When it comes to riding a motorcycle, recommended starter gear is a helmet, jacket, trousers, gloves and boots. Gear is so important that most motorcycle insurance will cover it. Before I bought my motorcycle, I bought a helmet and a friend gifted me some gloves — the extent of my gear when I started riding regularly.
As a result of not having proper boots, I did what one shouldn’t, which is ride with either a pair of Palladium boots or my favourite high-top Adidas sneakers, which have now been decimated by the gear lever and occasional scrubbing on the tar when coming to a stop, because, even after purchasing a pair of Alpinestars low-cut riding boots, I would don said sneakers on short runs to the shops or meetings.
Walking into a meeting to a squeak-and-rattle soundtrack from motorcycle boots is awkward and, while comfortable in general, they get a tad uncomfortable as the day wears on. Being a sneaker lover and a collector of sorts, I have been meaning to treat myself to a pair of riding sneakers for commuting, sneakers that are both protective and blend well with casual clothing. First prize would be a pair for different outfits, but that’s still a distant dream. Plus, I still need proper road boots and adventure boots.
Below is a list of riding sneakers that would be great additions to my overall collection and ensure that my feet are protected.
Merlin X Urban Rider Onyx Riding Trainer — Black
A collaboration between Urban Rider, a UK-based motorcycle gear retailer, and British motorcycle gear brand Merlin, the Onyx riding trainer comes in matte black, made from cowhide leather, with lace fastening, a reinforced ankle, heel, toe and bottom of the foot, and reflective strips and piping on the heel and the heel puller tab. It also has a Merlin proprietary Hipora triple liner that is both waterproof and breathable and a padded inner liner ensuring that it is both comfortable and billed for all seasons.
Italian brand Alpinestars is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of riding gear and, while it is a given that they would make riding sneakers that deliver protection, what drew me to the Speedforce is mainly the design and silhouette, which they say was modelled on a “running shoe”. It is a “hi-top” with ankle protection that includes impact protection both medially and laterally. It is made from the French Matryx high-performance textile, which is light, breathable, and resistant to abrasion and tearing. It also has a reinforced toe and heel, Softprene slip sock, which cushions the ankle, and an ergonomic OrthoLite insock.
Icon Overlord Vented CE — Grey
Made for hot weather with ample airflow and ventilation courtesy of the textile upper with Tectuff overlays and a mesh chassis, Icon’s Overlord still provides protection in the form of a reinforced midfoot shank, D3O impact protection in the form of an ankle insert, and a reinforced shifter overlay. Beyond the unique silhouette, a dope feature is the BOA lacing system, which means you don’t have to battle with zips or laces.
TCX Ikasu Waterproof
The Ikasu WP has an elasticated front zipper over a mesh fabric upper that gives it a “sneaker” feel. The TCX’s proprietary T-Dry membrane ensures that water is kept out while the list of protective features is long, including: D3O ankle inserts, toe and heel protection, rubberised shifter pad and Zplate insert to ensure the sneakers don’t collapse on impact while maintaining flexibility. For comfort, the insole is from OrthoLite while the wear-resistant outsole is from Groundtrax.
John Doe Neo XTM-Fiber
The John Doe Neo looks more sneaker than motorcycle boots, especially in the white-on-white colourway. It also comes in all black and black/white with a brown sole. Made from leather, suede, canvas and John Doe’s XTM-Fiber to ensure protection, it is dirt and water repellent and the tongue has a water barrier. It is reinforced at the ankle, heel and the front of the foot and has a side zipper for ease of access.
A world with limited options can be dreary, but a world with too many options can be overwhelming. How to decide when each of the riding sneakers available are dope in their own way and provide you with the necessary protection?