There is no denying the purpose of these three pairs of Gaerne boots.
Some serious motocross and off-road performance is at hand with the multi-purpose Gaerne GX-1 or the more focused SG10 and the flagship SG12 boots.
Gaerne understands the requirements needed by both serious motocross to casual off-road riders, and as such they don't build "wimpy" boots.
The Gaerne motocross boots are large and very solid -- as most boots intended for these purposes should be.
The "professional use" Gaerne SG10 and the top-of-the-line SG12 boots are outstanding examples of how to design, build and deliver a quality product allowing sustained use over the long term.
But the GX-1 boots are just as nice and probably don't get as much attention as they should.
They are well-made, lightweight and a practical solution for the aspiring go-and-get-dirty rider.
They also provide the support and protection needed for anything from casual off-roading to serious adventure-touring and they should last a long time (just make sure to check the sizing first).
Outside of the unexpected sizing issue with the GX-1 boot, I haven't yet found anything to complain about with these three pair of Gaerne motocross/off-road boots.
This is the Part 1 overview and introduction to the Gaerne off-road boots. I'm looking forward to getting some extended peg time with them in the coming months during forays down south, with a planned Part 2 follow-up review that will be submitted as Spring arrives.
My boot rack is getting close to overflowing! Don't get me wrong -- this isn't a negative, rather, it's just the opposite.
Along with the Sidi Armada boots (review) I recently reviewed, the three pairs of Gaerne motocross boots now occupy space beside my very well-worn BMW Santiago (review) boots; two pair of the even more-well-used Sidi On-Road Boots (review) and, of course, the Sidi Crossfire TA (review) motocross boots.
Other motorcycling footwear occupies space in my closet, but between an ATGATT approach and a penchant for adventure-touring and off-road riding, I pretty much live in heavy-duty footwear, although other types of lighter-weight motorcycling footwear that can serve dual duty as casual wear also get taken on longer trips.
Why three pair of Gaerne motocross boots? Well, to make a long story short, the Editor has been hoping to get an evaluation done on some of the latest Gaerne boot offerings and these three pair were provided by Burn Out Italy, worldwide purveyors of Gaerne Boots...and many of the Airoh and Roof helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld recently. The GX-1, SG10 and SG12 boots were chosen as being very representative of the seven off-road boots in the current Gaerne product line.
A little bit about Gaerne: Gaerne SPA has been making some of the finest footwear in the world for decades; 2012 was actually the company's 50th Anniversary and "The Boot Company", as they like to be called, remains firmly planted in Italy with all production proudly done in-house.
As a long-time maker of quality footwear for walking, climbing, cycling and, of course, motorcycling, their reputation is well-established, although overall the brand is probably not as well known among motorcyclists as they would prefer.
My personal experience with Gaerne boots goes back some time, based on an older pair of riding boots picked up in Europe. That ownership experience was extremely positive so when the Editor identified the opportunity to sample Gaerne footwear, especially their motocross boots, there wasn't any hesitation on my part.
Gaerne currently lists seven different motocross/Off-road types of boots on their main website whereas the Gaerne USA website identifies four featured off-road boots: the SG12, SG10 and React motocross boots as well as the GX-1 multi-purpose boots.
Gaerne doesn't build "wimpy" motocross/off-road footwear, a fact clearly seen and felt in unpacking and lifting each pair from its box.
The GX-1 boots (the white boots in the photos) are lighter in weight than either the SG10 (black with white trim) and the top-of-the-line Gaerne SG12 boots (white with red trim). By the way, the SG12 boots actually feel lighter than the SG10 and that fact is confirmed by the Pelouze scale.
My previous pair of Gaerne boots were trail or trials-oriented, and as such were of a simpler construction and they weighed less. But they wouldn't have been even close in terms of protection and foot security when compared to any of the newer Gaerne products reviewed here.
What I do remember is that the Gaerne trail boots I owned were well made and reflected traditional Italian craftsmanship, while providing durability and all-day comfort. While that original pair has long since been replaced by other boots, it seems most of the features I valued have remained -- a good thing.
