Motorcycle boots you can wear in public

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A lot of our friends here in LA wear proper racing boots under jeans in their day-to-day riding. The motivation is obvious, they’re serious riders who want the benefits serious boots have to offer — safety, control, feel — but they do so with one serious problem. Racing boots are fucking ugly. Enter Vitesse, a French company that aims to package all those benefits into boots that actually look good.

The first thing you need to understand about Vitesse (and I’ll admit this took me a while), is that they’re not trying to camouflage function in a boot that can legitimately pass itself off as ordinary streetwear. They’re trying to create an aesthetic that’s distinctly motorcycle, but do so in a way that’s actually appealing. These boots may not look like vintage jump boots or a pair of sneakers, but with materials like nice leather, canvas and even waxed cotton laces, they’re up market in a way that’s relatable to the common non-motorcycling man.

Despite external ankle armor and a toe cap, these Vulcan’s look way better under a pair of jeans than a pair of Dainese ins. But, they still offer real protection.

Vitesse has been around for two years with products like the Hunt and Glove — tall boots with plenty of protection, yet that are still comfortable to walk in — but is expanding its range this year with four new models that aim to push the convenience and comfort even further. Hopefully without sacrificing too much protection.

At the heart of Vitesse’s ability to package protection into an aesthetically acceptable package is something they call the V-Cockpit. A plastic/memory foam structure that encapsulates the ankle and heal, absorbing impacts, preventing the ankle and foot from flexing too far in the wrong directions and stabilizing the foot for solid control. All of Vitesse’s boots, even the new short style, benefit from it. You can see this functionality in the distinctive external molding that surrounds the heels.

A good way to evaluate a motorcycle boot’s ability to protect your foot and provide stable footing is to grab its sole at the front and rear and twist it. If the result looks like a pretzel, you don’t want your foot in there. Unlike many rival boots that try to combine style with motorcycle functionality, Vitesse’s boots resist that twisting.

All Vitesse products benefit from a range of features the company calls “Armada.” Additionally, they’re all made from water resistant leather or canvas.

The first of the new products is this Workshop, which is intended to draw style inspiration from rugged workboots like those made by Redwing or Timberland.

The Office boots are meant to function as dress shoes, working with a suit or dressy clothes.

Garden (as in Madison Square) are a little sportier. Vitesse notes John Varvatos and Prada Sport as inspiration.

With large canvas panels, the Tactics draw inspiration from modern combat boots, likely working much better at providing the protection and mobility you need on a bike.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

    There’s promise in these boots – though I’m conditioned to fear anything but a tall boot.

  • Ken

    I’ve always liked their line and style however the lack of ability to try them on is just too much of a barrier for me. Despite detailed shape printouts on their website it just doesn’t compare to getting your foot in the boot.

    • Gene

      Ditto. I don’t buy apparel online, which is why I still don’t have a ‘stitch either.

  • Squid_Squidly

    I’m thinking about buying some Icon Reigns in the near future, but damn that Vulcan looks seriously tempting. Do you think it is totally worth the $100 extra?

    Also those gardens are kinda Homer Simpson status: http://blog.oregonlive.com/news_impact/2009/03/large_homer.drool.jpg

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean (the other one)

      i have the icon’s and love them. i wouldnt wear them as an every day boot though.

      • Squid_Squidly

        Ha. That’s exactly what I was gonna use them as. What’s your quarrel?

        • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean (the other one)

          has this really big rubber handle on the back to help you pull them on (http://stores.sportbiketrackgear.com/images/InitialSet/icon_reign_boots_black_detail_3_600.jpg) that makes them not fit under pants well and the zipper seems effective at keeping water out, but is pretty flimsy and makes you pull at the boot to line up the two sides to get them to zip.

          they’re are super comfy. i wore them when we went out on quads (you’ll see it posted in a day or two on here) and, after riding in them for 8 hours, completely forgot i was wearing boots because they were so comfortable.

          i would just be annoyed to take put them on every day because of the zipper and i would need to find a way to cut off the rubber handle.

