Mystery SiDI boot

Next to a helmet, proper motorcycle boots are arguably the second most important piece of protection gear (not counting a back-protector).   If I were new to riding and strapped for cash, I would get an inexpensive helmet that was Snell/DOT approved, a basic textile jacket or used leather jacket (that included a decent back pad or back protector), inexpensive gloves, thick jeans, and spend the majority of my cash on good quality boots.  Seriously, there are many fragile bones and ligaments in our ankles and feet that are in an excellent location to get crushed, ripped, and torn off by even a relatively minor motorcycle crash if you aren’t wearing the proper boots.    In this article I’ll go over the various boots that I’ve used, and show you what I think may just be the perfect motorcycle boot for sport street / trackday riding!

First, let’s establish some criteria for evaluating sport riding boots.  Below is a list of various aspects we’ll inspect, and rate on a scale of 1-10:

Protection

(70)

Ankle Abrasion
Ankle Side-Rotation
Foot Hyper Extending
Toe Crush
Heel Crush
Side Crush
Shin Impact
Function

(60)

Toe Slider
Shift Plate
Latching / Closure
Fit for Leathers
Fit for Jeans
Sole Grip / Longevity
Comfort

(60)

Ease of Entry / Removal
Weather protection
Ventilation
Arch Support / Heel
Walking Fit
Riding Fit
Quality

(40)

Internal
External
Fasteners
Replaceable Parts

When I started riding, the first boots I got were simply some hiking boots because they covered the ankle (which was a requirement for the Team Oregon BRT at the time):

 

hiking boot

hiking boot

So let’s see how these hiking boots do on our evaluation points:

Protection

(16/70)

Ankle Abrasion

7

Ankle Side-Rotation

4

Foot Hyper Extending

2

Toe Crush

1

Heel Crush

2

Side Crush

0

Shin Impact

0

Function

(18/60)

Toe Slider

0

Shift Plate

0

Latching / Closure

2

Fit for Leathers

0

Fit for Jeans

9

Sole Grip / Longevity

7

Comfort

(40/60)

Ease of Entry / Removal

10

Weather protection

4

Ventilation

2

Arch Support / Heel

9

Walking Fit

10

Riding Fit

5

Quality

(27/40)

Internal

8

External

9

Fasteners

8

Replaceable Parts

2

Well, it looks like my hiking boots are pretty comfortable and have decent quality, but aren’t very protective or functional for a motorcycle.  (We’re not surprised by that are we?)  Not to mention that aggressive tread patterns, and laces are not good fits for sport riding motorcycle pegs.

hiking boot

I quickly realized I need a proper motorcycle boot, before I caught a shoelace again on a peg and fall over like a dumbass.  The next boots I got were Joe Rocket “Sonic” boots.  These were definitely a step up from hiking boots, so let’s see how these score up:

Joe Rocket Sonic Boots

Joe Rocket Sonic Boots

Protection

(30/70)

Ankle Abrasion

9

Ankle Side-Rotation

7

Foot Hyper Extending

4

Toe Crush

5

Heel Crush

3

Side Crush

2

Shin Impact

0

Function

(23/60)

Toe Slider

0

Shift Plate

2

Latching / Closure

6

Fit for Leathers

0

Fit for Jeans

8

Sole Grip / Longevity

7

Comfort

(38/60)

Ease of Entry / Removal

9

Weather protection

7

Ventilation

0

Arch Support / Heel

7

Walking Fit

8

Riding Fit

7

Quality

(19/40)

Internal

5

External

6

Fasteners

6

Replaceable Parts

2

As you can see, I effectively doubled my protection with the Joe Rocket “Sonic” boots over the hikers.  Not having shoe laces to get caught up on the pegs was a huge win, as was having a proper sole tread that let me properly move my feet on the pegs.  While function and comfort were roughly the same, I definitely took a hit in the quality department, and you can see where these boots split apart through simple normal use after only a few months (thankfully they sent replacements at no charge under warranty):

