Shift Racing knows a thing or two about designing casual kicks. They’re the folks that gave riders the popular Fuel Street Shoe. Savvy readers may recall the Fuel design, as they were ubiquitous in motojournalists’ gear bags in recent years, gracing many publication photos, including our own. The new Kicker shoes improve on its sibling’s design.
Sourcing genuine/synthetic leather for body construction, extra protection comes via plastic inserts in the over-ankle uppers. Rubber sections atop the toe area deliver extra durability and pleasing grip on the shift lever. Overall the shoe construction seems more substantive to us with its thicker sole, which is reinforced in the midsection to accommodate footpeg contact.
The top features of the Kicker come in comfort and ease of use. Where the Fuel shoes were a chore to get in and out of, owing to their constricting Velcro closure in the uppers section, the Kickers are much easier to operate thanks to the buckle closure system. The adjustable ankle strap releases fully out of the way, allowing the tongue area to slide all the way out. Slide the foot in, pull on the speed-lace system for a snug fig, ratchet down the side buckle and riders are good to go. And once on the move we rate the comfort factor higher than the Fuel, with the Kicker delivering more breathability. Mind you, that’s not a knock on the Fuel, it’s a compliment on the Kicker.
We do have a couple small kvetches with the Kickers. Like the Fuel Street Shoes, they squeak some until fully broken in, though not to the extent of the previous model. Also it doesn’t take much contact to disengage the ankle strap. This is a good thing for quick removal after rides, but annoying when they pop off from a casual bump. One last foible, while the sole promises optimal traction, on wet footpegs we struggled with grip on occasion.
Biggest benefit of the Shift Kickers, they sport a relatively reasonable MSRP at $129.95. It’s a fair price, though they are $30 higher than the popular Fuel model. Still, we think it’s worth the extra scratch and the Kickers have earned go-to status in our gear bag for fair weather jaunts and casual rides.