by Rick for webBikeWorld.com
The new interesting short boot style is available in two formats.
The Air Blend mesh and the Fighter H2O, which is waterproof.
The boots are nearly identical in every other way.
REV'IT! has 9 different types of boots in their 2008 lineup, including four different types of short motorcycle boots.
There's probably a better name for this style -- some manufacturers call them "sneaker" boots or "commuter" boots, or even "summer touring boots".
But whatever you call them, the popularity of short motorcycle boots is a fairly recent phenomenon, probably evolved from various types of work boots used in the street/stunt scene.
Short boots are generally more comfortable than the mostly taller race boots and surely they're easier to use for walking.
That's due to their construction, which has a lot of similarities to street or work boots or even hiking boots.
All of these are good reasons why nearly half of the boots in the current REV'IT! lineup are of this type.
We reviewed several brands and models of short motorcycle boots (see the links in the right-hand column).
Those included the REV'IT! Freestyle boots (review) we reviewed in December of 2007, which were the forerunners of the Air Blend and Fighter.
Besides the Air Blend and Fighter boots covered in this review, REV'IT! has one more short boot in their catalog.
The REV'IT! Air Blend and Fighter boots are a new 2008 design that represent an evolution of the Freestyle, which I believe was the first short boot offered by REV'IT!.
The Air Blend and Fighter boots are similar to the Freestyle only in overall form.
The newer boots have a different construction and a last which does include some of the features pioneered on the Freestyle, like the front lace cover, but everything else is brand new.
So what's the difference between the Air Blend and the Fighter? The former is designed for hot weather riding, while the latter is waterproof.
Otherwise, both are constructed using the same sole, including the same steel shank, and they have the same type of reinforced toes and shift pads on both toes.
Actually, the entire toe on both the left and right Air Blend and Fighter is surrounded by a rubbery feeling cover, covered with a rough surfaced layer on top that feels synthetic but may actually be constructed from Pampas leather.
Much of the outer portion of both styles is covered with leather -- gray suede on the Air Blend and black on the Fighter boots.
The suede has a high-quality feel and it looks very nice, especially in the lighter gray used on the Air Blend boots, which is almost too nice to get dirty! But it is possible to keep the suede clean with a light brushing to remove the accumulated bugs and dirt.
Both styles have thick ankle (malleolus) protectors on either side, sewn underneath the outer suede leather skin, in between the outer and inner layers.
These ankle cups feel very stiff and they should offer good protection if needed.
They're larger, thicker and stiffer than probably all of the other short boots we've reviewed, so no scrimping here.
The toes and the heels of the boots are also relatively stiff, although they do not include hard armor. My feeling is that they'd probably offer about the same protection as a stout pair of work boots.
The large bumper that forms the toe box is pretty stiff -- I can't compress it if I squeeze on either side, so it should do the trick.
The boots have a nice, wide toe, and the size 44's shown here fit exactly as expected, about like a size 10.5 U.S. work boot.
The toes are very slightly narrower in the vertical dimension than a hefty pair of moccasin-toed work boots, but this does allow the toe to more easily slide underneath the shift lever.
Both of these boots are relatively comfortable for walking short distances, although the fold-down lace cover does offer some resistance as the foot bends.
But the footbed itself is roomy, even though it doesn't seem to provide as much cushioning as some of the other short boots we've seen that have more of a hiking shoe or running shoe bias.
One other thing I have noticed is that the stiffness of the soles in both the Air Blend and Fighter boots can transmit a bit more vibration through the bottom than some other boots.
This is mostly noticeable on the Ducati, the BMW R65 or older bikes with that "classic" vibrating feel.
The most distinguishing feature of the Air Blend and Fighter boots has to be the front lace cover, first seen on the REV'IT! Freestyle boots.
The first version of the Freestyle boots didn't even have laces -- the cover served that function, but apparently many riders found that it separated from the boot during a short walk.
REV'IT! then added laces underneath, and this feature has evolved again in the Air Blend and Fighter versions.
I have mixed feelings about this design -- while it does give the boots a smooth appearance, and it keeps the laces from getting snagged in the shift lever or other bike bits, it is slightly fussy to use.
The flap has to be held out in front of the boot with the backs of the hands while the boots are being laced, then the laces must be stuffed behind the flap to get a correct seal.
The flap prevents air from flowing on to the front of the foot, although it does also prevent dirt.
And in the case of the Fighter boots, it prevents water from entering through the laces, which is the most vulnerable area (and the hardest to waterproof). The lace cover also provides some extra protection for the rider's foot.
But all things considered, it is important to have some sort of cover in this area -- the Kochmann SC 1000 boots (review) and the Alpinestars Recon boots both have a flap that seals across the top.
That's where the laces are tied, but the flap does not prevent water from entering through the lace holes.
When it rains -- even a little -- the feet are one of the first things to get wet.