The three pairs of boots reviewed here have a composite construction. They are built from a combination of leather and man-made materials into boots that reflect their individual intent and objectives, with all three pair sharing some common features.
In general, the Gaerne GX-1, SG10 and SG12 boots utilize a composite rubber sole with varying patterns and inserts unique to the model and they feature leather uppers reinforced with molded plastic pieces unique to each boot.
All three use a double-stitched welt as well. They each also feature a 10 mm transition from the front part of the sole to the heel, something that is pretty much standard for motocross boots. This rise is enough to let the heel section provide leverage on the pegs while allowing easy transition on the pegs front to back for support and weight transfer -- standing or sitting.
With anatomic shaping, the boots offer a comfortable repository for the feet and lower leg, with the inner especially comfortable thanks in large part to the Gaerne "Memory Cell Foam" and excellent heel cup design.
Italian design and manufacture means that all three of these boots are relatively narrow inside, something I appreciate. All three also feature toe caps or plates -- a standard component on this type of boot -- that increase in size, thickness and quality from the more trail-oriented GX-1 to the "professional use" SG12.
The toe boxes on all three pairs of boots are covered with lightweight plastic sections that incorporate shift and brake protector pads, although the SG10 and SG12 use different materials for better feel or sensitivity when using the foot controls.
A (smallish) Velcro over-flap fastener is commonly used on the top outside edge of each cuff/gaiter section, as is a four buckle fastener system comprised of lightweight alloy (pivoting) ratchet fasteners and industry-standard adjustable serrated nylon straps -- why mess with a good thing?
Even while wearing heavy motorcycle gloves, the system is easy to use; undoing one of the fasteners and pulling or pushing on the notched strap allows quick tension adjustment at any point. When wear-and-tear becomes an issue, the buckle components and straps can be replaced.
These three pairs of boots showcase the range of motocross/off-road products available from Gaerne, starting with the economical, multi-purpose and very practical GX-1 to the fully featured popular SG10 and at the top rung, the SG12, a boot worn by many well known professionals and off-road enthusiasts. Let's take a closer look at each...
► Gaerne GX-1 Boots
The Gaerne GX-1 boots are marketed as an entry-level boot without all the technical bells-and-whistles seen on higher-rated and more expensive motocross and off-road footwear. But that doesn't mean the GX-1 is deficient; quite the opposite in fact and it only has one size-related flaw that needs to be considered (unless the pair I received were an aberration).
At 42 cm (16.1 inches) tall and weighing 1.74 kg each and 3.48 kg for the pair (9.32 lbs.), the GX-1 boots are indeed the shortest (by one cm) and lightest of the three pair reviewed here by a fair margin. This was apparently a clear objective when designing and marketing this particular model.
With the top strap set to its longest position and the small Velcro over-flap closed completely, a nominal leg opening of 43 cm (16.9 in.) diameter is provided. This could be increased if the top strap was not utilized.
A thin stretchable gaiter is stitched from mid-calf down into the boot, with a lightweight breathable mesh lining, slightly rough to the touch providing little resistance to socks, a liner or outer pant (if worn inside), making entering and exiting the boots easy with all four fasteners open and the over-flap pulled away.
The boot upper is made up of leather and (presumably) synthetics and harder plastic materials that form the rigid sections for lateral strength and overall protection. The plastic sections are lightweight and small compared to the thicker and larger panels used for the SG10 and SG12.
Well-padded flex panels on the instep area and above the heel cup provide very good flexibility and most of the lower foot area is also covered in a lightweight plastic layer that extends up to the front plate section on the inner side. Additional synthetic layers provide extra strength and protection on the outer side, with the fasteners stitched at four points to the plastic pieces.
A motocross-style patterned one-piece composite rubber sole with cushion and compression layers provides support and protection. If a longer-lasting and heavier sole is desired, the GX-1 is available with a genuine Vibram Enduro sole with deep lugs for grip, traction, durability and typically, excellent isolation from vibration.
