Alpinestars "Recon" Boots Review
by "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com
Reasonably priced and apparently well made but with a thin sole.
It was a great plan. But, as plans do, it completely unraveled.
The idea was to review a supah dee-luxe Enduro outfit: the M2R Rally Cross jacket and pants combo with the Alpinestars Recon boots and the cool Marushin Enduro helmet (see a sneak preview in our review of the Rev'it Off Track jacket and Dakar pants).
But the pants didn't work out; the helmet arrived way later than planned and, schedules being what they are, we had to move forward with other projects and everything just fizzled.
So I drew the task of reviewing the Recon boots, and I'll have to say that although I wasn't originally enamored with the styling, I ended up liking them a lot. And I'm not sure why.
This whole short motorcycle boot thing is relatively new, originating, I think, in the stunt community. It took us old-timers a while to get used to the idea of riding with short and shorter boots, and I'm rather embarrassed to admit that after my initial scoffing, I now think it's a great concept.
First of all, not everyone wants to wear motorcycle race or touring boots. And they sure don't work with a pair of jeans or some of the nice jean-cut textile or leather pants that have become available lately. Not to mention walking into a store wearing a pair of those things...
Rick took a liking to the Kochman Scout boots not too long ago and at the rate he's going, they'll be worn out soon. They look cool, they make comfortable walking shoes and they're built strong. But the one thing they don't do very well is keep your feet cool.
That's where the Alpinestars Recon boots came in. Looking at the photos, I imagined some nice, cool breezes blowing through that meshy looking stuff along the sides. I discovered, however, that looks can be deceiving; the mesh on the sides doesn't seem to be porous enough to allow any more air to flow through than usual, so it's a draw.
But it's not all bad news -- I wore the Recon boots at an all-day, non-stop, 85-degree, sun-baked MSF Experienced Rider Course recently and although I can't say that the Recons made my feet feel like I was walking through the surf at Jones Beach, I was surprised that they didn't feel stuffed with the leftover coals from last night's barbeque either.
In fact, I consider that day to be about as brutal of a heat test as a pair of motorcycle boots can get, with temperatures being what they are on hot, un-shaded asphalt.
But I wore only a pair of cheap white cotton socks, yet my feet remained surprisingly dry, so who knows what magic formula Alpinestars added to the Recons; all I know is that they aced a test that I thought would surely have them flummoxed.
The boots sure didn't look like they were going to fit when I first took them out of the box. They appear to be way out of proportion for their size; too long and too narrow for the human foot.
And I'm not the only one who commented on this. But, as it turns out, they're perfect on my size 10.5 (US) feet. They're labeled as size 43.5 Euro, but I've never come across a size 43.5 in any other boot, so who knows.
One thing's for sure: the Recons are stiffer than A-Rod's bat. These babies will take a while to break in, which is probably a good thing -- it means they'll last. I hope.
The stiffness means they're not walking boots, but what motorcycle boots are? At least they're quiet -- not like the Oxtar TCS race boots, with their squeakin' and a-squakin' plastic doohickeys.
Some of the Recon's stiffness is designed in; the toes, the arch, the heel and other points have extra layers of thick, double-stitched leather, with something that feels like hard reinforcements built in. Don't forget, these are motorcycle boots, and safety is first priority, so stiff is good.
But all things considered, the Recon boots really are rather comfy. Alpinestars added a removable footbed with EVA foam padding and "instep and Achilles heel flex zones" that, who knows, maybe make a difference?
The Alpinestars Recon boots are actually a bit higher than other low boots. I measure them as 22cm from the bottom of the sole to their highest point (8.625"). The wide leather wrap across the top secures with Velcro, and it helps support the lower part of the leg, which actually helps make the boot feel more secure, and therefore more comfortable.
But some people may not like the high, tight feel that the wide strap offers, because not much air goes in to or comes out of the top of the boots. I thought this tightness would make my feet feel very hot, but somehow it's not bad, as I mentioned.
