The S-MX R boots have a wider throat which allows easier entry and exit, and the calf protector provides direct ankle support.
We pride ourselves on bringing you the latest news from all over motorcycling world – and here’s a true scoop. Shock! Horror! Amazement! Journalist refuses freebie! Three years ago, the nice people at Alpinestars offered me a pair of the Supertech “R” boots – as worn by Casey Stoner et al – and I turned them down, preferring to stay with the Alpinestars S-MX R boots which were $150 less.
In essence, the reason I didn’t grab the Supertech boots is that they were too committed for anything else but racing – and they are brilliant in this application. By contrast, the S-MX can do much more than just perform well on the bike, and this is what I need in the rough and tumble of classic bike racing. Let’s face it, when was the last time you saw Stoner standing in line for his fries and bratwurst or working on his own bike with his own spanners?
To cut to the chase, the S-MX boots are supremely comfortable on the bike and are just as good for walking round the paddock or push starting a bike. Comfort is important, but it would be valueless if the boots weren’t safe, and in this respect Alpinestars almost undersells how good its economy race boot is.
Critically, the boots’ throat has been opened out compared with earlier versions, making entry and exit much easier. The top of the boot is now very wide to accommodate highly muscular calves which racing athletes apparently now have, yet there is ample adjustment so that fat, bald and small-muscled individuals – that’s me by the way – can still get the boot tight.
It is still worth investing in a close-fitting sports sock because the boot can then be fitted closely to the foot and leg. The heel area is extremely stiff and fits very snugly, meaning that the boot is stable in the case of an accident (more of this later). I particularly like the calf protector, which is large and robust in size and construction, yet still flexible directly above the ankle.
Fortunately for classic racers whose bikes have right-hand gear shifts, the toe area on both boots are reinforced so that even with a stiff racing gearbox there is no discomfort. The boots’ ventilation is outstanding with trick air scoops that really work. The downside is they are cold as a penguin’s bottom at colder temperatures, and they are most definitely not an all-weather touring or road boot.
A sister boot to the SM-X R, Alpinestars S-MX 5 Boots have a waterproof and breathable membrane liner, and they are also water resistant and much warmer.
Now to the big question: How do the SM-X R’s perform when sliding down the track? Unfortunately, I can report on this question from first-hand experience, and the answer is extremely well. Hitting the track at 70 mph, the boots kept my feet rigid and stable – eliminating twisting which is a key initiator of injuries. The armored heel took a real pounding but stood up to the job very well, and the magnesium toe protectors did their job to an exemplary standard.
This brings me to the only problem area with the boot. If you do intend using them on the track, don’t even try doing a single lap with the plastic toe sliders which come standard on the boot. These will last three corners at the maximum, and then you will trash your expensive new footwear.
Alpinestars probably won’t thank me for saying this, but at $299.95 the S-MX R boots offer a huge amount of performance compared to more expensive footwear. Casey, Nicky H. and the rest of the Galácticos might delight in wearing $449.95 boots, but for me I would rather have the $150 to spend on racing.