  • BigRooster

    Workshop and Office are really nice for work -even better is the Garden for general purpose. Pricey, but nice. Switching form proper riding footwear to office shoes is no big deal for me but it would be a nice time saver, Id really like the Garden for general riding when I am not going to work. The old line was a little too Euro-tastic for general wear but the new stuff is conventional enough looking to pass as regular footwear. Hopefully some US outlets will start selling the brand.

  • Jordan

    I recently bought the Hunt boots, and I love them! Really comfortable and get compliments often. Looks like I might have to get a second pair…

  • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

    Nice work. They’re getting really close. The right one is still out there waiting to be discovered. I can definitely recognize and appreciate the thought processes and somewhat envy the restraint they were able to maintain through the process of bringing it to market.

  • Frosty_spl

    My friend just cracked his ankle while wearing the low sidi boots. Hopefully these offer more protection. Look pretty good though, Maybe I won’t get Redwings after all.

    • Sean Smith

      Your kidding yourself if you think low boots will actually protect your ankles.

  • CafeDucati

    These look REALLY good. I would like a higher boot in this exact style though.

    But,.. there is hope for sure.

    • CafeDucati

      OOps, I guess it makes a difference when I actually LOOK at the product line.

  • NitroPye

    I would love a pair of those Gardens if they were a tad higher.

    • Roman

      The Gardens do look pretty sweet. Everything else is a bit too um…. European. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

      • Dean

        +1 on the Euro vibe… the build looks solid, but they’re still not doing it for me

  • duncanbojangles

    So when are the new styles going to be available? I’m in the market for motorcycle footwear that works as well off the bike as it does on the bike and also don’t look like butt. If anyone can comment on what it’s like to walk all day in a pair of Vitesse boots, that would go a long way to helping me decide. ‘Cause damn, those Gardens look like a pair of green leather Converse All Stars I had once, and they speak to me on a very emotional level.

    • Campisi

      +1

      My boots are wearing out already (never buying Tony Lamas again) and it’s about time I bought actual motorcycle boots, but I can’t afford two pairs of high-quality boots and need something that I can do a lot of walking and hiking in.

  • rvfrules

    They look pretty gey, not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  • Coreyvwc

    These are seriously nice! Any idea when they might be available to us general public?

  • Dylan

    Literally was just looking for a boot like this the other day. Can’t wait until the Office and Workshop boots are available

  • Jens

    Ugly is the new safe?

    • Brad

      True dat !!

  • lidewij

    I do not believe in a few things. That is God, fake tits and clogs.

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    In response to everyone (being i think the only reader here to have tested a pair of Vitesse):

    I’ve been using a pair of hunt everyday for 2 years.
    They’re usually met with skepticism by riders (often dismissed as not protective enough) and non-riders usually like the styling (that includes women).

    Here’s what they looked like a few months back (weather’s to dark for a new photo) with something like 10,000 miles of riding in all type of weather and not a second of care, not even a cleanup. Some owner use pig’s feet oil but i like them this way.

    Alltough they are allday confortable (i even ran with them once, Usain Bolt is safe but i didn’t fell and could actually run), i wouldn’t recommmand them for hicking, in my non-hicker’s opinion the sole is too rigid and the grip would be insufficient.

    The hunt weren’t rated as waterproof but i’d say they are water resistant, water won’t pour in, it will slowly soak up the tongue and then get in.

    Allthough you can’t try them beforehand, they fit about the same as a Nike Dunk and customer service is top notch. I fucked up the printout and ordered one size too small, they sent me a new pair to try them both and send back the one i did’t want.

    • Sauciér

      I’ll second Stempere and note that I purchased a pair of Gloves partly based on his reccomendations and thoughts on his hunts. I hemmed and hawed for a long while mostly because I couldn’t try them in before I bought them. Because he said the customer service was top notch I pulled the trigger. I went a size higher than the sizing chart said because I have a wide foot and in every other motorcycle boot/shoe I was a size bigger than the vitesse chart said I would be. I’m glad I did because I would not have been able to get into the boot had I gone with the standard sizing. That being said, the Gloves are awesome. Super comfortable and pretty walk able. Gotten some compliments as well. Really nice product. Almost want to get a pair of Vulcans too. They ship super quick as well – though a fit a surprise a few weeks later when FedEx sent me a form to pay for duty owed which I wasn’t expecting.

      • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

        Glad to hear that.
        Duty feed are a bit of a gamble, when ordering from the states or asia to europe, you sometimes get them and sometimes not.

        Best way to avoid them is asking the vendor to put “gift” or “sample” on the package (no commercial value = no fees) AND avoid using transporters like DHL or UPS and rather go with the national post office of the country of origin (USPS for the states, Chronopost or Colissimo for france).

        Also, i saw the 2012 Vitesse line earlier at the Paris Moto Show and the build quality of the shorter pairs seemed consistant with my hunts. Some variants of the tall boots are also comming, mainly waterproof versions and different fabrics (same as the short boots).

  • aristurtle

    The Office boot would be ideal if only it didn’t have the bulging-out brand name on it.

    Of course then I’d need a ballistic nylon suit jacket and asphalt-resistant tie.

    Actually, that sounds pretty awesome, when I think about it.

  • jonoabq

    I’ve been looking at the hunts for a couple years now waiting for black (same for Stylmartin’s urban line)…I’m really impressed with the line as a whole and wish there was somewhere to actually put my hands on them before purchasing. A tad more stealthy than my perforated white dainese track boots to which I’ve actually been asked “why are you wearing ski boots to ride your motorcycle?”

  • HammSammich

    I’m intersted in these, but skeptical of their claimed walk-ability. In my admittedly limited experience, I’ve found that the things that make riding boots safe and functional for riding, tend to be the same things that make them uncomfortable for walking in.

    That said, these definitely win on looks. I’ve completely stopped wearing my Gaerne’s in all but the harshest conditions because they are just too hideous (I still reluctantly wear them in pouring rain because they are amazingly waterproof).

  • Jack

    Close, really close, but that plastic plate in the back kills it for me. I was actually just thinking about trying to find something that looked normal/comfortable on off the bike and keep coming up short.

    Nature of the beast I guess. I’d give it a shot if I could try them on.

    Just for shits and giggles though, what’s the prices/avail date on the new models?

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean (the other one)

      agreed. stopped reading the article after i saw the piece on the back. i dont care what they do if they look like that.

    • Gene

      Me too. I’m tired of being an unpaid billboard for my riding apparel companies. It’s gotten so bad, one of my buying criteria is now “how easy is it to seam-rip the logos?”

  • Jack

    Edit: Woof! $350 MSRP for most of the new ones, $300 for the tactics.

    Rather have a pair of these for that kinda cash

    http://www.aerostich.com/aerostich-combat-lite-boots-20.html

    • Sean Smith

      Me too. Highly recommended.

  • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean (the other one)
  • Liquidogged

    Turds with laces, the lot of them. If I had 300 bones to spend on street oriented boots I’d grab a pair of:

    http://www.sidibootstore.com/blade.html

    and spend the extra 100 on taking out a nice lady on my bike, who I’m quite sure would be entirely unconcerned with the coolness/not coolness of my footwear.

    Stop trying to look low-key and normal on bikes all the damn time. There is nothing low-key and normal about serious riding. It’s outside the mainstream. It’s different. The clothes have different requirements. If your main concern is looking cool, you’re barking up the wrong tree. To me, the coolest thing is someone doing something they love, doing it with the right equipment, and saying the hell with how it looks or the impression it makes on people.

    Just my two cents.

    • Jack

      I agree with you mostly, but when I’m just puttering around town, not trying to drag knees in nyc, I’d still like some decent riding footware that doesn’t feel like something the mob straps on people who need a nap with the fishes. Those daineses are nicer lookin for a hundo less though.

    • BigRooster

      No one says the clothing does not need need to be purpose built with unique requirments, but with this said, why must we also endure boy racer, pirate, or just plain strange looking? Is there any reason why normal looking and functional must be exlusive?

