For each of our reviews we try to sift through the hype and give you our honest feedback on products before you shell out your hard earned cash on something you’ve never tried before. For this installment, we review the DVS Chico Brenes Nica shoe.
This shoe was released in 2014 and is Chocolate Skateboards’ Chico Brenes’ pro model.
Chico Brenes has been killin’ it on the board for so long, so it’s somewhat an understatement to say that I was hyped to slide my feet into a pair of Nica’s for testing. The Nica has a cupsole construction reminiscent of skate shoes past with a more traditional late ’90s-’00s design aesthetic but updated to the present day needs of modern skateboarding (read=slimmed down toebox but not too pointy). You get a durable suede upper, with a mesh tongue that offers breathability, an ortholite footbed, and a flex feel Herringbone thread patterned sole. The grey model’s sole also comes in sticky gum rubber, perfect for that all round grip, so you don’t get that unwanted slip. Just the right amount of grip, with no noticeable slip both on worn down grip tape and on smooth skate plaza surfaces (Stoner Plaza tested).
Feel, flexibility and flick
The Nica has a moderately flexible sole, definitely in between the flexibility of a typical vulcanized shoe and the stiffer cupsoles on the market. The ortholite insoles are good to go straight out of the box, and definitely a step up from the usual stock insoles that a lot of models tend to come with nowadays.
The flick on the toebox is excellent, and the mid-sized silhouette makes it pretty easy to get the perfect flick on those kickflips. Another plus is that the lace placement is pulled back enough to stay out of the way from most griptape damage from kickflips. One very interesting feature here is that the toe box is actually encased in a rubber shell that lines the inside of the shoe’s upper below the suede outer. This gives the toes a good amount of protection from 360 shoves gone wrong, and also adds to the shoe’s lifespan. This rubber toe box shell does take a little getting used to as it feels a little bit stiffer.
I really liked that the heel cup is very sturdy, with sufficient rigidity through a hard thermoplastic insert in the heel that greatly reduces the chance of a rolled ankle due to a breakdown in the shoe’s structural integrity through prolonged use. There’s also a nice little touch with the heel loop and the little yellow peeking through the grey suede cutaway. Great attention to detail.
One aspect of the Nica that might be improved is the breathability in the upper. While the breathable tongue is amazing, the rest of the upper could do with more ventilation holes, especially during the hot summer months. The shoe did heat up pretty quickly as each session progressed.
Cushioning and impact absorption
I generally prefer cupsoles, and given the choice, I typically skate cupsoles more often than vulcs. That being said, the Nica, while a cupsole, still has some of that vulc flexibility in its sole while not sacrificing too much of the support as often characterizes really thin cupsoles. Nevetheless, the outsole itself did seem to pack out a little quick (after about 10 hours of cumulative skating), and this could be due to the higher density rubber used (which offered better durability). It would have been nice to have a slightly softer outsole too, for better impact absorption, as the impact of each landing started to become more clearly felt at the 10 hour mark. But compared to typical vulcanized shoes, the Nica has a tremendous amount of cushioning and impact absorption characteristics. Bottom line, this isn’t the most cushioned cupsole on the market, but neither is it any where near the worst.
Wear pictures after 15 hours of skating.
The Nica really excels in it’s durability. As mentioned earlier, the toe box has an underlying rubber shell below the suede surface and this adds considerably to the shoe’s lifespan. After breaking through the suede outer in the 5th hour, the underlying rubber/thermomesh layer takes up the slack and takes a long time to wear down. So this is a definite plus for all you kickflippers out there. This rubber layer will probably last a good 10 hours beyond the 15 hour mark, based on the current rate of wear. The outsole bumper is also of a slightly higher density rubber so it wore down gradually and well during the shoe’s life. The gum sole also held up excellently to griptape abuse, and was still plenty grippy even at the 15 hour mark.
The DVS Nica is a great all round shoe if you skate a lot of ledges and jump down smaller stair sets. The Nica has a relatively flexible sole, in between that of typical cupsoles and vulc offerings. With it’s fairly decent amount of cushioning, the Nica will probably hold up to the demands of smaller stair and rail chompers but the outsole does tend to pack out at around the 10 hour mark. The Nica really excels in the durability department with it’s rubber/thermomesh underlayer in the toebox (which also doubles as a protective shell for those errant boards landing on one’s toes). I really liked the gum sole from the grey colorway, which stayed plenty grippy through the 15 hour mark, and this was a HUGE plus in my book. Overall, this is a great shoe for the ledge aficionados and small stairset/drop crowd, and totally aligns with the kind of skateboarding Chico Brenes is known for. I give this shoe two thumbs up! -HK