Derek Mansfield looks for three-season boots that’ll go the distance
I’d been reading the news of heatwaves across Europe and lovely though riding in the sunshine is, all of us know how uncomfortable it can get over 25°C, so I thought I’d investigate lighter weight summer boots that will go the distance. Not any old lightweight boot you understand, but boots that would stand up to a ride on rough roads across Eastern Europe and large bits of Central Asia.
Aware of my concerns, my good chums at Motolegends suggested I ride over and look at their range of ankle boots to see if there was an alternative to all the non-motorcycle Vibram commando-soled boots that I’ve been wearing forever.
It’s a couple of years since I’ve visited Motolegends and they’ve had a huge makeover, turning the warehouse into a venue as well as a store. Lots of stylish retro touches, huge range of product from adventure suits to leather and denim for all genders, laid back staff who are knowledgeable and exceedingly patient, and great coffee that you don’t even have to ask for.
Many of us have discovered that you can ride the world on shed-built street scramblers and the like. It may sometimes take a bit longer, but repairs are simpler and you meet more people. In line with this trend the better clothing manufacturers have recognised the need for tougher, all season retro style clothing; and boots are very much part of the genre. Lightweight short boots that look like Converse All Stars abound and the manufacturers have added varying degrees of strength & protection.
I tried Helston, Belstaff, TCX, Stylmartin and Rokker before I got confused. And then, because everything is also available in black, brown, tan, nubuck or shiny – and even leopard skin – I felt the anxiety of overwhelming choice add itself to the general confusion. I used the time-honoured phrase “I’d like to think about” and fled….
I don’t have a leopard skin jacket so that reduced the line-up if I was set on co-ordination, but it was another sleepless night before I could decide on the colour, which, finally, was black. This simplified the choice and after detailed examination the Rokker seemed to tick all the boxes – black, lightweight, strong.
If there was one-such, the Rokker City Sneakers would take the style award. They look like upscale, all leather, all weather basketball boots for wearing on city streets, or in the office. It’s surely the best design amongst the competition; the detail is flawless… even to the shiny laces, which are coated to make it easier to keep them clean, and the knots from slipping… priceless!
The leather outer of greased, vintage cowhide leather is superb and beautifully pre-aged on the areas which would normally take a beating. This ageing patina, I’m told, is the work of the craftsmen in Portugal, not a factory spray. The leather is also treated for waterproofing.
The inners are in soft padded tan calf-leather throughout. There is no odour inducing inner waterproof membrane. The tongue, also padded, is sewn securely into the main part of the boot to stop water ingress. My experience is that the boots will stay dry in most conditions. However, if you live on a cold damp island and the weather forecast is wet, waterproof socks may be a wise addendum.
Safety & Comfort
Toe and heel protection are built in, plus a shock-absorbing inner sole which goes a long way toward instant wearable comfort. There’s a cork mid-layer in the Goodyear welted sole for extra comfort. Padded protection is provided for the ankle. Plenty of room for three-season socks and they’re comfortable from the off. Buy your normal size.
Cheap they’re not; in fact, they’re the same price as Rokker’s Urban Racer boots, considered by many to be the ultimate short boot. The people at Rokker say the City Sneaker construction is equally expensive, and the leather even more expensive. At £249 these boots really are very high end and you may be inclined to wince for a moment; but the joy of owning such superb quality and design trounces everything else.
The Rokker City Sneaker boots are the best designed and constructed three season light weight boot you’re ever likely to wear. In the last 3 months I’ve worn them continuously from London to the battlefields of Osijek, Croatia via the revolutionary cities of Gdansk, Poland, Kyiv, Ukraine and Godollo, Hungary. Temperatures ranged from 10°C to 36°C, terrain was steppe to mountains, good tarmac to village mud and gravel tracks. I rode through three truly torrential thunderstorms and two days when it rained nonstop. The boots, laced tight, did not leak appreciably although they did get damp in the worst of the storms. At 10°C I would have worn thicker socks if I had them, over 25°C I wore cut off socks – at 50 mph or above it was fine, but started to get a tad warm walking in 35°C.
If you’re a relaxed ‘jeans and leather jacket’ type of long-distance traveller, you’ll buy the Rokker City Sneaker boots in a heartbeat. If you’re still at the journey planning stage, then buy them, wear them and be continuously inspired.
£249. Available in Black and Tan. Sizes 6-11 UK 39-46 EU