Motorcycle boots come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes and styles. There are state-of-the-art road racing boots, king-of-the-mountain motocross boots, pole-climbing engineer boots, general-purpose slip-on boots and everything in between. They’re made of leather, plastic, rubber and various other materials, and they’re secured with zippers, buckles, straps, hook-and-loop and laces. No single boot excels in all situations or for all types of riding, but some cover the bases pretty well.
Touring or sport touring motorcycle boots need to be durable, comfortable, securely fastened to the rider’s feet and provide good protection in the event of a crash. Even better if they’re waterproof, like the Firstgear Express Waterproof Boots. Approximately 9 inches tall, the Express covers the critical ankle area and several more inches of the shin. The upper is made of leather with a Veratex waterproof, breathable membrane, plus small accordion panels of Cordura on the sides and back of the ankle for added comfort. The lugged sole is made of anti-slip, petroleum-resistant rubber with a recessed area in the arch that grips footpegs quite well. Other features include a removable insole, padded ankle bone protection, toe shifter pads and reflective Firstgear logos on the front and side.
After slipping on the Express boot, a 6-inch zipper secures it on your foot, followed by a large overlay panel that is secured by a flap and a strap, both with hook-and-loop. Behind the zipper is a Veratex gusset to keep water from getting inside, as well as the edge of a piece of leather than can impede the zipper’s progress. Fiddling with zippers is one of my pet peeves, but with practice it hasn’t been much of an issue.
After several months of regular wear, the Firstgear Express Waterproof Boots have proven to be durable, and they’re among the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn. In fact, I wear them all the time, whether or not I’m riding. They’re a delight to walk around in, similar to lightweight hiking boots. After mastering the zipper, ingress and egress has been a cinch, saving me the hassle of lacing up boots. The boots aren’t bulky and their rubber soles flex well enough to move around on the pegs and operate the shift lever and brake pedal with ease. I’ve only ridden in light rain, but my feet stayed dry. Other than the balky zipper, my only other complaint would be that their modest height can leave part of my lower leg exposed to cold wind, and potentially vulnerable if my riding pant legs were to hike up in a fall. For a taller boot, consider the Firstgear Star Boots which have many of the same features with a 12-inch upper.
Firstgear Express Waterproof Boots come with a 2-year warranty, retail for $189.95 and are available in men’s sizes 7-11 and 13. If you’re a size 12, I guess you’re out of luck! For more information, see your dealer or visit www.firstgear-usa.com.
2/1/12 UPDATE: After publishing this review, we learned that Firstgear discontinued its line of boots in late 2011 and has no plans to offer them in 2012. Firstgear Express Boots are widely available from online retailers, often at closeout discount prices.