Tuesday, December 19, 2023

XTEP 160X 5.0 Pro Multi Tester Review: 7 Comparisons

Article by Matt Crehan and Derek Li

XTEP 160X 5.0 Pro (RMB1299, $190-$270 )


Matt: Being a massive fan of the 3.0 Pro I was excited to see the 5.0 Pro release, and also confused to what had happened to the 4.0 Pro. As  it turns out and a in a broadening of my cultural knowledge, 4 is seen as an unlikely number in China and tied to death in quite a few regions so it was skipped for number 5.0. 

The Pro 5.0 has similar technologies to previous generations of the line using the XTEP ACE cushioning system,  a multi-dimensional T700 heterogeneous carbon plate, a CPU outsole that XTEP promote as being able to withstand up to 2000 km. This is an impressive claim when compared to claims from other recent super shoe launches of the outsole lasting up to around 50 km.  Adidas Pro Evo 1 springs to mind. 

Though featuring a lot of the technology of the 3.0 Pro version 5.0 Pro is strikingly different in profile with a full midsole rather than decoupled heel and forefoot of the 3.0 Pro The stacks heights are considerably different with the 3.0 Pro having a max stack 40mm heel and 36mm forefoot whereas  the 5.0 Pro has a 33mm/30mm profile with a 3mm offset, creating what is quite a different feeling. 

Its silhouette \differs wildly from the 3.0 Pro and I would say the closest shoe on the market in terms of profile would be the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro 1 & 2. Sadly I’ve not tested either of these shoes so I  can’t compare ride and the foot feel,  but the heel cut off bevel and aggressive rocker very much remind me of those shoes.  

Derek: I have plenty of experience with Xtep, and in particular, I’ve had extensive miles in both prior versions of the Xtep 160 Pro and 160 Pro 3.0. Needless to say, I had very high expectations of version 5.0 after their superb execution of version 3.0. The rest of the world has already started to take notice, as the Xtep 160 Pro 3.0 graced the podium at the World Championships marathon in Budapest earlier this summer, and took the overall men’s crown at the 2023 Sydney Marathon by a significant margin, a race that looks all but certain to be added to the Abbott World Marathon Majors league in 2025. 

All 3 versions of the Pro range have fairly high stack and fairly low drops. Clearly, it is meant to target runners with very strong and efficient calf action. What was different with Pro 3 was that it was sufficiently soft and bouncy that it became very forgiving for longer efforts. How will v5 compare? 


Aggressive heel-to-toe off - Matt

Super lightweight - Matt

Great upper hold - Matt/Derek


Lacking cushioning across the heel and forefoot in comparison to the previous model - Matt/Derek

Biting ankle collar - Matt

Arch overhang - Matt

Low heel-to-toe drop - Matt/Derek

Very late stage rocker - Derek


 Sample Weights: men’s  8.4 oz / 254g US11, 240g / 8.465oz US9.5 

Measured Full Stack Height: 40/36mm (official stack likely excludes sockliner)

Official Stack Height: men’s 33mm heel / 30mm forefoot ( 3mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 75mm  heel / 54mm midfoot / 111mm forefoot

Price: $190- $270, Derek paid considerably less than Matt for his pair. Matt bought his from China and had to pay shipping and import taxes to the UK.

Official China retail: RMB1299 / $183

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Matt: As always XTEP Pro shoes come in quite an extravagant and weighty box making you feel like you’re getting something quite special to a shoe in a simple cardboard box. It is clear to see that its silhouette differs significantly from th hi e previous model and that the is a lower stack height. The upper however feels more robust and structured than the mono mesh upper of the 3.0 Pro, with 3D printed elements and overlays and what XTEP are marketing as their ‘Helping Technology’. 

There is significant padding to the heel collar and a plastic material across the final lace holes, which for me caused serious cutting and rubbing issues such that the medial side of my ankles are still recovering from 5 weeks after the initial cuts occurred during a mixed pace tempo run, leaving blood running down the inside of my shoe and socks. There is a slight pull tab on the back which came in useful after I put a heel lock lacing system in place. 

