Mad Max would love these
As racetrack season winds to a close in all but the most southern regions of our Northern Hemisphere, those of us with the addiction begin looking for other ways to get our motorcycle fix. Be it on soil or ice, "we who won't take a season off" are beginning to focus on dirtbikes. If you're planning on trying a bit of off-pavement action this winter, your roadracing footwear is completely inadequate. It's time for you to buy a pair of motocross boots.
Last year, TrackdayMag.com ran an article called Ice Ice Baby. There, we declared that we were going to spend the winter of 2011/2012 sliding around on frozen lakes. Unfortunately, it never got cold enough for the water to freeze! In preparation for this ice riding that never happened, we bought a set of Sidi Charger Offroad Boots. A whole year later we've finally had a chance to test them and all we can say is "Wow!" If you're a gear guy who appreciates trick, ultra-functional design and top-rate build quality, you'd want a set of these just to keep them on a display shelf. The Chargers really are that nice.
Because TrackdayMag.com is all about asphalt, we don't know the first thing about motocross gear. This is exactly why we chose Sidi. We've previously tested their Vortice Air, ST Air and Ladies Vertigo Lei sporting boots, having crashed all three of those models on more than one occasion. Since none of our testers have ever experienced a foot or ankle injury of any significance while tumbling in Sidi footwear, we naturally chose to trust the company for our off-road needs as well. We contacted MotoNation, Sidi's exclusive American distributor, to ask which of their offerings we should select. We were directed to the Charger. Priced at $375, this pair of boots is in the middle of the Sidi dirt range, offering virtually all the protection of their top-spec Crossfire series and sacrificing only a few of that line's bling features for a cool savings of $100 to $150.
Not knowing what we should expect from this style of footwear, we can only comment on our own experience with the product. First, the Charger is blessed with Sidi's exclusive Cam Lock Buckle System. Apparently, this is the current state of the art in the MX world and has left the competition struggling to copy it. All we know is that when we took our brand new Chargers out of the box and put them on for the first time, we did so as nervous dirt virgins, on display before a paddock full of crusty motocross lifers. In spite of our total lack of experience, we got the boots on and properly adjusted in just moments, then never needed to fuss with them again. It's nice when your protective equipment doesn't conspire to embarrass you! As clueless as we are about offroad gear, we'll wholeheartedly testify that Sidi Chargers are idiot-proof.
When cornering a dirt bike, your leg functions as an outrigger and quite often supports the majority of the bike/rider package on your sliding foot. It's desirable to be able to move your ankle up and down; however, if it flexes side-to-side, you could end up with broken bones or torn ligaments. Sidi's Single Flex System is designed to allow only the appropriate amount of ankle movement in the desired range while preventing other types of joint movement. This works brilliantly, allowing a very natural feel while giving great protection.
Aside from its trick, easy to use buckles, what really impressed us about the Charger boots is their attention to detail. Protection was clearly at the top of this gear's design brief but there was also a lot of thought put into making these boots a pleasure to wear. For example, a rubber flap seals out grime to the extent that when undressing at the end of the day, our tester discovered his white socks to be the only part of him from head to toe that was still clean! This footwear is as padded inside as it is armored outside and after an entire day spent in the alien world of off-road adventure, the boots were fitting so nicely that we didn't really want to take them off. Let's face it, there's something pretty macho about clunking around in a pair of MX boots. The experience almost makes you want to thrash a supercharged V8 Interceptor through the Australian Outback while blasting Mohawk-sporting baddies with a sawed-off shotgun!
Of course, this wouldn't be a TrackdayMag.com test if we didn't crash the product and for these Sidi Chargers, it came sooner rather than later. Our tester lost front traction and went down, thoughtfully protecting his borrowed dirt steed by shielding it from impact with his leg. While the rest of his flesh from hip and groin to below the knee on both sides was quite tenderized, the parts of him that were within the boot were good as new. This makes us wish that Sidi offered MX body armor to compliment their excellent boots. It also illustrates the importance of acquiring the proper gear for the discipline which you are practicing. Once again, we must state that roadracing gear, no matter how high its quality, is not intended for offroad use! If you're going to spend the off-season fooling around in the dirt, mud, snow and ice, a pair of Sidi Charger Offroad Boots can be considered a very wise investment.