Another variant of the Gaerne GX-1, the GX-1 EVO, features a lightweight moulded sole. The lower interior section features the Gaerne memory cell foam lining, which is both comfortable and warm, although given that the GX-1 boots fits shorter than either the SG10 or SG12, the lining seems to take up precious space even though it compresses well.
► Gaerne SG10 Boots
Identified as the "Premium Boot", the Gaerne SG10 is truly an attractive boot that offers most of the innovative features shared with the top-end Gaerne SG12 boots, although implemented in its own way, which makes for a distinctive and very functional product.
Height is 43 cm (16.92 inches) with a weight of 2.25 kg each or 4.5 kg (12.0 lbs.) for the pair; more weight but far more protection. Nominal entry diameter is just under 45 cm (17.7 in.).
If needed, the top armour plate section attached to the "Razorback" with three screws could be removed for some additional top of boot space, acknowledging the loss of that critical protective piece, and strength for the boot.
A Gaerne exclusive that is used on the SG10 is the "Razorback Pivot System", a simpler version of the Dual Stage Pivot System or DSPS used on the top-end SG12. The SG10 Razorback component is highly visible, being a shaped plastic molding extending from the ankle and instep areas to the top of the boot. This feature provides floating support front-to-back (when bending lower leg and foot) and full lateral support from the ankle/heel up along the leg.
The upper cuff is heavier but more expandable than that of the GX-1 and the top lining is a heavier duty ribbed material providing smooth and easy entry or exit of the foot and leg no matter what is being worn, aided by a generously cut and stretchable gaiter placed higher in the boot for an extended seal.
Thanks in large part to the lower cut-out just above the heel cup and the pivot points, getting in and out of the boots is also simplified; with the four straps undone and the over-flap opened the Razorback assembly can be pulled away and pivoted back slightly making foot entry and exit the easiest of all three pair.
As noted earlier, the front plate/shin guard with over-flap is secured to the inner top edge of the Razorback by three screws.
A new addition to the SG10 boots are stylized rubber "Grip Guard" inserts on the upper and lower inside molded sections of the Razorback (also found on the SG12). These solid Grip Guard sections are strategically placed to provide grip when in contact with the side of the motorcycle while increasing ankle and lower leg protection and, greater heat protection from nearby exhaust systems.
Like the Gaerne SG12, the lower foot area of the SG10 is basically covered by sections of moulded plastic, extending from the toe piece over the toe cap back to a very heavy duty shaped heel guard specifically designed to absorb shock from the rear.
The SG10 is the only version of the three that lists the use of a Supercross-style shank (length unknown) for specific protection while still providing the needed flex along the sole. A dual composite rubber sole with unique pattern provides cushioning, flexibility, grip and overall comfort on or off the motorcycle.
The interior of the SG10, like the SG12, is a bit plusher than the Gaerne GX-1 boots. The heel cup fits tighter, comfortably holding the heel without pressure points while the Gaerne memory cell PU inner foam liner does its job around the foot.
There is adequate wiggle room for the toes inside the SG10 boots, something that I can't say for the GX-1 boots. With the gaiter folded in and the boot sections aligned, doing the straps up from bottom to top results in a snug form-fitted encasement.
The only observation made so far is that the cross-over point provided by the second strap (bottom to top) on the SG10 boots puts a bit of pressure on a sensitive part of my instep when kneeling forward or angling the foot upwards.
While sitting on the motorcycle, loosening the instep strap off on each boot a couple of notches minimized the pressure without seriously reducing effectiveness, thanks in large to the padded and flexible instep section that keeps the foot secure.
► Gaerne SG12 Boots
Gaerne calls the SG12 "the best off-road boot on the planet" and while I can't validate their claim, I can state that the SG12 boots are extremely well made, sturdy but flexible and very (very) comfortable for extended periods of time.
