Sidi Discovery Rain Boots
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Classified as an off-road boot by Sidi, the Discovery is perfect for budding Adventure Tourers.
These are surprisingly comfortable; very sturdy; great-looking and built like a tank.
Bonus: They're claimed to be the only water resistant off-road boots of this type available.
Dual Sport motorcycle sales have skyrocketed in the last few years, with sales up nearly 23% in 2008 from the previous year (more).
The Adventure Touring sector is a world-wide phenomenon and although some Sportbike and Cruiser owners may scoff, the rest of us know that once you've ridden one of those beasts, you're hooked!
Modern technologies, including tires, suspension, brakes and, of course, engines, have helped make Adventure Touring or dual-sport bikes hands-down the most versatile motorcycles on the planet.
With so many riders catching the fever, it's no wonder that "ruggedized" clothing has also become popular. And you just don't get any more rugged than the Sidi Discover Rain boots.
I was a skeptic at first, having tried other types of off-road or motocross boots that were too focused for poseur World Trekkers like me. Let's face it: you have to look the part, but I'm certainly not about to compromise the fun with a boot that feels like it was made for Frank N. Stein!
I actually first visited the "Touring On Road" section of the Motonation website (the U.S. Sidi distributor) to find some info on the Discovery boots. But the Discovery is listed in the "Off Road" section, which was an instant warning flag. "Must mean these things are going to be as stiff as wood", I thought.
The surprise though was to find that the Discovery boots actually feel more comfy than many of the more touring boots I've tried, and certainly more comfy than most of the sport/race boots.
Now of course comfort is relative with 2.8 kilos of boots hanging on my legs, but I have an entire herd of boots here of all different types to use for my comfort comparison (each of these Discovery boots in size 44 weighs 1371 grams, or 3.0 lbs.).
Sure, it does take some break-in time to get the Discovery boots to flex with the lower extremities, but the soft padding, the easy-to-use buckle system (no zippers!) and the big, wide toes, along with the surprisingly soft and grippy soles, make these a winner.
It doesn't matter which model; crack open the box holding any Sidi boot and the first impression is one of quality.
Sidi pretty much owns the international motorcycle boot market and many distributors and retailers have told me that one of the reasons is that they can count on selling a high-quality product without having to worry about returns and warranty issues.
Sidi boots may cost a bit more, but in the end, it's worth it for a product that literally takes a pounding. As I think about it, there hasn't been a single webBikeWorld visitor that I can recall who has ever complained about a Sidi product, and that's saying something.
The Discovery Rain boots are indicative of that philosophy, and you know you got your money's worth when you pull these babies out of the box for the first time. Heavy leather, solid buckles and great styling look the part.
The Discovery Rain boots are one of 8 different off-road boots in the 2009 Sidi lineup. The Discovery boots are closely related to the Sidi Trial Zero boots, which are not imported into the U.S.A.. In fact, the Discovery Rain boots use some of the technologies and features first developed for Sidi's trials boots, such as the grippy and relatively (for a motorcycle boot) sole.
In the U.S., the Discovery boot is closely related to the Sidi Charger, along with the other boots in the Sidi motocross and off-road boot line, such as the Sidi Crossfire family of three boots and the Sidi Stinger youth off-road boot.
The Discovery doesn't need the fourth buckle it doesn't have because it's biased slightly towards street or dual-purpose riding, although it definitely does not compromise the safety and protection offered by this type of boot.
Sometimes, it's difficult to squeeze the ol' feet into a pair of motocross or off-road boots, but I'm surprised at how easy it is to climb into these. The design of the Sidi "Cam Lock" buckles really helps in this regard.
The strap that holds the metal part of the buckle has teeth that allow it to be adjusted in and out for different calf diameters.
The metal catch on the end of the buckle slides into a heavy rotating plastic cam on the body of the boot; the plastic material has a natural lubricity that allows it to rotate around the metal rods on the strap and pulls everything tight. Different size straps are also available to accommodate pretty much all calf diameters.
The top of the front flap is secured with Velcro and the boots do not have a zipper, so all it takes to put on the Discovery boots is to open the buckles, slide the foot in, tuck in the internal waterproof liner behind the front leather tongue and snap the buckles shut.
This forms a snug seal while the placement of the three buckles also provides more flexibility for walking or street riding than would be the case with the extra buckle on the Sidi dedicated motocross versions of this boot.
The top of the boot has a thick elastic apron to hold off the water and dirt, and overall the Discovery boots have a healthy shape and generous footbed, so they should fit a wide variety of calf and leg sizes. The Discovery boots are available in sizes ranging from 40 (7 US) to 48 (13 US).
The size 44 shown here is labeled as a US size 10, but I almost always take a 44 motorcycle boot even though I wear 10.5 US street boots. This Discovery in size 44 fits me perfectly and I very much like the wide and roomy toe.
