Few things are as undesirable and unpleasant as cold, wet feet. A delightful springtime ride can turn into your own personal hell if you get caught in a rainstorm with porous footwear. No one in their right mind would wear tennis shoes (without socks!) on a motorcycle, but even dedicated riding boots can leave your footsies all purple and shriveled up after a deluge.
During a visit to Helmet House down in Calabasas (about 35 miles south of our editorial cubicle farm in Ventura, California), I picked up a pair of TCX Airtech Gore-Tex Touring Boots. Helmet House is the exclusive U.S. distributor for Italian-made TCX boots, formerly known as Oxtar. TCX offers boots for just about any kind of riding you can think of: road racing, off-road, touring, trials, speedway racing, ATV, urban, as well as stylish kicks for wandering around the pits. It even makes long sleeved/legged base layer underwear, riding sock and hats/caps/bags.
Airtech boots are part of TCX’s touring line, which includes nine styles, plus two women’s styles. The boot’s upper is a hybrid of leather and a breathable synthetic “Airtech” material that feels like canvas. The various design panels and the round ankle cup give the boots a very robotic appearance, though in flat black rather than gleaming titanium. Protective elements include reinforced plastic at the malleolus (bony part of the ankle), shin, shift pad and heel. Lining the boot and keeping water at bay is a Gore-Tex membrane with “XCR product technology” for better breathability. (Curious about that vague bit in quotes, I did some digging and found out that XCR stands for “eXtended Comfort Range.” It is an enhancement to Gore-Tex membrane for products that demand high levels of breathability and durability.) The inner sole is anatomically shaped and replaceable, while the outer sole is designed for comfort and grip.
These boots are easy to put on and take off. Just open the large front flap that is secured by hook-and-loop and pull down the zipper. Slip your foot in, zip up and fold the flap over. Very convenient when touring Asian countries with lots of temples that politely request that you remove your footwear before entering. Or for commuting, if you prefer to put on loafers or bunny slippers when you get to the office. With the anatomic insole, hybrid upper and touring sole, I found the TCX Airtech’s to be comfortable immediately with no break-in period. They are great for walking around, which can be an issue with some dedicated riding boots. The top opening of the boots is wide enough that you can tuck in your pants but not so wide that it prevents you from wearing your pants on the outside.
Because Airtech boots are designed to be breathable, they aren’t especially warm. No Thinsulate liner or anything like that, so if you plan to wear them in cooler climes you may want to order them a tad large and wear thicker socks. Hasn’t been much of a problem in Southern California. BUT, they will keep your feet dry! I wore them on a two-hour ride in a torrential downpour on my way up to Honda Proving Center California for the Honda CBR600RR ABS intro, I wore them in the rain on the HPCC track and in the rain on the way home. Never wet, just a bit cold at times. Of course, keeping the water out of your boots also requires waterproof pants or a rain suit. I’ve had water pass through a porous riding suit and leak down my legs into the boots, where it pooled. Not good, but no fault of the boots.
I’ve been wearing TCX Airtech GoreTex boots for over a year and logged thousands of miles in them. I grab them whenever there is even a spritz of rain possible, and I never regret doing so. They’re comfortable on the bike, with good feel on the pegs and shift/brake levers (though designed for touring, they’ve worked well at the track too), and they serve as good footwear when walking to the restaurant after a long day in the saddle. MSRP is $249.99.
For more information, see your TCX dealer or visit www.tcxboots.com.