At 43 cm (16.92 inches), the SG12 is the same height as the SG10 with minor differences in cuff construction and cut, along with specific sole/heel combinations providing slight visual differences.
The SG12 boots feel and are actually a bit lighter than the SG10 pair, tipping the scales at 2.16 kg each or 4.32 kg (11.56 lbs.) for the pair, with the weight reduction probably attributable to the extensive use of lighter weight materials throughout as befitting their flagship boots.
And this flagship approach starts right at the top. The cuff and gaiter section is made of a new Swiss breathable fabric called "Acronos", a sturdy but stretchy material with great shape conformity to keep the elements and debris out. The SG12 logo is stitched onto the small Velcro over-flap.
The large front-plate shin-guard section is made of anatomically shaped thermoplastic for extended coverage and fit. With the Velcro over-flap undone, a nominal opening of 50 cm (19.6 in.) in diameter is provided, the largest of all three pairs.
If more room is needed towards the top to accommodate a larger leg, heavy duty outer garment, brace, or any combination thereof, removing the three screws securing the upper plate will do the trick, appreciating some resultant loss of overall strength and protection.
Gaerne's top-end motocross boots features the exclusive (patented) "Dual Stage Pivot System" (DSPS). Like the SG10 boots, the "Razorback" component is used, but the SG12 implementation is more complex with two major pivot points. The components are far heavier and more integrated on the top-of-the-line SG12 boot.
The first pivot point is attached to the back plate or Razorback with the lower molded section providing a rigid framework for strong lateral support with a glide-plate keeping the upper sections firm and upright. The second or upper pivot point is fixed on a sliding glide so the foot can move naturally on the pegs for shifting and braking while still protecting the foot from sudden compression or shock.
A Gaerne SG12 Feature Tutorial provides an excellent overview of the unique features found in the latest SG12 boots. With the boots properly secured, flexing the foot through a range of motion, on or off the pegs serves to demonstrate how effective and efficient the system is in providing lateral strength along with outstanding foot and ankle flexibility without strength and protection being compromised. The feature is unobtrusive, very natural in motion and without any pressure points.
As with the other boots, four lightweight alloy buckles mated to adjustable notched replaceable straps offer the tried-and- true system utilized almost universally for this type of boot. What differentiates the Gaerne fasteners, particularly the up-scale pieces used for the SG12, is their ease of use. With feet on the pegs, a buckle can be opened and the strap pushed in or out quickly for adjustments.
The outer lower foot moulding extends from a heavy duty newly redesigned toe cap, up along the toe box back to the back heel cup; the whole layout is visually effective in providing a sense of strength and protection.
A slim front toe section is wrapped in a lightweight thermoplastic material, a combination that provides greater feel when using foot controls -- a fact that cannot be argued in use.
In the rear, the heel cup section is designed to absorb shock when rear foot/boot compression takes place, working on conjunction with the dual-stage pivot feature for total foot and lower leg support and protection. The lower foot moldings feature raised ridges along the outer side, providing protection for the bottom strap and "bumper-guard" duty for the foot when riding too close to those large rocks and other obstacles that never seem to get out of the way in time!
Like the SG10 boots Gaerne uses "Grip Guard" inserts on the inner side of the boot, but where the pieces on the SG10 are relatively small compared to the molded sections they are part of, the Grip Guard inserts used on the SG12 are huge, dominating the upper and lower molded plastic sections. Believe me, they work.
The sole is the Gaerne "Dual Composite" anti-shock rubber type, with the SG12 bottom having a distinctive pattern clearly differentiating it from the GX-1 and SG10.
Like the other two sets of boots, I've found the rubber construct and patterns to be just about perfect on and off the pegs, although some longer term use may reveal some differences. Along with the "Acronos" material used, a well-finished plush interior emulates that found on the SG10.
One very useful addition on the SG12 is a pull strap stitched into the top back lining just below the cuff -- a nice touch. The interior Gaerne Memory Cell Foam snugly and warmly encases the foot, with a new insole providing better shock absorption in the heel and increased ventilation (thankfully) for the foot. And like the SG10, I have wiggle room or clearance length for the toes.
