Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Boots: a Product Review/Post-mortem

Something tragic happened at the NETRA Jack Frost Fun Run in Oxford, MA last weekend. The ride was great, Greg and I had a blast—I guess, to be accurate, something tragic happened AFTER the Jack Frost Run. As Greg was backing the Element out of its parking space with the trailer, the guy next to us knocked on the window and told us that our very new and very long tie-downs were trailing. I got out to tie them up in festive bows, and as I was about to get back in the car, I noticed the calamity.

“Roll forward,” I said to Greg, opening the door. “You’re on my boots.”

Alas, once the wheel was off them and I had dusted them off, they looked—exactly the way they had before. Okay, maybe the giant holes in the ankles got a little gianter. But It Was Their Time, that much is for sure. Consider this their obituary.

Those boots—Fly Racing Maverik boots, a 99-dollar special—were the first piece of dirt biking equipment I ever bought. (That was last fall—don’t go thinking the boots are from the 70’s or anything.)  I purchased them for myself as an overdue acknowledgement that my weekend adventures on Greg’s old trials bike were actually going to turn into a hobby—and shortly thereafter, Greg bought a '98 KDX 220 for me. Heck of a boyfriend, right? See, this is why I’m going back to school. With two of those salaries, we’ll practically have our own satellite race team, in terms of budget if not in terms of talent, at least compared to the present state of affairs—which brings me back to my boots. 99-dollar boots more or less review themselves on their price tag, but let me tell you about the successes and failures of these, just for giggles.

First, they were stiff, obviously, but they worked. At the Toys for Tots run last November, they immediately filled with water, but that was because I toppled over in a knee-deep stream. (I really envy people who learned to ride on bikes whose seats are a foot off the ground, and who got all that falling over with when they were too young for it to be embarrassing.) Over the winter, they kept my feet reasonably warm and passably dry, and then, at the NETRA Spring Challenge, they earned a medal of honor for saving my toes.

The full chronicle of the Challenge is here (and it rivals the Odyssey), but the boots’ part in it is this: totally exhausted after an hour-long first lap, my bike slides sideways out from under me as I round a slippery corner. As I fall, I accidentally twist the throttle wide open—and then land with my right foot in my rear spokes. The spokes carry my foot into my swingarm, and there my toes stay as the bike stalls, firmly and painfully stuck. I land at such an angle that I can’t reach my clutch lever to rotate the wheel backward and unstick them, so I lie there with my face in the mud and scream blue murder until some horrified spectators rescue me. But my toes aren’t broken, I discover, standing up, although the end of the boot has temporarily collapsed. 10 points for Fly Racing.

No, I didn’t break any toes in these until about a month ago. It was a boring freak accident—I flipped the bike over backwards at the top of a steep, rocky hill and the handlebar came down BANG like a hammer on my left middle toe. It turned purple—the whole thing. That was a good sign that the boots were nearing the end of their usefulness—there’s only so many times you can fully invert the toe box before it starts to lose its rigidity. Although, on that note, maybe the problem is my riding, not the boots. Greg’s friend Chris has had the same boots forever and the toes of his are fine—but then, his have griffins and lightning bolts and shit on them and mine don’t, so his may be running on PFM technology at this point (that’s Pure Effing Magic, for those who haven’t asked a computer science major how the internet works recently).

In addition to the compromised toe boxes, the boots are each missing a strap and massively split in the ankle, and one of them is missing one-third of its metal toe reinforcement (God knows how that happened). Folks, I think their condition is terminal. Alas, since I somehow have to pay for classes next semester, I will be forced to reanimate their remains with duct tape and continue wearing them until they decompose completely or Santa's elves team up with Alpinestars and make me new ones (not likely). On that note, recommendations for good cheap boots are welcome—griffins and lightning bolts preferred. 


  1. Gaerne SG 10 or Sidi, stay away from Alpinestar, you`ll pay a lot of money for shitty buckles and wet feet.

    1. Thank you! The boyfriend has SG-10s and says that they have lasted "an ass-long time". That's two votes...

  2. Another vote for Gaerne. I've put mine threw an extreme beating, just rinse them off once in a while, take a pair of pliers and remove the 1 1/2" cactus needles out of them and they look like new again. Amazing boots for the money. Oh and zero break in time needed.

    1. Excellent, thank you! Also, there's 99 problems with riding in the northeast, but cacti ain't one--that's just terrifying.