I am always looking for a better boot. Something that is waterproof, comfortable, offers protection and doesn't look like I wandered in from a race somewhere. You know the perfect piece of gear, that pinnacle of versatility that doesn't quite exist yet. I need to be able to ride my motorcycle, arrive at my destination, wander around and get back on the bike without changing shoes. While there are many options in the motorcycle world that sometimes almost work I generally have found them lacking. I keep looking for the new item that could change my mind.
What I really like at the moment are not motorcycle boots at all. Built by Zamberlan for hiking, they are the 996 Vioz GT. Made from Zamberlan's Hydrobloc full grain leather with a proprietary Zamberlan 3D Vibram sole they are remarkably simple in appearance. You can tell they are a hiking boot but they are not "Hey look at me!" Lined with Gore-Tex they are marketed as waterproof they provide significant lateral support with their internal Zamberlan Flex System.
With marketing names like Hydrobloc and Gore-Tex you expect these boots to be waterproof. I am here to tell you they are. Amazingly, the leather does not absorb water the way most leather boots do. The Hydroloc treatment applied repels water as well as any wax on a motorcycle. I rode the Ténéré through a torrential downpour this past week that had me jet skiing through a foot water on major highways, crossing small streams on back roads and generally having a great time. My feet were not wet at all. I wore the boots the next day without any drying. I cannot think of a better testament to waterproofing than that. If you get water over the ankle or stand in a stream you will soak your foot, but hey, don't do that.
The protection in the boot is designed for hiking not motorcycling. It lacks an ankle specific protector pad but does have a very stiff shank and insole. They fit your foot tightly and have full contact with every surface. I have hiked for miles at a time with no discomfort. Because they offer such good support I have also found they are great when riding off road. Allowing forward and rearward flexing of the ankle but no side movement. They certainly aren't as purposefully built as some proper off-road boots but they are perfect for those days where that new fire road looks fun.
If I have any complaints it has to be the finish. The leather marks up easily and is only exacerbated by riding a motorcycle and rubbing against parts when shifting and moving around. The other complaint is they aren't cheap. Retailing at $280 they aren't sold at PayLess. When compared to "proper" riding boots the price really isn't that far off. For my money I would buy these again.