Straight on the foot the heel bevel can be felt, but I expect this when running to help transition me quicker to midfoot/forefoot and the significant cushion under the forefoot. The stack of the heel does feel relatively low in comparison to other super shoes as of late.   

Derek: The colorway I purchased is a fiery red/orange design that looks just as good in your hands as it appears on the computer screen. 

Xtep has stuck with their ripstop-type upper for version 5, but this time, overall volume is lower and the whole fit is a little on the narrower side compared to version 3. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The shoes actually fit my feet quite well. 

I consider them true to size, though if I were using it in a shorter race like a half marathon I’d be tempted to go a half size down to get a more performance fit at the toebox. 

Fortunately, I’ve had zero issues with rubbing around the ankles. It’s not something that I’ve heard others with the shoes complain about either, so it’s probably not as prevalent a problem compared to say a New Balance SC Elite 3, where almost everyone has rubbing issues. 

For me, the overall lockdown of the upper is the best in version 5 among all 3 of the Pro versions Xtep has made. I did find the laces to be a tad on the longer side, but better long than short in my opinion.

On first walking around in the shoes, it is quite evident that the foam is not as soft as version 3, though there is a bit of “give”. Version 1 had a bit of a break-in period with the foam, so I felt it might be a similar case for Version 5.

This is also probably the place to address the stack height issue. Xtep advertises a 33/30 stack for this shoe, and it is probably excluding the sockliner (insole) and perhaps even the outsole in those measurements. 

My manual measurements put the stack at 40/36 for the Xtep 160 5.0 Pro. The 160 3.0 Pro was measured at 42/38 vs official stack of 41.5/37.5 while Nike Alphafly 1 comes in at 42/38. 

So bottom line, yes the stack is a bit lower but the 5.0 is by no means a low stack shoe. As you will read later on, the ride is very different in v5 vs. v3, and I put this down to other factors such as plate stiffness and midsole firmness. 

Midsole & Platform

Matt: Back in the 3.0 Pro the XTEP ACE foam was the standout ingredient in what was already a very impressive shoe, hailed as the first PISA Supercritical Foam technology with a rebound resilience as high as 85% over EVA and PU materials and 28% higher than ETPU. As with the 3.0 Pro the foam feels probably closer to Saucony’s Endorphin Pro range yet a bit softer, maybe actually closer to the Endorphin Speed with the T700 Carbon Plate allowing similar flex to the Nylon plate of the Speed but but with a exaggerated spring. 

My issue here though is that for the 5.0 Pro for some reason XTEP have reduced the stack and in a max stack super shoe world to what Derek measures as 40mm /36mm just doesn’t seem to cut it for me, especially in contrast to its predecessor measured by Derek at 42mm / 38 mm offset (not exact WA but comparatively accurate across models), and I’m not sure why, when having such a good shoe that seems to have been reviewed so well, as well ont that  made it onto major marathon and championship podiums they’d make such a change.

The T700 heterogeneous carbon plate in this new silhouette and stack height design becomes much more prominent and involved in the mechanics and propulsion of the shoe and the runner, creating a very aggressive ride, something that will be discussed in Ride. In contrast to the plate in the 3.0 Pro felt more like a tool to stabilize the max stack height and provide a mild level of spring to the shoe and runner.  

Derek: There is a bit of a break-in period for this shoe, and the first 2 runs left me unimpressed as far as cushioning and dynamism went. Transitions also felt a little clunky. After that, things got a bit better. The foam became a little more compliant and a little livelier, and more importantly, transitioning became a little smoother and heel and mid-forefoot became more connected. That said, the shoe is still quite firm as far as supershoes go, one needs to be going at a decent tempo and definitely front-loading the shoes to feel good in them. There is a definite spring to the foam, but it doesn’t reveal itself at anything under uptempo paces. This is in contrast to v1 and v3 where I quite happily used them for many moderate pace long runs without problems.

