On a winter ride, you just can't beat warm and dry feet. And that means waterproof boots. With so many options to choose from, expert advice makes all the difference. Dan is Cyclespots resident gear expert. We caught up with him at their flagship Honda store where they specialise in a huge range of Alpinestars gear.
Oxford Cherokee W/P. RRP $199
With a waterproof layer, these are designed to keep the water out but lack the comfort of a breathable membrane. They really are entry level, says Dan. Wed try to persuade someone to upgrade to something like the Alpinestars Roam [see below], particularly as theyre on special so the difference is not much. But if youre struggling to get everything together to a budget, at least you've got a proper full-size boot offering reasonable protection and water resistance.
The Cherokee boot is of synthetic leather construction with an ankle cup and shank in the sole, but no toe cup
Alpinestars Joey W/P. RRP $279
These are from Alpinestars Urban range, advises Dan. Theyre designed to wear with your jeans and jacket. They look cool and theyre okay for short trips around town where you might get caught by a shower. But theyre not for long rides.
The waterproofing comes partly from a waxed finish and partly from a simple waterproof membrane. Protection is courtesy of toe and heel cups plus dual-density ankle protectors. With styling akin to an old-school baseball sneaker, these could be ideal for scooter riders.
Alpinestars Fastback W/P. RRP $279
Looking more like car racing footwear, the Fastback is a new Urban range boot with a lot of features. As well as internal toe and heel cups it has external TPR plastic armour wrapped around the heel and a TPU toe protector on the outside. Theres a steel shank inside the sole and, like all A-Stars boots, its designed and manufactured by Pirelli.
Again, the membrane is waterproof but not strictly breathable. The outer is a mixture of suede leather, textile, plastics and microfibre. Its a nice slimline boot, a little taller with more ankle support, says Dan. Ideal if youre just riding around town and don't want to wear bulkier motorcycle boots. Like the Joey, theyre easy to walk about in. And you get some crash and weather protection.
Alpinestars Roam. RRP $329
Dan has these on special at $279. These are a popular, all-round waterproof boot, ideal for pretty much any kind of riding. They have a synthetic split-grain upper, which is really durable and contributes to water repellency, plus it keeps its shape better than leather. They have a waterproof and breathable membrane, so theyll be good in all weathers. The top of the ankle has an accordion flex structure for comfort and the protection is great: internal toe and heel cups, a steel shank, double-density ankle protectors and a shin plate.
The Roam also has adjustable Velcro closures to achieve a good fit and is CE Certified.
Alpinestars Ridge. RRP $329
According to Dan, the Ridge is effectively a shorter-leg version of the Roam. So it has pretty much all the same features and protection. Even though the Roam has side adjusters, some riders have bigger calves relative to their foot size. Because the Ridge doesnt come so far up your leg, it can be the perfect answer.
Being shorter than the Roam, the Ridge theoretically offers a fraction less protection but it too has TPU shin armour and is CE Certified.
Alpinestars Web GORE-TEX. RRP $499
When it comes to breathable waterproof membranes, none has a bigger reputation than GORE-TEX. And its at the heart of A-stars Web waterproof boot. For waterproof performance, this is right up there, says Dan. Everything about the boot is designed to enhance it. The GORE-TEX lining, of course, but the structure of the boot, too. Its leather, but with very few external seams. Even the heel protection is external to minimise the ways water can get in. Its exactly the sort of boot many touring and professional riders choose, because they have to deal with all weathers, day-in and day-out.
Embedded shank, double-density ankle shields, shin plate plus toe and heel cups give protection. If youre going to be riding through a monsoon or two, the Web would be your choice.
Alpinestars S-MX 6 W/P. RRP $499
The S-MX 6 is a sport/track boot and the waterproof version is no different. If you were a performance-oriented rider and wanted one boot that would do it allsummer and winter, maybe including a few track daysthese would be your choice, advises Dan. The emphasis is very much on protection, with a separate inner boot providing the basis, via toe and heel boxes, which you put on prior to slipping into the outer boot.
The outer contains the waterproof membrane. It also has a steel shank, a TPU armour shin guard, calf protector, heel guard, shift pad and toe slider. The toe slider has no external fittings on the face, just an allen screw locator on top. So you wont melt the plastic all over the screw heads, as has happened on my boots
Double-density ankle protectors and a TPU lateral top-calf/ankle/shin brace complete the SM-X 6s tank-like construction. As Dan says, this is one boot to rule them all, including a bit of track work. Though the Web or Roam would be better for touring, when you want to get off and walk around a bit in your gear.
- Fit can be a deal breaker. Boots can vary in width within the same theoretical size, even from the same manufacturer. So go in store and try them on. Alpinestars supply a range of insoles that make a huge difference
- Go breathable if you can. You can't go wrong with the well-known stuff like GORE-TEX and Hipora but the manufacturers proprietary brands, like Alpinestars Drystar, are also good
- Never apply dubbing to waterproof boots that have a breathable membrane, whether leather or synthetic. The dubbing might help slick the water off but will prevent the boot breathing. You might as well have bought those cheap boots
- If you do get boots wet and need to recondition them, I use a product called Sno seal. Its based on natural beeswax and it manages to clean, polish and add a bit of waterproofing, but doesn't stop the boot breathing because its not oil-based
- Dry wet boots by laying flat on their sides. It helps to keep the form of the boot. Dry somewhere airy. A warm environment helps but do not apply any direct heat
- When not wearing the boot, do up the zipper to help them keep their shape
- A little silicone sprayed on the zipper every now and then helps too.