MO Tested: Sidi Roarr Boots
A Mid-Level Boot with High-End Features
Sidi’s mid-level Roarr street & track boots feature many of the same protective elements and materials sewn and screwed into them as the Italian footwear manufacturer’s race-focused offerings costing $200 more. The $295 Roarrs are positioned near the middle of Sidi’s selection of 24 motofootwear choices, which range from $100 to $500.
Sidi Roarr Boots
Built with a base material that Sidi claims is better than leather, the Roarrs’ “chassis” features articulating Achilles protectors, external bracing, a mechanized calf-adjustment system, conventional side entry, single-zip closure, a myriad of nylon protection panels, replaceable toe sliders, two-position vents and a wicking liner.
Testing my first pair of Sidi boots in more than a decade, I logged about 5000 miles worth of SoCal street riding and trackdays in five months — in everything from triple-digit desert heat to our harsh, 40-some-degree “winter” temps.
The mid-level Roarr has the same closure mechanism and interior material as Sidi’s top-of-the-line, $495 Mag 1. This high-buck race boot provides a more adjustable fit via additional ankle and toe closures, and 10 replacement parts that offer a wider range of crash-damage repair options. In contrast, Sidi’s bare-bones, $195 Fusion doesn’t have the Roarr’s vents, mechanical closure or external bracing.
Compared to the $275 Vertigo, long Sidi’s mid-priced standard bearer, the Roarr’s elements are more integrated. For an extra $20, the Roarr gets an upgraded closure, external bracing, and easier-to-use vents, but lacks the Vertigo’s replaceable shin guards, heel cups and other swappable pieces.
Like all of Sidi’s sporting boots, the Roarr’s foundation is made from its proprietary Technomicro base material. This modern synthetic is a composite of super-thin microfiber strands that the company claims act like leather fibers, but are stronger, softer and lighter. It also says that Technomicro is highly abrasion-, tear-, stain-and water-resistant, in addition to providing more flexibility and better feel than leather or other synthetic boot materials. No doubt that this high-tech base contributed to the Roarrs requiring very little break-in time.
Fit and Sizing
Sidi’s detailed sizing chart says I should wear a 40 or 41, so I tried both. Measuring them side-by-side, I discovered that the 40 and 41 have the same sole, as well as identical toe box, heel and height dimensions. Both are 12.5 inches tall and, when closed, 5.5 inches x 3.75 in wide up top. Despite these findings, the 41 fit better. That said, we recently found that the Roarrs are no longer available in sizes 40 and 41; just 42 (8.5 U.S.) to 47 (12.5 U.S.).
While we’re talking numbers, at 1.8 pounds each, the Roarrs are a few ounces lighter or heavier than similar boots from other manufacturers. In other words, right in the ball park.
Entry and Exit
Once unzipped, the Roarr’s clamshell structure opens super-wide. Each 9-inch, black, plastic YKK zipper is placed well. Rubber-like pull tabs rise a half-inch from the top of the boot, offering good grip and leverage when zipping up. They’re hardly needed because the Roarr is engineered in such a way that its zippers move up and down with a light, consistent pull that doesn’t balk or bind. This is, in part, due to ingenious, 3-inch slits backed by stretch material near the ankles that allow them to easily zip past these protruding bones.
Adjustable Calf Closure
First seen in 1999 on the MTB Action SRS cycling shoe, Sidi’s now-signature, cable-operated ratcheting closure was introduced to motorcycling in 2008 on its Vortice street boot. Roarrs use the latest version of this design, the Tecno 3 Iron, to evenly close and wrap the boot around calves. With a half-inch of movement, they allow a personalized fit – whether lower legs are skinny and bare when wearing jeans over the boots or bulked up when leather pants are tucked inside.
Adjusting the calf circumference is as simple as unfolding the mechanism’s lever, then spinning it clockwise to reel in the internally routed, stainless-steel wire. Each definitive click incrementally closes the boot and dials in the preferred calf tension. To exit, simultaneously squeeze the mechanism’s spring-loaded tabs together to release the plastic-coated strap. Have patience, though, the lower tab is a little tough to access.
Combined with an effortless zipper, this one-strap closure makes donning and doffing fast and easy. Coming from a high-end, rear-entry boot that was awkward to step in and tough to close, Sidi’s entry and exit design is greatly preferred.
External Achilles Protection and Torsional Bracing
The Roarr’s Vertebra Achilles protection and torsional bracing help it achieve a CE Level 2 safety rating. First seen in 1998, Sidi’s patented, three-panel, integrated Vertebra system is another of the company’s signature designs. Sidi says it reduces the Achilles tendon’s vulnerability to tearing or rupture due to sudden stretching that can happen in crashes where feet contact pavement and are flexed upward.
