The Dainese Asphalt shoes are comfortable, stylish and comfortable.
But, wide feet may not fit.
A few of the safety and protective features have been borrowed from Dainese race boots, a nice surprise.
They're also a great match for the Dainese Druids gloves and the rest of the AGV and Dainese gear in our 2012 Summer Style Series.
Bonus: The mesh fabric allows good ventilation so these boots/shoes are cool in the summer.
And, if you don't like the black and white spats look, the Asphalt boots also come in an all-black version.
This is Part 6 of our 2012 Summer Style Series, featuring good-looking Dainese clothing paired with AGV helmets for stylish summer motorcycle riding, cruising and hanging out.
All of this gear is either new or redesigned for 2012, including the Dainese Asphalt shoes.
Yes -- Dainese calls these "shoes" rather than "boots".
They have about 20 different pairs of motorcycle shoes in the 2012 catalog, not to be confused with the two dozen pairs of Dainese motorcycle boots in a separate section.
The shoes range from pure street versions with little or no protection, to the Asphalt shoes, with several race-boot safety features. The boot lineup then picks it up from there, all the way up to Axial Pro.
The Dainese Asphalt shoes also show up in the Dainese Asphalt boots catalog. It makes sense though, because these boots are pretty much a hybrid, combining features from both categories. Let's take a look...
The Asphalt shoes are meant to blend a stylish combination of street "wearability" with features taken from the race boot lineup...but in a way that won't look too weird when you're off the bike.
It's a lot easier to imagine walking into a cafe wearing a pair of Asphalt shoes than either of the others.
OK, so maybe the black-and-white version of the Asphalt shoes is a bit over the top for some, but this series is about cool -- literally and figuratively -- with a nod towards practicality and safety. And the Asphalt shoes are both.
Cool, as in they look cool -- especially in black-and-white. I immediately thought of one of my favorite Star Trek characters, Bela Oxmyx (in "A Piece of the Action"), when I first laid eyes upon this pair.
Or, maybe not quite the definition of "cool", but certainly "comic tough guy", as in George Raft's character 'Spats' Colombo in the great film "Some Like it Hot".
So you're not liking black-and-white?
OK, so they come in all-black too! In either color, the Asphalt shoes have a look that's sort of a cross between an athletic shoe with a motorcycle race boot and a touch of work boot thrown in for good measure.
They're also a pretty good compromise that offers both comfort and protection.
In fact, I think they have a surprising amount of protection packed in to their sporty look, with some of the most protective ankle protectors we have seen in a short motorcycle boot.
The wrap-around polyurethane heel counter feels solid as a rock and provides that crucial Achilles' heel protection. You also get a toe bumper and a torsion-resistant sole.
You'd never know the Asphalt shoes had that much protection just by looking at them but there really is much more here than most of those cheap short boots that look the part but turn out to be posers.
The overall build quality is excellent to outstanding, with just a bit of glue over-runs to be seen where the heel counter meets the sole along the rear. Otherwise, the stitching, construction and all of the details are better than expected.
And you get all of that with a pretty reasonable list price too, which sweetens the deal.
The Asphalt shoes not only look great with a pair of jeans, like the Dainese D1 Kevlar jeans (review) and the rest of the gear described in the Summer Style Series, they're also easy to wear and more comfortable than a big pair of race boots, especially in hot weather.
Again unlike many or most of the other leather short boots we've reviewed, the Asphalt boots are designed to flow air through the mesh, keeping those tootsies cool when the temps start to climb.
In fact, for once your feet may be the coolest (again meant literally and figuratively!) part of your body.
Not that there are tons of vent holes in these shoes, just that the overall synthetic mesh material used for most of the Asphalt boots allows a good amount of air to flow through.
The plastic toe bumpers, shift patch and the big heel counter block some of the air flow. And these are not waterproof by any stretch of the imagination.
Again, these are the compromises to be considered when optimizing for hot-weather riding that we've mentioned throughout this entire series.
The Asphalt boots shown here are labeled as size 11 US and 44 Euro (10 UK) and that feels correct, as compared to other size 44 motorcycle boots I've tried.
They're a bit narrow though, not so much that my normal D width feet don't fit but anyone with wider feet may find the Asphalt shoes to feel anything from snug to tight.
I wasn't sure how easy it would be to slip my feet into the Asphalt shoes, but the large grab tab on the back really helps.
The shoes have a sort of cut-down profile towards the back, as you can see in the photos, and this allows the foot to slide in fairly easily.
One of the most unique features of the Dainese Asphalt shoes is the ITW Nexus Cordloc 192 speed lace used on these shoes.
First of all, the laces are actually round cords, like you'd find in high-end running shoes or hiking boots. The cords run through fabric loops, just like on a pair of running shoes.
This is definitely my preferred system for lacing up a pair of running shoes, because it allows the laces to be easily pulled tight and it also quickly evens out the pressure all along the top of the foot.
