The Sidi Traffic Air boots are the fully perforated version of the Sidi Traffic Rain boots.
They include two useful features and also something rather interesting that we discovered.
First, they're "user friendly" due to the simple side entry zipper.
And the combination of perforated sides and thin liner give the boots good ventilation.
The Traffic Air boots are also surprisingly water-resistant. Water pooled on the outside of the perforated sections did not leak through, even after 10 minutes.
The ease of use, ventilation and the water-resistant bonus feature have made the Traffic Air boots my "go to" shoes lately.
The full-length side zipper and the shorter height means the boots will fit under jeans and other lightweight warm-weather pants.
My only slight complaint is that the fit is a bit loose towards the rear and around the ankles. An adjustment strap at the top or across the instep would be useful.
The Sidi Traffic Air and their waterproof counterparts, the Traffic Rain boots, are listed in the Sidi "Touring/Adventure" category, which includes choices such as the Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex boots (review) and Sidi Armada boots (review).
It's a very diverse category, so it may be time for Sidi to establish and "Urban" boots category that might include the more street-oriented boots such as the Traffic Air and Rain, the Sidi "Street" boots, the Sidi Doha boots (review) and the Sidi New York and Astro boots.
I could even make an argument that the Sidi Blade, Apex and Streetburner boots are better suited to an "Urban" category as well. All of those boots I have listed are quite different from the Touring/Adventure boots and also quite different from the race boots that are also included in the current Sidi Touring/Adventure category, such as the Sidi Vertigo boots (review), Sidi Vortice boots (review) and others.
The Sidi Traffic Air boots are -- as the name implies -- the ventilated version of the Sidi Traffic Rain boots. The Traffic Air boots are made from Lorica, the synthetic leather. The side panels on either side of the ankle are perforated, while the toes, instep and back of the ankle are not.
The synthetic leather called Lorica, once an anomaly in motorcycle boots, is now quite common. Actually, synthetic leather has come a long way in the last 20 years or so, to a point where it's difficult to tell the difference between, for example, Lorica and the real stuff.
As much as I like real leather, Lorica is probably better for motorcycle boots, which by their nature will experience rough use and exposure to the elements.
Actually, Sidi says they still use leather for their Gore-Tex boots, probably because of leather's natural breathing properties, which is required to transport the moisture out of the Gore-Tex membrane. A proprietary material called "Sidi Technomicro" is used on the boots without a Gore-Tex liner. Technomicro is apparently Sidi's name for Lorica, as far as I can tell.
Technomicro is "a composite micro fiber material created from strands that are so fine, each one is less than one thousandth the thickness of silk", according to the company. It is claimed to have "better strength, softer texture, lighter weight and better moisture protection" than leather, while it is also "highly resistant to abrasion yet it still breathes with more than three million pores per square centimeter"
Besides that Sidi says that Technomicro "doesn't stain, can't be scratched and offers reduced weight, more flexibility and a better feel than leather or other synthetic material boots."
To be honest, I didn't know the Traffic Air boots weren't made from real leather and it doesn't really seem to matter. In fact, I prefer Lorica for motorcycle boots. The Traffic Air boots "walk and talk" just like real leather. They even sort of smell like real leather. Sort of...
The Traffic Air boots are about as simple as simple gets for motorcycle boots. That simplicity lends a utility that is instantiated in their ease of use, and that means you'll probably find yourself choosing this pair for riding more often than not. Open the zipper, pull 'em on, zip 'em up and go. No muss; no fuss.
And there's something else about the Traffic Air boots -- they have a sort of amorphous go-with-anything styling. You can just as easily wear them with a pair of jeans, like the Resurgence Gear "Black Bird" PKEV jeans we just reviewed, as you can with a pair of textile motorcycle pants.
They look just as good on a cruiser as they do on a sportbike. Kind of a go anywhere, do anything sort of boot.
Their ease of use plus the goes-with-anything styling will make these the boots you'll probably end up choosing more often than any other.
The Traffic Air boots are slightly shorter than typical race boots height, reaching 23 cm (9") from the bottom of the lugs to the boot top in the rear and 25.5 cm (10") in the front. The width or diameter of the top is tapered in and I have no problem fitting them under a pair of jeans -- even slightly slim-fit jeans like the Resurgence Gear Black Bird.
The thin and lightly padded liner is just enough to keep the Traffic Air boots comfortable, while also allowing good air flow.
The top of the boots have a lightly cushioned piping around the perimeter, which is needed because that area will usually touch the skin of your mid-calf. Since the diameter at the top leaves some extra room, my legs do sort of rattle around slightly when I walk, but this is the case with other slip-on tall boots I've worn, such as the engineer style. The lightly cushioned liner in the Traffic Air boots keeps things more comfy than those thick leather engineer boots, however.
