G4TY: Alpinestars Fastbacks +

Words: Richard Seck Photos: Richard Seck

If you happened to read our 2013 Gear For The Year (GFTY) intro article, you might remember we had some specific requirements for the boots we were looking for; not only did they have to be waterproof and offer suitable protection for motorcycling, they also had to be comfortable enough for walking around when we got to where we were going.

Additionally, we did not want them to be totally out of place in bicycling or hiking environments. Perhaps we were asking a lot from a pair of boots but, with a few niggly bits, we’re happy to report that our Alpinestars offerings were up to all the tasks that we demanded of them.

Fastback WP Shoes (Boots)

Now that's a cool boot...
Now that’s a cool boot…

Alpinestars calls these shoes, but they look like more like boots to us. Speaking of looks, Fatima LOVES the design of these boots. In fact, the WPs are her footwear of choice whenever she wears a pair of jeans. For her, it’s not just a fashion statement; the all-day comfort is there as well. They did take a day or two to break in though.

Styling out in Algonquin Park.
Styling out in Algonquin Park.

Once broken in, they functioned just fine when she was on her bicycle and walking around town. She did however need to exercise a bit caution when walking on the trails though, as the sole does not possess the hiking grip of the CR-4’s that I had.

For a motorcycling application, the foam-backed double density impact protection with an outer layer of thermoplastic rubber (TPR) on both sides of the ankles definitely offers up more protection than a regular set of boots. The WPs also offer a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) toe protector and a metal shank in the sole of the boot to help your foot from getting deformed in a crash. Another well-thought-out bit is the Velcro strap that keeps the laces in place, so they don’t tangle in your chain or brakes. Thankfully, we never got to test out all this protection but it’s nice to know it was there.

Fatima got lucky this summer as, whenever we were riding together, it was mostly gloriously sunny. The few times we did get a bit of rain, her feet stayed totally dry. Alpinestars do not state that the WPs have Gore-Tex, but whatever waterproof membrane they are using in the boots seems to breath well. Fatima didn’t feel the boots to be uncomfortably warm, even on the hottest days of the summer.

All in all, these are boots that Fatima highly recommends. I guess the only downside is, if you are a guy with a pair of WPs (they’re unisex), you might get comments from your friends about them being the woman’s choice…

 Alpinestars CR-4 Gore-Tex XCR

My long-suffering Lowa hiking boots were going to be a hard act to follow. I loved them so much that I g’his pit kayed them. I’m not sure about the spelling, but in Urdu that means you love a clothing item so much, you wear it until it turns to rags – which is what I did with the Lowas.

Other than a small operation in Yorkshire that makes rather bulky-looking motorcycle/ hiking boots, Alpinestars seems to be the only company making something that I wanted, so the CR-4’s were an easy choice for me.

New vs g’his pit kayed.
New vs. g’his pit kayed.

On the styling front, I’d have to say I’m still warming up to the CR-4s, as I really liked the look of the Lowas. Of course, styling concessions have to be made in order to make a pair of hiking boots into a proper motorcycle boot. The biggest one is the slab of PU-coated leather that ensures you don’t wear a hole in the top of your left boot with the shifter (it’s scratch-resistant). Function over form, of course. In my humble opinion though, Alpinestars could have rounded the toe just a touch more to get closer to the hiking boot aesthetic that I am used to. That’s a minor niggle, to be sure.

Hiking trails is no problem for the boots. The wearer, in this case, turns out to be the weak link.
Hiking trails are no problem for the boots. The wearer, in this case, turns out to be the weak link.

The CR-4s offer the similar ankle padding as the WPs but forego the thermoplastic rubber on either side of the ankle. They do have a metal shank in the heel and a TPU shank in the plantar arch to enhance structural rigidity. Like the WPs, they look and feel like they’ll do what they need to do, although I’d look for more protection if I were doing track speeds.

The CR-4s did require a bit of break in, in order to feel totally comfortable. Once that was done, they were all-day comfortable like my Lowas were. They’re even suitable for hot weather, as breathability was also great. The CR-4s easily handled all the activities I used them for, and their hiking grip gave them more versatility than the WPs.

I did get them wet, and only in monsoon conditions did my feet get a bit damp. So far, so good on the waterproof front.

Unlike the WPs however, the CR-4s are starting to show their age in the form of wrinkles on their outer foam sole. Weird? Additionally there is a slight clicking sound coming from my left boot when I walk. I’m guessing the metal shank is moving around a bit in the sole. It hasn’t caused any issues at all, other than the noticeable clicking when it’s quiet.

In the end, not much to complain about. If you’re looking for a hiking boot/ motorcycle boot, the Alpinestars are highly recommended.

CR-4 boot soles exhibit human-like aging qualities...
CR-4 boot soles exhibit human-like aging qualities…

Final Word

Fatima and I are minimalists. We really don’t want to acquire a lot of unnecessary stuff. The fantastic thing about both sets of these boots is that, if we decided to go on a round-the-world motorcycle trip next week, these and a set of sandals are all the footwear we’d need to pack. How good is that?

Value-wise, for what you get, both pairs of boots are priced about right. As of January 2014, I’m seeing them both on sale for just a tad over $200.00 on Canadian websites.

Because of their versatility, we’re going to continue using them and we’ll let you know how long it takes to g’his pit kay them.

Cheers, Fatima and Richard


  1. I own both of these shoes. The CR-4’s are my favorite everyday shoes, I only wear the Fastbacks in the summer. I love them both! The Fastbacks are so light on my feet it took me awhile to get used to that, but riding at speed on my CBR250 on a really hot day they actually have a cooling effect.

    The CR-4’s are very comfortable after break-in and I expect them to last me a few years. I’ve been caught in a good downpour a couple times last year, my feet stayed perfectly dry. Fantastic boot! I’ll be g’his pit kay-ing both of these shoes for sure!

    Alpinestars all the way!

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