortable enough to wear around campus all day. As an added bonus, the skate shoe styling and subdued black and red graphics make these look almost like your average pair of street shoes, though they are so much more!
The descents, the climbs, the hike-a-bikes, and the hallways–the Maltese Falcon shoe dominates them all. This excellent blend of pedaling power, control, comfort, and protection spells success in so many ways. If you’re in the market for a comfortable SPD shoe and are interested in using it for any (or all) of these applications, be sure to give the Maltese Falcon a hard look.
Many thanks to Five Ten for providing these shoes for review!