Speed & Strength Black Nine Shoes

Editor Score: 84.75%
Aesthetics 9.0/10
Protection 8.25/10
Value 7.75/10
Comfort/Fit 9.0/10
Quality/Design 8.25/10
Weight 9.0/10
Options/Selection 7.5/10
Innovation 7.5/10
Weather Suitability 9.5/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 9.0/10
Overall Score84.75/100

Found in the comments section of my Suzuki GSX-S750 Review was this gem from commentor Gary. “Good quality helmet … check. Leather jacket … check. Gloves … check. Deck shoes … WTF?

“When did it come to pass that deck shoes are acceptable footwear for motorcycling? I see it more and more.”

Okay. Obviously Gary hasn’t recently shopped for motorcycle footwear for if he had, he’d be aware that numerous models of ankle boots are available from pretty much every boot manufacturer in existence. About one year ago I wrote a review of the Dainese Vera Cruz Riding Shoe. Some are styled more casually such as the Speed & Strength Black Nines review here, while others are more traditional.

The street styling of the Black Nines is what first attracted me to the riding shoes. They’re about as hipsterish as I can afford to get because I can’t change my age and I loathe the thought of growing a beard. I do own a 1975 Honda CB400F, for which, in the current what’s cool motorcycle atmosphere, these shoes would be perfect.

The full-lace shoes allow the wearer to really snug up the fit of the shoes. But if you don’t loosen the laces at least halfway down you’ll find ingress and egress difficult because not doing so constricts the opening. Inside, they’re much like a pair of Converse high-tops with minimal arch. For a guy like me with flat feet, I find the interior quite comfortable.

Black Nines look best in urban situations. The lace-up design provides good airflow, keeping your feet cool in warmer climes. The shoes provide a combination of protection and casual comfort more traditional moto footwear cannot.

Black Nines look best in urban situations. The lace-up design provides good airflow, keeping your feet cool in warmer climes. The shoes provide a combination of protection and casual comfort more traditional moto footwear cannot.

The laces crisscross their way up the front the shoes via hidden eyelets, or “Under Cover Lacing System,” according to S&S. The flaps with the “fake” eyelets cover the laces and real eyelets, providing some protection for the laces were asphalt chewing away at them. Like the Vera Cruz shoes from Dainese, the Black Nines offer no strap for keeping the knotted portion of the laces from catching on shifter and/or brake levers. Tucking them down inside the shoe is the only option. The lace flap does catch on the shift lever during upshifts, but it doesn’t impede the action.

The leather upper of the Black Nines features molded ankle reinforcements while the heel and toe provide the same protection. S&S says the rubber outsole is of the anti-slip variety, but there’s not much tread to the shoes underside, and the right amount of gravel or sand beneath your foot when coming to a stop could be enough to send you skating.

Considering the Dainese Vera Cruz shoes retail for $170, the S&S Black Nines at $100 seem to be a pretty good deal. However the two models may be similar in that they’re both ankle boots, they’re fairly disparate in form and function, but that should be obvious by the difference in styling.

The Black Nines come in more than just black. Grey and Tan are your two other color options. The shoes do not utilize any reflective material.

The Black Nines come in more than just black. Grey and Tan are your two other color options. The shoes do not utilize any reflective material.

Gary’s right about a calf-high boot offering more protection than an ankle boot. But so does a one-piece leather suit with airbags compared to a pair of levis and a bomber jacket, both lacking impact protection. People more often than not wear what they want to wear. Whaddya gonna do bout it?

Gary goes on to say “that one of the most common injuries a motorcyclist suffers in an accident is to get his ankle pinched between his/her bike and a car bumper. If you are wearing tennis shoes or deck shoes, it is fairly common for that foot to be pinched off the end of your leg, amputating at the ankle.”

This is how BS spreads across the internet. There’s no data supporting this statement other than the echo of Gary’s voice talking out of his ass.

