Sidi

Riding the Infamous Dragon

killboypic_dragon3_2015_web  

I had a blast this last week riding to the 10th Annual Womens Sportbike Rally. The Dragon was fun, but Highway 28 was even better :)  Thanks to Killboy.com for sponsoring the rally and getting this pic for me!

Stay tuned for a ride report of my longest riding trip ever, 2,000+ miles.

QnA: Summer Gear for Athletic Body Type?

olympia_womens_switchback2_jacket_pewter  

Reader Cori needs a 2 piece summer suit to ride in hot weather but still provide protection and comfort. She also needs help finding something with a little more room in the shoulders. 

I am looking for some advice on what gear to buy for riding in South Louisiana. I am a brand new rider (I actually have yet to ride and will be purchasing a bike next week). I will be a commuter with a 9 mile, non freeway, daily commute. What do you recommend for gear? I'm going to start with purchasing a helmet, gloves, boots, jacket, and knee pads. I am feeling very overwhelmed by the process, and have no idea where to start. Any suggestions, or places you can point me? In particular I'm looking for gear that's good for warm weather. (very, very warm).

Some back ground information, I am 5'3" and 140 pounds and am in the process of purchasing a honda rebel 250cc. I have an average to short torso, with broad shoulders ( my waist is a small and chest + shoulders range from a bigger medium to a smaller large. I don't know my inseam as of right now but I typically need pants that are labeled short. 

The only other concern I have is about my arms, I have bigger arms. ( I am a weightlifter so while I have a slim athletic build my arms and shoulders hold a lot of muscle) 
Cori in Louisiana
Hi Cori,
For your helmet, it's all based on proper fit. If you live anywhere near a dealership that has helmet options, I would highly recommend going in and getting fitted. If you can't find a dealer, then you want to check out this article on helmet shopping. Honestly, I find it impossible to help anyone get fitted for a helmet over the phone or online. There are also a ton of youtube videos for you to figure out how to fit a helmet. Do not, I repeat do not pick a helmet simply due to colors/graphics. You MUST get the fitment right for a helmet to work properly and actually protect you! I have a few favorites when it comes to helmets, but it really does come down to fitment. For example, if you have a true long oval then you need an Arai Signet-Q. But if you have a really round head and are XS, you need an Arai RX-Q. It just depends.
Gloves are also tricky in this sense, because they really require trying on and fitting. But I can give you a few ideas here:
  • Revit Bomber ; these fit longer in the fingers and narrower across the hands, but are the Best summer gloves out there. More protection and ventilation at the same time.
  • Dainese Mig C2: these fit a bit shorter in the fingers, and also are fantastic summer gloves. Avoid synthetics, they are the cheap, less protective and don't work well for pavement. You need real leather for street riding!
My recommendation for a jacket is the Olympia Switchback 2 Jacket ($239), size S (shown above). Don't worry, it's available in 2 other colors if white isn't your style! I really love this jacket not just for the fitment, but also because it has a really great fit for you. Relaxed in the shoulders, biceps and forearms, this will give you plenty of room to move around without feeling too constricting. You might feel a little tightness in the elbows/shoulders since the armor is fairly thick and rigid, so I would definitely recommend upgrading the armor to Forcefield or D3O if you find it too restricting.
The other reason I love Olympia for you is the torso is average length (lower in the back, higher in the front) and is constructed of Dupont Cordura, which provides more abrasion resistance than other mesh jackets in the same price point. The mesh is still nylon, but your slide zones are covered by Cordura.
I would also consider mesh overpants instead of just knee guards. You need more than jeans when riding, they just don't have the abrasion resistance.
First, I would recommend the matching Olympia Womens Airglide Pants ($229) in a size 4. These have a slightly fuller fit, so if you need extra thigh, hip and booty space you'll love these a little more. These are also constructed of Cordura (except the nylon mesh for airflow).
Olympia Airglide 3 Women's Motorcycle OverPants
The second pant to consider is the Revit Airwave Pants, ($199) in size 36. I would recommend these if you need a leaner leg and slightly less room in the hips/booty area. I call this table booty (which is what I have).
Rev'it Airwave Mesh Pants Summer womens textile
Both are available in lighter colors, including white (Revit) and silver (Olympia) to keep you a bit cooler.
Looking at boots, it's hard to find vented boots for women. When it's really hot, it's the opposite you actually want a slightly heavier boot to keep the heat out! Imagine a lightweight sneaker, and how quickly that absorb heat. Leather actually deflects quite a bit. A few ideas:
  • Sidi Livia Rain ($230): Ideal for wider feet, higher insteps and larger ankles. It's a very loose fitting boot. These breathe very well and are fully synthetic leather as well.
  • Dainese Svelta GTX ($289): Ideal for narrower feet (all Dainese boots are narrower, btw) and these are GoreTex which are the most breathable waterproof membrane. I've ridden in 90+ temps in GTX boots and they are fantastic.
  • TCX Aura Boots ($219): Also waterproof, they run even narrower than the Svelta in the toebox. Super comfortable and low profile.

