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The staff at Motorcycle Classics recently tested and reviewed the following pairs of motorcycle riding boots:
1. Introduced to the market about six months ago, Alpinestars’ Soho Gore-Tex Boots are a mid- to high-priced entry in the motorcycle touring category. We ordered a pair in the spring, and I’ve been wearing them day in and out for the past three months. My use has been varied, including in-town riding, a daily 60-mile commute and a 1,500-mile blast to Road America. Grip on the soles is excellent, and I particularly like how easy they are to step in and out of thanks to a large and beefy Velcro closure on one side and a full-length zipper on the other. Although predictably stiff at first (they’re made from full-grain leather reinforced at critical stress points), once broken in they’ve maintained their trim and tailored looks, and so far have proven to be very comfortable. They’re also completely waterproof, as my Wisconsin trip proved following three hours riding through a pounding the-earth-is-ending downpour. My gloves and riding suit were soaked, but my feet were perfectly dry. Niggles? A minor tear in the left boot’s liner where it joins the Velcro flap is disappointing in an otherwise excellent set of boots. Price: $329.95. More info: www.alpinestars.com — Richard Backus
2. The Orbit Boot by Joe Rocket is a little bit of everything. At first glance, their chunky look reminded me of something Peter Boyle would have worn as the cinder-block-footed monster in Young Frankenstein. Dark and substantial with reinforced leather shift pads, these motorcycle riding boots feature a lace-up design that won’t be confused with anything worn at the race track. But when I laced them up and took my first steps in them, the boots made me want to dance like the monster did in the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number in the aforementioned movie. With leather construction and a padded ankle area (and the added bonus of molded plastic side impact protection), the boots looked clunky but felt comfortable and safe. After waterproofing them with some Pecard leather dressing, my ride in hours of rain left my feet dry. If my wife is any indication, chicks dig them, and I can wear these bad boys all day long whether riding or walking. My only complaint is that the laces need to be replaced with a stronger pair, but that’s an easy fix. Price: $109.99. More info: www.joerocket.com — Andy Sherman
3. Held’s Highlander II boots are exactly what you’d expect out of a set of well-made motorycle touring boots. Sharp, handsome and comfortable, they feature an outer shell of cowhide, a soft polyester lining and a HydroGuard membrane, which renders them waterproof and windproof, yet still breathable. They feature a zipper on the inside of the boot for easy entry and egress, plus Velcro panels for adjusting the sizing of the boots at the calf and an anti-slip oil and gasoline-proof sole. Shift pads, ankle protection on both sides, shin protectors and hard plastic protective shells all give the boots shape and stiffness, which add a secure yet comfortable feel to them. Price: $199.99. More info: www.heldusa.com
4. Another arena of the motorcycle riding boot world is occupied by boots that look more like hi-top sneakers than work or race boots. One of the most low-key pairs we could find is the TCX Jupiter 2 XCR boots. Made of suede leather and Air Tech fabric, the Jupiter boots feature a Gore-Tex XCR membrane that provides increased breathability and makes them waterproof. A simple lace up system makes a good fit easy, and an overlapping Velcro enclosure ensures the laces stay tucked away. We think they’re great for in-town riding and commuting work, and we’ve been impressed with their comfort both on and off the bike. Pricey, yes, but definitely well-made. While nothing protects like a set of calf-high leather boots, for real-world stop and go riding these present a compelling option. Price: $399.99. More info: www.tcxboots.com
5. Gasolina motorcycle riding boots look like the came straight out of the 1930s. That’s not surprising when you learn they’re made by a family who’s been making fine boots since the 1920s. The boots shown came about when former book publisher and vintage motorcycle nut Todd Fell decided he wanted to do something different. Leaning on his love of old bikes and vintage riding gear, he turned to making classic motorcycle boots. Hand made to Todd’s specifications at a small factory in Guanajuato, Mexico, where Todd lives, these boots are really a step back in time. We took delivery of a pair just as we went to press, and since then we've had a chance to use them regularly and have found them to be an interesting pair of boots. Why do we call them interesting? Well, for one the leather, extremely supple and good looking, seems a bit thin. Yet it feels like it will wear well, even though it's already broken in. The souls are pretty flat and devoid of much in the way of padding, yet they're still surprisingly comfortable. And the yellow stitching that looks so great in photos wanders here and there from a straight line, yet seems otherwise solid and functional. These are also the easiest boots I've ever worn to put on and take off. Just zip down the back, step in, zip up and buckle up and you're good to go. Every boot should be this easy. At the end of the day, we think they're a nice looking and highly functional riding boot at a bargain price. Price: $169, plus $15 shipping in the continental U.S. More info: www.gasolinaboots.com
6. Most of us started riding in work boots before we ever bought motorcycle-specific riding boots. And though they may lack the armor of more targeted bike boots, these Jobmaster boots from Wesco are great on a bike. Their 10-inch height and hearty materials put a thick layer of 7 oz. full-grain leather between you and the road in case of an accident. Made the way boots used to be made, the Jobmaster is the kind of boot that takes a little time to break in, but years to wear out. Made with a Vibram sole and heel, they feature a hard toe, and can also be ordered with a steel toe. (You can also have the boots completely custom made if you wish. See their web site for details). Jobmasters are made with solid brass studs and eyelets, a full-leather insole and midsole, a steel shank and removable false tongues. We’ve been thoroughly impressed with the quality and build of the pair we’ve been wearing for the last couple of weeks, and we’re looking forward to fully breaking them in and putting some serious miles on them. Price: $404. More info: www.westcoastshoe.com