Why Do BMX Riders Wear Vans? (fast answer)

Condensed Answer: For street riding, BMX riders often rely on light skate shoes with flat soles. The basic Vans models fit in that category. They offer extra grip thanks to the waffle sole and weigh very little in comparison to bulky shoes. Another benefit of a Vans shoe is the potential for ankle support if one goes for a high-top model.

The Advantages of Vans Shoes For BMX Riding

1. Flat, Waffles Soles

Vans shoes

BMX bikes rely on wide flat pedals usually made of plastic. Both sides of the pedals have pins designed to increase the grip between the pedals and the shoes.

The waffle soles of Vans and other skate shoes with similar architecture increase the grip even further because the pins get trapped within the waffle pattern of the soles.

As a result, it becomes easier for the rider to perform stunts such as bunny hops which require an aggressive lift of the rear wheel via a scooping motion with the legs.

It’s also worth mentioning that the sole is flexible and of medium thickness. Those properties make it easier for the rider to “feel the pedals”. The outcome is additional control.

BMX pedals

2. Extra Rubber

The front part of Vans shoes (around the toe area) has additional rubber. The rubber reinforces the shoe and extends its life when skating.

When a skater performs a trick such as a kickflip, the outer front part of the shoe slides against the board and flicks it. Since the upper part of a skateboard has sandpaper for extra grip, the shoe experiences microdamage during each trick.

With time, the shoe wears down to the point where the foot of the rider may show. The extra rubber extends that period.

A BMX rider doesn’t have the same problem. However, the extra rubber is still helpful because it reduces the damage to the shoe in case the inner part of the rider’s foot comes in contact with the crank.

3. Ankle Support

High-top Vans

High-top Vans models cover the ankle and provide additional ankle support and protection.

4. Luxliner

Some Vans models incorporate the so-called Luxliner technology which extends the shoe’s tongue and connects it to the front upper part of the shoe. As a result, the tongue encompasses the foot and provides additional stabilization and control.

5. Impact Absorbing Insoles

Vans shoes have shock-absorbing insoles known as PopCush (new technology) and Ultracush (older technology). The insoles provide a lot of cushioning which gradually decreases towards the front part of the foot. Those properties reduce the stress on the feet during landings.

6. Good Quality At a Reasonable Price

Vans shoes are not among the cheapest skate shoes out there, but they aren’t extremely expensive either.

The quality is usually pretty decent. Hence why many people choose them.

7. Lightweight

Vans shoes are fairly light and yet tough. The lower weight reduces the energy needed to perform tricks and doesn’t compromise the connection with the pedals.

The table below contains the weight of popular Vans models:

Van Sk8-Hi510g
Vans Authentic Low445g
Vans Old Skool Low467g

8. Looks

In the world of cycling and skating, style and looks are of high priority. Many riders carefully select their outfits to look good in photos, videos as well as when training in the park.

Thus, sometimes riders wear certain shoes simply for their looks. Since Vans have a classic appearance that goes well with a variety of clothing, many BMX riders buy them.

FAQ: What kind of shoe damage can I expect?

BMX riding is a lot kinder to a shoe than skating. Consequently, a pair of shoes can last a fairly long time.

The main area under attack is the sole. The sharp pins on the pedals dig into the sole and tear it over time regardless of the material.

Brakeless riding shortens the life of the sole too because the rider would often slow down by placing their foot on the rear tire. Sometimes one would also brake by placing one or even two feet on the ground.

The friction between the sole and the ground/tire quickly damages the shoe. In the case of Vans, the waffle pattern becomes smooth and the grip is reduced.

Personal Preference

Shoes are an important part of a rider’s equipment and should be selected with care to one’s personal preferences and needs. Some people would feel fine in Vans while others may prefer a bulkier shoe for example. There’s also variation between the models of the same brand.

I knew a skater who had bought 20 pairs of an old-school ‘ES skate shoe because he didn’t want to skate in another model.

Summary: What You Need To Know

The reasons why Vans shoes are popular among BMX riders are:

  • Flat sole with a waffle tread pattern resulting in extra grip without compromising “peddle feel”
  • Lightweight
  • Impact-absorbing insoles
  • Ankle support (when going for high top models)
  • Classic appearance that compliments skate and BMX clothing style
  • Affordable
  • A decent variety of models

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