Sport touring boots are fantastic for providing comfort, all day riding and all day walking comfort, but at a price. Most sport-touring motorcycle boots are lacking in protective features. Most have very little armor around the heel and have minimal ankle armor. In the past, riders had to choose between comfort and protection.
Alpinestars SMX line changes things up a bit. Think of this boot as a cross between a traditional sport-touring boot and a dedicated track/racing boot. Alpinestars says the SMX-5 was created as a “performance road and track boot”. Cool, that’s how we spend most of our riding time. We picked up the Stella version of the SMX-5 that is CE certified and features shields on the shin, ankle, calf, toe and heel to protect from impact and abrasion. Inside the boot, protection is given by a double injected panel connected to the heel and hidden beneath the outer shell and running up the outer ankle.
The boot also has what Alpinestars describes as; “Innovative air vents at the ankle, heel, and forefoot are covered with a specially designed mesh to provide unmatched levels of rider comfort.” The SMX-5 WP (Waterproof) claims that a membrane behind the vents allows air to enter but not water.
Handling the boots, harder plastic “shift-pads” run over the tops of both boots (rather than just the shift toe), the heel is encased in armor and there is armor over the front of the shin as well as over the back of the heel. Unlike dedicated track/race boots there is no ankle linkage or hinging to prevent hyper-extensions or rolling of the ankle, additionally, there is no armor protecting the medial malleolus (the inside ankle bone) but the boot still provides significantly more protection than even the best-dedicated sport-touring/street boot.
Several vents are dotted over the boot. Two small vents on the top of the boot, just behind the shift-pad, a vent over the lateral maleolis (outside ankle bone) doubles as armor, a vent just below and to the outside of the shin armor and a vent on the outside of the heel promises decent air-flow for warmer weather. However, as with most vented gear, you only really notice the vents when the weather is cold, and on cooler days, you can most certainly feel the air-flow.
Aesthetically, the boot is not too “over-the-top” either. It has none of those radical looking shapes, colors or designs and once jeans are pulled over the reasonably sized top of the boot, they look quite normal aside from the removable toe-slider, but most people probably would never notice. The round toe minimizes the visual size of the foot and provides ample room for toe-wiggling. Our all black SMX’s had simple white A-star logos on the front of the shin and the back of the heel as well as a very small, understated “SMX-5” badge.
Putting the boots on, you’ll find your foot inside a very plush bed of padding. A soft, removable insole beds the bottom of your feet while ample padding wraps around the ankles and lower shin. This gives the boot a very comfortable and protective feel. It also makes it so walking and wearing the boots for an extended amount of time is quite comfortable, unlike many track/race boots that are much more spartan in the comfort/walking arena.
The size of the toe box and heel makes the boot work very well on a multitude of different bikes. We didn’t have to adjust any shift levers (as we’ve had to do in the past when boots changed) and the accordion looking ribbing on the front and back of the ankle accommodated heel movement for shifting and braking so that that there was virtually zero break-in time required. Finally, the biggest problem with wearing the more protective boots for touring is the sole is typically very thin and very tacky to allow race/track riders to hang onto the foot pegs. This normally results in the bottoms of the boots wearing out long before the top does. The SMX-5’s seems to have found a very good compromise. The sole is quite grippy, but is also fairly thick. Over the last several months of use, our sole shows very little wear, but we had no issues with grip on the pegs or when putting feet down on wet and dry asphalt.
Normally we commend Alpinestars for their “Stella” line of ladies gear designed specifically for girls, but stupidly, the SMX-5 WP is not available in the Stella version. So, our only complaint with the boot is that we wish we’d could have gotten the SMX-5 WP (Waterproof) version as during wet weather, as you’d imagine, the non-membraned vents allow water to flow in. The ample padding inside the boot ensures they quickly become water-logged and it takes some time for them dry out. Female touring riders who use these boots for riding in extreme wet weather will probably want to compensate with gore-tex socks.
Functionally, the boot is very appropriate for track-day riders and performance oriented street riders. Club-racers and “hard-core” sport riders may wish to opt for something with even more armor and more ankle protection. Beyond that, we feel this is a spectacular product that has found, what we believe to be, the perfect balance (i.e. compromise) between protection for the performance minded rider and comfort desired for sport-touring, and being Alpinestars you can rest assured they will last a great many miles with basic care. However, if you are male, be sure to get the SMX-5 WP, if you are a lady, sadly you’ll have to deal with the potential for wet feet.
For more information visit Alpinestars.Com.