Motorcycle Adventure Boots – Thoughts by Julia Sanders

On our very first motorcycle overland trip through South America, Kevin and I wore nothing but hiking boots. At the time, out thinking was that we did not have enough space when travelling two up for hiking boots and motorcycle boots, and that motorcycle boots were too big and heavy to walk around in. So hiking boots it was and it all went well until a dirt road in the middle of the Peruvian mountains when we came off the bike. Thankfully we were not hurt too badly – a twisted ankle, a nasty scrape, a small puncture wound and plenty of bruising.2016-03-18 15.42.30

By the time we led Trans Americas 2005, Kevin had upgraded to the BMW GS Rally Boot, whilst I wore my Gore-Tex Daytona Ladies GTX boot. On that particular trip, one of the guys came off his bike. He only had lace up leather boots with no protection above mid shin and he broke his leg. To this day, I am convinced that had he been wearing a heavy-duty boot, his injury would have been significantly less. I looked at my own boots and I looked at Kevin’s boots and saw immediately that his protected his lower leg so much better than mine. So on my next big riding adventure in South America, I chose the BMW Santiago boot – it was an adventure touring boot, with definitely more shin protection. Kevin wanted me to wear the GS Rally Boot, but I resisted massively because they felt so uncomfortable, and there is a balance to be had between safety and comfort; too uncomfortable would be I was distracted, being distracted means not enough focus on the road.

But over time, on all the expeditions and tours, a pattern of lower leg injury was appearing as the most common type of injury and invariably where the rider had chosen to wear softer touring style boots, despite our advice for something more robust.

2016-03-18 15.44.14Roll on 2009. I wore the motocross style boot. As Kevin repeatedly told me, once you get used to them, they are fine. And (un)surprisingly, he was absolutely right. Yes, they felt stiff and awkward to begin with. It was weird as I didn’t feel the pressure I needed to lightly brush the back brake, locking it up when my “lightly brushing” ended up being a “stamping hard”. But given a week or so, it all felt completely normal.   We both wore the GS Rally boot for a number of years until they changed the design and Kevin could not get on with them, so then we tried the Sidi Crossfire. They were a complete revelation! Whereas the BMW boot had been hard work to break in, these just worked straight away. I smiled from the minute my foot was in the boot. I remember wondering why on earth we hadn’t used these boots right from the start? (My boot evolution is above right).

So, where are we now? Both Kevin and I wear the Sidi Crossfire2 for our longer expeditions or rides that have more challenging dirt roads. They are not designed as waterproof, but they do a bloody good job for anything but the heaviest of rain (and we use Seal Skinz socks for those days), the soles are really grippy, my ankle is firmly protected and they are even comfy to walk around in (although they do need quite a bit of WD40 to stop the squeaking once and a while!)  For standard European touring, we wear the Gore-Tex Sidi Adventure Boot.

Our advice to all our customers on our big expeditions is this. Not everyone takes it. But personally, we do!SAF12

“We strongly recommend that you have strong motocross style riding boots for maximum protection, given the rough nature of the roads on this expedition and how far we are away from good medical facilities. It is very important to have a boot that does not have lateral movement.  Injuries that have occurred previously on other long distance trips would have been considerably less severe had riders been wearing this style of boot. Our expedition guides will wear this style of boot. Sometimes this style of boot can feel a little stiff and not too comfortable when you first try them, but you will bed them in and they are an absolute crucial piece of equipment.”

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