In terms of comparisons, I also think it is closest to the PWRRUN PB foam in Endorphin Pro 1 or 2; for some reason it is quite a lot more forgiving in v3.

The Xtep 160 5.0 Pro is also an incredibly stiff shoe. Perhaps just a little too stiff this time? I felt the plate was actually just about right in v3, though maybe some people felt it lacked top end responsiveness. This seems like an over-correction to me, where they firmed up both the foam and the plate. The result is a shoe that lost a lot of that good vibration dampening despite still having very high stack numbers on paper.

The big positive that came out of all this is that stability is the best of the 3 versions. 

Despite what appears to be still a fairly narrow last (54mm at midfoot and 75mm at the heel), especially with the curved in heel appearance, the shoe is very stable at all paces for me, and people who prefer a more stable landing platform will love this shoe. Not many such options out there these days, with the preference for softer foams.


Matt: As outsoles go, XTEP CPU outsole is light in weight allowing for close to full coverage of the bottom of the shoe, protecting the midsole foam and providing a good level of grip even on wet roads and running tracks. I even tested the 5.0 Pro on my local parkrun which is a multi-terrain course and the 5.0 Pro held up well across some of the wet rocks and mud.  

Derek: Not much to say about the outsole here. Xtep outsoles last “forever,” and they always use the same type of material. My first pair of Xtep 160 Pro has nearly 500 miles on them and even with discoloration and peeling of the upper (the toe guard has started delaminating in a small section), the numbs of the outsole are mostly still intact. The durability of this stuff is incredible. The same is true of the outsole on the 160x 5.0 Pro. Grip is great on dry surfaces and average on wet surfaces, though it does improve as the surface roughs up a bit with use.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Matt: Though a massive fan of the XTEP 160x 3.0 Pro  having raced  it in my last two marathons, the 5.0 Pro fell short for me. Its  reduced stack left me wanting for cushion during  longer marathon pace work. It’s extremely aggressive toe off and rocker design, does make me feel like it would be a great 5km/10km race shoe and I’d place it as probably the most aggressive race shoe I’ve tested, The Fast-FWD from Puma is probably another comparative shoe and with that being designed as more of a shorter distance race shoe with Puma having the Fast-R, I’d say that is what the XTEP 5.0 Pro is to the 3.0 Pro, though with its release sadly came the discontinuation of the 3.0 Pro. 

So to conclude if it's a marathon shoe you’re looking for there are better options out there, for me I’ll probably be swapping to the 361 Furious Future, or hunting the web and friends I have in Asia try a to get a fresh pair of XTEP 3.0 Pro. But if you’re looking for a super aggressive and well cushioned 5km/10km race shoe with great grip at speed and also potentially for wet road surfaces then the 5.0 Pro is a shoe to take a look at. 

I’ll also probably be doing some “cosmetic” work to reduce the plastic around the final lace hole to prevent any further ankle lacerations in the future.  

Score: 7.65

Ride (50%): 8 Fit (30%): 7 Value (15%): 7 Style (5%): 10 


Derek: The Xtep 160 5.0 Pro has a stiff, relatively firm ride with a rocker that is quite far forward in the shoe. This, combined with the low drop (official 3mm drop), means that unless you are consistently doing a mid-forefoot stride, you will find the transition to be quite flat. Regrettably, the firmer package also translates to poorer vibration dampening for me than prior Xtep, and I have finished longer runs in the shoe feeling more beat up that I expect to be from a shoe with a 40mm heel stack. I have been using the shoes on and off for the past 3 months, and if I’m honest, it’s not particularly enjoyable for anything except uptempo running. Heel landing is harsh, and although the forefoot is springy, I need to ensure I am holding a high cadence and forefoot lean throughout the run, to glean the full extent of the liveliness out of the shoe.

