7 Best Kids Mountain Bike Shoes & How To Choose

First off let me just say that most kids DON’T need a pair of mountain bike shoes.  They will do just fine with tennis shoes, or for more rugged riding, a pair of thick soled hiking boots or similar. 

I’ve found that skate-style shoes (like Vans) also work well.  That said, if your child is starting to ride more technical trails, is hitting up the bike park, or they are getting to an age where perhaps they are interested in clipless pedals, then there a few (read: very limited) options out there.

ride concepts kids mountain bike shoes

Things to Consider Before Shopping

Clipless or Flat

Most kids are going to want to use a flat pedal and shoe. Using a flat pedal/shoe allows kids to practice skills without having to focus on clipping in and out, and allows for a proper range of motion for developing knees and hips.

Wellgo Kids Bike Pedal

That said, if your child is older and is already comfortable handling a bike, has good pedaling technique, and is perhaps interested in racing, you can certainly introduce them to clipless pedals.  This article provides a great overview of when your child might be ready to transition.

Closure Type

For flat shoes, you’ll find shoes with either velcro or laces. Both work, but we really love velcro for younger kids. Plus, you don’t have to worry about them coming untied.

For clipless shoes, you’ll find shoes you’ll find a combination of velcro, ratchets, or BOA systems. If your kiddo is really serious about racing, then a shoe with a snug fit via ratchet or BOA will be the best choice.

Sizing

Unfortunately, most kids bike shoes don’t start until around a youth size 2. If you’re looking for a younger rider (or one with smaller feet), your options will be quite limited. Fortunately, the Five Ten Freerider does come in smaller sizes.

Sole

For flat shoes, the number one thing you want to look for is a grippy sole. This is what’s going to keep your child’s foot planter firmly on the pedal.

Sole stiffness is also something to consider. The stiffer the shoe, the better the power transfer. Still, kids who are going to be running and playing in the shoe as well as biking, don’t want a sole that’s too stiff.

five ten freerider sole

Consider shopping for women’s shoes

Once your kiddo can fit into a size 37 (European),  you can also consider getting them a woman’s cycling shoe.  These come in very small sizes, and neutral colors work well for boys as well as girls.


Flat Pedal Kids Mountain Bike Shoes

Five Ten Freerider Kids

five ten freerider kids velcro shoe

The Five Ten Freerider Kids shoe is the exact same as the adult Freerider shoe, just in miniature sizes.  For kids who mountain bike, this is a fantastic shoe for use with flat pedals. 

The “Marathon” rubber soles provide grip on the pedals and hold up well to kids who can dish out lots of abuse. We also appreciate that it comes with velcro rather than laces so our little one can get them on and off all by himself.

Our only complaint about the Freerider is that these shoes constantly go in and out of stock. If you’re lucky enough to find the size you need, snatch ’em up.

Read our Review: Five Ten Freerider

Price: $70

Ride Concepts Youth Vice

ride concepts vice kids shoe

The Ride Concepts Youth Vice is a great little shoe, and a sized down version of the adult Vice that my husband also has. It’s durable and can withstand the abuse that kids dish out. After a year of use, my son’s still look nearly new.

It’s designed primarily for dirt jumping and freestyle BMX, but works well as a trail shoe also. It comes in youth sizes 2 to 6.

Read Our Review: Ride Concepts Youth Vice

Price: $80

Ride Concepts Youth Livewire

ride concepts youth livewire mountain bike shoe

The Ride Concepts Youth Livewire is a newer offering and the first real good competitor to the Five Ten Freerider. We’ve heard from lots of folks now who think the Ride Concepts shoes are actually MORE durable than Five Ten.

This flat-pedal shoe has good traction, which is important for keeping little feet planted firmly on the pedals–as well as mid-ride rock scrambling.

The only bummers, in our opinion, is that it comes with laces rather than velcro. It also doesn’t start until a Size 3 Kids, so younger kids are out of luck.

Price (MSRP): $80

Five Ten Sleuth Kids

The Five Ten Sleuth is the newest kids mountain bike shoe from Adidas. We love the higher cut, synthetic leather, and the fact that it comes in a feminine color. (Yes, little girls like to mountain bike too)!

While the sole is grippy and relatively stiff, it’s designed to be more walkable and useable off the bike than most mountain bike shoes. This is great for kids who like to play, run, climb, and otherwise goof around on bike rides.

Like the Five Ten Freerider, the Sleuth starts in smaller sizes which we appreciate.

Price: $70


Clipless Kids Mountain Bike Shoes

Diadora X-Phantom Jr Mountain Bike Shoes

Great for racing, the Diadora X-Phantom are SPD-compatible shoes with a composite sole for optimal power transmission. 

This is a popular shoe in the BMX community as well as out on the trail.

Price: Price not available (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 22:12 – More Info)

Northwave Hammer Junior

Northwave Hammer Junior Shoes

The Northwave Junior Hammer is another SPD-compatible shoe, and one that is affordable considering they will probably be grown out of quickly.   Rubber-covered spikes allow kids to walk/run/hike without falling.

Price: Price not available (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 22:12 – More Info)

Vittoria Kids BOA Mountain Bike Shoes

Shoes with BOA closures are great for adults but even better for kids. No ratchets to get stuck, or laces to come loose. We also like the mesh upper that provides good breath ability on hot days.

The Vittoria Kids BOA comes in sizes as small as EU 32 (size 1 US), so it’s one of the better options for young kids who are looking for clipless pedals.

Price: $59.69 (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 19:12 – More Info)


Comparison Chart

ShoeSizesFlat or Clipless
Five Ten Freerider Kids10.5-3 (US)Flat
Diadora X-Phantom Jr33-36 (EU)Clipless
Northwave Hammer Junior32-38 (EU)Clipless
Ride Concepts Youth Livewire3-6 (US)Flat
Ride Concepts Youth Vice2-6 (US)Flat
Five Ten Sleuth Kids10.5-3 (US) Flat
Vittoria Kids BOA 32-35 (EU)Clipless

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4 thoughts on “7 Best Kids Mountain Bike Shoes & How To Choose”

  1. Scott offer kids mtb shoes, both velcro and lace up. Look good, but am yet to find out how durable they are as only just got them

    Reply

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