It's an old argue on forums, still cant get it. What is the (real, that worth the money and time for ordering from abroad, in my case) difference, let's say between Five Ten FreeRider shoes and some kind of old school skate shoes (the fat ones, like these Etnies)?

P.S as far as I know most dirt BMXers are quite happy with regular skate shoes.

  • Don't the rollers make it hard to keep your feet on the pedals? Jul 8, 2013 at 21:17
  • @DanielRHicks From personal experience I can say that it is possible using some quite "rough" pedals. But it's everything else than convenient. Jul 9, 2013 at 20:58
  • Are you mountain biking or BMX biking?
    – Jestep
    Jul 23, 2013 at 21:43
  • Right now I ride MTB, rode BMX before. Anyway, after using skate shoes after a few months riding with MTB shoes I understood the difference myself.
    – J-unior
    Jul 24, 2013 at 8:40

5 Answers 5


I used to ride with skate shoes for a year and it was not good. I didn't know it.

Generally skate shoes:

  • bend more than MTB shoes so they'll not transfer all of your energy on the pedals
  • do not have sticky soles so riding on rough trails may be harder and more dangerous due to the feet constantly changing position on the pedals

Regarding non racing BMXers they don't usually care about pedaling efficiency nor grip on their feet.


Flat pedal specific shoes usually have a special rubber compound, such as Five Ten's sticky rubber or Shimano (and others) Vibram sole (used in hiking shoes as well). The goal of these special rubber compounds is to better stick to the pins of the pedals and are therefore usually softer so as to get a good grip on them.

My personal experience with skate shoes is that their soles are harder and meant for gripping skate boards (hence the name) and thus focus on gripping a flat surface, instead of a set of pins. They also get dangerously slippery when wet for some reason.

Flat pedal specific shoes may also have other bike-specific features such as crank arm ankle protection and stiffer soles.


Skate shoes are typically very flexible and this is terrible for cycling shoes! Pick up a typical skate shoe and then try to bend it in half. I have a pair that I can almost entirely bend in half. Now go to a local bike shop and try to bend a road shoe in half. You can't. All of that flex is just wasted energy. With a stiff sole your energy gets transferred directly to the pedal. While it may not make a big difference on a short ride, it definitely adds up over time.

  • 1
    And just as an aside, I own a pair of freeriders and they are awesome. Almost too good at their job as I need to pick up my feet to adjust my position on the pedal. They are the next best thing to going clipless and actually I prefer them to clipless in case of emergency. Jul 9, 2013 at 0:53

I own plenty skate shoes from Vans and ipath. I have tried riding in them and they don't feel any better than an average sneaker. I switched to riding flat pedals about over a year ago and tried my first pair of Five Ten's Free Rider!! Holy wow!!

They have a stealth rubber sole that is torsionally stiff giving you solid platform for an efficient downward pedal stroke while gripping the flat pedal pins like a damn magnet!! I now own 6 pairs of various Five ten shoes - Dirtbag Mid, Spitfire mid, free rider and freerunner!! They're the best shoe ever!! solid toe box and well cushioned heel cup give you all the protection you need!! I actually use my free riders when i go longboarding... damn things stick to the grip tape like rare earth magnets!!!

Caution: The spitfire mid's are a great shoe but almost so grippy that you may at times find it hard to adjust your foot position on the pedals - very rare case but is true!!

Definitely worth every penny!! And they look cool too so you can wear the out casually as well... that is - if that is your style!

Five Tens for life or until they stop making them!! I'm really considering the new Vxi's!!


I really think it depends on the pedal. Riding road, BMX and XC MTB. I feel in my opinion is it really is a personal choice. I have BMX pedals on my mountain bike and ride with globe skate shoes. I have two road bikes one with clip-less pedals, the other with BMX pedals. yes after a few hours you can really feel the difference. BMX don't care. Depends on how committed you are.

  • Welcome to Bicycles @BRS. Thanks for answering one of our questions. It would help if you used complete sentences. Can you edit your post to explain BMX don't care please? As with all new members we recommend that you take the tour to make best use of the site.
    – andy256
    Feb 2, 2017 at 22:34

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