Scott made a plastic boot back in the '70s, but these are a far cry from those infamous kicks.
Motocross boots have been getting more and more expensive in recent years, but the level of protection has been rising accordingly. However, we haven't seen any major innovations in the boot market for some time. Hinged joints, inner booties and replaceable soles are all progressive designs, but nothing has come out of the industry that really makes people take notice - until now. After years of focusing its efforts elsewhere, Scott
has re-entered the boot market with a brand-new concept on protective footwear. The resulting product is Genius. No, really, they call it the Genius Boot. We signed up for a pre-production pair to see exactly what all the hype was about.
From a visual standpoint alone it's obvious the Genius isn't your typical arrangement of buckles, leather and injection-molded PU. In fact, you won't find any leather on these kicks. The entire body of the boot is made of traditional polyurethane and a DuPont product called Hytrel which is a PU thermoplastic combining characteristics of both rubber and engineered polyurethane.
The obvious benefit of having a boot made primarily of hard parts is that each is potentially replaceable. When the leather goes on your favorite pair of boots there really isn't much you can do about it, but the Scott design eliminates susceptible materials and utilizes interchangeable components. The next big benefit of this setup is the potential for custom styling. Alternate colorways, mix-n-match purchasing options and even aftermarket custom painting/decals doesn't stretch the imagination too far.
But, the boot's composition serves a far more important role than simply looking different. The trademarked Scott Pivot System is the company's solution to finding a balance between comfort and safety. Not only does the ankle pivot hinge provide resistance, but the diamond-shaped design has built-in stops. It prevents over-extending the joint fore and aft which eliminates damage to the Achilles tendon and the ones on top of your foot that allow you to upshift. The three-buckle system is the best we've ever used with easy latching and unlatching action. We never missed the fourth strap.
So what's it like to wear them? Well, the boots aren't heavy, even if your eyes are predicting serious weight. At 4.3 lbs, the Genius is right in the neighborhood of its competitors. The only leaden feeling we had was a result of bulkiness, not actual poundage. We followed the fitting instructions from Scott's website and the boot fit our tester well. Figuring out the adjustable ankle donuts is simple and with only three straps to cinch the fitting was quick and painless.
Because the boots were pre-production we had to give them back before we wanted to. It wasn't that they needed break-in, (there's nothing that needs it without leather) but we were getting more and more comfortable with each ride. The Hytrel shell is extremely protective, but it's also unforgiving from the inside as well. Padding was sufficient everywhere except on the sole of the feet. It feels a little like walking on a 2x4. There isn't much arch built into the design and the bootie is pretty thin on bottom.
The Hytrel material provides good traction on the boot sole. It seems durable as well judging from our relatively short test.
From the exterior, the sole showed hardly any sign of wear during our month-long test session. We did have one of the mounting bolts fall out, but the adhesive held tight and we didn't have any problems with the sole coming loose. One of the uber-trick features that Scott patented during this project is the Sure-Feel Shifter Pad. With your foot encased in hard polyurethane it would be impossible to shift with any confidence without this little gizmo. Scott installed a small section of the softer, rubbery Hytrel material where the foot contacts the shift lever. We were skeptical at first but it really does a good job of transmitting feel to the rider's foot.
A similar principle applies to the Brake Transfer Pad. Also made of the Hytrel compound, inside the boot where your foot rests is a series of ribs only on the spot that should contact the rear brake pedal. Unfortunately, this feature didn't work for us nearly as well as the shifter pad. Actually, the wooden feel on the brake was our least-favorite aspect of the Genius boot.
Our first ride with the Genius was during an off-road jaunt and the initial reaction was not as positive as we had hoped for. The exceptional stiffness of the boot is better suited to motocross applications, where riders tend to dab their feet less and never have to get off and pull their bike off a rutted hillclimb. Next we visited MX tracks for our 250F shootout testing and we were relieved to find that our suspicions were confirmed. The more we rode with the boot it became clear that if you require a lot of flexibility or the need to walk farther than your pit area to the port-o-john, the Genius boots can be irritating. Quad riders probably won't find them nearly as effective as moto guys.
It took longer to adapt to the Luke Skywalker jokes than it did the actual boot, but we came to appreciate the features that Genius has to offer. We're pretty accustomed to slipper-like comfort from our trusty Tech 10s, but what the Scott boot lacks in posh fit, it makes up for with other bennies. The potential longevity, replaceable parts and a uniqueness that hasn't existed in the boot market since Scott made boots in the 1970s are all things you can't get from anything else.
Five hundred bucks is a lot to shell out for something you're just going to tromp through the mud, but as our sport places more and more needed emphasis on injury prevention, we think the Scott boot is worth it. As cool as it may be, this boot isn't perfect. A tad more comfort, color options and getting the Brake Transfer Pad to work better would take care of our list. If Scott can figure out how to incorporate these few things, it really would be Genius.
Scott is using feedback on the pre-production models to create a "continual evolution." Minor tweaks could be made throughout the production process as running changes. Watch for the boots to be available in April, 2007. For more info, visit www.scottusa.com/genius
Scott Genius Boot
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