What commonly happens in a motorcycle crash is for the rider’s foot to become trapped between the bike and the asphalt. You don’t have to slide very far with 500 pounds of motorcycle on top of your foot for the asphalt to become a meat grinder. This is why, at the very minimum, you wear a shoe/boot that provides ankle coverage. The Speed & Strength Black Nines perform this service while also offering more protection than a regular pair of basketball sneaks.

The Speed & Strength Black Nines come in sizes 8-13 for $99.99. For more, check out www.ssgear.com.

  • 12er

    I’ll stay with my MX 5’s.

  • Old MOron

    Hey T-rod, I admit I didn’t read your Vera Cruz review when it first came out. I knew the Dianeses would be too expensive for me, so why bother?

    But now that I’ve read this review, I’ve also looked at the Vera Cruz. Curious results. You score the S&S a few points higher than the Dianeses. The Dianeses score slightly higher in the protection category, but lower in others, especially the Innovation category. Is the “Under Cover Lacing System” really that innovative?

    Here’s another question. On the Vera Cruz page there are two scores.
    Editor’s Score: 82.75%
    Overall Score: 83.25/100

    Well, which is it?

    Anyway, sorry to be a wonk about the numbers. These are both fine reviews.
    Like 12er, I’ll stick with more traditional and more protective boots.

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      I’ve owned the Vera Cruz shoes for more than a year now and they’re functioning and looking just fine. I still wear them often. Being that they’re Dainese and $170, I expect more from Dainese, so I graded them more critically. That those boots did not have a restraining strap for the laces is somewhat inexcusable, and so I downgraded their Innovation score. When grading the Black Nines, I felt the ability to make a ankle boot look and feel just like a street shoe to be innovative, so they got a higher score. Also, because of the style of the shoe and lesser price, I was more forgiving about not having a restraining strap for the laces.

      Like I say in the story, these are both ankle boots, but they’re dissimilarity doesn’t allow for them to compared to one another. That’d be like comparing a CBR600RR against a CBR500R. So even that the Dainese earned a lower score doesn’t mean it’s a lesser shoe than the S&S.

      The correct score for the Vera Cruz boots is 82.75. A number was incorrectly entered. I have fixed the problem. Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy.

  • http://www.proteusmusic.com/ MrBlenderson

    I was going to pick up a pair of these last year, but read a lot of TERRIBLE reviews of people saying that they started to fall apart within the first few weeks. Then they were out of stock for a long time. This season it seems like they’re back in stock, and I don’t see any of the horror stories from new reviewers. Maybe it was just a batch issue? This seems to be the only brown/tan motorcycle shoe on the market that would be reasonable to wear around all day off the bike at a reasonable price and I’d love to pick up a pair but don’t want to waste my money. Can anyone comment on their durability over time?

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      I haven’t owned the Black Nines long enough to give an honest opinion of their long-term durability.

      • http://www.proteusmusic.com/ MrBlenderson

        The reviews I read last year talked about major construction issues that showed up after 1-3 normal rides. I’ll probably pick up a pair as I’m tired of walking around like a snowboarder.

        • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

          Not sure how anything could be so poorly constructed as to fall apart in 1-3 normal rides (is riding roundtrip from Florida to Alaska normal?), but I’ve worn the Black Nines for more than three rides and, besides the blackened area around the left toe from various shift levers, they look as if they’re brand new.

  • Campisi

    An unsung benefit of the expanding “riding shoe” market is the presence of options that don’t include leather in their construction. Until recently, the only way to protect one’s feet sans animal skin was to go overkill on a set of hideously-expensive summer race boots.

    • MrBlenderson

      Agree! Even though I’ve started buying leather it’s nice to have options.

      • Campisi

        Now if only the same could happen for gloves…

  • Richard Jones

    In a kangaroo versus Speed Triple encounter my shortie Shift boot went down the road under the bike..really hurt a lot…boot knocked around (but still wearable) and my ankle was black for two weeks but no breaks and better off than my spleen and kidneys!