Looking for PROTECTIVE but COMFORTABLE motorcycle boots for "daily" commuting, riding, touring.

Melensdad

Jerk in a Hawaiian Shirt & SNOWCAT Moderator
Staff member
GOLD Site Supporter
I want a daily wear boot. Something that is actually PROTECTIVE and COMFORTABLE. Many moto boots, particularly touring style boots offer very minimal protection. The low cut riding shoes and hightops simply don't offer the minimum protection I am looking for. Others are to rigid that they are not practical for daily use.

Price: Something $375 or less
Protection:
Minimum & Maximum shin height (12-15" tall), with rigid shin plate, ankle protection pads, rigid heel cup, rigid toe protection. Preferably with ankle support for twisting/torsion injuries but not a total deal breaker if it does not have rotational protection. These are all "non-negotiable" items for me. My old boots already have 3 of those 4 features, I want to increase protection, not decrease it.
Wearability: I'm looking for a new 'daily wear' boot so the sole must be flexible enough to allow me to walk around, but rigid enough to protect against a crush injury. Again, serious protection with reasonable walkability is required.
Waterproof: some sort of breathable waterproofing is desirable, but not a deal breaker if it is not Gore-Tex
Appearance: not looking for a space boot with shiny plastic, lots of odd looking details like many of the minimally protective euro style touring boots. Not looking for GIANT logos in contrasting colors, multi-colors, etc. I want something that fits under casual looking riding pants and looks pretty much like a casual boot.
Entry/Exit: I don't want a half dozen buckles, complicated collars, etc. These are for daily use, if they are a P.I.T.A. to get on/off then I likely won't wear them. A zipper would be great. Velco & Zipper is good. Buckles acceptable but not more than 2.

FWIW, I'm a fan of CE ratings but I'm not blind or stupid. Both of these boots (below) have the same 2-2-2 CE rating but very few people will argue that these two boots offer similar protection. And I don't want to wear either of these.
I want something that gives me a lot more protection than the ICON but is not a pure off-road boot like the SIDI while still giving some of the same protection as a motocross boot and doesn't look "weird" under a pair of casual looking pants!


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I look at CE ratings as "minimal" ratings. DOT helmet ratings are a joke, most of us know that and understand why. CE ratings are better, because they actually test the stuff before it is certified. Perhaps it would be better to compare CE ratings to MIL SPEC for guns? MIL SPEC is just the minimum standard acceptable. A CE 2-2-2 doesn't mean there is any protection in other areas, there are other ratings for shins, waterproofing, etc that CE certifies too, but generally the marketing people just say something is "CE" rated or certified and don't give us any details. And there are boots of the same model in different sizes that are CE certified to different levels! So common sense and diligent research need to be applied.



So here is the conundrum. How do I get the functions I desire from a moto boot and which is the ultimate in DAILY WEAR comfort without looking like some sort of bizarre boot? Again, realize the cuff of any boot will be covered by my pants.

Below is my list of candidates, in no particular order. There are a few others, Stylemartin makes a couple that could fit but reviews are slim. Forma’s ADV-Tourer would probably hit all the marks to qualify but the Cape Horn is a better boot so it’s easy to skip over the lower priced ADV-Touring boot since budget allows it. Also skipping over the heavily ventilated ‘air’ boots as I don’t want to be limited to only sunny dry weather, but admittedly I found very few that meet the minimum criteria I set.

Sidi Armada, checks all the safety boxes BUT has a funky entry/exit with the zipper on the inside and the velcro on the outside. Is it convenient for everyday wear? The sole is reported to be a walkable sole. The boot is reported to be very very comfortable and all day wear is common but the sole is on the stiff side of the spectrum so long walks in the moonlight with your beloved might be a bit too much to ask. The rigid ankle protection is a huge bonus. From the front, under a pair of moto-jeans it would look like a dress boot, perhaps not the side/back view, so pretty acceptable. Best ankle protection of the bunch. Gore-Tex waterproofing. Highest priced of this bunch at $350. Many others in this group are $50 to $100 lower in price.

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The Forma Cape Horn ticks all the boxes for safety and walkability. Not quite the ankle protection of the Sidi Armada, and none of the torsional protection and it has 2 buckles and velco, but still meets the minimum standards I'm looking for. Not quite the casual look I want either with its industrial looking sole extended at the toe, but not a moon boot, so acceptable. Very walkable boot, also among the tallest which gives protection to the shin.

