the boot is on the other foot. . .

Alpinestars SMX-6 v2 Drystar:

Words by Simon Bradley, pics by alpinestars

There's something special about a new pair of boots. It's difficult to explain what it is or why, but I really like finding a pair that fits properly and does everything I need. I tend to hang onto them too - my existing pair have just started to fall apart after 13 years so I really can't grumble about the value. But it did mean that I needed to find some replacements. And the downside of keeping kit that long is that it's no longer possible to just get a new pair because, of course, things have moved on.

Enter a shiny new pair of SMX-6 V2 Drystar boots from Alpinestars. Their new (well, not new but certainly current) sports touring boot is exactly what I needed, at least on paper. Let's see how it performs...

Getting a new set of all weather boots in January is always going to be a challenge, and this winter has been particularly tricky. Partly because the weather has been frankly atrocious (I know, that's ideal for testing waterproof boots) and partly because the day job has been rather inconveniently demanding. However. I've finally had a chance to get some proper miles on them, so here are some observations.

As you'd expect from Alpinestars, these boots are beautifully made and as stylish as could reasonably be expected for something that is intended as protective equipment. A reasonably close look reveals the "Goretex" label, which bodes well for their water resistance. And looking closer yet the armour, gel shock absorbers and clever construction become obvious. It's difficult to find anything really standing out about a pair of boots usually, but the more you look at these the more you spot. It's obvious things like the multitude of flexible panels which mean that you're not walking like a spaceman or Long John Silver when you're wearing them. The gearshift pad that seems just a little larger than usual and better positioned. The rubber sole that comes up over the end of the toe so that water doesn't get forced into the gap between the sole and the upper, as well as providing additional protection. The way the zip goes down a little further than usual to make it just slightly easier to get the boots on over winter socks. Even the zip having a velcro tab so it tucks (and stays) out of the way when you're fastening the boots. Little things that all add up.

But all the cool convenient features in the world would be pointless if the boots didn't do their main job - provide protection from impact and elements. I happily didn't get the opportunity to test their impact absorbtion, but the CE certification, plentiful armour and (to be honest) name on the front all make me confident that they won't be found wanting in the event that I do find myself doing a more thorough test than planned. I did, however, have the opportunity to use them in snow, heavy rain and very cold weather.

Now these aren't full blown winter boots. There's no fleecy lining or anything like that, so they're not especially warm. But they're not drafty either, and even though the mercury wasn't getting much above zero my feet remained at least unfrozen. More important than that, when it was not quite cold enough for the torrential rain to turn to snow, my feet remained resolutely dry, and that meant they stayed quite acceptably warm. Goretex is magic stuff, and added to Alpinestars design and quality it results in a spectacularly effective all weather sports boot.

The Alpinestars SMX-6 V2 boots are slimmer in the front than similar offerings, which makes them both more stylish and more sporty. It also makes them less clunky on the bike, which is a bonus if you've got a quickshifter as it makes you a lot less likely to change gear by mistake when you go over a bump.

Now I have feet like a hobbit, though not quite as hairy. When I first got these boots they were a little snug, but over the miles they have moulded themselves to my oversized plates and are now beautifully comfortable. I can get thick winter socks under them but it's slightly tighter than is healthy. Two thin pairs are better - layering is more efficient as well.

Enough waffle. The Alpinestars SMX-6 V2 Drystar notionally retails at £309.99, though I suspect you can find it cheaper if you shop around. As far as waterproof sports boots go that's a pretty good price - it's not exactly cheap but you need to balance that against the fact that you genuinely could use this single pair of boots all year round for everything - touring. commuting, trackdays - and not have to carry something else if you needed to walk around a bit. Oh, and that they are spectacularly good at doing what they're intended to do. Personally I think they are quite excellent value for money, and I fully expect to get a good ten years use out of them. Which of course makes them even better...




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