 

Alpinestars SMX-6 Womens Motorcycle Boots

alpinestars_stella_womens_smx6_motorcycle_boots (1)  

As much as I adore my Sidis, I had to change my boots recently due to a change in the size of my tiny feet. 

When your feet are size US 6.5 / Euro 36 (Euro 37 for really narrow shoes), there aren't many options for truly protective motorcycle boots. When I say truly protective, I mean boots that have full ankle protection to keep your ankle from twisting like these from Dainese. For me, these are the best compromise to achieve a better fit and still have a higher level of protection.

My Sidis (size 37) offer lots of impact protection. And in fact, I can attest to this by the accident I had 2 weeks ago where I lowsided due to hydraulic fuel in the entire right lane of a right hand curve. I only had bruising on my right foot. No broken bones or fractures. And that definitely saved my foot. I absolutely would buy another pair if my feet were just a half size larger!

gear damage 2 (2)

 

Somewhere in the last few years my feet have changed sizes slightly. I wear 2 different insoles in my Sidis because my ankles and heels are skinny. Without them my ankles and heels are swimming, and then my toes smush into the toebox and then I'm in pain. I also added a couple of foam pads to the inside of the boot above my ankle to further stabilize that area. I also have shorter slightly wider toes so the Alpinestars also give me a better fit in the toebox.

The SMX-6's  in a 36 fit much better, slightly shorter and more fitted and secure in the ankles/heels. It's a slight compromise since I lose some impact protection but gain a piece of ankle support on the outside of each boot (the long plastic looking piece running vertically along side the outside of my ankle).

I think these are going to work better for me, given how much better they fit my tiny feet. And for me, a really good fit has a slightly higher priority. If you're looking for a great summer boot, these are also available in a vented version!

I can't wait to test ride them this Sunday and on a nice long, weekend getaway. Stay tuned for a review.

Reader Question: Are My Motorcycle Boots Too Big?

Hi There,

I'm in the market for my first pair of official motorcycle boots. I commute 60 miles a day on my 07 BMW F800ST which has very cramped footpegs. I have narrow feet with med/big arches. My budget is around $200-240 max.

It was suggested to me by several people to get the Sidi Fusion boots as they tend to run narrow unlike some other sidi boots. I couldn't find them anywhere locally, and I had a $140 store credit for cycle gear so i ordered them from the cyclegear website. I went ahead and ordered a size 45. The fit: The boot feels a tad bit loose, and it feels like my feet slide forward in them which cramps my toes. I slapped my FAVORITE insoles in (Sofsol Airr) and it tightened the boot up nicely, but then my toes were so cramped they now get tingly. Should I trade them in for a 46? Do i need to go to a different boot? Help! Love your podcast and always love to hear your feedback.

-Kyle

sidi_fusion_lei_womens_motorcycle_boots

Hi Kyle,

I would definitely recommend a completely different brand for you. Sidis can run narrow in the toe box, but not everywhere else as your experience is showing you (heels, ankles). The reason your toes are smashing into the toe box is probably because the heel and ankle area isn't pulling your foot back enough to keep them out of the toe box. I have the same issue with my Sidis as well. Unfortunately my feet are so small that they don't make a size small enough!

My recommendation would have been anything from Dainese. Unfortunately you will have to spend just a little more to find something that fits in your budget. Dainese is the only brand that has this type of narrow overall fit everywhere:

  • Dainese Giro-ST Boots: $259.95 These are identical to the protection you have on the Sidi Fusion boots, the fit is completely different.