For whatever it is worth, I currently have a different model FORMA boot and it is very comfortable. This boot recently changed its waterproofing material and that raises the price from $275 up to $300 for the current model. At $275 it is a feature packed bargain, at $300 it's less of a bargain and misses out on the torsional ankle protection offered by the $350 Sidi Armada.
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Rev'it has the Trail H20 which ticks every box but the sole is reported to be on the stiff side of walkable. So perhaps barely walkable. A technical and protective boot for sure, casual look to it under moto-pants, ease of entry/exit. Reported to have pretty good ankle torsional protection, something that is lacking on many of the boots. So lots of positives, if the sole is walkable. The question boils down to does this actually have a "walkable" sole or is it too stiff. Lots of reviews say its too stiff. It is a bargain at $250 but has all the protection.
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Sidi Canyon is a classic moto boot which garners rave reviews for protection, comfort and looks but it is also one of the lowest of the bunch. It still offers rigid shin protection, but its minimal compared to some of the others. Ankle is not stiffened/protected in the same way as the the Sidi Armada, nor even as good as the Rev'it Trail. Foot protection and all day comfort are widely claimed to be superior by loyal owners. Gore-Tex waterproofing. Roughly $325 for this boot. The Forma Cape Horn is more protective at the shin, but this is GoreTex so more breathable and the waterproofing is guaranteed for life at only $25 more than the Cape Horn.
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Alpinestars Radon Drystar again ticks the boxes, its actually one of the few Euro Touring style boots that offers reasonable shin protection. Looks may take some getting used to but it seems to offer everything on the list, if a little lower in the shin than most. Probably should be near the bottom of the list, if for no other reason than it has lowest acceptable shin protection. Alpinestars offers several different models in this same basic configuration, with similar protection. Full leather with Gore-Tex ($299) in addition to this model at $199, in addition to ventilated models. Alpinestars is one of the few that has some real hard panel shin protection in some of their Euro-touring boot styles. Most of the euro-touring boots have very flexible soles and while they offer some protection from a side crush, they offer very little front impact protection because the soles are so flexible.
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Another of the rare Euro Touring boots to offer all the protection required, the Dianese Freeland is taller than the Alpinestars Radon and again has that sort of Euro oddball look, but perhaps a bit more subdued than the Alpinestars and probably would look good under a pair of riding pants. Pretty good shin protection, hard and soft ankle protectors too, but torsional rigidity is lacking. Walkable. Gore-Tex waterproofing. Dianese also offers full leather versions, ventilated, etc. Some of their euro-touring models have hard shin protection. Like other euro-touring boots, these have flexible soles and offer CE rated protection from a side crush but very little front impact protection because the soles are so flexible. This is a $300 boot, Gore Tex.
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The final boot that I think hits the buttons is the Alpinestars Camperche which is perhaps a more technical and protective boot, similar to he Rev'it Trail boot above. Again, the sole is on the stiffer end of the spectrum and walking may be a chore, but it is supposed to be marginally more flexible than the Rev'it. Bonus that it comes in 2 different colors. Ankle stiffness and torsional protection is reported to be good, better than the Euro style touring boots and the Sidi Canyon. Not as tall as the Forma but taller than the Euro style boots and the Sidi Canyon. At $259 it is a bargain in the group.
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Melensdad

Jerk in a Hawaiian Shirt & SNOWCAT Moderator
Staff member
GOLD Site Supporter
I guess I'm the only one here who uses dedicated moto boots?

In any case, SIDI put their boots on sale. The Sidi ARMADA was dropped down to $314. The Sidi Canyon was under $295. Both are Gore-Tex, and that means they carry a lifetime waterproof & breathable warranty. By comparison, the Forma Cape Horn is $300, less protective than the Armada, slightly more protective than the Canyon, but uses a copy-cat waterproofing fabric that carries an inferior warranty. The Dainese boot is also $300, but Gore-Tex, and has far less protection than the $314 Armada and perhaps a bit less than the $295 Canyon.

I checked on availability and Revzilla, CycleGear, Chaparelle and Motorcycle Gear are all out of stock and on back order. Dennis Kirk . Com showed them as out of stock but available for order. So I ordered a pair of the Sidi Armada boots.

Looks like I may be lucky in the price? The sale prices on the SIDI brand boots have ended.

Dennis Kirk . com has confirmed my boots at the sale price.

NONE of the other websites I frequent would even permit me to place an order so none would honor the sale price, except on the few smaller sizes they seemed to have in stock. None of my frequented websites are currently allowing orders to be placed for the boots even at the regular price, they show them as either backordered or for May delivery.

Still looks like I have a long wait to get the boots, probably not until May?
 

