I’m not usually one to blog about things like shoes, but it’s related to riding, so I thought some of my readers may find it interesting.
Over the last 2 or 3 years I’ve been trying to find the perfect unicycling shoe for my riding style. The problem I have is that I ride street and trials, which have very different pedal types, so finding a shoe suitable for both has been a problem. I need something that is tough enough to cope with the aggressive pins of my trials pedals while also being soft enough to provide decent grip on the ground down, wax covered plastic pedals on my street 24.
Here is a run down of the shoes I’ve been experimenting with over the last couple of years. In chronological order (Left to right) I have been using: Etnies Number, Etnies Metal Mulisha Fairfax, Nike Mogan 3 and Etnies Brake 2.0
These were the first brand name shoes I ever bought. Until then I’d always bought cheap, £20, no-make trainers which fell apart in 2 months. I bought them hoping they’d last longer than my previous shoes had. They were good shoes, study and comfortable.
The Number are traditional skate shoes, big and bulky and as they got older and more battered, they got bulkier. Ankle protection was good due to the thick side walls and the soles were nice and thick which meant bailing down stairsets was ok. The tread pattern seemed to work well on both sets of pedals although they were a little slippy on my street pedals and as you can see from the photo, didn’t wear down much. The major problem with them was that they were loose fitting. This wasn’t helped by me never doing the laces up and just tucking them inside. It meant I could slip them on and off easily but they would also come off while I was riding. Not ideal and the reason I stopped using them.
Etnies Metal Mulisha Fairfax
I was originally attracted to these because of the cool colourway. After the bulky Numbers, I was after something a bit thinner and lower. The Fairfax were a really good pair of shoes.
As you can imagine with a low-top shoe, ankle protection wasn’t great. I bought some ankle guards while using these shoes. They were nice and lightweight although they didn’t provide much in the way of toe protection due to being so thin. You can also see that the soles actually wore right through, impact protection wasn’t the best and they quickly developed ‘foot slap’. Having said all that, grip on both types of pedal was amazing. The tread pattern worked really well, even on the slick pedals of my street unicycle.
Nike Mogan 3
As my Etnies Fairfax’ got thinner I was looking for something with better impact protection for drops. I decided to go away from Etnies and try something new and I’d heard good things about Nike. I didn’t want high-tops because I’ve never got on with boots and I didn’t want anything that would restrict my ankle movement for big sidehops. The Mogan 3 Mids fitted the bill.
The Nikes are really nice and lightweight but still feel solid. The soles are nice and thick and provide great impact protection, the best of any shoes I’ve tried so far. Despite being mids they also have great ankle support and the side walls are nice, thick and made of really tough material. They grip on my trials pedals great. I’d even go as far as saying these are the perfect trials shoe.
It’s a very different story on my street unicycle though. I don’t know if it’s the material the sole is made from or the tread pattern, but they make my street pedals feel like black ice! They are so slippy I’m scared to even ride on the flat with them. Also, something I didn’t even think of when looking at shoes, was the shape of the sole. You can see that the sole dips in where the bridge of your foot goes way more than any of the other shoes I’ve had. This means it’s impossible to put my foot on the frame for coasting without it slipping off. In fact, attempting to put my foot on the frame and having it slip off has damaged the sole (See picture).
I love these shoes for trials. I’m beginning to think I may just have to have two pairs of riding shoes; One for trials and another for street. Back to the search.
Etnies Brake 2.0
After the Nikes I decided to go back to Etnies. They’ve always been good shoes and I feel some kind of strange connection to the brand now. Along with that, I also knew that they made a BMX specific shoe, which I was curious about trying for unicycling. BMX uses platform pedals and I’m mainly trying to find a shoe with great grip on my street pedals plus good impact protection.
As you can see, I haven’t actually used the new Etnies yet, but first impressions are good. The soles look nice and thick and are the right shape, with a much shallower arch than the Nikes. The tread pattern looks good too, similar to my original Etnies Number. They are mids and actually have special built in ankle protection. The inner side walls are thicker and come up higher than the outer sides.
How will they fair? Only time will tell but Unicon will be a good test. Once I’ve been using them for a while I’ll report back and let you know. Until then, I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences with shoes for unicycling.