The size 44 is also labeled as a UK 9.5 and Japanese size 27.5, but all of the Sidi boots are manufactured to the European size confirmation.
The thick leather is slightly stiff but has been breaking in over the last several uses. It's all double-stitched and the boots also feature a very rigid heel cup and toe. I believe the toe has a steel cap (the Sidi website calls it "iron", which I very much doubt!) but I'm not sure; in any case, the toe and heel are extremely tough, so the Discovery boots also make a good "Mad Max", post-apocalyptic statement!
The stiffness of the leather is mitigated by a padded and articulated section in back of the ankle that adds the necessary flexibility for walking, and indeed the Discovery boots are much more comfortable for doing so than I imagined.
Granted, these are not the boots I'd choose for a Sunday outing along the ley lines, but they are more comfortable -- surprisingly so -- than many other street/race boots I've worn.
Above the articulated section in back of the ankle is some type of vinyl protector sewn on with double rows. This adds a modicum of protection and a bit of rigidity also to the back of the calf. The boots also have a section of reflective material about ankle height that does light up quite brightly when illuminated.
Around the front, in addition to the folding leather tongue is a heavy plastic-like flap that holds the top buckle. This acts also as a hard protector for the shins. It's a very hefty piece, so I can't imagine much that would get through or wear through it, and it covers a wide area of Lorica synthetic leather on the outside of the boot that acts as both a wear point and provides more abrasion protection.
The toe area on each boot includes a thick piece of leather sewn with three levels of stitching. These sections are the wear protectors for shifting. The tip of each toe is also protected with a metal section that folds over the sole and is screwed on in the bottom and nailed to the sole in the front. These are replaceable wear protectors; indeed, most of the parts for any Sidi boot are available for sale in case they're needed.
One main difference between the Discovery boots and the Sidi street or race boots is the lack of an internal ankle protector in the former; the thick leather must suffice for that task.
The liner of the Discovery boots is made from Cambrelle, "the world's leading footwear lining". Cambrelle was specifically designed as a lining for boots and shoes of all types, and it's claimed to have moisture wicking and odor reducing properties.
While the Discovery boots do not have the opening vents of some other Sidi boots, so far I have been comfortable wearing them in temperatures up to 13 C (55 F) or so.
The footbed is slightly padded and relatively flat, although Motonation says the Discovery boots have a removable arch support. If it is removable, I'm not sure how and I haven't found it necessary to try.
The Discovery Rain boots are so named because Sidi says they have a full-length water resistant and breathable liner. Note that some of the Sidi marketing material uses the phrases "waterproof" and "water resistant" interchangeably, and we did not evaluate this claim, so we'll have to take them on their word.
Sidi also says that the Discovery Rain boots are the only waterproof (or water resistant) off-road, Adventure Touring type of boots available. We think that at the very least, some level of water resistance is an important feature in this type of boot which is designed to be used off-road, with the possibility of fording rivers or stepping off into the mud and muck.
I'm a believer -- I didn't think the Discovery Rain boots would be anywhere near as comfortable as this, but the easy to use buckling system, the relatively wide and flat footbed and roun-ish toe, along with the Cambrelle lining have made these a favorite. The soles also help to make these boots easier to walk in than I'd imagined was possible in an off-road design.
The thick leather and the height of the Discovery boots, along with the very robust heel and toe protectors, give a very protective feeling without being too confining.
The price may seem a bit high but these are worth every penny and I feel certain that they will provide a lifetime of service.
|wBW Review: Sidi Discovery Rain Boots|
Available From: Motonation (U.S. Distributor)
|List Price (2009): $325.00|
|Colors: Black||Made In: Romania|
|Sizes: 8-13 US||Review Date: March 2009|
From "G.A." (5/09): "Last week, after reading the review of these great sounding boots, I went down to my local dealer and took a look. The Discovery Rain Boots looked great with the quality appearing to be first rate, but my size was not in stock.
The parts manager agreed to order me a pair with the verbal agreement that if they did not fit right I could return them in "NEW" condition. I received the boots a few days later and after taking them home and trying them on was very disappointed.
For the record, I have very narrow feet, size 13B, with skinny ankles and calves. The review described the toe box as roomy. I found the toe box to be confining and had trouble getting the boots past my ankles as they were that tight. The opening at the base of the buckle area does not open wide enough for even my B width feet and ankles.
Once on and buckled up, the boots warmed up inside quickly and this was wearing them indoors. To take the boots off, I had to enlist some help pulling them back off. And, yes the buckle straps were completely disconnected so they did not interfere. Suffice to say I was glad the dealership where I purchased the boots took them back without a restocking fee.
Editor's Reply: Thanks for the feedback, not sure why you had the problems, mine fit perfectly. Yes, they're hot, but without vents and with such large boots, I wouldn't expect them to be anything less. Also, I would think the size 13B would be a problem fitting into this type of boot and many others, so I guess I'm not surprised they didn't fit correctly.