Dependable, reliable, tough and long lasting, no that’s not how I describe my girlfriend, it’s what bikers want from their gear. We ride some tough and demanding miles us bikers, especially the adventure riders among us, and we demand some proper tough gear that will perform as well as it says it will on the tin.
Of all the posts you’ll see on social media sites, waterproof gloves, boots and tyres are all topics that you’ll see pop up most often. Recommendations for this and that, with comments from people offering their views. Trouble is most of the opinions and feedback, with the upmost respect, is from people that don’t put this kit through its proper paces. Boots have always been a tough one, finding a pair that’ll keep your feet fresh, comfy and dry whilst coping with the demands they were intended for, seems harder than it should be.
Motorcycle gear isn’t too dissimilar to motorcycles themselves in some respects. Some of us will buy a bike because it promises to cope with adventurous pursuits, but often disappoints when it breaks riding on the first bit of easy fire trail road. However, somewhere along our journey and desire for exploration on two wheels, we’ve almost become to accept a degree of failure with our kit and our bikes, but it shouldn’t be this way. Should it?
I’m beginning to believe a lot of motorcycle kit is purposely designed not to last so you have to replace it more frequently to keep the pennies rolling in for these big companies, with overheads larger than some guy with ginger hair calling himself Donald.
A product should be tested to breaking point. Not just; “right let’s go for a ride in the forest for a few hours and if it still works we will sign it off and sell it to unsuspecting customers by making false or inaccurate claims”
I purchased the TCX Drifter Adventure Boots last year and have ridden in several countries around the world since, in all weather’s, from snow, sleet, rain, heat exceeding 35c, sand, mud and anything else that got thrown at them, from Africa to Vietnam these boots were ridden in conditions they were supposedly designed for, at least I thought they were. Unfortunately, they are now sit in a cupboard having only got less than 15,000 miles out of them. By the power of the Internet, that calculates on average to 2 years riding for many bikers.
“they certainly don’t live up to their waterproof claims“
I certainly don’t like wasting money and by my calculations, I’d consider that an expensive investment. After all, a boot of this calibre should last years, not months, surely. But wait, 7,000 of those miles were ridden with wet feet when it rained, as they leaked, so the boots gave up being “fully waterproof” after just under 8,000 miles, literally after 3 months use. Now if I were to be ridding around the world or across a large continent such as Africa, I’d be pretty bloody annoyed if my £269 adventure waterproof boots gave up on me after such a short distance. When I say they stopped being waterproof, I may as well had no boots on at all. When it rained, within minutes the boots were filling up with water, I literally had puddles in the bottom of my boots, my socks were soaked through and my feet looked like an albino that had been swimming for 7hrs. I have never ridden hard off road in them, I look after my gear, I even spent a fair bit of time oiling the boots, to no avail. Then I tried bees wax, No different, and then I tried Nikwax, all on the recommendations of the supplier. But all failed. Actually the Nikwax did provide some relief for a very short period, about an hour!
The way I see it, is that there is a major flaw with stitched boots (obviously). Once the waterproof membrane is stitched into the boot, this no doubt compromises the integrity of the waterproof/breathable layer. By my reckoning, the water is coming in through the stitching that attaches the leather to the sole of the boot. A major design flaw I’d say. I have had better water resistant boots, oddly it was a pair designed by Hein Gericke, although they were identical to TCX. These were leather with a moulded sole and had no stitching on the sole, they are the only boots that ever remained waterproof and I only replaced them because the soles gave up. In hindsight, I wish I’d kept them and had a cobbler replace the soles for new ones.
What pisses me off more than anything are the bold claims from these companies, using words like “Waterproof“. Okay, that’s unfair, yes they are waterproof, out of the box and for a few thousand miles perhaps, but put a few thousand miles on them and they certainly don’t live up to their waterproof claims. I’m an intelligent soul, I have at least one GCSE 😉, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for something to live up to its claims. I don’t buy a TV because it promises that I’ll never have a a headache watching it, only to have migraines after watching it for a few hours. You get my point, I’m sure.
I can say some positive things though, that they are very comfortable and sturdy in the right places, providing great ankle support in the event you may want to pretend you’re a stuntman. It’s just a shame the 2nd pair has failed on the waterproof claims as badly as the first. Yes, I have had them replaced under warranty, as early indications suggested it was a quality issue, then it was possibly a manufacturing issue, where the stitching meets the sole of the boot it wasn’t providing a waterproof seal. Or it could be the shin guard/flap. No one knows really and no manufacturer wants to blame themselves because they’re never wrong, are they? Personally I think it’s down to design flaws in the stitching
For me it’s time to bin TCX, sadly, as they are a good looking boot, but looks aren’t everything and no one likes wet soggy feet when riding.
I may even go back to the Forma Adventure boots I used to wear at least they stayed dry for 10,000+ miles, I only moved to TCX because the Forma leaked also, in my opinion, sooner that I’d liked, I believe they have a stitched sole as well. Also, the TCX seemed like a rugged good looking boot for my riding style and locations
Why can’t manufactures design a truly waterproof boot that will last the wear and tear of the boot. I’d be grateful, eternally greatful if a pair of boots stayed waterproof for as long as the boot lasted out, like my old pair of Hein Gerickes, you know, that point where it starts to loose stitching or the sole falls off.
But until then, my search continues for a pair of boots that stay waterproof, or another pair of the Hein Gericke ones I used to wear, as well as a pair of gloves that do the same (don’t get me started on gloves ffs)
If you have ridden big miles and still have a pair of waterproof adventure boots (or gloves) please, please let me know what they are below in the comments. I’d loved to hear from you.
For now, plastic bags over feet before putting the boots on, or sealskinz socks will have to suffice. Grrrrrrr
Stay safe, ride safe, keep it shiny side up