On the Asphalt shoes, the laces are joined at the end, having been sewn into a section of leather with a metal snap underneath. This piece snaps on to the outside of the shoe to retain the laces in a sort of continuous loop.
Then the Cordloc 192 "Cord Lock" (labeled "Fixlock") speed lacing lock is a spring-loaded slider that is used to tighten the laces -- you basically pull on the laces to get them tight across the top of the foot, then slide the slider down and let go of the spring, and the laces are held in place.
It has a tiny circular plastic serrated disk in the center that grips the cord or lace to keep it in place.
To tighten or loosen the laces, you push on the little plastic nub in the center of the disk to release the tension. The slider then can be moved up or down.
I've seen this system used before on lightweight hiking or cross-training shoes; in fact, the Salomon brand uses the Cordloc system on several shoes, as far as I know. But I have never seen it used on a motorcycle boot or shoe before.
It works really well, although it takes some getting used to. It makes getting in and out of the Asphalt shoes a breeze.
The system does leave a loop of lace up at the top after the laces are tightened however, which can be tucked down into the boot top to get it out of the way.
Let's take a closer look at some of those safety features I have alluded to. Starting at the front, the Asphalt shoes have a large synthetic wrap-around toe bumper double-stitched on to the boot shell.
Combined with the large shift pad protector on the top, this counters some of the twist and also provides some protection up front.
There's no metatarsal protection under the laces, this area having been optimized for air flow instead.
But starting at the arch, there's a big TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) heel counter that runs all the way around the back of the boot (shoe) and along the other side.
This has very stiff heel cup protectors on either side -- the white (outside) and black (on the inside) rounded triangular sections seen just over the heel in the photos.
There's an extra thicker section of TPU added to the back of the heel, which acts as an additional support and makes the lower rear portion of the Asphalt shoes as stiff as any race boot.
Finally, the TPU heel counter extends up on either side to cover the ankle, with an added (black) circle of TPU for ankle protection.
Inside, the lining is typical race boot fashion, with lightweight padding that allows (some) air to flow in.
The foot bed is very lightly padded -- again in race boot style -- and the sole is stiff to provide rider feel for the foot pegs and a decent platform to help prevent fatigue.
Altogether, this is a lot more protection than we've seen in most of the short motorcycle boots reviewed on webBikeWorld in the past, and we think Dainese did a good job of not only meeting the compromise.
And also by incorporating this level of protection without making the Asphalt shoes look too clunky.
The soles of the Asphalt shoes are fairly similar to standard race boot practice and not soft or cushy like work boots or walking shoes.
Other than "non-slip sole", there's not much info on the soles in the Dainese catalog. They're about average for the type, so no problems there.
The heel has a defined shape and if you look at the photo above, you'll see the three molded-in bars in front of the heel that point towards the toe.
I'm assuming these are designed to assist the motorcycle rider in sliding the foot around on the foot pegs, or perhaps to provide extra wear resistance for that crucial foot peg area.
It seems to work, and doesn't get in the way when riding; in fact, they're more subtle than they appear and the forward edge of the heel still hangs down a bit to catch the foot peg without a problem.
I think I've pretty much covered it all, but just to note again that, depending on the outside temperature, I can feel the air flowing in to the Asphalt shoes.
If it starts to get a little cool, I can really feel it and if it's hot, I definitely want to be wearing these shoes instead of a pair of work boots or race boots.
The Dainese Asphalt shoes are an excellent hybrid blend of street style with protective features and the bonus of air flow for hot-weather riding.
Don't get put off by the black-and-white color of the version shown here (although I definitely like the look!), because they're available in all-black also.
I'm confident in saying that there probably isn't a better combination of safety, comfort, ventilation and styling available for the price, so they're definitely worth a look.
|wBW Review: Dainese Asphalt Shoes|
|Manufacturer: Dainese S.p.A. (Italy)||List Price: $199.95|
|Colors: Black or Black/White||Made In: Romania|
|Sizes: 39-47 Euro||Review Date: June 2012|
From "J.L.W." (September 2012): "I thought I would give you some feedback after having worn these for a while.
They are as good as your review and what I particularly noticed is that the sole is made of some kind of noticeably grippy material that works particularly well, especially on the smooth concrete of my garage floor which usually has a fine layer of sand on it.
I also like the speed laces with the slide lock although I do have some question about the durability of the laces. They're not so hot for walking any distance but I wouldn't tour with them anyway so it's a moot point.
All in all a great boot/shoe for commuting and day rides in hot weather."
From "D.W." (June 2012): "I have a similar system on my Alpinestars (don't know the model~ out of production), thinner cord and metal tubes attached to the boot, and a Velcro tab instead of a snap. I thought it was goofy when I bought the boots, but am a convert.
It cinches up quickly and evenly, and allows lace pressure to transfer as you move your foot. Really cool idea! Now I just need to figure out how to get some Handroid "pod" action in SoCal and I'd be set!"