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
While the Maltese Falcon is no featherweight cross country shoe (it isn’t intended to be), it is easily light enough for normal trail riding applications.
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!
Does Action Leather come from fit, active cows or something? 🙂
Looks like a pretty versatile shoe, I need to get me some flat MTB shoes one of these days…
Nice write up. I am hoping to do some bikepacking in the future, and one of the things I have on my list is a shoe that is not your typical XC shoe. Something I could wear comfortably around camp or even on short strolls from camp. I haven’t looked in person yet, but was thinking of something like the Pearl Izumi X-Alps. Any thoughts on how these would compare?
@fleetwood, I haven’t personally used the X-Alps, but it looks like it is a totally different style of shoe. This is a skate-style shoe, while obviously that’s more of a running shoe. I imagine the X-alps might have a little better ventilation, while the Maltese Falcons might get a little warm if you were going all day in high-heat conditions.
I’ve never bike packed before, but in my experience backpacking, most people tend to bring an extra pair of “camp shoes” that are more comfortable and better vented than hiking boots. If it was me, I’d probably do something similar bikepacking. IMO, having your feet sweating inside the same pair of shoes for a week straight might not be much fun. Having something to air your feet out around camp would be a smart idea (i’d pack my chacos).
For bikepacking, Keen SPD sandals ftw!
X alps act more like a normal XC riding shoe. They look and behave a lot like trail running shoes, just stiffer through the sole for pedaling on moxt models. The sole on these 5.10s is really intended for aggressive platform pedals and will grip the heck out of a pedal with decent pins. No clipless pedals needed even though they did throw in the option to ride that way if you cut open the soles. They can do some hiking but the tread isn’t really designed to grip the mountain side the same way the PI Alps’ tread does. Because of this aggressive, almost soccer cleat-like design on the soles of the Alps, they don’t grip the pins of flat pedals as well as the flatter 5.10s. Also, the toe box on the Alps line isn’t nearly as protected from impacts. Again, think of a trail running shoe and how they are made.
Congrats on making the Five Ten FB page, Greg!
@Jared13, thanks man. Nice of them to share the link.
They are a nice shoe, I didn’t particularly like them when I tried them on so I’m selling a brand new pair if anyone is interested.
Great review. It sounds like the removal of the cleat covering is permanent. Once it’s been removed, can the shoe still be used with flats, or does that hole take away too much rubber?
@, that’s up to you. Check out the series of three images showing the bottom of the shoe and see what you think.
Ive only ridden with 5.10’s and swear by their stealth rubber. Best platform shoes, period. I only have one question about these though. Once you install a cleat, can you still ride platform comfortably? I prefer riding platform on most trails as I push my envelope regularly and tend to ditch my bike a lot. However, lately on my commuter rides and group rides, I would love to try out clipless riding.