MO Tested: Alpinestars Faster 3 Rideknit Riding Shoes
As I write this, Southern California is under an excessive heat warning, with the next three days bringing temps that can soar up to 110ºF (that’s 43ºC for you non-Americans) in my area. Honestly, when the temps get that high, I’d rather hop in a pool than ride a motorcycle. But even if you’re riding on a nice day, engine heat can radiate right to your feet. No matter how the heat gets to your toes, it’s times like these when a highly breathable shoe is a godsend.
Enter the Alpinestars Faster 3 Rideknit Shoes. The magic ingredient here is the Rideknit material, which is basically Alpinestars speak for the knitted mesh material you’ll find all over the shoe, including the outer, the tongue, and the area surrounding the outer ankle. This allows a huge amount of air to enter the shoe. Then again, if you’re riding on the surface of the sun, as it seems we’re currently doing here in SoCal, then no amount of mesh is really going to keep your toes cold.
For all the areas not surrounded by the Rideknit material, there’s synthetic microfiber. This includes the inner shoe, reinforced toebox and shift pad, and the heel counter. What makes the Faster 3 a cool shoe (pun not intended) is how the combination of Rideknit material and microfiber seamlessly blend together, with smooth transitions from one material to the other. It’s definitely a stylish riding shoe that looks just as dope off the bike as on.
Speaking of putting the shoe on, it’s really as simple as slipping on any other sneaker you own – that’s the beauty of riding shoes. The toe box felt just a tad narrow for my wide feet, but as the shoe has broken-in my feet have become more comfortable inside. There’s a traditional lacing system to keep the shoes on your feet, with a hook-and-loop strap reaching across the top of the shoe to keep the laces in place and away from things like your countershaft sprocket or side stand.
Of course, a riding shoe’s primary purpose is to protect the foot and let the rider feel the controls. Starting with protection, well, it’s obvious riding shoes, including the Faster 3, skew heavily towards comfort over protection when compared to traditional riding boots. But the Faster 3 still gives you TPU ankle protection along with dual density ankle protectors. As mentioned before, the toe box and heel counter are also slightly reinforced.
Where the Faster 3 really shines is when discussing comfort and feel. All the mesh material allows the shoe to flex and bend naturally, and I found them to be immediately comfortable for riding the moment I took it out of the box. Just by looking at the Faster 3 you can see the sole looks really slim. While I wouldn’t call these running shoes by any means, the thin rubber compound means there’s minimal material between the foot and the pegs, giving great feel of the controls. It also helps provide stable footing once your feet are on the ground, as you won’t feel any flex from the sole. The support shank embedded within the sole helps the bottom of the shoe keep its shape and provide rigidity.
In the few hundred miles I’ve put in the shoes so far, I’ve been happy with the comfort, impressed with the airflow, and overall satisfied with the shoe. I even like the flashy colors! Although, if you like more traditional colors, those are available, too. If I do have a gripe, it’s that I wish the Faster 3 utilized a speed lacing system, like the SP1 shoes I’d been wearing for years. I know – tying shoelaces is a first-world problem if ever there were one – but speed laces are incredibly convenient.
Now, I’m not fooling myself into thinking these shoes will provide me with much protection should I actually need them in a crash, but that’s the tradeoff I’ve made in search of comfort and convenience, while still having more protection than a normal pair of sneakers. If that’s a tradeoff you’re comfortable with, then I suggest you give these a look, too.
One final note: The Faster 3 is available in four varieties – the standard version, which uses the synthetic microfiber throughout, and the Rideknit version seen here, as well as Stella versions of each tailored specifically for a woman’s foot. While I can’t imagine any of the four shoes are going to do much to keep your feet warm on really cold rides, the standard Faster 3 might be an attractive option for cooler weather. Retail pricing for the Faster 3 Rideknit starts at $179.95. Standard versions are $20 cheaper.
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Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.
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