Tango Charlie X-ray. Totally Cool Xylophone. I don’t know what TCX stands for, but I have come to love their boots. Formerly known as Oxtar—a name that was probably abandoned because it invoked images of livestock drenched in black goo, or because it sounded too much like “Oxcart,” something that is decidedly slower than a motorcycle—TCX is an Italian manufacturer of racing, off-road and touring boots. (See our review of TCX Airtech Gore-Tex Boots.)
The Competizione RS is TCX’s top of the line road race boot. It was worn by Troy Bayliss during his World Superbike championship-winning years, and TCX even offers a Bayliss version of the boot to go with your ultra-trick, $45,000 Ducati Limited Edition 1098 R Bayliss. Coincidentally, it was on a Ducati Streetfighter that I first wore the TCX Competizione RS Boot, at the bike’s world press introduction at the Ascari circuit in Ronda, Spain. And I’ve worn them regularly at the track for more than a year now.
Road race boots should offer protection, flexibility and comfort, as well as style. High-tech protection on the TCX Competizione RS Boot comes from two systems that form a plastic super-structure that covers the heel, ankle and lower calf and limit torsion (twisting of the foot) and metatarsal flexion (bending of foot bones). The Torsional Control System includes a double heel and a frame that allow natural movement of the ankle within limits that help prevent injury. The Metatarsal Control System uses a rigid shell that prevents excessive up or down flexion of the foot while preserving freedom of movement and sensitivity on the foot pegs.
The boot upper is made of Lorica (“body armor” in Latin), a synthetic leather made of polyurethane and polyamide microfibers. To allow air into the boot, there are perforations in the Lorica down the outer edge of the boot, and a plastic shin plate has three wire-mesh air scoops and replaceable crash sliders. The inside of each boot has a durable, rubberized shift pad. At the outer edge of each boot is a replaceable steel “non-sparking” toe slider. Installed on the heel of each boot is a polyurethane slider, but the Competizione RS Boots are delivered with matching steel sliders that can be easily swapped out with a small Allen wrench. Both sliders are perforated to allow air flow in conjunction with the RS’s ventilated sole. The inner sole has frontal air vents, the antibacterial foot bed is perforated and the interior of the boot is lined with breathable Air Tech mesh.
Should you have a get-off at speed (and I have while wearing these boots…more on that in a moment), your boots need to stay on your feet. The Competizione RS Boot has an internal, quick-lace fastening system to secure the inside of the boot around your ankle. Step in, pull the lace tab, then pull the zipper up the inside of the foot. The zipper and top of the boot are further secured by a large hook-and-loop flap, with plenty of room inside to wear over leathers. Comfort is first-rate, and the ventilated sole and mesh lining do a good job of keeping my feet cool. The oil and gas resistant outer sole offers good feel on the pegs, and walking is reasonably comfortable (but then again, nobody’s going to do a 5K in these things).
We rarely get a chance to crash test protective gear (thank goodness), so our reviews must infer crash protection from the quality of construction, safety ratings and other factors. The Competizione RS Boot is CE certified, so it has passed rigorous safety tests. But, as luck would have it, I’ve crashed a couple of times wearing these boots—mercifully, they were lowsides at moderate speeds rather than ragdoll highsides. Nonetheless, the boots did what I needed them to do: the metal and plastic parts got scuffed, and my feet escaped injury. I walked away without sprains or soreness, and both me and the boots were back on the track in no time. Should something break or wear out, TCX sells replacement sliders, Torsional Control System frame kits and Allen wrench and screw kits.
At 5.35 pounds for the pair, these aren’t light boots (the heaviest pair of touring boots in our June 2010 buyer’s guide—Aerostich Combat Lites—weighed 4.95 pounds per pair). But since protection is more important than comfort off the bike, the additional weight is worthwhile.
MSRP is $399.99. Available in white or black, men’s sizes 7-14.
For more information, see your TCX dealer or visit www.tcxboots.com.