Here’s the problem with motorcycle boots: It’s hard to find motorcycle boots that work well on the motorcycle as well as off the motorcycle.
When I’m touring, I want boots that offer ankle protection and waterproofing, but also allow me to walk around when I’m off the bike. The adventure riding boots that I like so much offroad, or on long highway rides in the rain, don’t work super-well when you want to hop off the bike and stroll around an interesting downtown you’ve discovered. You end up looking like Mad Max, about to raid an enemy camp. Good luck getting into a posh eatery like that! (Unless you rolled up on a BMW adventure bike, they’ll make an exception for that …)
Last riding season, I called up Tourmaster and asked them to send along a set of their $160 Response WP 2.0 boots, to see how they’d work as casual duty motorcycle boots, and also as a pair of off-the-bike everyday kicks.
The Response boots are aimed at the around-town rider who’s looking to hop on and off the bike on a regular basis. Tourmaster doesn’t aim these at the touring rider, as they’re only ankle-high and don’t have any shin protection at all. There’s a plastic ankle protector, but it’s not very beefy. The upper is a combination of leather and PU (a smellier way of saying polyurethane), both “water-resistant.” There’s a Hipora liner that’s supposed to be both breathable and waterproof. A Velcro strap closes the top of the boot, and there are old-school laces to tighten the lower part of the boot.
If you intend to do a bit of walking off the bike, Tourmaster says the boots have a “Preformed orthopedic vibration absorbing foot bed,” and a “VR single density compound sole for reliable grip.” Presumably, that marketspeak means they’re intended to be comfortable, and not slip.
Finally, there’s a leather shift pad on the boot’s toe, and internal plastic heel and toe caps, which add a bit more protection, as well as some reflective trim for night riding. I don’t worry too much about reflective bits on my boots, but if you want it, it’s there.
How did they work out?
I’ve put quite a few miles on these boots, between press launches, local riding, and a couple of long Toronto-New Brunswick trips. I’ve found them to be excellent in their intended role of local urban riding, and adequate in the touring role.
I love the fit and feel of the boots (I normally take a size 11, and ordered that size, which fit me perfectly). They feel like a pair of casual boots you’d pick up at Marks Work Wearhouse, or some other purveyor of mid-range footwear. They’re not exactly stylish, but when you’re off the bike, you don’t look like a wannabe punk rocker, which is the case with lots of other bike boots. There’s more protection than you’ll find with most lace-up motorcycle boots, but they’re still pretty good in the role of casual-duty shoes. It’s also easy and quick to get the Response boots on and off, thanks to the Velcro ankle closure.
I don’t think you’d want to wear these as footwear for a night out at the clubs with your significant other, but if you want to walk around town for a couple of hours, they’d work all right, as they aren’t clunky. If you want to go for a serious hike, then I’d bring a pair of proper boots for that, but for a casual stroll, they’re comfortable enough. Skinny jeans wearers may find the Velcro closure a little too bulky to fit inside their tightish pants, though.
For my own part, I found them quite comfortable for walking around town at the end of a day’s touring.
I did put quite a few miles on these boots in cold weather, and found they did a good job of keeping me warm in chilly conditions, probably partially due to the Hipora liner (I wore warm wool socks underneath as well). On the Tourmaster website, the boots are rated for mild or cold weather, not sweaty summer riding, which gives you an idea how effective the liner’s breathability is. When I wore the boots in the California desert, I didn’t find them excessively hot, but I don’t think the liner is as breathable as something from Gore-Tex. However, breathability is dependent on the individual user’s experience, and Gore-Tex drives up the price. Suffice to say that I didn’t find anything to complain about here.
As for waterproofing: I think these boots do work to fend off quick rainbursts around town, and I’ve yet to spring a leak in them, but they aren’t a great choice for longer rides in wet conditions, due to the ankle-length design. Because the boot is shorter, it’s easy for your rain gear to ride up over the mouth of the boot and allow rain to pour in from the top. If that happens, it doesn’t matter how good your boot’s waterproofing is.
There are ways around this, with some rain gear, but if you planned to put serious distance on these boots, you’ll probably want to look into waterproof boot covers or something similar. Riding 500 kilometres in the rain with soaking wet feet is no fun, even if the rest of you is dry.
Again, I don’t consider this a design flaw, as these boots aren’t advertised as touring footwear, but if you do choose to use them in that role, it’s a consideration. I did wear them in a day-long downpour across Vermont and New Hampshire and stayed fairly dry except for a few leaks at the back of the ankles, which wasn’t too bad.
After a few thousand klicks, these boots are holding up well. They’re still in good shape, and comfortable. At $160-ish from online Canadian retailers, I think they’re priced where they need to be. I think they’re a good all-rounder for the urban rider, although if someone wants to travel in the rain, they might want to consider a different boot, or at least augment these with good waterproof covers (I don’t have great experience with most boots holding their waterproofing anyway, so the covers are worth looking at in any case).
They certainly don’t have the protection of a proper race boot, or even most technical touring boots, but are better than any of the lace-ups I’ve worn in the past.
Would I spend my own money on the boots? If I was in the market, I’d certainly consider them, and coming from this frugal east coaster, I’d say that’s a good stamp of approval. Tourmaster has a reputation for building durable gear at reasonable cost, and the Response 2.0 boots continue that trend. That works for me!