Monday, January 25, 2010

Alpinestars Effex Gore-Tex Boots

Feet are underappreciated. Walking is second nature, and the only time most people are aware of the abuse their feet take is when fatigue starts setting in after a day of standing on them. But motorcyclists are more in tune with the demands feet are put through daily. Think how many times you kick up that foot control with every pull of the clutch during the average ride, not to mention how many times you’re pumping the foot-actuated rear brake. We use ‘em to steady us while we’re backing in our supermotos or balancing our big cruisers at stoplights. Motorcycle riders place more of a premium on quality foot protection than most. So when I heard that I was receiving a pair of Alpinestars Effex Gore-Tex Boots to wear this riding season, I was eager to test the merits of the Italian manufacturer’s kicks. I had high expectations for my A-Stars, seeing how the company made a name for itself initially by making hiking and ski boots.

The Effex Gore-Tex Boots are Alpinestars’ mid-range touring offering. The boots come up mid-calf and are comprised of various leather sections that are stitched together solidly. The sole is thin with just enough of a heel to hook onto a foot peg. The design is attractive without being over the top, with a small Alpinestars logo embossed on the sole and another larger raised A-stars emblem at the top of the boot that faces outside. They are all-black, but do come with a
2009 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic
The leather boots are all black, but if you look close you can see the small reflective strip on the heel of the Effex Boots.
small reflective strip on the heel that sits where it will be visible when your riding pants creep up.

The boots cinch up via a zipper that runs up the inside of the boot. Covering the zipper is a leather flap with a Velcro fastener to keep the zipper from sliding down. The arrangement works because I’ve never experienced any problems with the zipper. The boots are narrow and fit snug around the ankles and the sides of my feet. There’s a little more breathing room above the ankle thanks to a separate Velcro closure at the top of the boot that allows you to dial in the fit.
The A-stars Effex Gore-Tex Boots do not have armor, so they don't offer the protection of a fortified ‘race’ boot. They are reinforced in the toe and ankle and there is a shin plate that, along with the boot’s durable leather and heavy-duty stitching, provides riders with a sense of their feet being secure in case the dreaded get-off occurs.

At the advice of Alpinestars Outside Communications rep, Tim Collins, I went with a smaller pair than what I normally wear. The boots run a little big, so I went with a full size smaller. It fits just right in length, but is a tad narrow where my foot is widest. The top of the boot presses against the bridge of my foot and gets a little uncomfortable after a full day’s riding. The pressure is never noticeable until after a few hours in the saddle, though. Going a half-size bigger would probably remedy that without sacrificing the contoured fit that riders covet.

The Effex Gore-Tex Boots are versatile enough to wear on and off the bike. Give credit to a little extra padding stitched in around the ankles and a soft interior liner. The liner is comfortable and moisture wicking, which is a good thing
Big Bear Choppers GTX-F
Whether I'm haulin' on the 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic or cruising along on Big Bear Choppers GTX-F (above), Alpinestars Effex Gore-Tex Boots were up to the task.
because the boots don’t breathe well. But I’ve worn them on hot days and roasted toes haven’t been an issue. Neither has the rain I’ve ridden through, which means the boot’s Gore-Tex treatment is doing its job.

After months of riding, there are little signs of wear. Though there’s no reinforcement in the area where I click the shifter, the only real sign of wear is on the leather tab of the Velcro closure above the zipper which doesn’t sit flush and has risen up in a few spots. But it still seals up tight.

So have Alpinestars Effex Gore-Tex Boots lived up to the high expectations that I had for them? Absolutely. They look sharp, are built to last, and offer ample protection. They break in quick and don’t weigh a ton. I’m impressed with what great shape they’re still in despite riding hard in them the last couple of months. I’m also a fan of their resistance to rain. Like most Alpinestars gear, they are cut to fit tight, and my only grievance was the pressure they apply to the bridge of my foot. Its MSRP of $219.95 places them smack in the middle price range for a good touring boot. Luckily, I know the Motorcycle Superstore has them on sale for $174.99, and at that price, I’d say ‘Deal.’