Joe Rocket Sonic Boots -broken

While I knew the Joe Rockets were lackluster, I chose to spend my money on a trackday school instead of buying better boots.  While I got lucky, and don’t regret spending the money on the trackday at all, I did realize that day just how little these boots were really protecting me.  I nearly broke my big toe on my left foot, and not from a crash or a slide, but simply a rock or wheel weight that was kicked up from the bike in front of me…hitting the toe of my Sonic boot at 85MPH!  I was able to finish out the last couple of sessions, but realized that such a simple injury was nothing compared to what could have happened with such lackluster protective gear.  I saved up and purchased a pair of AlpineStars SMX Plus boots that were on a closeout sale at a local dealer.  (Size 43 Euro would have been perfect for me, but size 45 were the closest they had, so I bought them).

Alpinstars SMX Plus Boots

Alpinstars SMX Plus Boots

Let’s see how these proper sport riding boots measure up:

Protection

(50/70)

Ankle Abrasion

9

Ankle Side-Rotation

9

Foot Hyper Extending

6

Toe Crush

7

Heel Crush

6

Side Crush

5

Shin Impact

8

Function

(50/60)

Toe Slider

8

Shift Plate

9

Latching / Closure

10

Fit for Leathers

7

Fit for Jeans

7

Sole Grip / Longevity

9

Comfort

(40/60)

Ease of Entry / Removal

8

Weather protection

7

Ventilation

4

Arch Support / Heel

8

Walking Fit

5

Riding Fit

8

Quality

(28/40)

Internal

8

External

7

Fasteners

8

Replaceable Parts

5

Alpinstars SMX Plus Boots compare to JR Sonic boots

Nice!  We went up 20 points in protection, and doubled function without sacrificing comfort!  We went up nicely in quality points as well!  Unfortunately, on my next trackday, I realized that having boots 2 sizes too large caused a problem:  When the balls of my feet were on the pegs, the toe of the boot hung too far forward.  While toe sliders are there for a reason, in this case the toe of my boot was hanging farther forward than my peg feeler hung down (so I had to sell these boots)…

Alpinestar boot toe too far forward

I had to sell my SV650, and was left with only my FJR1300 big touring bike, and I had to find a new boot to wear.  I made the decision to go with a boot made more for comfort and water resistance than protection, and looking back on this choice, I would have reconsidered.  The boots I purchased were the Gaerne “Balance” Oiled boot.  (These boots are actually made for trail and trials riding, not sport riding or street touring protection).

Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots

Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots

Let see how they stack up to my old Astars:

Protection

(22/70)

Ankle Abrasion

8

Ankle Side-Rotation

3

Foot Hyper Extending

2

Toe Crush

2

Heel Crush

1

Side Crush

1

Shin Impact

5

Function

(34/60)

Toe Slider

0

Shift Plate

0

Latching / Closure

10

Fit for Leathers

5

Fit for Jeans

9

Sole Grip / Longevity

10

Comfort

(37/60)

Ease of Entry / Removal

9

Weather protection

10

Ventilation

0

Arch Support / Heel

4

Walking Fit

9

Riding Fit

5

Quality

(32/40)

Internal

9

External

10

Fasteners

9

Replaceable Parts

4

Trading different types of comfort (walking/weather protection/ease of fit), from the AlpineStars, found me really taking a hit in the function and protection aspects of a sport riding boot.  While these were high quality and extremely comfortable for walking and keeping my feet dry, they simply lack too much function and protection to make them a viable sport bike boot.

Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots too flexible

Finally realizing that I needed a proper sport riding motorcycle boot, with plenty of protection for riding in fair weather, I did a ton of research and review comparisons.  What I found and ultimately purchased was what I’ve found to be the perfect boot for sport motorcycle riding:  The SiDI ST Air boots!

