Kids don’t need mountain bike shoes. Then again, neither do adults. But some riders want ’em, and that includes kids.
Ride Concepts classifies the Vice shoe as a lifestyle and dirt jump shoe, and my 7-year-old ripper has been trying them out on the neighborhood pump track, and on the trails this summer. Like the grown-up version, the youth Vice features D3O impact protection built into the insole; a grippy, hex-patterned outsole; a thick, suede upper; and “TPU toe protection.”
Mountain bikers tend to be tough on shoes, but not as tough as kids are in the course of their regular, everyday activities. Creek beds must be explored, toes serve as emergency brake pads, and heels are for stomping things. The Vice is much burlier and more rugged than a casual or even athletic kid’s shoe, and it’s held up extremely well to the abuse. Of course, the downside is the shoe has to be heavier than less durable choices; the 310g size 2 we tested is 70% heavier than a New Balance sneaker in the same size.
Since the Vice shoes are optimized for bike riding, the sole is stiffer than what one might expect from a tennis or running shoe. Yet, they’re still flexible enough for wearing to school all day, so they can pull double duty rather than being relegated to trail days only. In addition to the gray/blue version shown here, there’s also a camo pattern design.
According to our product tester, “they look like mountain bike shoes” and “feel comfortable.” I’ve noticed his feet don’t slip off the pedals as often, which as a parent, is a relief. The soft, gummy soles work great with the basic flat pedals that most young riders are already using. It’s great that the Vice shoes offer robust foot protection from bottom to top, but I’d argue the best feature is protection against coming off the bike in the first place.
Ride Concepts offers the Youth Vice shoe starting at US size 2, which is what we tested. When choosing a size, consider leaving kids room to grow in order to get the maximum value out of them. At $80, this is not a cheap shoe by any means. If it adds any comfort, the adult Vice is priced twenty bucks higher at $100. We’ve found most normal kids shoes are pretty blown out by the time our kids are ready to size up, but I don’t expect that to be the case here. So, plan on handing these down to a sibling or neighbor after your grom outgrows them.