For the price I think these would work really well for what you are trying to accomplish. Although they're a slightly larger investment I think you'll be *very* happy with the result. I would recommend a size 45.

Update 11/23/2014

Kyle wrote me back with an update!

So I went into cycle gear to order your suggested boots and they said they would give me the TR-Course Out for $5 less than the others. Got them for $250! Holy moley they feel great!!! Way overkill for my commute but I'm not complaining!

Dainese TR-Course Out Boots narrow feet

Taller Motorcycle Boots for Women

daytona_ladystar_gtx, prev version  

If you're looking for boots that offer a little extra height (and traction) to give you more leverage and confidence while riding, as well as protection, here are some ideas.

Options 1-3 are fully lined with Gore-Tex, considered to be the most breathable, waterproof membrane you will find in footwear.

1/ Daytona Ladystar GTX

$449. My favorite recommendation (and most expensive, unfortunately) are the Daytona Ladystar GTX's above. Yep, you get *that* much extra vertical height. Definitely the tallest women's motorcycle boots on the market that I've seen so far that also provide plenty of protection for street riding. You can read my review here. Two places to buy these online; Helimot or Revzilla. Pick your poison! Daytona also makes the same boot for those of you over a size 40, called the MStar (typically marketed towards men, even though its the same exact boot).

2/ Dainese Siren WP

$249. Although the Siren doesn't feature Gore-Tex, it's waterproof and breathable per Dainese. Also, the Siren has a very generous calf space, so this is a great boot if you need a little more room. Remember that Dainese's fit profile is a little narrower everywhere (except the calf).  I've included a photo showing where your foot will be once inside the boot (0" mark). So that's almost 2.5" of extra height. You will get the same height on the Svelta (#2) and Luma (#3) as well.

dainese_siren

Dainese Siren GTX 

 

2/ Dainese Luma GTX

dainese_luma_gtx

$249. The Luma isn't a full height boot, but falls just below your calves. The height on these and the Siren will be the same.

3/ Dainese Svelta GTX

dainese_svelta_gtx

$269. I love the Svelta because it actually doesn't have a large calf space since it zips all the way to the top. I don't need extra room there, so for me, it's the perfect boot. If you have a slender leg then you'll like the streamline fit on the Svelta. Another fabulous Gore-Tex lined boot!

4/ Alpinestars Stella Gran Torino GTX

Alpinestars Stella Gran Torino GTX

 

alpinestars_gran_torino_gtx_ladies

$299. The Alpinestars should have a slightly wider footbed and slightly larger ankle space. A good amount of calf space is provided as well.

5/ Sidi Livia Rain

sidi_livia

sidi_livia_rain

$230. Sidis have a more generous fit all around than options #1-4, especially the ankles / heels and arches (better for high arches). They're incredibly comfortable as well, and also have a very generous calf space. As generous as the Sirens (#2), maybe even a tad more.

For those of you that can't afford a new pair of boots, here are two ideas:

  1. Try new insoles to add height and / or comfort. Dr Scholls, Superfeet, etc. I also wear Sidi Vertigo Leis but they took away from my vertical height so I couldn't get my heel down at all. So I added another insole, and a heel cup to give me an extra inch. It also made working all day in them far more comfortable.
  2. Try checking eBay. I found a barely used pair of Daytonas on eBay for less than $100 because I set up an alert to let me know if someone posted a pair in my size. It took a year, but a year later I found them!

Women's Motorcycle Boots for 2014

alpinestars_stella_smx6_womens Awhile ago I wrote a blog post with recommended motorcycle boots for women. I'm updating that post by adding 4 New boots for women for 2014. 2 of these are updated versions and the other 2 are new altogether.

These are strictly updated versions of boots mentioned in that post. I've left out ones that haven't changed.

Alpinestars Stella S-MX 6

(Keep in mind that 'Stella' is just Alpinestars label for the women's line. Everything is Stella this or Stella that. The actual name of the boot is the S-MX 6.)

The S-MX 6 above is the update to the popular S-MX 5. They've actually a nice upgrade in terms of protection with a torsion control system along the ankle to help prevent accidental twisting. Much more in line with the higher level race boots that Alpinestars makes. Of course, if you're looking for full race protection (achilles heel, stronger sliders, more shock absorption in the heels, etc.) then you should stick to something stronger like the S-MX Plus or SuperTech R's, which actually work well for women with slender feet/ankles. Previous versions of the S-MX Plus are also currently on closeout.