Top-of-the-line is just what the SG12 is, even though for overall comfort it is a close second to the SG10, at least given current use. All the pieces are top-notch, fit extremely well together and visually it is an extremely good-looking "gnarly" boot that catches the eye, and they go great with the White/Red/Blue scheme of my BMW R1200GS Rallye.
In not yet having worn the boots through an extended range of temperatures, my ability to comment on ventilation is limited. But with some cold weather, ranging from 5 C (41 F) down to a bit below the freezing point, all three pair (with my usual BMW Silver long socks), do a good job of keeping the cold out on short low-speed runs.
During break-in while wearing the boots in the house and the garage, my feet did get warm, but switching to a lighter-weight sock provided more space resulting in better ventilation and cooling. I suspect, subject to prolonged riding use, that the boots will be warm overall and wearing the right sock for the right temperatures will be important.
Some of the SG12 plastic panels have perforations with an inside grid material so it seems this feature, that saves a wee bit of weight as well, might serve to help the transfer of heat and moisture from the inside up the sidewalls and out of the boot; time and temperatures will tell.
All three pairs of these boots are marked as size 46 (Euro), USA (11) and JA (28.5). As proven over the years, my feet with a light-to-heavy pair of socks is a perfect fit inside a size 46 boot (US 11.0 to 11.5) and only once have I needed a size 47 for a bit of wiggle space inside.
Based on that experience with boot fitment over the years, I have come to consider the Sidi boot sizing chart as an honest reference scale as it identifies the range (full through half-size) that many other manufacturers do not. Many size 46 boots I have tried (and rejected) are actually right at or just under a US size 11, which means if you are between an 11 and 11.5, this base sizing may be too short.
In using all three pair of the Gaerne boots, with my feet in light- to heavy-weight socks with the Gaerne insole fit perfectly inside the SG10 and SG12 boots, the heel cup catches and holds perfectly, width is spot-on and even with heavy socks there is stretch/bump space for the toes.
As such, I have been able to go down to light- to medium-weight socks and add the Gore-Tex liners, providing a truly waterproof layer when needed.
The GX-1 is just plain short. Doing an internal measurement revealed a 5 mm to 8 mm difference in the interior length of the GX-1 compared to the interiors of the SG10 and SG12. At this stage, I'm not sure if the pair I have is an anomaly or if indeed, as I suspect, the GX-1 is built on/or to a different boot mold. So if a pair of the GX-1 boots catches your eye, just make sure you get the right size...
What may be of concern to some owners is the fact that none of these boots are marketed as "weatherproof" or "waterproof". But on the flip side of the coin, this feature is not often seen as a hard requirement, for many reasons.
Besides, if absolutely needed, something like the Klim Covert GTX Waterproof Boot Liner will address that issue. I am confident, without having yet had the chance to actually see how protective from the wet stuff they each are, that the construct and materials used, especially for the SG10 and SG12 will provide limited or perhaps even extended protection from the elements. Again, time and use will tell the tale.
► Gaerne Off-Road Boots: Observations and First Impressions
With break-in and some limited peg-time completed, a few observations, some that are felt (literally) and some based on other issues can be identified:
The Gaerne GX-1 boots are the white with black boots in the photos. "Italian made value" is a statement that I won't argue with. The GX-1 may be "entry level motocross footwear", but they represent an excellent and relatively inexpensive option for those looking at exploring the off-road realm while wearing lightweight but protective footwear.
I found the Gaerne GX-1 boots easy to put on and remove, with a larger heel cup compared to the SG10 and SG12 although overall width seems to be the same. But while wearing medium- to heavy-weight socks, the heel-to-toe length is short; my toes touch the front of the boots even with the heel tightly in its cup.