The higher tops should provide better protection for the rider's ankle, however. Alpinestars has added a semi-soft, injection-molded protective disk over the outside of each ankle, buried in the fabric somewhere.
The one part I don't like, and that I really wish Alpinestars would change because it would make the Recons nearly perfect, is the laces. The laces feel like they're made from cheap curly fabric, and they're strung through basic reinforced lace holes -- no speed lacing here, folks.
The combination of the stiff leather, the puffy fabric on the tongue and the weird laces make it nearly impossible to pull the boots tight using the ends of the laces. I have to relieve the pressure on each lace, all the way down to the bottom, then stuff my foot inside the boot, then start at the bottom and work my way up, pulling each and every lace snug through its hole.
This is not fun! Why didn't they use those little metal triangle-shaped D-rings that are common on work boots? This would have allowed the laces to slide through, nice and easy.
The problem is compounded by the way Alpinestars laced the boots at the factory --- inside-out. The laces end up at the top pair of holes with the loose ends pointing in, rather than out. This puts even more drag on the lace fabric through all 14 holes. UPDATE: See LL75's modification story below!
This isn't a deal-breaker, but be aware that the Recon boots are unfortunately about three times harder to put on and take off than they should be.
[UPDATE: See Owner Comments below for a solution to the lacing problem!]
The main selling point of the Recon boots is Alpinestars' claim that they're waterproof. In fact, they claim that the boots have a "waterproof inner bootie", which I assume is probably some type of breathable membrane fabric sewn into the lining, because there's no removable bootie on this pair. I was caught out in two heavy downpours recently, and I can say that not a drop got through the boots, so I believe the waterproof claim.
By the way, the lining of the boots feels somewhat like the liner in a helmet; kind of a soft fabric that feels like a tight Nylon mesh. It's very similar to what might be found in one of those running shoes with the squishy mesh lining.
There's not much else I can think of, other than each size 10.5 boot weighs 765 grams, or 1 lb., 11 oz. on the webBikeWorld scales. This isn't bad at all as motorcycle boots go, and the Recons seem to have the heft something in the neighborhood of a lightweight pair of hiking boots or light work shoes.
The label says that the boots are made from leather and synthetic leather, but no percentages or other information is provided. And the boots have 16 rubbery little nubs across the top of each reinforced toe, useful as shifter buffers.
Also, although I wouldn't say that the soles are super-sticky, they seem like they provide above-average traction, which is important when stopped on a hill, trying to pedal backwards or if your bike is slightly too tall. Good traction can work wonders to give the rider confidence in those situations.
Although I'm not fond of the laces (which I'll soon replace), I have otherwise found a lot to like in the Alpinestars Recon boots.
They provide what I think is much more protection than any pair of non-motorcycle street boots; they're more comfortable than most race-style boots and they don't look dorkish -- in fact, most people don't notice anything unusual about them, other than that they look stylish.
They seem to be very well made and I'll think they'll last a long time, which is a plus. Add in the fact that they're waterproof and the price is reasonable (although the Recons are apparently so popular that there aren't many discounts to be found) and what we have here, boys and girls, is a winner.
|wBW Review: Alpinestars Recon Boots|
|Manufacturer: Alpinestars||List Price (2007): $139.99 USD|
|Colors: Black. Sizes: 6-14.||Made In: China.|
|Review Date: June 2007|
From "Carl the Guzzisti" (February 2012): "I don't own a pair of Recons yet. The review and comments have been helpful. I'm writing to share my way of lacing boots, which I learned from an ironworker friend years ago. His crew tied them this way so as not to trip on a loosened lace and take a plunge.
First thing, go to an outdoors store and buy some tent line or maybe it will be called utility cord, this comes in several sizes, I like 2.5 and 3 mm. Local REI has a zingy orange or more sedate blue that is also very (also see highly, extremely) reflective. I did my pair of about-town hikers with that orange, and pesky women keep interrupting my life to tell me how much they dig my shoes! And me with grey hair. :^)
Cut a piece somewhat shorter than the stock laces, lace them up the way you want them, and tie a square knot instead of a bow (start like you're making a typical shoe knot, then do it again crossed the other way around).
