Actually it has been just 950kms but I got your attention, didn't I?
I have a small collection of some decent gear and having used each one of them for quite a few rides, I think it is only fair for me to post a user/tester review of them and thus aid my fellow xBhpians in making a better informed decision on particular products. I am fully aware of the Riding Gear thread but at times it is difficult for new subscribers to search the whole thread for a specific product. MODS: If you still feel the thread needs to be merged then go right ahead. After all, I don't wanna waste bandwith either.
Right, let's get down to business then.
Professional riding boots are vast in variety and we have quite a few popular brands available in India itself. Now foot protection doesn't come cheap & those of you who have done rounds on the cyber highway will agree with that.
I was on the look out for boots that would fulfill the pre-requisites (details of which are not necessary on a forum such as this) and yet stuck to my budget.
The Joe Rockets seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
Aesthetics: JRs are known for their youthful and aggressive design themes. The same is true for the Speedmasters. Add to that a color and shape that wouldn't be out of place on Darth Vader's feet and I was booked. But more on the construction bit later.
Fit:The boots fit true to US size and are teeny bit larger for avg. Indian feet of equal size. Personally, I have small but broad feet, which means actual size being 7, I find 7 sized boots too tight for my comfort. One size larger proves best for me in footwear and so it did with these boots. Another aspect is if you have large calves and shins, there is scope for adjustment, although I feel the vertical zipper would have to be left open below the velcro strap as the strap is the sole thing you can rely on for width adjustment. What about me I hear you say? Well, I'm a lucky sod as I have chicken legs :P The boots fit me perfectly and have sufficient space for me to tuck in my jeans as well. The moulded rubber ankle strap is adequately adjustable and well built and the metal snap buckle locks into place with a reassuring click.
Comfort & Articulation: I yet have to ride for 24hrs at a stretch with them, but 15 hour stints have been absoulutely comfy. There are vents on the outside although I haven't been able to sense if they work. However, on visual examination they do seem like they function. The perforated leather inner liner allows for breathing. I personally have found that a good cotton pair of full length socks prevent me from any damp sensation on my legs. To be honest, with the few long rides that I have done with these boots, not once did I return home to smelly feet. As with all riding boots, ankle movement is restricted and if you're a first timer, it takes some getting used to. The JR's fared very well in this regard and all it took was a couple of 20km city rides to get used to. Although I cannot say how good they would be in their home environment, which is the race-track. Forward and aft movement is decent although rearward movement is a little stiff initially. The elastic leather gaiter on the top ensures your jeans are secured and don't slip up. At the same time they help the boots fit tight. The boots are comfy enough for you to sleep in them as well. This means that you won't notice them much even while walking which is usually a problem area with riding boots.
Construction: All seams are solid and dual stitched where required. The rest is pretty much there for you to see bang in the face. Heel protection is comprised of protruding injection moulded protectors and visibly re-assuring as well with the use of buffed steel which is replaceable. The same steel is used for the toe-slider as well. The dual colored sole is of thick industrial grade rubber which is not a bad thing. Tactile feel is present but takes some getting used to due to it's thickness. Grip on dry tarmac is excellent and good in off-road conditions. yet to try on wet roads. The size of the heel's base is narrow which is due to it's track intended use. A little broader heels would have helped in walking. Being essentially leather, I wouldn't recommend wearing them during torrential rains. Light end-season drizzles is what it can bear though. Injection moulded protection is present for the shin, calf and ankles as well.
IMP:The ankle slider that you see with 'J-rocket' logo written across the unit is the stock one made of two parts. A base plate(the actual slider) and the outer rubber mould The outer unit tends to loosen and is a common problem with the Speedmasters. This is due to the lack of access to the mounting screw for the same. Fortunately, JR has efficiently addressed this issue and PRS will gladly give you the update kit('ROCKET' logo) at no extra cost. But do insist on it at the time of purchase.
On-the-go: They perform very well and feel from pedals and pegs is good too. The only grouse I have is the gear shifter pad. They are nice and broad with a cool little 'Rocket' logo. BUT, the height of the toe area is too much to fit the central area of the pad below the shifter. Also, ideally the shift pads should be more towards the toes for efficient use. Wish I could change this. As of now I just shift naturally irrespective of the shifter touching the pads or not.(Which is the right thing to do)
Verdict: Good sturdy boots albeit with some minor niggles and at Rs. 15,000 the Speedmasters are competitively priced for similar specced boots from other brands. Great for use on dry weather tours and in the city. Wonder how they perform on track though.
Pics on the way