      Stuff from Belstaff, Barbour, and AeroStitch seem to get the conservative look down with different degree of functionality. Stitch is the completly functional and completly conservative while Barbour and Belstaff favor fashion (yet usually functional), and then companies like Joe Rocket go with the Monster Energy Drink meets NOS meets a flat bill school of styling.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      What if the “something they love” is not using a bike on the track but knocking about a crowded city, going in at work, go to a meeting, going out and doing all that without changing clothes or looking like a transformer who can’t walk more than 10 feet?

      I believe everyone here has advocated the use of the best gear practicaly available when needed.

      • Liquidogged

        I don’t mean to sound harsh, but knocking about a crowded city on a bike carries even more risk for the rider than a racetrack does – it is very much serious riding, and if you don’t treat it that way, you’re liable to wind up wrapped around a lightpole or getting smeared under an SUV, all while wearing something that seemed fashionable when you put it on, and plain stupid when the EMTs cut it off your mangled frame. My point is that the “one pair to rule them all” boots philosophy is bullshit. There is no one pair of boots that is going to do it all. They have to be built for catastrophic events, and that imposes certain aesthetic choices. (See T Diver’s comment below.) That’s the reality of the situation if you ride with any frequency. You are either sacrificing your (highly subjective) sense of style to some degree, or your safety to some degree. Anyone who suggests you can have it all is being an asshat. You can’t.

        Anyways, what’s the motivation behind “not looking weird”? We’re brave enough to pilot machines that are faster than the fastest GP bikes were 20 years ago, but we’re not brave enough to deal with the odd glance at our footwear? What the hell kind of culture is that? Count me out.

        • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

          Fair point and i agree 100% that city riding is serious riding.
          But you’re under the impression that it’s all about appearences when it’s not. Being able to walk all day in my moto boots is not about style, being able to sit at my desk in a moto jean without the squeaking of a leather pants isn’t either.
          It is about style, but not only.

          And considering style it’s not only about looking stylish as you put it, but also being able to look professional and/or not out of place in a meeting, and sometimes that’s not to please one’s ego, but one’s boss.

          • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

            Problem is, these don’t look very professional. Compared to the standard, sure, but anyone concerned with footwear as far as a career is concerned should bring a change of shoes to the office (or leave a pair at the office). It’d be like wearing a subtle motorcycle jacket to a meeting. It might not scream “Power Ranger!” but it’s still out of place.

            Guess that depends on how professional we’re talking, though.

        • HammSammich

          Proper Gear is very important to me, and out here in pirate country I’m seen as some sort of ATGATT nutter just for always wearing a full face helmet, gloves, boots and a Jacket w/ CE protection. But I’m honestly a bit perplexed by the vitriol exhibited in discussing gear choices here.

          Serious riding is dangerous and does require good gear, but gear always mandates compromise. Perhaps it is a bit too easy to deride gear choices that factor in style and off-bike function, if you’re not recognizing your own compromises. For most riders, cost is a major factor, but comfort, flexibility, fit, and temperature control may all factor into the decision as well.

          The fact is, what we do is all about risk acceptance and avoidance. I’m sure that we’d all be safer wearing $10,000, custom made MotoGP suits during our commutes, but for that matter, wouldn’t we all be safer in Toyota Camrys or on the bus?

          I don’t think Vitesse is sacrificing safety for style. I think they are finding creative solutions to provide both in a reasonable balance.

          I’m not going to apologize for wanting to look “low-key and normal” on my bike. I’m a low-key guy (normal is debatable). My bike is primarly a mode of transportation, not a toy or a badge of my membership in some lifestyle counterculture. I buy the safest gear I can afford, and style will always be a factor – not because I’m worried about what the ladies think, but because I have personal aesthetic tastes. Fortunately, there are now companies trying to make available, gear that provides very good protection, with a modicum of regard to how it looks.

          • Ankur V

            Couldn’t agree more!

          • Campisi

            I tip my hat to you, sir.

  • DAVID

    no way they will have sizes large enough for big flappy American feet.

    • andy727

      The cool stuff never comes in my size! I would love a pair of these in a 49…

  • Cro

    “There is nothing low-key and normal about serious riding. It’s outside the mainstream. It’s different. The clothes have different requirements. If your main concern is looking cool, you’re barking up the wrong tree. To me, the coolest thing is someone doing something they love, doing it with the right equipment, and saying the hell with how it looks or the impression it makes on people.”