Eventually you'll want to trim the ends so there's 3- 4" left, I leave them a bit longer at first because the boots will break in and the end length will change anyway. I burn the ends with a lighter, then twirl the smouldering end in my fingertips (quickly, Weedhopper!) to get a point so they go through the holes easily.
I know, it sounds like a lot of effort, but here's what you get in return. They will never untie on their own (unless they catch on something), but you can untie them very quickly (faster than loop knots) by pulling upward on one of the ends.
The short ends are unlikely to catch on anything, e.g. that open dry clutch on your Duck, even if they do untie somehow, because they're short. A set of these laces will outlast several pairs of boots and can be looped and thrown in the laundry in a pants pocket.
If you need a replacement you can make it in minutes. I have dress shoes set up this way, no one seems to notice the lack of loops. I did find black cord for those, though.
The quick untie feature only works with firm round-section laces, and that cord is the easiest and cheapest and longest-lasting stuff I've found that meets the specs.
If you tie those floppy stock laces in a square knot, you'll have a fine time getting it undone. They make it down to 1 mm, which is still very strong if you want thin laces. Over 3mm probably won't fit through the lace holes and is overkill.
Also from Carl: Look up ladder lacing on Ian's Shoelace Site or maybe Army Lacing."
"Well you guys are going to love this. After reading your review on Alpinestar's Recon Boots I decided that since they sounded so good except for the difficulty of putting them on I'd give them another chance.
It's been years since I ordered new boots; my old BMW beasts seem to keep my feet dry during monsoons and warm in winter ice. The difficulty has occurred when weather turned hot and then they let me down a bit. I decided that I deserved cooler doggies so I'd been reading a ton of reviews and the Recons looked like they might be close if only it weren't for the issue of getting into them.
Your interviewer made mention that if they had hooks instead of eyelets they might be near perfect, plus the wavy strings seemed to be a problem, especially the odd way they were laced up. With all that in mind I ordered a pair from New Enough (One of my favorite companies!).
When they arrived I tried them on and sure as you said, they were a pain in the ass (Sorry Alpinestar!) to put on or get out of. So off I went to our local shoe repair guy and had him replace the top 3 eyelets with hooks. The cost was ten bucks including a set of longer strings which made the total delivered price a fair enough deal. Before replacing the original strings I tried re-lacing them backwards from the factory's system and they seem to work fine; they're easy to get in and out of now so maybe they'll be OK. I'll save the new ones for a later application.
The final issue was the narrow fit which has been mentioned in a number of reviews. While in the shop for the hook replacement I had them stretched a bit in width for another ten bucks and that resolved all the potential problems; they fit good, they're easy to get in and out of and the total extra cost including the longer strings was $20.00, not a big deal overall.
I guess what this all comes down to is if you find a product that fits the bill in most areas and whatever failings it has can be overcome with a bit of adjustment it might be worth a little more expense to 'have it your way.'"
From "PM": "I have had a pair of the Recon boots for about 2 months and they are performing well. The reviewer's comments on the boot laces is off the mark I think.
The lace is designed with the bumps to aid in staying tied and this it does. I purchased these to be a cold weather boot and on a naked bike with rear sets this is working. The only caution I have is the boot is narrow. I normally wear a 9 to 9 1/2. I bought a 9-1/2 and it could not work if it were any narrower. Overall, very satisfied."
From "H.R.": "As I read your review of the Alpinestars Recon boots, I am in my office wearing Alpinestars Octane Riding shoe bought from New Enough.
And I wear them all day in the office after commuting in by bike. I have been wearing them all Summer. I wouldn't recommend wearing them for walking a mile in Alabama heat, but for being in the office they do just fine.
As my no-longer-available Joe Rocket short boots were no longer available, I was hunting around. I thought of the Sidi, but European fit shoes never got right with me. No one recommended these boots, yet they are great wear-all-day-round-the-office shoes."