SiDI ST Air boots

Let’s take a closer look at the features and protection here:

SiDI ST Air boots

SiDI ST Air boots

SiDI ST Air boots

SiDI ST Air boots

SiDI ST Air boots

SiDI ST Air boots

SiDI ST Air boots

It’s apparent there is a lot of protection and function here, lets see how these SiDI ST Air boots stack up against the boots from my past:

Protection

(64/70)

Ankle Abrasion

10

Ankle Side-Rotation

10

Foot Hyper Extending

9

Toe Crush

9

Heel Crush

8

Side Crush

8

Shin Impact

10

Function

(54/60)

Toe Slider

10

Shift Plate

10

Latching / Closure

10

Fit for Leathers

9

Fit for Jeans

7

Sole Grip / Longevity

8

Comfort

(39/60)

Ease of Entry / Removal

8

Weather protection

1

Ventilation

10

Arch Support / Heel

8

Walking Fit

4

Riding Fit

8

Quality

(37/40)

Internal

9

External

10

Fasteners

9

Replaceable Parts

9

Giving up some walking comfort and weather protection, you gain awesome ventilation, ease of entry and a great riding fit.  Quality, function and most of all protection are nearly maxed out!  These are simply amazing boots for sport riding.  I am seriously impressed!

When it comes to ankle protection, these boots have nice large protection areas for impact and abrasion, as well the sturdy wrap around bracing plate for the calf that prevents side ankle rotation and resists hyper extension.  There is a reinforced toe box, as well as a shock absorbing heel cap at the back of the boot.  Furthermore, the rigid halves of the shin guard and wrap around calf plate lock together once closed to form excellent crush protection!

All the goodies are here when it comes to function:  Large toe sliders, molded shift plates, and amazingly effective latching system.  You basically pull the back of the boot wide open, then unzip the entire inside, so that you are able to get your foot right into the bed of the boot without dancing around trying to wedge it in there.  Then you zip up the side, adjust the velcro side closure, and use the awesome cam-locks to return the boot to a rigid single enclosure!  With the adjustability inherent in this closure mechanism, it is easy to get a comfortable fit for tucking leathers inside.  On the flip side, it can be a bit tight getting jeans over the cam-locks and calf framing.  The sole of the boot is nice and thin to give great feel on the motorcycle and the heel is thick enough to provide good impact protection.

Sport riding/racing boots are never going to be the most comfortable things to wear, and fully locked up these aren’t the greatest for walking around in.  That said, it’s easy to pop the cam-locks to give you more calf room, which quickly makes walking much more forgiving.  Once you’re on your bike in the natural standard/sport riding position, these boots are extremely comfortable.

The ventilation in these is very well done, such that with the main vent closed, the perforations let your foot breathe, but don’t get too cold, even down to 40f degree weather.  Popping the big side vent open, will blast fresh air into the boot, and really get the perfs breathing, so I look forward to using this boot in the summer and avoiding “swamp foot”!  (Of course if you get caught in the rain, your feet are going to get soaked…but on the bright side, they’ll air out quick) 😉

These are a very high quality boot, both inside and out.  I was very impressed with my AlpineStars, but the SiDI take things up a notch.  What I’m most impressed with is that every single bit of external protection is replaceable with a simple philips head screwdriver:

  • Toe Slider
  • Side Vent
  • Calf plate and hinges
  • Heel Cup
  • Shin Protector

 

Let’s see how all of the boots stack up:

Boot

Max Score 230

Hiking boots

101

Joe Rocket “Sonic” boots

110

AlpineStars SMX Plus boots

168

Gaerne “Balance” Oiled boots

125

SiDI ST Air boots

194

Thus far I haven’t talked about price of any of the boots, and I know that is always one of the complaints newer riders have about gear.  However, if you look at all the boots I’ve had to purchase to get to this point of spending some decent money on an exceptional boot, you would see that I could buy 3 pairs of these!!!  If I had known back in the day what I understand now, I would have simply saved up for what are the best sport riding motorcycle boots currently on the market!

 

SiDI ST Air Boots

SiDI ST Air Boots Black and White