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- George Washington

Thursday 8 March 2012

Boot Hill revisited

LAst April, my faithful pair of bike boots (Sidi Black Rain Evo) died of old age and overwork, and I bought a new pair of Frank Thomas Aqua Rides. Posts here and here, for those without a home life.

I didn't know it, but at the time Frank Thomas were in administration and about to go out of business. That wouldn't have affected my decision to buy them, as I had always had good results with FT gear before. However, the Aqua Rides are perhaps an example of the reason why the firm didn't survive.

For one, they were advertised as waterproof, and they weren't. They kept the worst out, and no doubt were better in the wet than a normal race boot, but after 20 minutes or so of heavy rain you could feel a cold trickle round your toes and you knew that you would be spending the next day-and-a-half drying the boots out. However, they were very comfy to walk around in, felt good on the bike, and were toasty warm, so although I was disappointed I decided to keep them.

And then, on Tuesday night, I was getting ready to go out to the TOMCC pub meet and put them on. Rrrrrip. The lining of the left boot had become detached from the rest and had slipped down into the foot part. It wasn't possible to put them on without crushing the lining underfoot, and this would have been very uncomfortable and possibly dangerous, so I went out in Doc Marten's instead. And got thoroughly wet feet. Lace holes.

I took them back to the dealership yesterday, and they are returning them to whoever looks after Frank Thomas's business affairs these days. It's unlikely I will get a replacement pair, as they don't make them any more, but I may get an equivalent pair, or a credit note. Or I may get nothing. I suppose after 11 months of daily use, it's unreasonable to expect a brand new pair out of it. The old boots are being 'sent away' and it will be a week or so before I get any answer.

I like my feet exactly as they are, and I won't go out with anything less than proper protection on them, so I had to find another pair pronto. Hence a trip today to Lamo's Motorcycles in Llandissilio. I have spent a bit more this time and got a pair of Forma Arrow Dry boots. This is another 'clearance' range, but that meant I spent £120 rather then £150. Ker-ching. They are allegedly waterproof and - good sign - they are Italian. Also, they are snazzy. Until now, for the whole of my motorcycling career, I have worn plain black boots. These have a bit of red about them.

As has the Sprint.

I am a fashion victim.

Trouble is, I am now forced to buy red bikes until the boots wear out, or buy new boots every time I change the bike, or go around unco-ordinated. Which is par for the course according to my friends, and not a problem.

Rescue Cat thinks they are ace.

P.S. Those toe sliders are magnesium. It says so on them. Only, it's 'non-sparking' magnesium, apparently. Damn.


  1. Until recently my son in law was the manager at Hein Gericke and I purchased a pair of Bullson boots from there 2 years ago, £99. They don't have the twiddly magnesium bits on that yours do, they're plain black, waterproof and steel toecapped with a velcro/strap fastening.

    I must say that for a cheap boot (you can tell by looking at them) they're remarkably warm and comfortable, have worn well and are truly waterproof. I'll be looking for another pair of these when their time is up.

  2. Sadly, there isn't a branch of HG within 100 miles, or I would be a permanent resident, as I like their stuff. The only thing I have actually bought from them (mail order, of course) is an aux fuel can. Very pleased with that.

    £99 seems to be the price point at which the quality is acceptable. If they are genuinely waterproof at that price, I'm not surprised you are pleased.

  3. For the full coordinated look I suggest the red M&S men's briefs (£4.99 pack of 4) worn outside the trousers, a short red cape and a mission statement. Works in blue in Argentina: http://www.reallifesuperheroes.org/wiki/menganno/

  4. Only, it's 'non-sparking' magnesium, apparently.

    Shame. Would have come in handy if the headlights had failed.

  5. Derf: Thanks a lot buddy. From now on I won't be able to stop myself calling them my 'Real Life Superhero Boots'. Damn.

    Patently: good idea. Lights fail, lay it on its ear and stick a foot down. That'll work!

