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CruiserWorks Classic Boot Review
High-quality footwear made in America
With our economy in a major slump, there’s been a lot of discussion about America’s dwindling manufacturing base. Many of our jobs seem to be shifting to overseas markets.
And that’s why we’re proud to bring you a review of these made-in-the-USA boots. CruiserWorks formerly produced its boots in the Dominican Republic, but the company was recently purchased and production shifted to Wisconsin-based Weinbrenner USA and its 100-plus years of footwear manufacturing.
“Their manufacturing process is detailed and complex,” Skip Wood, CruiserWorks’ new CEO, told us. “There are over 60 individual pieces that go into making a Tour boot and over 100 unique processes that have to take place. We have a very close relationship with our boot manufacturer, who is ISO 9001 certified and was selected because of their high quality standards. They pass quality standards of the Department of Defense and professional firefighters’ associations, ensuring the safety of products used in their fields.”
CruiserWorks currently has two styles of boots in its lineup. The Classic boot tested here is identical to the Tour boot except for the addition of the midfoot buckle and another at the cuff area. It’s an engineer-style boot that looks well-suited to any cruiser or touring bike. Another variation is the Defender, available late this year, which adds a zipper on the sides for easier entry.
We were very pleased with the Classics from the moment we opened the box. The leather has a terrific balance of suppleness and toughness that is often hard to achieve, the same stuff Weinbrenner uses in professional-grade fire boots. And the build quality is nothing short of excellent, devoid of any unfinished detailing and boasting rustproof, nickel-plated hardware.
With no laces or zippers, the Classics require some tugging to slip over an ankle, aided by the pull loops at the rear of the cuffs, but once donned, they feel sturdy yet comfortable. A padded and air-injected insole provides vibration isolation while riding and cushioning while walking, augmented by a fiberboard footbed. Comfort is enhanced by the moisture-wicking and antibacterial design of the insole.
CruiserWorks boots are equipped with a protective Kevlar lining, but what you won’t find is a waterproof Gore-Tex layer. Internal testing revealed the high-tech material isn’t a good match for use inside the leather. “The temperature gradient due to its trapped water in the Gore-Tex makes your feet too warm or cold,” says Bob Richter, general manager of CruiserWorks. “The leather makes it take forever to dry out.”
Richter notes the leather used in CW boots is the same as used in fire boots, so they definitely keep the water out. But no leather is completely waterproof, so they are officially classified as “weather-resistant.” Yet, adds Richter, they dry out much quicker without a Gore-Tex liner.
The size-8.5 boots I sampled fit the length of my size-8.5 dogs well, although their width was a little too generous for my narrow feet. I should’ve requested the narrower option; wider versions are also available. Adjustable straps at the ankle and boot cuffs provide a mildly customized fit. The cuff is wide enough to tuck in pants, if that’s your style.
The toe, heel and shank are a military-grade composite that is very strong yet lightweight. “In fact,” says Richter, “it is the same as used in the Canadian military boots.” The height of the entire heel area is 1.25 inches, giving feet an effective lift. But the heel itself is just 0.5 inch tall, so the boots don’t feel awkward when walking. The Rhino-Lite sole is oil-resistant and delivers a secure grip.
The new CruiserWorks stewards really care about their products and are responsive to advancements that improve them further. The old, Domincan Republic-built boots had “an embarrassing failure rate,” Richter admitted, noting epoxy-core problems that have since been solved.
Also changed is an improved footbed, and on deck is a new outsole with a slightly different chemical compound that is more oil-resistant. “It’s more expensive,” said Wood, “but that’s okay. We will always listen to folks, and if there’s a better way to do things, we will look into it.”
I did have one issue with the Classic boots I tested. The leather at the top of the boot that bends mid-foot when walking began to show signs of cracking. However, my boots were the third pair off the production line as part of the model’s beta testing and used the same leather as the company’s previous owners. The boots now in series production use an upgraded leather that is promised to resolve the issue. I’ve seen pictures of boots with many more miles than mine, and they don't exhibit the broken finish seen on my pair.
We’ll be seeing more from CruiserWorks in the coming months. In addition to the side-zip Defender model mentioned above, also in the pipeline are female models and an adventure-touring-styled variant with laces halfway up the boot secured by a strap.
The transition of CruiserWorks production to America naturally incurred extra cost, as the Classics are now priced $60 more than previous. Their $325 MSRP is a little spendy, but they exude quality in both appearance and feel. And you get the side benefit of supporting USA manufacturing.
If you’d like to learn more or order a pair of your own, visit http://cruiserworks.com/.