I should point out that I have been having extended left (dominant) leg hamstring issues, so fitness and “drive” are not where they should be during the testing period. That may well colour my impression of how well I can engage the shoe. That said, I have done multiple comparison runs with the Pro 1.0 and 3.0, both of which I continue to use regularly as daily trainers, and both are still more friendly to slower paces and also clearly have more fun personalities.

The 160x 5.0 Pro is the lightest of the Pro range from Xtep, but it is still north of 8 oz in my usual size of US9.5. That makes it heavier than basically anything else on the market. Weight on its own is not necessarily an issue. Matt has run some incredibly fast marathons in the (heavier) 160 3.0 Pro. However, the ride has to be good, really good, to make you want to go with a heavier shoe, and right now, the 160 5.0 Pro doesn’t have that for me.

It might well be that a more efficient and/or heavier runner may view the shoe differently. Case in point would be the Adidas Adios Pro 3; I don’t find that shoe to be particularly lively and to be fair I’ve never found Lightstrike Pro to be a super lively foam, but I know of many runners who find that the shoe has a good rocker and has quite good propulsion, so I think it’s quite possible with the right combination of weight and mechanics, the shoe must work really well for some runners. Xtep for their part do sponsor a sizable number of elite runners both domestically in China and overseas, so the feedback could be coming from them. My feeling is you need a very strong calf action to engage this shoe. After all, very very few shoes on the market have such a massive forefoot stack. That said, I do find it odd that so far, all of their bigger global podiums have come in the 160 3.0 Pro. I should point out that living in Singapore, I paid considerably less than Matt for my pair of Xtep. Closer to US$190. 

Score 8.15 / 10

Ride (50%): 7.5 Fit (30%): 9 Value (15%): 8 Style (5%): 10


7 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

XTEP 160x 3.0 Pro (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The 3.0 Pro is a far better long run and marathon shoe than the 5.0 Pro. For 5/10km I think the 5.0 Pro would be better, given it has more responsiveness, but over longer runs, the 3.0 Pro just has better cushioning and liveliness. Overall the 3.0 Pro is a much better shoe for me in terms of cushioning, performance and just pure fun. 

Matt: The softer, more flexible plate of the 3.0 places it significantly above the 5.0 when it comes to marathon race day shoe choice, so I’m hoping Xtep release some more of the 3.0. But as said earlier and as Derek highlights the 5.0 does have a place as an aggressive and well cushioned 5/10km race shoe with signifcant stability and great grip compared to a lot of other race shoes used for those distances, whereas the 3.0 was a lot of shoe for those distances. 

Adizero Takumi Sen 8/9 (RTR Review)

Derek: I went down half a size in the Sen 8, and still got a horrible free floating heel in that model. The platform is great but I just could not get the upper to work out for me, and it just became too distracting that I hardly run the Sen 8 anymore. While the platform is firmer and stiffer in the Xtep, I get a much better lockdown in the shoe, and I would definitely prefer the Xtep for workouts and short races over the Takumi Sen 8. The Sen heel was such a disaster for me that I never bothered to get v9. 

Matt: Similarly to Derek, my one negative of the Takumi and Adidas race line as a whole is the upper and hold on the foot, the ankle collar always feels very loose fitting and with my weak ankles I am often left feeling a little cautious. While the 5.0 Pro has great lockdown and heel cup, although maybe slightly too much on the front of my ankle hence the rather deep cuts during my testing. Grip wise both are fairly even though I’d probably say the Takumi may just edge out the 5.0 Pro.  

Nike Vaporfly Next% 1 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The VF is a softer and more forgiving shoe, and while less cushioned on paper, definitely feels less harsh underfoot. I think only people who find the VF unstable will prefer the Xtep 160 5.0 Pro here.

Matt: I was never a fan of the Vaporfly Next% finding it firm and leaving me feeling beaten up, Although the 5.0 Pro is firmer than the previous Xtep models, I’d still personally use it over a Vaporfly and its aggressive nature puts it closer to the Vaporfly feeling at toe off than a lot of other options on the market. 