The anti-twist ankle support braces on each side of the boot are made from carbon-fiber-reinforced nylon. They reportedly prevent feet from twisting and protect the ankle against impact.
We’re happy to report that the Vertebra system is nicely integrated into the Roarr boot – something that early versions couldn’t boast and, better yet, doesn’t squeak when moving. In years past, you could always tell when a Sidi-booted friend was approaching. On the flips side, these new panels flex enough to scrape away the reflective material below them, marring their clean look.
Although the Vertebra panels and ankle-support braces give the boots a somewhat robotic look, Moonwalking isn’t required. In fact, movement feels relatively natural. The Roarr boots certainly aren’t suitable for hiking, but in normal sportbiking and track-day use, the combo of stiff, molded plates sewn into the perfectly pliable chassis offers flexibility on- and off-bike.
The handsome, grey, perforated Teflon-treated mesh lining gives a pleasing, uniform look and doesn’t create any snags upon entry. The material efficiently wicked away sweat, dried quickly and never chafed shins, even when worn with light, ankle-length socks in stealth mode, under jeans. The thin insoles are lightly glued in place, making them easy to replace with others that better account for foot shape and arch height.
Some of this sweat-displacing ability is due to a mid-foot ventilation port on each boot. Their half-inch intakes can be operated with gloves using a dual-position lever that travels ¾-inch. Tactile detents clearly communicate if they’re open or closed. Unfortunately, even with their cool-looking strakes directing airflow, breezes were only detected intermittently, depending upon air temperature, a bike’s aerodynamics and foot positioning while riding.
The soles’ tread is not very deep, but their soft compound provide good peg grip. Just like tires that shed water for optimum wet-weather traction, they have four sipes that direct water outward, away from the boot.
I’m extremely tough on boot soles and, at the five-month mark, the Roarrs show little sign of wear from my habit of aggressively digging into footpegs while positioning and holding my body in place.
The Roarr’s bolt-on sliders are beveled and adjustable. The sliders, Vertebra structure and Techno 3 fasteners are held in by seven short Phillips-head screws. All seven of the bolt-on pieces, in addition to the soles and insoles, are replaceable, for about half the price of a new pair of boots. Sidi’s Mag-1, the top race boot, has 10 replaceable parts; its dirt counterpart, the Crossfire 2 has 9; its predecessor had 16, whereas the current Vortice and Vertigo street boots each have 15.
Roarr Replacement Parts
- Toe sliders: $12/pair
- Sole: $20
- Tecno 3 strap: $35 /pair
- Rear upper: $24/pair
- Carbon Ankle support braces: $15/pair
- Arched Insoles: $12/pair
The Roarr’s molded pieces show off design flare that gives them individual personalities: Their surfaces are shiny and smooth, matte and textured or a combination thereof. They’re distinguished by raised surfaces, grippy dimples, horizontal lines of varying lengths, in addition to strakes and boomerangs that create the impression of movement, even when the boots are standing still.
Sidi’s red Vortex logo (said to represent strength and movement), a matching accent on the rear flap and the proud Italian Tricolore insignia out back add style and provide a nice contrast to our black boots. That said, the Roarrs’ trio of raised SIDI logos is a bit redundant and overstated — the one on the shin plate is more than 3 inches wide!
To help consumers make educated decisions about prospective footwear choices, there’s lots of information and many high-resolution photos on the U.S. distributor’s website ( Motonation.com), in addition to Sidi.com. This makes it very easy to compare the features of each Sidi boot.
The Roarrs come with a great package of info. Not just sales nonsense, but individual instructions for donning the boots and using the Tecno 3 closure. There are also stickers and cleaning instructions — in five languages, no less!
Crash- and Wet-Weather Testing
Although I’m a dedicated product tester, I draw the line at purposely throwing myself down the road in the name of science. As hard as I tried to crash while wearing the Roarrs, my efforts were rebuffed by deft throttle control, mad braking skills and well-honed survival instincts.
The excuse for not testing their wet-weather performance isn’t quite as colorful. It simply doesn’t rain much in southern California and, when it does, there are much better, Gore-Tex-lined options available for all-weather riding and sport touring. The unlined, non-perforated Roarrs were tested in their natural habitats, for their intended use and came through with high marks.
In the End
During five months of use, we found that Sidi’s Roarr boots deliver on their promise of mid-level price and high-end protection. They’re also comfortable, stylish and have held up well. The only major demerit points they racked up are for a venting system that is more show than readily apparent flow.
That said, the extra $200 worth of features found in high-end boots won’t be missed by most sportbikers because these boots pack a killer combo of street cred and performance for all-round road use and track days in a simpler, lighter and more comfortable package.
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