There are options for the GX-1 model, with the GX-1 EVO utilizing a new molded lightweight welt sole rather than the stitched welt. The GX-1 is also available with a heavier and deeply patterned "Vibram" sole as well.
Overall, the base Gaerne GX-1 provides very good protection with great flexibility. The boots feel solid and protective, without the all encompassing "iron jacket" feel that can be very disconcerting for first-time wearers of motocross-style footwear. For basic motocross and off-road use, the GX-1 is a good option that doesn't require much of an investment.
The Gaerne SG10 boots are black with white highlights in the photos. Gaerne says these are "Premium" boots, and to that I will add "comfort and value". These were the first pair I unboxed upon arrival; I slipped them on wearing a lightweight pair of cotton socks, fastened them up and walked off and they were comfortable from minute one.
I have only needed to adjust two of the straps for a snug, secure and comfortable fit when wearing mid-weight to heavy socks. Lots of time with break-in (not really needed) and some riding hasn't yet produced any major issues. They have a near-perfect fit with what is likely to be near perfect function.
With break-in accomplished with all three pair and limited use ongoing, the SG10 have quickly identified themselves as the most comfortable pair to wear less the minor instep cross-strap issue, although the SG12 boots are a very (very) close second.
The Gaerne SG12 boots are the white and red boots in the photos. "Performance motocross boots" states Gaerne and so far I haven't found anything that would make me dispute this statement, or the other claims made of these top-of-the-line SG12 boots.
Two years in the making, the SG12 leverages Gaerne expertise along with that of professional riders amongst others all and in sourcing the best materials. From my perspective it has all paid off.
Taking nothing away from my currently favoured pair of motocross boots, the Sidi Crossfire TA, I think the Gaerne SG12 footwear will be taking over as the favoured motocross footwear going forward, with the features incorporated into the SG12 playing a large part in this decision.
Top-of-the-line is just what the SG12 is, even if for me they are a close second to the SG10 for comfort based on my current use. All of the pieces are top-notch, fitting well together. Visually the SG12 boots are extremely good-looking, with that "gnarly" appearance that catches the eye. And, they go great with the colour scheme of the BMW R1200GS Rallye.
As noted in the Summary, this is Part 1 of a planned two-part longer-term evaluation of the Gaerne GX-1, SG10 and SG12 motocross/off-road boots.
Both the SG10 and SG12 boots are on stand-by for use here when winter provides some opportunity and they will definitely be headed south in March for planned moto-travel from Virginia down to Florida via the back roads.
The GX-1 boots, sized bit small for me, will go on loan to a fellow Beemer rider who takes a Euro 44/45 boot, which is how I really feel these boots are sized. Less the fitment issue with the GX-1 boots, all three pair of boots are excellent products, well representative of the quality, features and performance Gaerne boots are famous for.
Admittedly, the Gaerne SG10 and SG12 aren't inexpensive, although they are comparatively priced considering the competition. In terms of an investment, the Gaerne GX-1 comes out a clear winner in that it provides the owner with an excellent off-road boots that are easy to wear and should provide years of service. But as with any pair of motorcycle (or street) boots, just make sure they fit.
Retailer Note: The products described in this review were provided by Burn Out Italy, who discounts Gaerne boots, Airoh and Roof helmets and other gear and ships worldwide. Burn Out Italy accepts EUR, USD, CAD, GBP and YEN. We have no other interest, financial or otherwise, in the retailer.
More wBW Motorcycle Boot Reviews
wBW Review: Gaerne GX-1, SG10 and SG12 Off-Road Boots
Gaerne SPA (Italy)
Retailer: Burn Out Italy
|List Price: GX-1 $199.99/€169. SG10 $479.99/€366 USD. SG12 $589.99/€473.|
|Colors: GX-1: Black or white. SG10: Black or white. SG12: All black; all white or white with orange, red. blue or red/blue accents.||Made In: Italy|
|Sizes: 36-48 Euro (GX-1). 39-49 (SG10). 41-49 (SG12).||Rating:|
|Review Date: February 2013|
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