Musicians often say that creating a Sophomore album is the hardest thing to do in their career. How do you follow up the thing that made you a hit in the first place? Five Ten ran smack into the same problem when it came to their legendary Impact shoe: how do you improve on the shoe that became the go-to for flat pedal lovers the world over?
The first thing you notice when picking up the new Five Ten Impact VXi is how light it feels. Surely something that’s designed to protect your feet against chunder-filled rock gardens and wayward trees should be more substantial? According to the folks at Five Ten, they’ve eliminated nearly a quarter of the mass of the original Impact Low shoes, for a claimed weight of 360g per shoe in a size 9 (our 10.5 testers came in at a smidge under 400). Another benefit of the weight loss? No more crank rub. That’s right: scuff marks and ruined graphics are now a thing of the past. Carbon crank owners rejoice!
Along with the dramatic weight loss, the folks at Five Ten also made the bold claim that the new Impact VXi would dry overnight. Wet shoes have long been my bane, so naturally I had to test their claim. This being the middle of summer, poor weather is hard to come by. Substituting my garden hose for a sloppy day of riding, I thoroughly soaked the shoes inside and out, leaving them to sit in my garage overnight. Lo and behold the shoes made good on their promise, and while not bone dry, they were dry enough to ride in the next day.
Much like the clipless variant of the VXi reviewed last week, the fit of these shoes is quite comfortable, with plenty of width in the toe box, and a decent amount of support through the midsole. Those with fairly arched feet may want to consider swapping out the insoles, as the included ones are quite flat and may not provide enough support. As always with personal gear, try before you buy.
So the Impact VXis are light and don’t stay soggy for long, but what about the things that made the original so popular: the grip and durability? To put the shoes through their paces I rode as much rough terrain as I could on several different sets of pedals, while picking the chunkiest lines in an attempt to get bucked off my bike. During this time I managed to break a spoke, puncture several times, and give myself a wicked hand cramp, but the Impact VXis clung to my pedals the same way Toronto Maple Leafs fans cling to the Stanley Cup dream. As for the durability, I’ve yet to see a stitch out of place on the shoes, and the soles (despite the abuse) are holding up nicely. If you do manage to destroy the bottoms of the shoes before the rest has worn out, Five Ten also sells resole kits to keep your shoes gripping and ripping for a while longer.
The Impact VXi shoes take a big leap forward over their brethren in the weight and water retention departments, while still maintaining the family values of grip and durability. Colourways include the stealth black seen here, or a blue/yellow combination for those who desire more hue in their shoe. MSRP is $150 US, and can be found at most local retailers around the $170 CAD mark. If your old kicks are getting a bit long in the tooth and parting at the seams, I highly suggest giving the Impact VXis a close look.
A worthy successor to the Impacts of yore, could you see a pair of VXi kicks in your future?