It’s rare for me to like something.
Somehow I have become a grandpa, ranting incoherently about things I don’t understand, constantly lecturing others how things ought to be. I don’t know when it happened, but here we are now.
I have a reputation for negativity, if I write something that isn’t about fingering someone in the butt, nobody reads it. I seem to be good at it too, have built an entire business around butt fingering, although calling Riderzone a business is like calling a cocaine addict who sucks bleedy dicks in dark alleys for money an entrepreneur.
This article is different, it’s about something that I liked, maybe even loved.
Since the beginning of my riding life I have always tried to spend the least amount of money to get the most amount of giggles. I have bought some truly horrendous gear, plenty of fake stuff, and have a lot of experience with the budget options available in the Indian market.
I have used Probiker gloves, the knuckle protector of which dug into my skin so hard they looked like I’d just come back from a street brawl. I have used a Spartan Odysseus pant, whose knee protectors had to be removed for me to be able to ride a bike. And I have used a fake Fox bionic jacket, which is the preferred work clothing for gay strippers pole dancing in Russia.
I have made so many bad choices that I should have a PhD in the field. However, buying the Alpinestars S-MX 6 vented boots was one of the rare good decisions I’ve made in my life.
Why did I buy so much cheap stuff?
- I didn’t have much money, and whatever I had I wanted to spend on travel
- I thought brands like Alpinestars ask for so much just because of the a* logo on the side
- It’s easy to buy the cheap stuff, it’s everywhere. The good stuff needs to be imported, or ordered without trying
- I didn’t really know what to buy, didn’t have enough information to make a good decision
I still believe brands like Dianese do charge a premium for no good reason, but as far as Alpinestars goes, my experience has been kick ass.
Before I bought these boots, I had been using the Tarmac Venom ones for a long time. They were basically falling apart, the protectors had divorced the shoe a long time ago, and the sole was in the process of running away with the toe slider. More importantly, they were more uncomfortable than walking around with 2 buckets of water around your feet. I was just fed up.
By this time, I had figured out exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a shoe that provided full-length protection, had at least some level of air flow, and provided decent protection. I completely chucked out the waterproofing requirement because it’s useless in India. It doesn’t rain that much, and even when it does vented boots dry out quick, being dry for a few hours is not worth being uncomfortable for years.
I was living in Hyderabad, and had made friends with Teja, a hardcore Royal Enfield fanboy who also owned a gear shop. Teja’s bicep is bigger than my thigh, his shoulders are broader than my height, and he weighs about 3 times what I do. The first time we met, I kept thinking that this guy could probably slap me into a coma. He’s a genuinely sweet guy though, taught me a lot about the RE culture. It’s all good business.
I went to his shop a few times and tried out the boots that he had. The S-MX 6 were an instant match, they are tiny, unobtrusive, light, and everything else I wanted a boot to be. Came back home and posted a picture on Facebook joking about Alpinestars sponsoring me a pair. Next morning dad had transferred 21000 into my account.
“I saw the picture of your old boots, go buy some new ones.”
“I was just joking, you didn’t have to send me money.”
Yes, I am a lucky guy.
After convincing wifey that it was OK for me to use my dad’s money to buy what’s basically a pair of super-expensive man-heels, I bought them.
I used them for about a year, spent a lot of time on track with them, took them touring, and got lost off-roading. The S-MX 6 cost more than twice of the cheap options available in the market, and it was money well spent in my opinion, whoever’s money that might have been.
The first time I rode with them, I felt a strange sensation in my feet. It took me a while to realize that there was actual air floating over them, like lady Galadriel wisping through Caras Galadhon. I had never felt something like that before, with the Tarmac boots all I ever felt was damp, with a bit of sweat sloshing near the toes. It felt wonderful.
I think the best thing about them is the simplicity, there are no buckles to fumble with, no dials to set, no clips to clip into other clips. Slide your foot in, zip up, and slap the velcro on, you are good to go. It doesn’t feel like you are walking around wearing cowboy boots with them, they are light, barely there.
Every time I walked with the Tarmac boots, dogs within a 3 mile radius would start barking and having spontaneous orgies. The a*’s don’t squeak.
In the year that I used them, they got wet only once. I was riding from Bangalore to Hyderabad, and a freak storm caught me out. My feet were wet, for about an hour. The constant blast of wind flowing through them dried them by the time I’d stopped for food. I felt kinda stupid to have bothered with waterproof boots till then. I once almost fainted while riding from Mumbai to Hyderabad, the Tarmac boots had made my feet so hot that I had to stop at a random restaurant and just keep my feet naked for an hour before I could think straight again.
The only situation I can think of where S-MX 6 would be a bad idea is Ladakh. Tarmacs and other waterproof boots are perfect for that place, the Alpinestars would probably end up giving you frostbite. However, I spend less than 1% of my yearly riding time in Ladakh, why should I stay prepared for it all year long? It’s like scaling Mount Everest once a year, and then walking around in the same gear the rest of the time.
The other negative I can think of is protection, they don’t feel as beefy as the Tarmacs. I haven’t crashed in either so I can’t really tell you anything from experience, but the a*s definitely feel too light to be able to do much in case of a major crash, like a truck rolling over your foot or something. Don’t know how much better the Tarmac would perform, but it definitely feels more solid.
When I left India for UK, I sold them to a friend who’s still using them. They’ve seen a lot of miles, a lot of different feet, and a lot of different bikes. Are they costly? Yes. Are they worth the money? Yes.
I know 20,000 bucks is a lot of money, but if I had the choice now, I would wait for a year, save up diligently, and then buy the Alpinestars, rather than wasting my money on Tarmac or anything similar. They are the perfect boots for Indian riding conditions, and I love them from the bottom of my heart.