Friday, January 15, 2010

Alpinestars S-MX 5 Boots Review

Alpinestars successor to their popular S-MX 4 boots. The main difference between the new S-MX 5 boots and the previous version S-MX 4 are greater comfort and improved ventilation throughout the boot. The quality construction and safety is as good as the previous version. These also come in a separate perforated version. Keeping in line with the goal of improved comfort, the sole is not as wide and bulky as your normal race boots. The compound of the sole is also designed to be suited for walking and won’t wear as quickly.

Very comfortable motorcycle boots to wear. Armor is not as thick compared to the SMX Plus model, particularly the heel and shin protectors but still sufficient for general riding. It uses a easy to use velcro adjustment system to tighten the fit with the same zipper system as the other S-MX boots to enclose your foot. The S-MX 5 boots are a well rounded full length boot with a good amount of protection and comfort. Price is around $200-$250.

-Ethan Carnegie

Alpinestars SMX Plus Boots Review

Alpinestars higher end racing boot, just under their Supertech R range.

Full protection racing boot with good quality construction. It includes an inner boot lacing system to allow for a more customizable fit. Fits true to size and can accommodate wider than normal feet, I wear a EE.
Comes in a perforated version for better ventilation during summer. Includes replaceable toe and heel sliders, toe sliders are plastic but can be replaced with magnesium sliders. It’s also available in a multitude of colors (Black, Blue, Red, White, White/Red)

I find these are quite squeaky when walking, caused by the plastic ankle cup rubbing with the plastic heel armor. If you wear a suit (you should), some shin armor may not fit if you have thick calves. Sole may wear out quickly but this applies to all race boots in general. Alpinestar boots use a curved zipper system that may take some getting used to and longer to put on. However, once on I feel these are one of the best boots in their price range $300-$350. I highly recommend these and wear them myself (the vented version).

Sidi Vertigo Boots Review

Sidi’s top of the range boot, now superceded by the Vortice range. As you would expect from Sidi, the craftmanship is top notch along with all the safety features you expect in a high end race boot. The Vertigo range has taken 2 years to design and includes a wide range of models. We will go through the Sidi Vertigo and Sidi Vertigo Corsa models.

* Sidi Vertigo - Standard model with plastic/lorica armor.
* Sidi Vertigo Air - Perforated model for greater ventilation.
* Sidi Tepor (Vertigo Rain) - Waterproof model.
* Sidi Mega Gore Tex - Waterproof model for wider feet.
* Sidi Vertigo Corsa - Top end model with improved armor and features.
* Sidi Vertigo Corsa Air - Perforated model of the Corsa’s.

Starting with their replaceable component system. The toe slider and shin plate can be replaced in case you taste asphalt and survive to ride again. The shock absorbing heel cup appears to offer excellent protection, though I haven’t crashed with them yet.

Their unique calf tightening system is the best of all boots I’ve tried on. You tighten a knob at the back to adjust and with a simple flick of the switch you release it for easy exit. A standard zipper with velcro is used to hold your feet. Side vents can be opened for additional air flow. If you live in a warm climate, the Sidi Vertigo Air boots come perforated.
Sizing wise these fit true to size. Only gripe is that these aren’t made for wide feet. Sidi offer the Sidi Mega Gore Tex (waterproof), but ideally a mega version of their standard or vertigo air model would be better.

Sidi Vortice Boots Review

Sidi’s new top of the range boot includes a number of improvements over their Vertigo Corsa model.
The latch adjustment system they use over the bridge of the foot is now included just above the ankle for an even better fit. New vent at the front of the toes provide even more airflow. Vortice Air is their perforated leather version allowing insance amounts of air flow for summer and warmer climates. The other differences between these and the Corsa’s are a replaceable sole, heel cup and better fitting system.

The replaceable sole is an excellent idea as race boot soles tend to wear out quickly, for me anyhow. The heel cup now includes a crumple zone type system that will absorb the impact and is also replaceable. The fitting system is a little different and will take getting used to.

Essentially the calf and shin is split open in two parts, allowing easier entry and particularly good for people with wide calves. Sizing fits true to size, same as the Vertigo models.

If you don’t mind the extra time in putting these on along with the higher price tag, then these are the best race boots available in my opinion. The amount of adjustments they offer make these an excellent fit. Craftmanship is superb, Sidi never lets you down with their high end gear. Protection and armor is innovative and the replacement parts make this a boot you can crash many times over without replacing entirely.

Colors available are two toned, Black/Black, Black/Blue, Black/Red and White/White.