Nike Alphafly Next% 1 (RTR Review)

Derek: I went down half a size in the Nike AF1. AF1 seems to still be the best goldilocks marathon shoe for me. Even the ones with more wear are being used as luxurious daily trainers until the shoes disintegrate. The Xtep 160 3.0 was very very close to the AF1. V5.0 seems to have taken a step away from that. Overall the AF1 is softer, more propulsive, and more cushioned, if less stable.

Matt: Though AF1 was my go to marathon shoe for my first 4 marathons, the 3.0 Pro has been my choice for the last 3 marathons and I had been looking forward to the 5.0 being the shoe for the next one in Seville. But as Derek says, the AF1 is overall much softer, more cushioned and more propulsive off its Air pods. The 5.0 Pro’s only real advantages over the AF1 are stability and grip on wet roads. 

Nike Alphafly Next% 2 (RTR Review)

Derek: I went down half a size in the Nike AF2. I never really properly enjoyed the AF2 beyond 10 miles because I experienced severe arch blistering with it, which is a real shame because AF1 gives me zero issues there. My limited mileage on AF2 tells me that AF2 is still softer and smoother than the Xtep, though I must say, I feel faster in the Xtep because there is just more pop to its toe-off.

Matt: I found the AF2 to be a brick on my feet, it is the only shoe I have ever had to drop out of a race wearing and that was at two separate races as I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt after the first race. After all, Kipchoge did break his own WR in it at Berlin in 2022. I found the AF2 to somehow have turned the soft, bouncy ZoomX foam into a stiff, solid, heavy brick of a midsole, and the over protection of the airpods which, perhaps gave me more faith in their durability, seemed to eliminate all bounce in them. I would say the 5.0 Pro is softer and livelier shoe for me and if I was choosing between the 2 I’d go for the Xtep.

361 Furious Future (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. I have limited mileage in this model due to injury. I do have a minor gripe in terms of heel slippage with this shoe and am still trying to figure out the right combination of laces and socks. The ride is very promising with a very lively forefoot propulsion and plenty of foam underfoot. So far the 361 seems to be the more fun and forgiving shoe, compared to the Xtep. I should point out that both shoes at more or less the same retail price in China.

Matt: I was testing both these shoes side by side having received them both within the same week and one week out from starting my Seville Marathon training block, you can check out the Furious Future review here, but the simplest comparison is I’ll probably be wearing that for my next marathon and not the Xtep 5.0 Pro.

Adizero Adios Pro (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes, although probably should have sized down in Adios Pro 3. I don’t particularly get on well with either shoe. The AP3 rocker doesn’t engage well for me, and it just feels like a cushioned stacked shoe with no effective rocker. In terms of assistance and fit,, I think the Xtep works better for me, but it definitely beats me up more than the Adios Pro 3. Neither are my first choice for long runs or long races.

Tester Profiles

Matt is the owner of Made to Run an independent running store based between Manchester and Liverpool in the UK, which he runs alongside his mother Susan who competed in the 1987 Rome World Championships 10,000m and 1988 Seoul Olympic Marathon for Great Britain. So with running in the family, Matt has high goals of replicating what his mother did and having raced at the national level over in the UK for the last 15 years, Matt made a further step towards his goal on his 30th birthday when he won the 2021 Manchester Marathon in 2:18.23, followed two weeks later by winning the Liverpool Rock N Roll Marathon. Matt also has PR's for the 5km -14:18, 10km  - 30:11 and HM - 65:28. Matt's next goal will be to try and run the 2022 Commonwealth Games Qualifying standard in the marathon over at the Seville Marathon in February. Matt is also the author of The Art of Running, a graphic novel about legendary runner Steve Prefontaine.  Instagram - GoCre91

Derek is in his 40’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:39 marathon PR from the 2022 Zurich Marathon.

Samples were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you compare this to the Takumi Sen 10? I'm looking for my first 10K racer and I naturally land midfoot