I was also curious how the ankle gaiter would feel while pedaling, but it’s completely unobtrusive — range of motion feels essentially unimpeded. You can tell there’s a little bit of extra material there if you really pay attention, but I’ve totally forgotten about it as soon as I started riding. It’s a really nice layout that does a great job of keeping water out (once you add pants to the equation) while still being super-functional as a bike shoe.
And on that note, grip is also outstanding — on par with Five Ten’s grippiest offerings. The textured dotty sole results in a slightly different feel from the Freerider Contact, but the rubber feels similar in terms of actual grip, and it’s clearly a notch above the Freerider Pro or any offering from any other brand that I’ve tried to date.
The sole of the Trailcross GTX isn’t crazy stiff but it’s a good bit more so than I expected, given everything Five Ten said about trying to balance walkability and so on. And I think that’s a really good thing for on-bike performance. Most DH-oriented shoes, such as the Five Ten Impact or Ride Concepts Powerline, are clearly substantially stiffer. But from everything aft of the toe box (where it does soften up dramatically), the Trailcross GTX is significantly stiffer than a lot of more all-rounder options, including the Freerider Contact, Freerider Pro, Giro Latch, and so on. And so if you’re worried about the sole being unduly flexy, I wouldn’t be — unless you’re a real stickler for the absolute stiffest possible shoe.
Unsurprisingly, the breathability of the Trailcross GTX is hampered a bit by the waterproof membrane as compared to a more conventional shoe, but it’s pretty respectable all things considered. The Trailcross GTX isn’t a shoe that I want to wear if it’s over 70° F (21° C) or so, but that’s a whole lot better than most waterproof bike shoes, which tend to also be substantially insulated. That lack of insulation also serves the Trailcross GTX well when it comes to drying times. Any water that does get into the shoe doesn’t escape quickly while your foot and ankle are still blocking the cuff opening, but there’s also not much spongy material inside to absorb that water, and they dry pretty quickly once you take them off.
I wouldn’t mind a slightly beefed-up toe box for a little extra protection, but also acknowledge that would add some weight and likely compromise walkability a little. And despite the overall stiff-ish sole, the Trailcross GTX does walk well. The softer toe portion really helps on that front, as does the extra tread in the heel and (especially) the toe. As is the case with most bike shoes, the tread under the ball of the foot is still pretty shallow and traction there isn’t all that great, especially in soft, loose dirt. But making it deeper would presumably increase its thickness and compromise feel on the pedals, so I’m not advocating for a change. Just think of the Trailcross GTX as walking a little better than most flat pedal shoes, rather than some total night-and-day improvement, and your expectations will be reasonable.