...we can honestly say these are among the most rugged, heavily-armored boots we've ever slipped a foot into.
Enter the Prexport 596 Roadracing Boot. Prexport has been making riding boots for the European market since the early seventies, and for a time was the OEM supplier of boots for AGV's line of street and roadracing gear. Now Prexport is branching out in an attempt to establish its brand name abroad, both to obtain a "market awareness" and to establish distribution agreements for the Italian company.
The 596 line of roadracing boots are Prexport's top-line offering, and we can honestly say these are among the most rugged, heavily-armored boots we've ever slipped a foot into. Obviously they were designed with safety in mind.
Besides standard racing boot features like gear lever strengthening pads and replaceable toe sliders, the 596's feature full-grain leather uppers with shock-absorbing front and rear heavy rubber plates and a special gel-filled pad covering the susceptible ankle bone. Double layers of leather are stitched in at several key areas, and the boots feature a stiff, reinforced toe-box area, a soft fabric lining and a gel-filled soft calf pad at the top rear.
Several safety features found on the Prexport boots include molded plastic heel protection, replaceable plastic calf sliders, insoles strengthened with plastic and double-rib steel blades dressed with pierced Texon, and a unique ventilation system. Two plastic air scoops stitched on the outside of the boot have plugs that can be removed to allow cooling air inside. Unfortunately, when installed, the plugs are not water-tight, making the 596's unattractive for wet-weather riding. The boots are closed by a side zipper that is sheltered with a Velcro-fastened leather flap. We found the small zippers to be a bit of a pain to close and are damn-near impossible to zip up with gloved hands. Heavy-duty YKK zippers would have been a much better choice here.
The boots feature Prexport's patented dual-density shock-absorbing soles that wrap high around the toe and heel areas, and incorporate a rail mounting system for the replaceable wedge-shaped plastic toe sliders. We found the rubber in the soles to be quite hard compared to other high-profile Italian-made boots and should translate into longer sole life. Also, they should prove to be safer during a crash, sliding easier than a softer rubber sole that might grab or catch on the tarmac, resulting in broken bones.
Admittedly, with all this heavy armor, the Prexport boots are not as comfy off the bike as they are on. A great choice for the roadracer seeking the utmost in foot protection, the Prexports merit four stars when considered in that vein. But the 596's might not be as desirable for the street-based sport rider who needs a boot he can walk around in with comfort while taking a rest at that favorite local watering hole after carving up some twisties.
Motorcycle Online Rating:As a Roadrace Boot - ****
As a Sportriding Boot - ***
Prexport 596 Boots are available in nine colors, and retail for $165 (U.S.) plus $32 handling and shipping costs to the U.S.
Unfortunately Prexport does not as yet have full distribution in the USA, but you can direct order any of their products through their website at http://www.motorcycle.com/cgi-bin/redirector?www.prexport.com. The website also features Euro to U.S. size conversion tables. According to a company spokesperson, Prexport has lined up a couple of distributor prospects for the U.S. market and hope to have their complete line of boots widely available sometime later this year.