Dainese Svelta GORE-TEX

dainese_svelta_goretex_womens

The Svelta is slightly different from it's big sister the Siren, because it has a narrower calf space with the higher inner zipper. I didn't like the Siren myself, because the calf space was too generous for me. So if you liked the Siren but found it a little bulky, I think you'll like Svelta. And it also has the wonderful GORE-TEX breathable membrane. Keep in mind that Dainese has a narrower toe box and tapers inward along the pinky toe.

 

Sidi Apex Lei

sidi_apex_lei_womens

The Apex Lei is the shorter version of the Vertigo Lei.  If you like the idea of a shorter street boot with maximum protection, this is the way to go. If you missed my review of the Vertigo, you can read it here. The fit will also be the same as the Vertigo Lei.

Gaerne Rose

gaerne_black_rose_womensold_gaerne_black_rose

You may also have seen photos of the new Gaerne Black Rose (left) recently that look different from the previous version (right). There are no differences, except the new girly design along the inner ankle. Still one of my favorite city boots to ride in.

Sidi Verona Lei

sidi_womens_verona_lei_boots

The Verona is a really simple city or touring boot. Basically a lower profile version of the Livia Rain. Fully waterproof, but half height. Particularly nice if you have trouble finding wider calf motorcycle boots.

And of course, you can find all of these boots at Revzilla.com :)

How I took off my training wheels.

Daytona Ladystar womens motorcycle boots

 

6 years ago I discovered these amazing boots, said to add 2+ inches of height to your inseam! 

And that they did. At the time I was riding my Ninja 250 and I was at the balls of my feet while wearing Oxtars (discontinued but now known as TCX Auras). I heard these magical boots would add lift, extra comfort and a GORE-TEX (GT) membrane. 

2003 Kawasaki NInja 250 San Francisco motorcycles short beginner

If you read my full review, you'll see how much I relied upon and loved them. I still love them, they're one of the most comfortable boots I've ever worn and the GT liner is fantastic. I still long for a pair of boots with GT liners, so I will keep searching for something that will fit my tiny Euro 36-37, US 6.5-7 feet. There are a few men's boots that are offered in this size, so that may be my next option. 

Sidi Vertigo Womens Motorcycle Boots

Last year I reviewed Sidi's Vertigo Lei and started wearing them daily. I liked having the extra protection and I had never worn a sport boot with that kind of fit. They worked really well on my SV and I added an insole to make them even more comfortable. Unfortunately I lost all the height that I had gained with the Daytonas. I was now almost on my tiptoes and one flat left with a noticeable butt shift to the left off my seat. (vs. a slight lean left). I really had to be careful and more cautious about where I could put my feet down, the pavement grade and more interesting, parking with one foot (since the 2 tiptoes weren't helping). I had to acclimate to wear and review these boots. I knew I could manage, it just took a little time to get used to things. I admit, I didn't like losing all the height but I was also really happy that I didn't really Need the extra height to navigate on my bike. Yes, it was really nice to have it but it wasn't the end of the world!

I remember someone telling me last summer that they liked their Daytonas overall but didn't like how clunky they felt and wanted something lighter. That stuck with me so and I didn't notice until I started wearing the Vertigos how true that was. As a sport boot, they're super lightweight and really lean, making it easier to get your toes under the shifter. Fantastic. 

brammo enertia electric motorcycle san francisco

I definitely couldn't manage a taller, heavier bike with these just yet, but we'll see. I have ridden with these on the Brammo plenty of times since it's a taller but lighter bike (by about ~150 lbs and 2 inches). Sometimes it's all about weight, not height!

However, not long after I started riding the Brammo last summer, I started to break in a pair of Gaerne Black Rose Boots, which were sitting on my  shelf. I got them for the Yamaha Ride Review but never wore them after that. They were still stiff and not broken in so I just reverted to my Daytonas at that time. 

Gaerne Rose Womens Motorcycle Boots Gaerne Rose Womens Motorcycle Boots  

So a few months back I decided to wear these again and break them in. I hadn't worn them so why not break them in and do a review. I only wear them around town since I always try to wear my Vertigos for highway riding. (I did wear my Daytonas a couple times last summer for a couple of trips where I thought the GT would come in handy.)

