Photographer, Videographer, Writer, Motorcycle Racer, Dakar Rally Finisher and BRAKE Magazine's big dog, Llewelyn really likes to do things involving motorcycles. He also likes bicycles, coffee, pop punk and making horrendous puns.
Italian boot manufacturer TCX have a collection of different boots fit for adventure riding. The more hardcore off-road end of the spectrum has been completely revamped for 2016 with the introduction of two new models featuring special moulded soles developed by Michelin. We put the top of the range TCX Comp Evo on our feet to see just how they stack up.
The boot market is a flooded place and yet finding the right product for travel riding is extremely difficult. It’s entirely based on the riding styles of each person. For the more dirt orientated riders, boots in the adventure segment are often found wanting. They’re too soft and lacking protection, whilst full blown motocross boots lack movement or comfort for the uninitiated or those who hold comfort for walking and exploring as a must have. However, the line is blending as MX boots become ever better designed, more comfortable and have better feel.
“TCX have sought to set themselves apart by joining forces with rubber production and tyre legends Michelin”
TCX have sought to set themselves apart by joining forces with rubber production and tyre legends Michelin, with the goal of solving issues with boot soles. They’ve also completely redesigned the platform of their flagship boot. New buckles, a new internal and a new external design have moved TCX away from the inner bootie model. The core platform of the new Comp Evo is similar to Alpinestars excellent Tech 7.
The basic fit of the TCX Comp Evo is good. Like many Italian boots, the internal width is on the narrow side. The material and padding of the boots is plush. The base is fitted with a standard foam footbed and the material on the upper is padded and comfortable. The inside of the boot is extremely roomy vertically and has a generous fit length ways allowing for plenty of room to squeeze in a larger or waterproof sock.
The base of the footbed feels a little more rudimental in design than something like the Tech 7. It’s curved up at the edges of the footbed. It also lacks any form of arch support and over a day of riding and walking, it created a few pressure points. This pressure point is where the TPU plastic around the toe box ends. It’s the type of issue that may not affect those with narrower feet and over time it has softened. We attacked this problem by purchasing a currexSole BikePro Cycling footbeds. We replaced the standard footbed with these to great effect. The comfort of adding an arch support for myself, was immense. It increased walking comfort hugely and reduced the pressure points.
“One of the best changes on the boot is a move away from TCX’s terrible buckle system.”
The TCX Comp Evo has an adjustable calf plate on the front of the boot. Despite being a little fiddly to get the screws moved, the two positions of adjustment cater very well for different sized calves and knee protection. It’s a nice touch and worked very effectively.
The sole thickness and height of the TCX make the boot feel quite tall. The toe box is, like a lot of high end MX style boots, quite high and this may present a challenge in shifting gear without adjustment of the gear lever. The extensive ankle movement allows you to point your toe relatively easily however and once you adjust to the Comp Evo, you should be able to get your head around it. When riding off-road however, it never presented a problem.
The Technical Stuff
The hinge of the TCX Comp Evo has moved a long way in design from their awesome but complex, Pro 2.1. A simpler, cleaner and less likely to fail design isn’t too thick and allows you to grip the bike well.
“The sole of the boot is what makes the TCX Comp Evo something worth paying attention to.”
One of the best changes on the boot is the move away from TCX’s terrible buckle system. The previous generation TCX Pro 2.1 was renowned for finger destroying buckles. The TCX Comp Evo utilises a design far more similar to Sidi’s and it is a vast improvement. Fastening the buckles can still require a small amount of force, especially if you like the boot to fit tightly. This is because the aluminium is fixed to a plastic frame. That plastic has a lot of flex and the external TPU doesn’t slide over itself with great ease. It’s not a perfect system but it is vastly better than it was. Undoing the buckles however is as easy as you could dream of. The new design also always stays fastened. As of yet, we’ve not had a buckle come undone despite the endless bush bashing and hours of riding and walking we’ve put on them. The only issue we have found was the overly long bottom buckle strap. We couldn’t shorten it enough to make it tight as there was too much strap length. A little modification with a set of cutting pliers solved the issue.
The sole of the boot is what makes the TCX Comp Evo something worth paying attention to. Designed by Michelin with intention of creating something seriously grippy, long lasting and with feel, the TCX Comp Evo has done exactly that. The sole is a marvel. The grip is better than anything we’ve ever ridden on, holding firm on the awful footpegs of a BMW G 650 GS even when wet. They also provide great feel of the footpeg through the sole, as though they’re thinner than they really are. Despite this, they still have the great support you’d expect from an MX boot, so hours on the pegs don’t cause tiredness in your feet. The balance of flex in the material and protection is very good, but more importantly, they seem to be standing up to abuse with incredible poise. At this rate the sole should be good for a couple of years RTW travel.
“The feel, grip and longevity is second to none and for an adventure rider that really makes it a standout.”
We’ve battered the boots for three months solid, riding all manner of bikes and footpeg sharpnesses, multiple days of the week and they are still in almost new condition. It’s remarkable how little damage the sole is showing and in the instance that you do manage to wear it through the wear portion is replaceable.
What’s more surprising than the on-bike capabilities of the TCX Comp Evo, is the usefulness in off-bike excursions. Despite sitting at the chunkier end of the spectrum they are comfy enough to walk around in for decent periods of time. They do feel more cumbersome than an adventure boot but the sole is once again the stand out feature. The walking grip provided by the Michelin designed base is far superior to its MX style rivals. When combined with the directional ankle movement they do a decent job of allowing you to wear them for short distance walks whilst providing exceptional riding protection. I wouldn’t suggest hiking to Machu Picchu in them, but for exploring landmarks and so on they’re acceptable.
We’ve put 30 days of riding into the TCX Comp Pro since it landed in the Brake Magazine offices and we’ve grown to really like it. The fit is something that took a while to bed in for my feet but the features and day to day living have made the boot a solid contender.
While being decently comfortable, it lacks the plushness of the incredible Alpinestar Tech 7 but in the Michelin sole the TCX Comp Evo has a real star selling point. The feel, grip and longevity is second to none and for an adventure rider that makes it a standout. We’d be willing to put good money on this sole lasting several years of riding before needing replacement and even in slippery walking conditions it does a great job.
The level of protection the boot provides is also top class, as good as anything else. With those two points in mind you’d do well to get your feet in set of these at your local bike shop, especially if you’re looking for something with more serious protection.
Our only reservations are really around the internal comfort. The padding is nice but it’d be good to have had TCX work on the internal shape of the boot a little more so as to fit a wider range of foot shapes. All in, the TCX is a boot you need to try on. If it fits you well, you’ll have a fantastic wearing and ownership experience but if you’re a little wider in the foot or want some arch support get to your local shop before buying.
Want to understand the different types of boot and what to look for? Click here.
Interested in the competition we’ve reviewed? Click here.
Here is a link to the footbeds we fitted – Click here.
Did you like this article? Brake is an independent magazine, producing free content online. We aim to make detailed, honest, quality content. The downside being that it comes at a cost. If you would like to support our reviews and travel stories, you can do so for a little as the cost of a coffee. Thanks for reading!