2003 Bates Shoes

Bates Sport Racer Fastlane Boots: $225

Bates has been around for 50 years turning out racing leathers, boots, and gloves. While their focus has shifted away from custom work in recent years, the Fastlanes reflect that craftsman's approach to fit and finish. I came upon my pair quite accidentally. Bates HQ isn't far from MO and while I was over there picking up a set of leathers for use in a photo shoot, I found myself trying on a pair of Fastlanes. At first I thought the gal had fit me for a shoe two sizes too small. The Fastlanes zip down the back, and as I tried to jam my foot into the front, it felt far too tight. Then I was offered a shoehorn, and told that these boots are made to fit like gloves and will need to stretch to fit. The shoehorn proved to be just the trick, and as soon as my feet were in and the zippers went up, it was a total transformation. The boots are made with soft leather that just feels like a second skin, perfectly contoured to your foot. After several days at the track, the boots are perfectly formed now, and indeed don't feel like "boots" at all, more like a firm sock.

Cuff height is around 11 1/2" and the top widens to allow for tucking in your leathers if you so choose. Bates utilizes steel shanks in the arch for support, and slip and oil resistant soles help prevent unseemly drops back at the garage. Wedge style sole and/or toe sliders are available options. While black is always in fashion and goes with any Power Ranger costume, Bates claims that color options of almost any design can be made to order. Just don't go crazy with the ruby red glitter Dorothy! Not that I would expect them to spend much time in contact with the ground, but the Fastlanes can be resoled and/or reheeled should the necessity arise.

When racing, there is so much manipulation of the foot and ankle involved. This lends itself to a design that permits the foot's natural movement, flexibility, and sensitivity as much as possible. But wait, the racing boot serves another vital function. That of protection in the event of disaster. One of those stainless steel jobs from a suit of armor would do real well under those circumstances, but you wouldn't want to try and upshift out of an increasing radius turn with one. So there is a sliding scale at play here, and frankly, for those who are looking for state of the art foot and ankle armor, these aren't your boots. Keep those big mugs off the tarmac! After seven years of hard use @MO, the discovery of toe-sliders seems (in hindsight) obvious. Still, many riders and racers prefer the flexibility of simple leather boots over heavily armored -- and inflexible -- units.

The Fastlane's do feature ankle pads on both sides but that's about it. There isn't any of the ski-boot technology found on Alpine Stars or Sidis. But if you are more concerned with a boot that will provide high performance while upright, you couldn't do better than the Fastlanes. They are pure decadence when it comes to comfort, flexibilty and feel. Also available in drag race, touring, tall road racing, and women's styles.


August 8th, 2003: A CD showed up today from Bates about their new coats, this is the press release and pictures. We'll try and get a review this year --MO

Canvas Street Jacket from Bates Leathers

The new Bates canvas jacket speaks urban, stylish, racy but what else would you expect

from a company with over 50 years of experience behind it? The canvas jacket was initially designed for motorcycle riding, as it incorporates soft padded armor in the shoulders, back, elbows and forearms. But as New Yorks underground fashion winds its way through the motorsports industry, this jacket hints versatile.

The canvas jacket is built with 14 oz. cotton canvas, dyed in deep blue or black. It features a double-belted adjustable waist, YKK zippers, inner and outer pockets, zippered rear air vents and zip-off sleeves. Lightweight yet sturdy, designed for street riding yet comfortable enough for nightlife Bates offers the consumer yet another fashionable classic.

Retail ~ $169.95

Nylon/Mesh Riding Jackets from Bates Leathers

Its always good to be one step ahead in the world of motorcycles and fashion, and the Bates women clearly understand this. With three new nylon/mesh jacket designs to choose from, you'll be hard-pressed to decide which style looks the best. Each of the original designs blend urban/industrial fashion with motorcycle protection and a

 host of extra goodies. The jackets are constructed with premium-quality mesh and durable nylon, adjustable waists, YKK zippers, inner and outer pockets, and a generous distribution of zip-open air vents. Other perks, individual to each style, include removable wind-proof lining, a detachable collar and zip-off sleeves. Although they are all lightweight and breathable, each jacket possesses a considerable amount of protection ranging from soft padding to hard armor in key zones - shoulders, back, elbows and forearms. You'll be stylish, comfortable and protected, whether you're riding or clubbing.

Colors - black/black, red/black, silver/black, dark gray/black

Retail ~ $209.95, $219.95 and $229.95 (depending on style)

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