And it's probably better to stop any water from getting in to begin with, rather than hoping that a waterproof tongue will do the job in the absence of a lace cover.
So I guess the slightly fussy lace covers are a small price to pay for the extra protection, especially for anyone caught out in the rain.
► REV'IT! Air Blend Boots
REV'IT! says that the Air Blend boots are "fully vented".
But the combination of the thick internal padding and the lining (which has an interesting-looking pattern), plus the enclosed toe, the large swatches of suede and the lace cover means that there isn't much room left for air to flow through.
I was disappointed at first because I expected that I'd feel a strong breeze blowing through the Air Blend boots when riding, but the air flow is much more subtle than that.
So it may be a bit of an overstatement to say that the Air Blend boots are fully ventilated; after all, there are no real vents to be found.
Also, the thick and dense mesh that isn't covered with other parts does somewhat inhibit pure air flow.
However, I can definitely feel the air come through when I place my hand on the inside of the boot and blow through the mesh, and I've worn the boots in temperatures up to 92 degrees F. (~33 C) without problems.
So while I can't say that the boots provide an air-conditioned cool feeling, the fabric does allow the air to migrate through the non-leather material.
And the boots do breathe enough to prevent my feet from getting too sweaty in hot weather.
I have noticed that the boots feel cooler when I wear a pair of short anklet style socks rather than the full height type.
It seems to be impossible to find a decent pair of motorcycle boots that flow a large volume of air while still providing the kind of protection necessary for motorcycle riding.
The Oxtar TCS Sport boots (review), my favorite race-type motorcycle boots, have vents that direct the air on to my feet and they surely offer top level protection.
But the taller boot style just doesn't work with many types of hot weather pants.
And the Kochmann SC 1000 boots, which are similar in style to the REV'IT! Air Blend boots, also offer good protection with decent air flow through the mesh, even though they don't have vents.
But in the end, I think both the Kochmann and REV'IT! Air Blend boots could benefit by replacing the inner lining with a material that allowed more air to flow through or by removing it altogether.
This argument may be academic though -- the wonderful TCS Sport boots are no longer made by Oxtar, a company that is now called TCX (why, I wonder?).
They sell a boot called the Airtech XCR, which is supposed to be vented, but I haven't tried it.
And Kochmann bailed out of the U.S. market a few years ago when the greenback started its tumble, so you'd have to find a pair of those somewhere deep in the forests of Europe.
► REV'IT! Fighter Boots
Speaking of rain, the REV'IT! Fighter boots include every feature just described for the Air Blend boots, except the Fighter boots have a REV'IT! Hydratex membrane.
That's the same type of wind- and waterproof membrane used in REV'IT! jackets and pants.
Also, the tongue cover is made from black leather, to prevent it from getting waterlogged.
And the gray suede is replaced with the same black leather on the rest of the Fighter boots.
Other than that, everything that goes for the Air Blend boots is ditto for the Fighter style -- except, of course, the air flow.
While the Hydratex membrane is claimed breathable, there is a difference when wearing the Fighter boots in very hot weather, because I can't really feel any type of cooling air flow or moisture elimination.
Sure, the Hydratex -- and other types of breathable linings -- are supposed to allow moisture to escape.
But when the temperatures start to climb over about 80 degrees F. (~27 C), you'll need all the air you can get, and any type of breathable lining only impedes air flow.
But -- and this is a big "but" -- here's the bonus: the Fighter boots are definitely waterproof. I had Burn put them on and stand in a bucket filled with about 100 mm of water, and he reported no leakage after 15 minutes.
The fabric and leather will get slightly waterlogged, but the Fighter boots should hold up to most downpours.
Just remember though that these are short boots.
So unless your motorcycle pants are also waterproof and they are long enough to cover the top of the boot with room to spare, there may be a chance that more water will enter from the top than it might on a pair of higher boots.
Here's a solution: if you're planning on touring with any type of motorcycle boot, check out our Treds over-boots review.
These things are basically indestructible, and they're definitely, positively waterproof. Fold up a pair and throw 'em in the panniers and you'll be prepared for the very worst.
And by the way, they work great around the house also!
The REV'IT! Air Blend and Fighter boots are comfortable and they work with jeans or other types of summer motorcycle pants that will be worn over the boot.
While I'm not 100% sold on the advantages of the front lace cover on the Air Blend version, and I think that style could also use more air flow, the lace covers on the Fighter waterproof version make sense.
If you're searching for a pair of short boots that don't look out of the ordinary when you're off the bike, the REV'IT! Air Blend and Fighter boots may be it.
|wBW Review: REV'IT! Air Blend and Fighter Boots|
|Manufacturer: REV'IT!||List Price (2008): Air Blend $199.99. Fighter $229.99.|
|Colors: Black/Gray||Made In: Unknown|
|Sizes: 36-47 Euro||Review Date: July 2008|