Melensdad

Jerk in a Hawaiian Shirt & SNOWCAT Moderator
Staff member
GOLD Site Supporter
Well a miracle happened.

I got a delivery estimate for my boots. Should be arriving on Wednesday May 12. Almost 2 months wait.

Really wanted something that was very protective AND very comfortable.

 

Melensdad

Jerk in a Hawaiian Shirt & SNOWCAT Moderator
Staff member
GOLD Site Supporter
The
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Sidi Armada boots finally arrived. Pretty sure they are keepers! Fit a little loose in the heel, but length and toe box fit are good.

Right out of the box they are a bit stiff, but in a secure and comforting way. Doing squats in the boots and they squeak a little, the sole flexed just enough.

The sole is fairly stiff, but certainly ‘walkable’ when off the bike. If my Forma boots have a sole stiffness of a 5 out of 10, these are a 7 out of 10. I’ve tried Euro style touring boots that were closer to a 3. Ski boots & serious dual sport boots are pushing a 10. So these have moderately rigid soles, which is something I wanted. Soles look like a knock off of Vibram hiking boots, but perhaps a little thinner.

Wearing straight leg, thin cut Wrangler blue jeans while trying them on, there is no way to get the jeans over the top of the boot. The shaft of the boot is not terribly bulky but the straight leg jeans are just too narrow. Not a big deal, my moto pants are not straight leg! Perhaps with the wrap around cuff removed they might fit under straight leg jeans.

As for protection, these are pretty amazing compared to anything that I’d call a touring boot. In addition to the fairly stiff sole, the heel is pretty much crush proof and very rigid. Toe feels crushproof, I could not compress it. Shin protection is interesting, thick and padded, especially with the cuff. There is a smallish hard rubber impact panel on the cuff in addition to the thick semi rigid padding.

Zipper entry is easy, there is an elastic expansion panel next to the zipper to allow the ankle shaft to expand while inserting your foot. Not an issue for a skinny leg like mine, but the zipper allows you to stop short of the top, and lock it in place, if you have a thick calf. There is also elastic on the top back for comfort.

Ankle protection includes foam pads in addition to the rigid exo-skeleton that extends up several inches.

I’m very favorably impressed so far. Looking for a first ride tomorrow evening or maybe Thursday? I have to be at Notre Dame all day tomorrow and back in time to get to the fencing club to teach a class in the evening so not sure, but I might ride to the club on the bike to test these out.
 

Melensdad

Jerk in a Hawaiian Shirt & SNOWCAT Moderator
Staff member
GOLD Site Supporter
Just a follow up, and this is by no means a real review. I've only worn them for short distance rides and a bit around the house & yard just to get a good feel for them.

First thing I noticed is the soles are much stiffer than my older Forma boots. That is good and bad. Good in that that soles will help prevent some crush injuries. Bad in that they are much hard to walk in and I am looking for a "daily wear" boot. But not so stiff that I rule them out for daily wear. They are comfortable enough. At least for fairly short distances while walking. I would not choose these for hiking! But a trip to the grocery store would be fine.

The stiffer sole also yields less feel on the brake. Not sure I'd say that is a real problem, it is just something that I'll grow used to and will adapt to.

The heel on the sole is a bit different than my Forma boots too, that makes for positioning on the pegs a bit different. Again, not a real problem, just something to adapt to as I become accustom to these boots.

I was surprised how easy they are to slip into. I wore them to the fencing club, changed into my fencing shoes. Then when leaving, I simple dropped my foot right down the shaft of the boot and zipped them up. On my initial fitting I was sitting down and pulled it on. But with the shaft stiff enough, and the boot's stretch panels, it is easy just to insert your foot while standing. That is a bonus, I honestly figured these might be a bit of a chore for entry/exit.

After about 30 minutes of wear I noticed the "squeak" is pretty dramatically reduced. As these have a hinged ankle and an additional protective collar there are surfaces rubbing against each other so some noise is inevitable but the annoying squeak is gone, so that is good.

On the bike these are comfortable boots. No question there. The sole is stiff enough that the pegs don't create a pressure point, which is a good thing.

I'd have to say I am still very favorably impressed. I wish they looked less "stylish Italian" and had a bit more subdued look to them. Some of the protective plastic bits are shiny, some are dull. I'd prefer they were all dull finished. But honestly only the foot portion of the boot is visible as the pant leg and cuff cover much (but not all) of the 'offending' shiny bits so the looks are not too objectionable in actual use. I will probably like them better when they show a bit of wear and the some of the shine is off the leather too.
 
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