What do motorcycle riders want from boots? The great value of motorcycle boots is protection. Like a motorcycle jacket, riding boots are designed to protect us from the elements. Wind, rain, temperature and, most importantly, asphalt. That's right, blacktop. Ultimately the greatest benefit of wearing sturdy boots while riding is protecting our feet and ankles while we're sliding.
At first glance, Harley's Lace-up Zipper Boots look like a fairly standard pair of black leather boots. What makes them unique are the massive nine inch YKK zippers running up the insides of each boot. These zippers are a perfect cure for the single biggest headache associated with lace-up boots -- getting them on and off. It's also a cure that the Army's airborne troops have been using for at least 50 years. The end of the cold war seems to have finally declassified this technology for civilian use. These boots make perfect commuter-wear. With the zipper, getting in and out of these beauties is a snap.
Although I like the look of traditional engineer boots, the versatility of lace-up boots is hard to beat. Lace-ups are always a custom fit. They can be as snug or as loose as you like. Where a standard engineer or cowboy boot is loose around the ankle, lace-ups are secure and supportive. Is it cold out today? Loosen up the laces and add a pair of wool socks. Try that with a non-lace boot, and you'll soon have a baggy ankle.
What also makes this pair of gorilla boots unique is their exceptional workmanship. The first thing you notice about these boots is how well they are made. The label says they are "handcrafted in Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania" and it shows. The leather is thick, yet soft and supple. The stitching is sturdy and all the seems are double or triple stitched. The tongues are full-thickness leather and are sewn well up the shank to seal out moisture. The heels are taller than I am accustomed to, but should break in with wear.
The soles are of course oil resistant. Which may not mean anything to you if you don't work in a grease pit, but wait. Don't think you ever step in oil? Look down the next time you're stopped at an intersection. That black goo you're stepping in isn't spilt coffee. Non-oil resistant soles can be eaten away by oil in as short as three months. The inside of the boots are only slightly cushioned, but utilize an arch support that is integral to the shoe, not just a flimsy insole. The result is genuinely comfortable pair of heavy duty boots, the first time you put them on. A pair of boots that will remain comfortable all day long.
Harley-Davidson has put together a great pair of riding boots. And at a competitive $150, I can't even complain about their cost. Their looks are something you either love or hate. Many folks may not want to wear such a clunky looking pair of boots on their Ducati 916 or their Honda Gold Wing, but for a cruiser rider these gems are perfect. About as cool looking as a pair of Doc Martens yet their soles won't melt on your exhaust pipes. Only their 1.5 inch heel prevents them deserving a five star rating. Oh, and one last thing, just in case you can't remember who makes them, the Motor Company has put their name and logo in no less than five places on each shoe.
Overall Rating: ****