Soles saved, two for thirty bucks
Holes in your soles! What could be worse? Anyone who has spent time with the fully-weighted balls of their feet grinding on a pair of fixed footpegs knows that the rubber soles of racing boots can quickly develop divots which will eventually morph into holes. We ignore this damage at first, until stabbing pain reminds us that we really do need to have a layer of rubber between flesh and metal, or until one of those wet weekends when stepping in a puddle produces soggy socks, toes that look like prunes and a familiar squish, squish, squish when walking through the pits. A few days later when the boots have dried, we pull out the tube of whatever chemical is at hand in the garage. We goop up the holy soles, only to have that solution fail the next time we ride. It's time to admit that the boots are ruined.
Between roadracing and dirt riding footwear, there are many pairs of Sidi boots in the TrackdayMag.com collection. The outstanding construction of these boots has already been reviewed here previously. Most of our squad wears either Sidi's ST or Vortice models. We’ve crashed this brand of boots more times than we'd care to admit and are believers in the high degree of protection that Sidi provides via armor, torsional ankle protection and cushioned heel cups. The top-spec Vortice's customized, comfortable fit is achieved with an adjustable ratcheting system that is second to none. Even magnesium toe sliders are included to prevent premature wear for us lazy toe draggers and are replaceable when they become worn.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the Sidi Vortice model is that the wear portion of its soles can be replaced. The sole of each boot is made of hard polyurethane plastic, with an outer layer of rubber tread for traction. In the ball area of each sole is a removable plate, also made of plastic and rubber. This piece is held in place by alignment tabs and is then secured with five screws, which thread into inserts in the base layer. These fasteners are treated with a thread adhesive, which had kept them secure for the two years that this pair of boots has been in service.
At the end of the 2012 riding season, our editor noticed that the bottommost layer of rubber at the ball of each of his Vortice boot soles had worn through, exposing the plastic beneath. In addition, a couple of the screws had ground down to the point where it was becoming questionable that we'd still be able to get a bite on them with a Phillips screwdriver. Fortunately, this issue had been caught in time. The screws were easily removed and the plate lifted out without any drama. Installing the new piece was a straightforward affair. We made sure to once again use a locking agent on the screw threads and took care not to over-tighten and strip them.
Aside from the hole that commonly occurs at the point of boot/footpeg interface, another issue which many racing boots can have is that the sole in this area dents inward, creating a nasty dome beneath your foot which feels for all the world like having a rock in each boot beneath the balls of your feet. The result is often Plantar faciitis, a common and very painful condition which is caused by stretching and tearing of the ligaments and connective tissues that run from toes to heel across the sole of the foot. This injury can easily be caused by damaged boot soles. Sidi's Vortice model offers triple protection in this area, first with the two-piece plastic sole that we've replaced and internally, where a composite inner sole resists flex and compression, including the gouging effect of high footpeg pressure.
The feature of replaceable sole plates is only available on Sidi's top of the line Vortice and Vortice Air models. Retail price of these boots is $495, which no doubt is a lot of money. While top level protection is never cheap, in this case the cost is a bit easier to swallow because virtually every part of these boots is rebuildable. A look at the parts list reveals that wear or crash damage can easily and inexpensively be resolved, which should at least double the lifespan of this footwear. Following our $30 repair, these boots are good to go. With any other racing footwear, it would be time to ante up 100% of the original purchase price, since a new pair of boots would be the only sure solution. If you've been working on justifying a pair of Sidi Vortice boots for this season, here's one more reason to make the purchase.