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I was working on part III of my motorcycle journey and bumped up against my gear. Then got off thinking about what I’ve worn over the years. That led me to thinking I should discuss the evolution of what I wore, when and why. How I got to here. I’ll begin at the bottom.

Boots

When I bought my first bike, gear was not really a big consideration beyond a helmet. My footwear was initially, whatever I was wearing at the time or figured to wear once I got where I was going. In this case as can be seen in the photo, I was wearing trainers. Not ideal for protection, but it is what I had beyond my work boots and heavy expedition hiking boots.

It was summertime in Colorado and cold weather was not something I thought much about. Driving cars, we tend not to consider our clothing choices and changing weather. Those Puma trainers were shoes from my high school track days. They worked OK on the little Honda, they were not warm or weatherproof in any way. They did provide good enough traction at stops. I got soaking wet in them more than once and thus began the never ending search for suitable footwear.

Next up were a pair of Hondaline riding boots. These were styled after road racing boots, but tilted toward real world travel with a more upright or neutral bend at the ankle. They had some sort of plastic/rubber composite soles that managed to be slick on nearly any surface beyond the dealer parts department floor. Despite my best efforts with Snowseal they were never close to waterproof, or even resistant.

Not only was my footwear choices evolving, but my reasons for each choice led to more considerations of that and future choices. My considerations for protection were initially limited to weather protection, with zero thought to crash protection. The Hondaline boots soon wore out their welcome thanks mostly to leaking and being more than a little bit uncomfortable to walk in. Nothing I tired helped, and since I was mostly commuting on the motorcycle, my workbooks became my footwear of choice. One time riding to a big hike in my heavy hiking boots relegated them to single taskers. They were perfect in winter backpacking mode or long backpacking trips in the summer. But, on a motorcycle, I couldn’t tell if I was stepping on the brake or find the top or bottom of the shifter. They were solid feeling around my ankle and that feel led to later choices. But, for non-commute motorcycling, I wore my harness boots that had been waterproofed with Snowseal when I first got them. This worked well enough for walking in the wet, the boots combined with tube socks in the wet on a motorcycle at speed were cold. Add winter and it was even colder. Wool socks became a choice with silk sock liners. These made fitting feet into the boots a vey much too tight situation. Back to hiking boots, but lighter boots similar to what I wore for work.

Six months after I bought my first motorcycle, I’d traded it off for my second bike the first week of December. Footwear was now very much on my mind. My hog nosed harness boots were OK for warmer winter days in Denver, but the search was on for warmer protection. I worked night shifts so it was always cold when I rode. That first winter of motorcycling became hiking boots or work boots, wool socks over silk socks.

By the next summer, I was back to the harness boots with lighter socks for everyday wear and travel. I took my first two week long ride. I wore my harness boots. They did get soaked a few times on the way home riding through the southwests monsoon season. The harness boots wore out to the point they leaked when walking across wet grass and became very uncomfortable. Tony Lama were next. Again, trusted waterproofing to snow seal.

I was by now working as a BMW motorcycle mechanic and needed footwear that protected my feet and would work for riding when testing a bike. This got me back to hiking boots for riding. But, for travel or just w weekend ride I usually wore my Tony Lamas. I had a custom made pair of Bates road racing boots for a while that were very nice for feel and comfort. And provided the level of safety that was usual at the time, that being very little beyond being high quality, thick leather that covered the ankle. They fit snugly. closed with a zipper and a strap and buckle at the top to secure the zipper. I sold them used to somebody who came into the shop and liked the fit. They were replaced with a pair of Frank Thomas road racing boots that were nearly identical but never fit quite the same. Also around this time I went through a few pairs of BMW touring boots. I’d wear them until they leaked, then either give them away or sell them.

The Frank Thomas boots gave way to more modern road race boots for both commuting and playing on the motorcycle. By now, I was into my sport bike phase, commuting across Orange County California and have a blast at trackdays.


I ‘m wearing a pair of Sidi roadrace boots that were the last pair I bought. I was at the point of ordering a new pair with even better protection, when I got bit by the adventure bike bug. The Honda went away and a big 1150 BMW GS Adventure came to play for the next 200,000 miles. My footwear changed too. Now, I had a pair of Sidi Discovery boots.

First True Adventure Ride – Photo credit: Nick Kline.

had migrated from running shoes to hiking boots to work boots to motorcycle touring boots. Then custom made road racing boots, then modern, more protective road racing boots and finally ending with adventure touring boots or light enduro boots.

In the above photograph, my current riding boots sit under what used to be my desk at what used to be my office. Back when I worked and commuted, I’d wear the big boots for rain days. My more usual footwear were my hiking boots. I wear these Sidi Crossfires for any riding that isn’t a grocery run or errand and for travel now. They have good ankle protection, comfortable enough to walk a ways in and good instep support for extended standing with the stock pegs. They don’t fit under jeans like Discovery’s do.

To answer the question of why I wear theses really down to protection first, comfort second. The Crossfires are waterproof. As long as I don’t step into a stream that is deeper than the tops. I’ve had them just over the top buckle and stayed dry. Over the top, my feet got wet. I was glad that was a day ride and not traveling.

I like how footwear as evolved, I’ve managed to keep up, as I wore boots out or changed rides. I’ve had two pair of Sidi Discovery boots, the first pair I put two soles on and sold cheap once I decided I was only going to use the Crossfires. The second pair of Discovery boots were given to me when a friend sold his adventure bike. I ended up giving those boots away as we downsized here in a smaller house. For local riding and errands I wear the hiking boots. If I’m traveling the big Crossfires get the job. When camping I’ll carry some sandals for in-camp wear and any light hiking or short walks. Even showering they are fine, the synthetic straps dry quickly enough. I expect these Sidi Crossfire boots to be my last motorcycling boots. I’m old enough and I travel seldom enough they should outlast me and my riding.

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