Bicycle Motocross (BMX) is fast becoming one of the most progressive forms of cycling and with skateparks and pump tracks arising in nearly every town, it’s more accessible than ever before. Due to its raw approach and demanding skill level, it’s often appealing to all types of riders who are looking to work on their technique whilst having a great time doing so, but to get the most out of BMX it’s important to get the best kit from the off, and good riding shoes should be high on your priority list.
Whether it's flowing through the local dirt jumps or attempting maximum style over the skatepark jump box, riding one of the best BMX bikes requires extreme precision and control, so ensuring you have the best contact points available is a must. Carefully choosing the best BMX shoes is often overlooked but selecting the best option can boost pedal feel therefore improving the communication between the bike and the rider.
Best BMX shoes
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Vans has been around since the birth of BMX and, in one style or another, has become the go-to shoe option for a high percentage of riders, and for the right reasons too: they look rad and perform exactly how you want!
The ‘Pro’ range shoes were originally designed for hardcore skateboarders, but the technical features also work perfectly for BMX. Vans ‘Pro’ shoes feature the brands ‘UltraCush’ sole which adds greater impact protection and comfort over the standard Old Skool shoe, this paired with extra reinforcement to the shoe’s bumpers mean they’re super hard-wearing too.
The first thing you notice when riding in the Old Skools is how the legendary ‘waffle’ sole offers the perfect balance of pedal feel and protection and the diamond-shaped tread pattern generates top-notch pin traction. They’re not so grippy you feel stuck to the bike but the hold is strong enough to allow for the limits to be pushed.
Available in a range of colors you’re guaranteed timeless style on and off the bike, they’re comfy straight out of the box, available on most high streets and the price is really competitive. Combining the on-bike performance, street credibility and quality construction make the Vans Old Skool pros our favorite shoe for both riding BMX and hanging out.
Five Ten’s ‘Stealth’ sticky rubber technology is best known for providing class-leading levels of grip throughout its mountain bike shoe range. With the Sleuth they have integrated this top-level on bike performance into a design that follows a classic Adidas silhouette, this makes for a shoe that lets you operate with confidence both on and off the bike. Available in a variety of colors there’s an option to look good both down the pub and at the skatepark.
The Sleuth’s ‘Stealth’ sole is the grippiest shoe featured here and provides top-notch levels of on pedal traction regardless of the conditions. This amount of grip feels reassuring but if you’re frequently performing tricks that require a foot to be removed, they can almost hold onto pedal pins a little too well. The sole is also on the stiffer end of the spectrum which is great for providing protection from harsh landings and transfers power well when sprinting at a lip, but the flip side of this is it does compromise pedal feel for more technical riding.
The best in the business sole technology comes at a lofty price but if you’re focused on a shoe that prioritizes grip and pedal support, we think the Sleuth is one of the best options out there!
Ride Concept developed the Vice alongside its Slopestyle, Dirt Jump and BMX team riders with the aim of creating a shoe that prioritizes pedal feel and compliance over anything else and it’s something they have totally nailed! With men’s, women's and youth options available, there’s a shoe for everyone.
The sleek-looking and durable skate shoe inspired suede upper sees ventilation holes to keep your feet breathing during long sessions and there’s a TPU toe protector featured internally which keeps your toes safe in the event of a crash. We also found that the reinforced toe box instilled confidence when performing foot jam inspired BMX tricks.
A unique feature for the Vice is its insole technology and the insole itself features sections of D30 impact-absorbing foam which is strategically placed to absorb the forces encountered during harsh compressions. This is something that will appeal to riders who thrive on sending the biggest gaps or those who want the extra support when pumping hard around the pump track. The flip side of this is that when the insole does stiffen it can temporarily reduce overall pedal feel compared to some of the other hypersensitive options.
This level of technology and development doesn’t come cheap, but your feet will thank you if you’re a rider who is constantly pushing the limits.
Etnies is a brand originating from skateboarding that has fully embraced the culture of biking and now dedicates its ‘Crank’ range to many forms of creative riding disciplines, freeride and BMX being one of them.
Using a skate shoe inspired silhouette, the Jameson Mid Crank has been developed with multi-discipline legend and multiple Crankworx title winner, Brandon Semenuk. Alongside freeride mountain biking Brandon spends a heap of time aboard a BMX bike so a shoe that performs well across the board was essential.
Using an asymmetrical design means the inside of the shoe collar is raised to offer protection from the crank arms and a finely tuned shank in the sole creates the ideal stiffness to pedal feel combo.
