Saturday, July 27, 2013

Crash and Burn (Part 3)

Sidi Vertigo Boots Reviewed

Photo borrowed from Motonation
Unlike my nearly new helmet from my last post, my Sidi Vertigos were the grizzled old veteran of my gear collection.  I had more than five years, and many thousands of miles on them.

Riding Impressions

These were my first proper pair of sport/race boots after many years of riding in combat boots.  The transition did take a little getting used to, but after a couple of rides I couldn't have gone back.  In addition to the obviously superior protection provided versus my previous boots, I was amazed at how much more feedback and support I got just by having the right boots for the job.  It's all about having the right tool for the job.

Here's why I like them:

  • Feel:  The thin, rigid sole provides much more feedback from the footpegs, and much more positive shifting and use of the rear brake (if you use that thing).
  • Riding Comfort:  Once broken-in, the boots were very comfortable for riding, and the better support from the sole actually reduced fatigue on long or fast rides.  They are also very lightweight.
  • Looks:  The Vertigos come in a bunch of color options, so there's something for everyone.  They're visible and certainly look the part of a really nice bit of racing kit.
  • Fitment: The adjustable calf system is one of the best features of Sidi boots, it's quick and easy to size them properly for different gear, or just to get the ideal fit.  Just twist the little dial on the back of the boot to tighten as needed. This makes it easy to wear the boots over your leathers or under your jeans.  Also of note is that this setting is retained even if you take the boots off due to the side-zip design.
  • Ventilation:  Although I did not get the Vertigo Air, which is perforated, I never had heat issues with these boots.  The side vents really do channel a fair amount of air.
  • Replaceable Components:  The ability to remove/replace armor pieces and toe sliders is a nice touch.
  • Fit and Finish:  These are high-end boots, and they look and feel that way. 
  • Warranty and Support:  I never needed it, but the five year warranty is nice.  Always good to know the company is going to stand behind their product.  It also seems that Motonation, Sidi's US distributor has a good community presence and is very responsive.  I checked out their Facebook page prior to writing this, and will be posting a link to their wall to allow response to this article.  
  • Women's Sizes:  Sidi also offers the Vertigo Lei model for women.  It has a slightly different cut and size range, but all of the same technical features as the men's boot.  It is a rarity to find top-quality gear with female-specific fitment.  I got my girlfriend, Magda, a pair earlier this year.  I'll ask her to comment on riding her CBR with them.

Here's what I don't like quite as much:

  • Calf Adjustment and Vents:  It is possible to bump these into things walking around and change your setting without realizing it.  Luckily these can be fixed very quickly, even while riding.  Not a big issue, but definitely something I noticed.
  • Fitment Issue:  The Vertigo does not have adjustable tension across the top of the foot like the Vertigo Corsa / Vortice boots (higher priced models) do.  My boots broke in to be a little loose in this area, so that's a feature I would have liked to have.
  • Wear and Dirt:  My boots did show wear and dirt very quickly on the red areas.  This would likely be less of a problem with black boots, and more of one with white.  
  • Visibility:  On the bike, this is obviously fine, but off the bike, especially if I happened to be making a short trip in jeans, I often had to explain why I was wearing Iron Man shoes.  Not for the extreme introvert.
  • Squeaky:  They can be a bit noisy when just walking around, not too bad, but don't plan on being able to sneak up on anyone.  Some at my old job found it disruptive when I wore them.  The SQL Sentry crowd just finds them amusing.

After the Crash

Left boot was the only one that hit anything, it slid across approximately ten to fifteen feet of asphalt, and about that much dirt and gravel afterwards.

Again we reach the time for the important bit, and a little bit more preaching from me about wearing the right gear.  Even if you don't go to a full-on roadracing boot like the Vertigos, get proper motorcycle boots.  It will make riding not only more pleasant, but safer as well.  Here in North Carolina, I see more tennis shoes than anything on other riders.  I even see a dumbass wearing flip-flops at least once a month.  I can put my Sidis on faster than my tennis shoes thanks to the side zips, so there's really no excuse.  If you want something lower cut, or something that you'd feel more comfortable wearing in a non-riding setting, there are loads of options.

How I Fared

I'll preface this by saying that the impact force of this particular crash was definitely focused on my head and shoulder.  That being said, as far as my toes, feet, shins, ankles, and calves are concerned: what crash?  No injury, no marks, no pain, not even a little bit.  End of story.  For this particular incident, these boots were perfect. 

How the Boots Fared

Like my helmet, my boot (the left one) gave its life to protect me.  While I could probably still wear them, I wouldn't trust them to stand up to a second crash.  Even without a crash, I don't think they'd hold together for too long.  That said, it was nice that I was able to put them on and wear them out of the hospital until I could get to some comfy tennis shoes.  On to the photos!

They still look like boots!  The right boot is in the foreground, and obviously looks much better.  The lower portion versus the upper shows where the red got discolored over the years.

Crash closeup #1.  The left boot's vent is destroyed, and this is not a replaceable part.  There is also a hole right near the sole, I believe from the shift lever.  It is important to note that this does not penetrate into the interior of the boot.  It stops short of the insole.  These two areas make the boot done for as far as I am concerned. 
The toe slider also took a large portion of the damage, and collected a sample of the local vegetation! :)  This and the prior photo clearly illustrate how hard parts touch down first on these boots.  It looks like this boot would have been able to withstand a much longer slide without much issue.
The trademark calf adjustment mechanism.  the little red wheel at the back of the boot adjusts the tension on the clear mono filament lines visible between the Sidi logo and the red armor plate.  The black button below the wheel is the release. 

Another look at the red on the right boot, looking every bit of its age.


Overall, I would rate my Sidi Vertigos as excellent, and would recommend them to anyone.  They served me well for many years, and when the time came, they did their job.

I will be buying another set of Sidi boots, but I think I may upgrade to the Vortice Air.  I don't like the price tag on the Vortice at nearly $500 street price, but I'll hunt around for a good deal.  I think the extra adjust ability and a bit of extra armor is worth it, since I plan to do more track riding in the future.  I'll also be switching to black.  I think they will age better.

Thanks for reading, and safe riding to you all!


  1. Digging the reviews. Its a nice, real-world, change of pace from paid writers and lab scenarios. Definitely subscribed.

  2. Thanks Ryan!

    I'll keep them coming. I still have jacket, pants, and gloves to review. After those, I'll post a summary of manufacturer and distributor responses.

    Once that's done, I'll probably take a short break from bike stuff and do a few work-related posts.