10 Dakar Rallies, tens of thousands of kilometres adventure riding all across the globe and a world famous training school. Si Pavey doesn't need much more said about him. A fantastic rider, with a brilliant understanding of the requirements for learning riders.
The Sidi Adventure is the Italian brand’s premium product in the adventure boot segment. It’s also a market leader, innovator and proving stupidly popular in a booming area of the clothing market. We gave them to Si Pavey. Six months and four countries later he gave us his thoughts.
The Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex is currently the king of an ever expanding adventure boot market. In a segment that has yet to find a design ethos with any consistency, where every adventure styled boot is vastly different in protection levels and target customer, Sidi have built the Adventure with a clear goal in mind. Comfort with a little more strength.
The vast majority of adventure styled boots, for good or bad, are not the most protective items. Designed with all-day comfort, walking and exploring in mind as much as throwing oneself down the road. The Sidi Adventure finds itself at the more protective end of the spectrum, a long way from the likes of Forma’s Adventure but not as far up the chain as a full blown MX boot.
The boot is covered in plastic similar to it’s tougher motocross cousins, with a hinge system to limit lateral ankle rotation while maintaining normal walking and riding motion. It’s also fitted with a plastic cup to support and protect the ankle as well as a PU (Plastic) shin plate. The rest of the boot is made of leather and held closed by two buckles around the ankle area with a Velcro shin closure.
An internal arch support is fitted to improve comfort and the whole boot is lined with Gore-Tex for the wet days and rivers. The sole, like most ADV boots is designed for walking as much as riding.
Sidi are well regarded for producing incredibly well fitting boots, that are instantly comfortable and ready to ride. That reputation has come through years of well thought out kit and the Adventure isn’t far different. From the first slip on, life is easy. The first time they slid onto my feet into they were supple. The top Velcro closure and soft leather allows the boot to open wide and the lack of a top buckle will allow the thicker calved a little extra breathing room.
On first fit the Sidi dug in along some of the areas where plastic meets the leather. Maybe relying on natural material to hold shape can cause this, but one ride into life the boots had broken into good comfort. With many Italian designed footwear products the internal width of the boot is a touch narrow and the Sidi Adventure is no different. Whether this presents a problem to you is dependent on your foot width. I typically have normal width feet and they fitted perfectly. The length was spot on for the size.
While it’s more protective than almost any other ADV boot, it needs to be made crystal clear that I don’t feel like the Adventure is an off-road boot. As such the type of riding you do will determine whether you view this boot as great or not. The key is in the level of flex. The boot design, with a Velcro closure on the top half offers no way to tighten the boot firmly against your calf. It’s always soft and flexible through the lower leg. When riding on the dirt this left me feeling that, despite the articulated hinge system and the plastic ankle bracing, the ankle and fibula don’t have much support. This feeling is reinforced for me every time I ride off road in them.
The lack of rigidity in the lower leg leaves me a bit disconnected and loose feeling. It makes using the footpegs to properly control the bike and slot into ruts, control slides or steer in the same way as you can with a rigid off road boot, more difficult than it need be. That however, doesn’t make the Sidi Adventure a bad boot. Hell no; its fit is extremely nice, it’s comfortable and the boot is great to wear for long periods or mixed riding. What you have to understand is, the Sidi Adventure is a waterproof, warm, comfortable boot with a for more protective design than a typical touring boot. It’s comfortable, great for changing gear and good for off bike activities, just don’t expect it to be a waterproof MX boot.
The Technical Bit
In the technical design department, Sidi have a long list of things they do really well. The top of that list is their buckle design. It’s simple, easy to use and it stays done up no matter what. Other brands try and copy the design and do a great job, but Sidi have it dialled in. The TPU protection, the shin plate and the ankle cup are nicely designed too. They do a decent job of day to day protection and the hinge makes walking comfortable while limiting the possibility of ankle hyperextension.
The rubber sole is a simple, non-replaceable design. There is good footpeg grip but it’s nowhere near as stiff as a more off-road version. If you plan on spending days stood up on the pegs the sole will be a compromise but as an all-round solution it’s a good balance. For walking in and living in, they offer great grip and flex. It’s all about finding which areas you’re willing to compromise in. The thickness of the sole also helps with short leg syndrome and made riding big bikes like the R 1200 GSA or KTM 1190R a tiny bit more relaxed.
The Gore-Tex waterproofing is another element that boot does fantastically well. Liking your boots waterproof is again, a preference thing. In a day to day living situation, I loved the waterproofing. It works and has kept working until it’s very hot or you’re crossing deep rivers. Once the water comes over the top, it’s in and not coming out. That Gore-Tex liner can be pretty warm once the temperature hits a certain level too. The most important point is that the waterproofing is spot on for any water you’ll cross bar a deep river.
As an owner it’d be hard not feel like the Sidi Adventure is a product of quality and thoughtful design. The whole boot is solid, well stitched and oozes quality. The plastic is nicely moulded, the detailing subtle but smart and there is undoubtedly a thought process that has gone into designing the boot. The only question mark we’ve come across, are reports regarding the longevity of the sole. On our boots it’s not proved an issue and they’ve lasted a decent amount of riding with far less wear than expected.
The long term wearer experience
While we’ve put decent distance on our Sidi’s, there are people with far more miles under their belts. We got on the phone with global adventurer Lyndon Poskitt and the team behind the travel company Globebusters to find out what life on the road with their Sidi Adventure’s has been like.
Lyndon – “I’ve been wearing Sidi Adventures provided by my sponsor Adventure Spec since the beginning of my trip. My riding is a pretty extreme test of clothing and equipment and the boot has been great. It’s super comfortable to wear and works incredibly well as an all round boot. I love the waterproofing and when I’m off the bike and exploring towns, or places of interests, it let me do it in great comfort.
When I go racing I don’t use them, for that really tough off-road and higher impact stuff I like something a bit stronger but for everything else, all the adventure travel, they’ve been a great work horse. My only real gripe has been the lifespan of the sole. At the moment I’m getting around eight months travel on them before they’re worn out. It’s pretty good considering I’m on the bike, off-road and with sharp footpegs for 5 days a week, every week of the year. I must like them, I keep ordering more.”
Julia Sanders – “The Sidi Adventures have been our go to touring boot, since they first came out. Our whole team uses them for our trips across Europe because they do exactly what we need. They last well, have great waterproofing and offer much better protection than other cross-over boots. They’re great if you do a fair bit of stuff off the bike too. The only time we switch to something stiffer is if when we are riding in really remote places because we like to prioritise outright protection over comfort; then we use the Crossfire 2. For 90% of our riding we do the Adventure is the perfect boot, Kevin is wearing them in Iceland right now.”
The Sidi Adventure is a great boot. It’s comfortable, well designed and well thought out. It’s great if you’re predominantly road based and steer clear of difficulty on the dirt. The boot is a compromise in design, trying to balance the stiffness and strength required for great protection against the requirement for everyday travel comfort.
If I was going to spend my adventures riding difficult off-road, it wouldn’t be my first choice. It’s not stiff enough and doesn’t give the strength through the lower leg, ankle and sole that I seek. That doesn’t mean it can’t be worn off-road; it can and is capable of dealing with dirt road but its spiritual limit is that. Road work, dirt roads and exploring on foot are the true calling of the Sidi Adventure and it does all of those things incredibly well. It’s also great that Sidi are brought some good protection into that area of the boot market.
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