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.

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.

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