They are now my every day boots around the city. They're much lighter than the Daytonas and less clunky. I also was surprised at how comfortable they were. I only lost an inch and it hasn't really mattered. I've ridden two even taller, heavier bikes since then with them and I managed just fine: 2012 Aprilia Shiver and 2013 KTM 690 Duke (YES!).

IMG_2270

2013 KTM 690 Duke San Francisco Bay Area Scuderia West

Don't let the "2 flat feet rule" (which isn't a rule, more of a guideline) change your perceptions of what you can or can't ride. It may take you a little longer than you'd hoped but motorcycles aren't a 'quick and easy' thing to learn. If you think it is, you may not be ready to ride....

Motorcycle Racing Boots for Women

Motorcycle race boots women

Alpinestars S-MX Plus (The Supertech R is the next step up)
MSRP $349.95
Sizes Euro 36-48
Colors: Black, Black Vented, White, Black/Red, White/Black/Red/Yellow 

Unfortunately, no one is making a true motorcycle race boot for women. Although the Sidi Vertigo Leis are a strong street boot with great protection, they do not offer the one thing that stronger street/race boots offer: Torsion Control. 

One of the worst injuries a rider can have is twisting of the ankle, which can result in breaking any of the bones in your ankle/leg. Boots like the  S-MX Plus by Alpinestars offers an inner booty to keep the ankles protected on the inside (not removable) and reinforcement around the exterior of the ankles to ensure that they don't twist or bend from side to side in the case of an accident. 

These start at a size Euro 36, which would approximately be a woman's US 6. With the inner booty and the European fit, these would work well for a woman's foot as well, especially at the smaller sizes.

Mens motorcycle race boots that fit women

Dainese TRQ Out (the Torque Pro Out line is the next step up)
MSRP $299.95  
Sizes: Euro 39-47 

If you wear a women's 8.5-9, Dainese's TRQ Race Out (above) boots start in Euro 39.  Dainese boots tend to have a very narrow ankle and footbed. They are especially fitted above the arches and in the heel cups. I find that these two areas are the most important when fitting a woman's foot. Those two and the calves tend to be the hardest to fit. These do offer velcro adjusters at the calves.

Sidi Mens Motorcycle Boots for WomenSidi mens motorcycle boots for women

Sidi Vortice                              Sidi ST (based on the former Vertigo Corsa)
MSRP $495                             MSRP $395
Sizes: Euro 39-48                   Sizes: Euro 39-48 

The Sidi Vortice's and the Sidi ST's have large calf adjusters, (the ST offers the most calf space), but have more room in the heels. This can be resolved with a heel insert to allow for a more snug fit.  The Vortices do offer additional adjustment above the arches, to make for a more snug fit too. These also both offer torsion control on the outside of the boot (no removable booty), as this is the way Sidi designs their torsion control systems to work. Both have shock absorbing heel cups, sliders, and venting. These also both start in a Euro 39. A Sidi 39 is also approximate to a women's 8.5-9. 

Remember that you can always add insoles or heel cups to make your boots fit better, regardless of the manufacturer.

The above boots are all made for men, but I think given the fit adjusters and overall European fitment makes them great choices for women riders as well. 

Gear 101: What is Lorica?

Lorica Synthetic Leather

Lorica is synthetic leather. Manmade, and completely artificial! 

"Lorica is a hi-tech material created from a remarkable combination of extremely thin microfibres.  This interlacement of microfibers, soaked in special resins, has a microporous structure which is very similar to the collagen of natural skin.  This gives Lorica excellent softness, durability and breathability." -Sidi Care Brochure

Sidi, like many other brands such as Alpinestars and Dainese are incorporating Lorica in their street and race motorcycle boots.  You can't really tell the difference, as they look and feel just like boots made of cowhide. I would never know the difference just by looking. 

For some reason, I thought that Lorica wouldn't stretch out as much as cowhide, but it seems the opposite is true. 

In reviewing the Fusions, I found that they stretched out quite a bit. I'm looking forward to breaking in a new pair of Vertigo Leis, to see how much they give and perform, especially under hotter riding conditions.