  6. Non-sparking aluminum, that's no fun.

    I hope they turn out to be waterproof and last you many years. That cold trickle seeping into your toes or under the arch is no fun. My last boots did that and that is one of the main reasons I bought Sidi Livia Rain Boots this time.

    Superhero boots or Power Rangers? If you ride in full coordinated leathers/helmet, then I think you'd look like a Power Ranger. Or at least that is what we call our riding friends who do.

  7. If I ever get a proper job again and have some money to spend, I will definitely go for Sidis again. 4-5 years' daily use, and never let in a drop. Only the zip let it down in the end.

    'Co-ordinated' is not a word anyone ever uses about me. In any sense. My usual riding gear is plain black leathers or a black textile suit with fluoro panels in the jacket, so I don't think I am in the Power Ranger category yet. I've just been out on the XT, and I kept looking at my feet as I rode. Those boots are very red. Odd to walk in, but great on the bike, which is good.

  8. Good luck with getting something back from FT, but hopefully the Formas will more than make up for it. I've heard good things about them and they look rather nice in the flesh. Hope you'll keep us posted on how well they perform in the real world. And whether you ever get used to the red bits.

    Traditionally, it's titanium toe-sliders if you want good sparks (magnesium is anti-sparking, as a lot of track days frown on that sort of thing). They're not cheap, though, and I always used to wear out the right one really quickly (roundabouts...) whilst hardly scratching the left. Cool, though and it looks like a set of Oxtar/TCS spares might fit yours if you ever feel the need.

    Think you're right, though: any pair less than £100 basic rrp is false economy. Cheap boots pretty much always look nasty, lose shape, warmth and waterproof qualities quickly and turn your feet into weapons-grade bacterial farms. I usually have a cheaper pair for daily use: worn all day at work, so it's rare to get much more than 18 months out of a moulded rubber sole, but it's still not worth heading to the bargain bucket end of the boot market even for those. (Ironically, the present ones are, in fact, Black Rain Evos...found as surplus stock on eBay for about £60). I always used to buy Sidi V-whatever-was-current race boots as my good pair, until they went all weird and wonderful with armour tensioners and suchlike. That was when I discovered the best, most comfortablest and most waterproof bike boots I've ever owned - TCX Infinity Gore-Tex: would recommend them to anyone. Except...um...you, Rich, knowing from a previous boot blog that they're the wrong shape...

  9. Ah, so these are proper, big boys 'track-day' boots, not some fancy show-off adolescent sparky things . Thanks for putting me straight on that one. Mildly disappointed. I quite like the idea of toe-sliders, as I often use the toes as a lean-o-meter, and my boots are usually chamfered by the end.

    I think I would have gone with the TCX boots last year if they hadn't been North of £200, as things usually get better with wear. But that amount was too much of a risk. I certainly liked the look of them, though. Maybe next time, if I don't go for the highly-recommended Alt-Bergs.

    You wear bike boots at work? Impressed. If I did that, they would be a biohazard within weeks.

  10. I was a courier in the mid-late 90s.I hankered after a pair of grey trimmed sidi top action moto cross boots.I'm sure you all know the ones I mean.Bought a pair slightly second hand off a mate who didn't get on with his entire foot from the calf down rendered immobile.I loved them - until it rained.They leaked like a seive.
    The best pair of boots I ever had were a pair of police riot boots off a copper relative.The tongue was sealed right up to the top.Lace holes for the bottom two spaces,then hooks the rest of the way.On and off your feet in seconds.Steel plate in the sole,steel toecaps.
    They survived 2 new soles and lasted me a good couple of years.I had developed a bad habit of leaving my right foot off the footpeg and hovering it over the road when I took off away from traffic lights.The resulting wear eventually ruined the stitching and upper on the right edge.Don't know why the hell I did that - and it was really hard to break the habit.
    Try a leatherfood called Renapur if you can find it.Fantastic stuff.Also - bit of a luxury item,but heated handlebar grips are a fantastic moral booster when your gloves get soggy.
    Apols for the ramble.


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