A throwback shoe collab from heritage brands Mongoose and Vans - reviewed

Testing these shoes was basically just an excuse to dust off the bike that never gets ridden

Vans x Mongoose BMX shoes
(Image credit: Anne-Marije Rook)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

A sturdy, well-made shoe that offers modern comfort with the vintage look of the BMX heydays. Even if you've grown out of your BMX bike, they're great for bike commuting or everyday urban wear.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Stiff sole

  • +

    Comfortable fit on and off the bike

  • +

    Didn't need a break-in period

  • +

    Durable construction

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    A little heavy

A big garage is a cyclist’s dream. With room for multiple bikes, a repair stand, spare parts and a trainer setup, it’s something we all aspire to. With all the space, however, also comes the risk of inquiring one too many bikes. You know, those impromptu purchases because you might start time trialling again or because that vintage frame is a ‘classic’ or simply because you can’t let go of your first race bike. You get the gist. It’s the bike that rarely gets ridden and mostly just gathers dust. 

In our garage, that bike is a BMX bike. Purchased with the intent of working on some skills, it saw some initial lunch time sessions and early mornings outing to the skate park (while the more youthful crowd was still sleeping) before retiring to the hook in the corner — only to be looked at occasionally with the brief thought of selling it to make room. 

But when these Vans x Mongoose collab shoes landed on my doorstep, it was the perfect excuse to go out and test these for their intended use: standing around awkwardly in a skate park. Erm, I mean, riding the BMX bike.  

Vans x Mongoose x Our Legends

The bike that never gets ridden

(Image credit: Vans)

Two heritage brands, one iconic shoe

Dropping on August 12, the special edition Vans x Mongoose Bicycles shoe is a celebration of the two iconic Californian brands’ shared heritage in BMX riding and pop culture.

Designed with Our Legends, the shoe is a modern take on the 44 DX shoes that put Vans on the map in 1966 and would become a classic for skaters, BMXers and sneakerheads alike. Today, Vans, Inc is part of the footwear and outdoor apparel giant VF Corporation, and has far surpassed its skate-brand image. With dozens of models ranging from sandals to platform and kids shoes, Vans, Inc is now a billion-dollar-brand.

Less successful but no less iconic, Mongoose entered the bike scene in 1974 with its groundbreaking MotoMag wheels, the first cast aluminum bike wheels that were stronger, more durable and more reliable than the traditional (steel) spoked wheel. The durability and aesthetic revolutionized the action sport of BMX and till this day, MotoMag wheels have been among the most popular BMX items ever produced in the history of the sport. 

Mongoose soon expanded into mountain biking, and enjoyed a multi-decade stint on top of the two-wheeled action sport market. Over the years, however,  the brand perception struggled as the company was sold and bought numerous times. These days, Mongoose makes everything from BMX and mountain bikes to scooters and cargo bikes. You can find entry-level Mongoose bikes at Walmart and Target for just a couple hundred bucks while the brand’s higher-end bikes continue to be used by professional BMX athletes. 

This summer, the two brands come together to commemorate their heritage with a bold and bright shoe collection that features the vintage 44 DX aesthetic and pairs it with modern day comfort. 

The Vans x Mongoose x Our Legends collection features three models, each representing a different era in Mongoose’s rich history in BMX and action sports. 

The 1970s: The black with orange and yellow accents was inspired by the bike graphics and stickers of that era.

The 1980s: The red-and-blue checkers ties back to the Americana jerseys that the Mongoose BMX race team wore.

The 1990s:  The two-tone turquoise and pink checkerboard design is a loose reissue from colors used in past Mongoose advertisements. 

The Authentic 44 DX shoes feature Vans' modern day Ortholite® sockliners for comfort, sturdy canvas uppers, Vans' signature robust, gum rubber waffle outsoles with plenty of of grip and cotton laces.

Ride / walk test

I received the 1970s black-and-orange model to test. Now I wasn’t yet born in the ‘70s but I’ll admit that the other two colorways would have been a tad too loud for my liking. I live in Portland, after all, where black jeans and faded denim jackets will never go out of style.  

In the PNW as in California, black, low-top Vans are an absolute classic and few shoes are as iconic as the 44 DX shoe: a low silhouette, canvas top, contrasting laces and hefty gum rubber soles with the waffle pattern.

It’s a retro yet ageless look paired with some modern touches like quad stitching on the heel, a splash of glossy color on the foxing tape and the OrthoLite innersole. 

Weighing in at just over 24 ounces in a size 38 EUR, they do feel hefty. But unlike other stiff soled casual shoes I’ve worn in the past, I was surprised with how comfortable these are right out of the box. No break-in period needed. 

I usually wear size 39 in cycling shoes, but based these shoes off my US size — US Women’s 7.5— versus European sizing because Vans is an American company after all. And I’m glad I did because they fit perfectly.

Made with skaters and BMX riders in mind, the performance element of this shoe lies in the sole. It’s stiff to power you forward and grippy so you stay planted on your pedals (or deck). 

Often times, however, flat-pedal shoes sport a sole that’s ideal for riding but simply too stiff and uncomfortable for walking. The Vans seem to strike a perfect balance here: they’re as comfortable on the bike as they are off the bike, when you're walking around town.

As such, I found this shoe to be the perfect commuter shoe for the urban lifestyle — performance-ready yet stylish and comfortable for everyday wear.

In all honesty, for me these shoes will likely be in heavy rotation off the bike while the BMX bike will return to its corner hook.

At $105 USD, the shoes in this collection, being a limited edition, are a tad pricier than the other relaunched 44 DX models. However, they’re made to last, good for casual wear, and come in unique colorways that are a fun and nostalgic throwback to many of our childhoods when the BMX bike still reigned.

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