JP is a master of many tricks. Working as a bike journalist, he's been testing, analysing and writing about on and off-road motorcycles for various UK magazines, both as a staffer and a freelance journalist, since the nineties. Testing everything from Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP bike through sportsbikes, commuter bikes and, of course many, many miles on adventure bikes. JP has also spent much of his life competing at up to International level in trials, enduro, extreme enduro, circuit racing and hillclimbing. He also instructs at the Off Road Skills motorcycle training school, coaching and encouraging people in the ways of riding adventure bikes. Also a fan of vegetables and sea products.
New for 2015 ‘Enduro’ spec Alpinestars Tech 7 boot promises protection but with more feel and grip at last, what took them so long!
Alpinestars. Big company, lots of riding kit, lots of boots in the line-up, lots of famous people wearing and developing boots to race at the highest levels. Why then, after so many years, is it only now someone in the design studio scribbled a digital pen across a screen to bash out an off-road boot with high level protection but with a grippy sole AND which is comfortable to wear? Why the flaming hell did it take so long? We don’t just welcome the Alpinestars Tech 7 Enduro boots into the world at Brake Magazine, we lay down a carpet, give them a soft pillow and fed them grapes.
Alpinestars aren’t alone in manufacturing a range of boots: MX boots, trials boots, stacks of road boots and of course an adventure boot, the ‘Toucan GTX’. Which one to choose from any manufacturer for adventure riding takes a bit of thought depending on your needs and how much protection you want. We’re fans of more protection rather than less because of the type of riding we do so usually recommend you opt towards the traditionally less comfortable end of the scale – the MX boot.
Well, that just changed. The Tech 7 Enduro boots are a marvel of comfort but they still have high-level protection you can get from MX boots. After so many years of putting up with more or less discomfort from different enduro or MX boots finally here’s one that fits and feels comfortable. Who’d have thought this possible?
The new ‘function’ to the Tech 7 is the grippy, ‘enduro’ sole. Hey presto we have grip. It was one massive mystery in life why nobody created a boot that protected well off-road but which had a decent sole. MX racers need maximum protection and little or no grip but what about all those people riding enduro or extreme enduro? Sidi came along with an enduro sole on the ‘Crossfire’ boot a couple of years ago and finally other manufacturers are getting the picture.
This is number 7 in the Tech-series of boots from the Italian firm which means much of the protection of the higher numbered boots (Tech 8, Tech 10) but with a touch more flexibility and a grippy sole. They still look a little like Storm Trooper boots in this white finish but they soon scrub in.
The buckling is easy and because of the design which protects the buckle mechanism (which is common across many of the MX and enduro range) are very secure. It’s rare for these to pop open, something that can happen with other boots upon impact of any kind or through catching something. The boots open out wide nicely too, which makes getting them on and off easy instead of a squash.
They’re still not waterproof, though the upper leather is reinforced with PU they say plus the gator behind the shin pad have both done a decent job of keeping the water out so far.
You have to just get used to the feel of a bigger, more clunky boot if you want better protection for your feet.
What they don’t offer is a great amount of feel for the novice or rider unused to the MX or enduro-style boot. They’re bigger than any ‘adventure’ boot and although not all-encompassing like the Tech 10 boot, they take a bit of getting used to when you start feeling for foot brake or gear levers.
That’s not to say they have no feel, you just have to just get used to the feel of a bigger, more clunky boot if you want better protection for your feet. A list as long as your arm of the world’s best off-roaders wear Alpinestars boots and they seem to manage. They also have a strong record in using those high-class athletes for product development and that can never be a bad thing. If a racer has a problem with a boot failing or not protecting him enough you have to trust he or she wouldn’t stick with it if it costs them points and prizes in championships, you’d hope no matter how many bucks they’re being paid.
Part of the deal with the boot design and that perceived lack of feel is to protect your feet. Astars boots feature a lot of plastic shell and very little ‘leather’ (or similar material). The Tech 7 has more of mixture of materials than the more enclosed Tech 10 and is therefore more flexible.
The Tech 7s are small step behind the Tech 10s in terms of protecting against impact, over-extension of joints and crushing but it really is a small step and they’re certainly a bigger step ahead of the Toucan or Trials boots. Protection to crucial in areas like toes, heel, shin, ankle are all individually accounted for within the boot construction bringing those elements together as a whole.
Cost is in the same region as others in the market so it’s hard to be critical of a healthy price tag when you get such a highly developed boot for your money. In our experience they’ll last well, particularly if you’re just using them on adventure bikes. Which we highly recommend you do.
Every now and then a bit of riding kit comes along which changes your perception of how good things can be. The Alpinestars Tech 7 Enduro boot is one of those bits of kit. I’m not saying this is the best adventure biking boot you will ever buy – we covered that complex topic in our ‘Science of Boots’ feature. Depending on your experience, where you ride, how you ride and all that jazz you’ll feel strongly about how well you can walk in riding boots, how waterproof they are, how hot they are, how much protection they offer and whether you can use the controls well enough.
All things considered the Tech 7 Enduro gets most those things right. “Most” because it’s got to be impossible to get all those things right. But we’ve learnt through experience that protection, then function, then comfort in a boot is the standard order. In the Tech 7 Enduro you have a boot putting those elements on equal terms.
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