The feeling on the pedals from the hex-shaped tread pattern feels really positive too and due to its compact design pedal position precision feels one of the most accurate out there.
The Janoski was designed specifically for skateboarding but it just so turns out they work perfectly for BMX and look great on the streets whilst doing so. We think it’s one of the best-looking options here, so if you’re looking for a shoe to wear both on the bike and day-to-day the Janoski should be towards the top of your list.
The minimal design and plush sock liner fit means there’s no bedding in required and the flexible outer sole gives pinpoint pedal feel, this should appeal to riders who want the most sensitive pedal interaction possible.
The trade-off of the high levels of feel and sleek design though is the lower levels of protection and sole support when compared to some of the other more padded choices we have here.
With a massive size range, a competitive price tag and even the option to customize your color scheme through the Nike ID app the Janoski is a solid option, if it fits your demands.
DC may no longer have an actual BMX program, but the brand's current offerings still fulfill the ideal BMX shoe criteria, especially if you’re looking for good levels of impact protection.
The Hyde S shoe is fresh for 2020 and features the latest DC technologies. An EVA footbed offers cushioning from heavy landings and specially inverted cones on the sole also help with soaking up compressions. In practice, these features feel effective too and the Hyde S has some of the most controlled cushioning out of anything else we’ve tried – this goes for daily use too as the sublime comfort is just as good off the bike as it is on.
We also like the minimal styling that the Hyde provides and with three classy color options to choose from looking good whilst riding is a certain. We’re also big fans of DC’s ‘Ghillie lacing system’ which really seems to securely and comfortably lock your foot in place.
The Vans range is massive and nearly all of its shoes have the option of a ‘Pro’ model which integrates the Ultracush sole and a general higher quality construction into the standard silhouette, and it’s these changes that make these shoes our favorite when out riding BMX.
Another best-loved shoe of ours from Vans is the legendary Half Cab Pro, it’s a shoe with some serious heritage. The mid-top design provides greater protection against crank arm knocks, something that’s really noticeable when carving through tight transitions or attempting tricks where your foot vacates the pedal.
As with most Vans shoes, there are no complaints to be had with the waffle sole and after months of hard use, it appears the Half Cab continues to just get comfier as time goes on.
Simply select any shoe from the Vans Pro range and we guarantee they’ll improve your BMX riding experience.
Best BMX shoes: what to look for?
With most BMX shoes stemming from a traditional skate shoe design, the fit and sizing are less specific than high-tech road or mountain bike shoes. We reckon that most of the time going with your normal shoe size is a safe bet, however, we always recommend trying shoes on before you buy to ensure the fit and overall comfort is as good as it can be. There’s a good chance these shoes will also be your day-to-day kicks too, so make sure they’re comfy!
2. Looks and design
Most BMX shoes integrate a skate shoe silhouette into their appearance and in some cases, the shoes intended use will even cross over between skateboarding and BMX. Depending on the feel characteristics you’re looking for the aesthetic of the shoe will change – a bigger and more padded shoe will offer more impact absorption from harsh landings and compressions whereas a thinner more compact shoe will provide greater pedal feel. There is also the option of a high-top version of some shoes too and this can protect the ankle bone from getting knocks as well as acting as a light brace to reduce the chance of ankle injuries. Most importantly it should look good enough to be worn both on and off the bike.
Due to BMX shoe styling following the urban look, nearly every option on the market features a traditional lace-up design. Laces are highly adjustable for different foot shapes and the timeless design is one of the most reliable out there. Some shoes are offered in a slip-on design which can look great off the bike, but it means fine-tuning overall tension for a secure fit isn’t possible. We recommend always going for something with lace fasteners.
Unlike a traditional cycling shoe, which prioritizes sole stiffness for high levels of all-day pedaling efficiency, the best shoes for BMX are all about pedal feel which maximizes overall bike control when carrying out tricky maneuvers. A good amount of the grip itself comes from how the shoe’s sole flexes and conforms around the pedal, but tread design is still key to making sure the sole positively intertwines with the pedal the pins. The overall design can’t be too floppy either otherwise it’ll cause discomfort under heavy landings – there’s no suspension here!
Generally, the best shoes for BMX feature a slim sole which again improves rider control and pedal feel. The tread design has to work well with pedal pins and offer a good grip on the streets. Some shoes feature a thicker, more padded sole to better absorb impacts from heavy landings with the trade-off of sensitivity to the pedals.