    Amen, brother

    • BMW11GS

      very solid manifesto

    • T Diver

      I have to aggree. I crashed a few weeks ago and hit feet/ass first. I was wearing the TCX race boots. They saved my ankles/feet from certain breakage. I was still very bruised (the soles of my feet were bruised), but no twisted ankle. The saved me. If I was in sneakers, I would have shattered my ankles. I was only going about 50 and hit a poorly placed curb. Sommersault over the bars. If I was in low-top boots I think I would have surely twisted the crap out of my ankle if not broke it above the top of the low boot. My philosophy now is just to bring a backpack with my non-riding awesome looking compliment-getting (from the ladies of course) gear. Not being able to walk blows.

  • Braden (Griso 8V, SV650)

    I was seriously considering Vitesse for awhile, but not being able to try them on was just too much of an issue for me. I tried to get something that looked somewhat normal (Alpinestars Harlem boots) but I had two stitching failures after four months of light use. I switched over to the Dainese TRQ Race Ins and while they look ridiculous, I’m well protected and the boots are all black at least.

  • Roman

    I’ve been wearing the TCX Jupiter 2 as my standard around town, quick ride, touring boot. Maybe not the most stylish boot in the world, but subtle enough to get away with occasionally wearing to work. Nice bonus is that it’s Gore-Tex, hence waterproof.
    http://www.tcxboots.com/eng/prodotti-dettaglio.php?categoria=4

    • BigRooster

      Wow, they make some nice stuff. The urban are completely normal and could be used at work, while the x-street would make a nice casual option. Looks like they all have decent protection as well. The Jupiter isn’t bad either if not the most motorcycle looking of the lot.

      • Roman

        Been wearing my pair for since last season with no issues. They held up pretty well in my getoff (about 35 mpg), so I don’t really have anything bad to say about TCX kit.

  • philn

    While I’m not a fan of Vitesse, I’m glad to see more riding boots that look good off the bike. Soon enough, there’s going to be a style I really like from some brand. Heck … I already love these Dainese Anfibio boots.

    http://www.dainese.com/us_en/motorbike/anfibio-cafe.html?cat=26

    I don’t know why I’m holding out … maybe waiting something that look more like my Red Wings?

  • lidewij

    at philn

    That more like it, I mean the dainese boot. I personally wear a pair of Bates leahters drag boots around town. Comfy and hand made in a nice classic style.

    http://www.batesleathers.com/boots/boot_types.php?boot=dragracer

  • AHA

    For every day, going to work, I think it’s so much less of a compromise if you can stretch to carrying street shoes with you and swopping footwear at your destination. It takes less time changing than Wes’s Roadcraft, after all. (Or leave them under your desk.)
    Even so, I’ve been stalking the Vitesse website for a couple of years now and these new models are increasing the temptation level. I wish they had a GoreTex lined model though.

    • nbeato

      +1 … got to love motorcyclists for talking so much about fashion

  • Jack

    Yo HFL, do a test/comparison thing of all of the “normal shoe lookin’ boot things?” Like the TCX X-streets, the Dainese technical sneakers, the vitesse stuff, whatever A*’s take is, etc.

    Please?

  • Vitesse

    Amazing feedback, wether good or bad. Clearly, we’re not the only option (as a matter of fact, we’re educated beginners…), and clearly, what matters most is to know what you’re after. A track – only rider (or someone that isn’t bothered by the “collateral” of race boots) should go for track boots. Most of them are great. And yes, our boots are not cheap, because they pack a patented technology that works, waterproof & natural materials, and are made by skilled people. Wes’s comment on how to test a boot by flexing laterally pretty much says it all on a functional standpoint. We pass this test really well for a non track boot. Then there’s look and feel, and for this we respect all opinions, simply trying to have honest products that are well made. Thank you again, for commenting
    .

  • http://www.mikuli.com/ Miku

    All of these looks great, especially the ‘Workshop’! Where can I buy any of these?

  • Timothy Gray

    They look awesome, but I want to see photos of them after 3 months of riding and how bad of a wear spot the shifter makes in the leather.