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.