My Five Ten Sam Hills are awesome shoes, but for whatever reason my Schlumpf hub gear shifting technique has always been ankle bone based. I’m changing gears a lot more on the 24″ GUni, like a two speed dune buggy, and in the off road environment it’s often with minimal advance warning so to speak. The gear shifts need to be on tap – comfortable, fast, clean and reliable. The ankle bone method isn’t comfy at times and due to the relatively small contact area mis-shifts can occur.

Looking into alternatives I found an old pair of basketball sneakers, mid tops with padding around the ankle. Instantly shifting was much easier, faster, better. I guess that is why Schlumpf recommends high top style sneakers… 😛

I tried on a pair of Five Ten high tops ages ago and didn’t like them much at all. Compared to the low Sam Hills, they were way too big, hot and bulky for me. What I was really after for the GUni riding was a Five Ten shoe just like the Sam Hill but with padding over the ankle, a one sided mid shoe. Funnily enough the Five Ten gods delivered something very close to exactly that with their Freeride shoe, the Karver…  SHAZAAM!

According to Five Ten:

The Karver is built for bumps. And logs. And jumps. Designed for flat pedal mountain biking, the Karver offers unprecedented freedom from clips—the mid-height ankle has moderate padding for comfort and control, and supportive action leather uppers protect your feet while you’re flying down single track. Stealth S1 soles are the stickiest interface between pedals and feet available.

Small problem: Karver not available in Australia. Ordered from the UK instead.

Out of the box the Five Ten Karver is a wild looking shoe – lots of red and black, the legendary Stealth sole, the one sided ankle protection with a bunch of padding and wrap around tongue.

Five Ten Karver Review
Five Ten Karver Review

The large velcro attached lace covers stand out like dogs balls, which is probably a cool thing… if you’re a dog. Removing the lace cover exposes large strips of velcro down each side of the laces. Lace covers are a GREAT idea, but the implementation on the Five Ten Karver… hmm more on that later.

Slipping the Karvers on the first things I noticed:

Straight up the shoes are comfy in the Five Ten ‘stiff, and  need to worn in’  kind of way. Jump on the uni, they stick to the pedals like Five Tens. All good.

The GREAT GUni News

The one sided mid ankle padding is GREAT for Schlumpf GUni making gear shifting fast, positive, easy, reliable. Instantly my shifting improved significantly – I was surprised by how much as I’d become reasonably OK at ankle bone shifting since last December. All without the restrictive bulk of high top shoes, but with better ankle coverage on the shifting side over the Sam Hills, plus all of the known goodness of the Stealth sole.

Here’s a quick on-GUni video showing the Karvers in action:

The Not So Great

Without doubt lace covers are a good idea  – loose laces are plain nasty, especially on a unicycle at speed – but what an awkward implementation on an otherwise great shoe. Didn’t anyone at Five Ten bother to take a look at the MTB shoes over the last 15 years that offered many better solutions for lace covers? ARGHHH! Even my old Look SPD MTB shoes from the mid 90’s had a more practical and robust solution.

LOOK! A much neater lace cover, +10 years ago
LOOK! A much neater lace cover, +10 years ago

The lace covers on the Karver are too large, too stiff, too wide, mounted to velcro strips that are way too bulky. Unless the lace covers are fitted offset to the outside it tends to scrape annoyingly on the crank while the rest of the shoe is clear of the crank. DOH! Maybe this doesn’t matter so much on a downhill MTB but on a uni it’s a different story.

Five Ten Karver Review
Five Ten Karver Review

A minor gripe – the lace covers look goofy too, guess it’s a love or hate thing. Based on earlier Five Ten photos the men’s Karver originally appeared to have smaller, simpler lace covers. Bummer Five Ten changed this, though you don’t look at your shoes while riding hey! Interestingly the women’s Karver doesn’t have a lace cover.

Don’t get me wrong, all up the Karvers are great for GUni. They’re only let down slightly by Five Ten’s implementation of the lace cover. Fit the lace covers to the outside and there’s no scraping, though they remain goofy. Long term solution  a) get over it, ride and smile b) make my own smaller, softer lace covers or c) get excited and have a go at removing the velcro strips altogether. I can always run the Yankz laces as on the Sam Hills.

More posts to follow on the Five Ten Karver / GUni combination…

2010 Five Ten Shoes
2010 Five Ten Shoes

ps. I came across a video from Interbike featuring a couple of cool shoes from Five Ten’s 2010 line up, some cool stuff for unicycling there!

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