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.
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.
- Also Read: Best Bike Pedals For Kids
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.
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 Flat MTB Shoes
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.
Read our Review: Five Ten Freerider
Price (MSRP): $70
Ride Concepts Youth Livewire Mountain Bike Shoes
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
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: $99.00 (Last updated: 2020-07-24 at 09:26 – More Info)
Northwave Hammer Junior
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: $97.49 (Last updated: 2020-07-31 at 14:16 – 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: Price not available (Last updated: 2020-07-24 at 09:26 – More Info)
|Shoe||Sizes||Flat or Clipless|
|Five Ten Freerider Kids||10.5-3 (US)||Flat|
|Diadora X-Phantom Jr||33-36 (EU)||Clipless|
|Northwave Hammer Junior||32-38 (EU)||Clipless|
|Ride Concepts Youth Livewire||3-6 (US)||Flat|
|Vittoria Kids BOA||32-35 (EU)||Clipless|
Note: If you know of a great kids mountain bike shoe, that is not on my list, please shoot me a note so that I can include it here.