The perforated sections of the Traffic Air boots on either side at the ankles allow good ventilation and the solid Lorica around the lower and front sections provide some protection from the occasional light sprinkle during inclement weather.
The side zipper is a YKK nylon tooth type and it works smoothly enough. It's backed by about 18 mm of liner that sticks out just enough to act as an inside cover to prevent the zipper teeth from chafing. There's a small hook-and-loop flap at the top that secures the top of the boot; I wish it was longer so I could perhaps tighten the tops of the boots a bit more.
The soles are the typical Vibram-type lug style used on other Sidi boots; they're glued and not stitched to the bottom. The soles are slightly stiff at first and there's not much break-in with what is basically an all-synthetic pair of boots, but these are comfortable enough right out of the box that it's not an issue.
The Traffic Air boots have a thin foam-backed lining throughout the inside. It's "Sidi's secret formula of perforated closed thousand-air cell memory foam. The result is a totally breathable lining system", according to the description.
The lining is also claimed to have been treated with Teflon, but I'm not sure why or what that adds to the mix. The Traffic Air liner system appears to be similar to the the type used in most or all of the other Sidi boots we've reviewed, but the cushioning foam backing feels thinner to me.
We discovered something interesting, however -- the liner seems to make the boots water-resistant; in fact, I'd call it nearly waterproof.
Just for grins, we laid a boot on the floor, made a depression in the perforated Lorica and poured water on top. We fully expected to see the water immediately sink through the perforations, but to our surprise, the pool of water remained intact on the surface even a full 10 minutes later. The inside of the boots remained as dry as a stone.
Sidi doesn't say anything about the water resistance of the Traffic Air boots, nor do they mention it in any other information I could find. Apparently, this is a bonus "hidden" feature that effectively adds to the value of the Traffic Air boots.
At the very least, it means that your feet shouldn't immediately become soaked if you're caught out in a brief shower.
The Traffic Air boots have the standard type of heel, ankle and toe protection at about the same level found in a pair of tall motorcycle touring boots.
The tips of the toes and the back of the ankle include a hard protective insert between the outer Lorica shell and the inner liner that doesn't interfere with walking. The hard insert for the heel cup extends upwards to give protection to the Achilles tendon.
Disk-type circular ankle protector inserts are also included, along with some thicker Lorica sections here and there for extra abrasion resistance.
The Vibram-type lug soles are pretty stiff, with good torsional and fore/aft rigidity. This provides a good platform for standing on the foot pegs and the soles also have a good amount of traction or "stick" to push a heavy motorcycle around in the parking lot or garage.
Overall, the Traffic Air boots seem to provide about the same type and surface area of protection as your general pair of basic motorcycle touring boots, which means more motorcycle-specific protective features than any street work boot.
This pair of size 44 Euro Traffic Air boots are equivalent to a U.S. size 10.0 to 10.5. Like other Sidi boots we've reviewed, the size feels correct for length. But unlike most of the other Sidi boots I've tried, the Traffic Air (or this pair, anyway) feels a little wide or loose towards the back.
This is probably due to the "slip-on" design of the Traffic Air boots that use only the zipper as a closure. There's a bit more room around the ankles and heel than I prefer, which means the boots tend to slide up and down slightly as I walk. It's nothing a thicker pair of socks doesn't solve and once I'm on the bike, the extra room does mean that there's more room for the air to circulate.
At first, I was concerned that perhaps there was too much room and that the boots might not have enough security to remain on my feet in a crash.
But I've tried to pull the boots off after they're zipped up and it's nearly impossible to do without probably pulling my back out, so I'm satisfied. I might feel a little better, however, if there were an extra strap across the instep or at the top of the boots.
Ventilation is the big selling point of the Traffic Air boots. The two perforated Lorica inserts on either side may not have a lot of surface area as a percentage of the entire boot, and the sides of the boots aren't directly in the air flow when you're sitting on a motorcycle.
But having now worn these on everything from the BMW C 650 GT scooter (blog) to the Suzuki DR650 (blog), I can say that while I don't always feel air directly flowing on to my feet, I can feel the air circulating inside and when the temperatures drop, it's very noticeable.
There's a downside to this, however. I notice when riding the BMW R65 (info) at slower speeds, the heat from the cylinders is more noticeable than it is when I'm wearing a pair of non-perforated boots.
Overall though I'd say that the Sidi Traffic Air boots have very good ventilation compared to other motorcycle boots I've worn and when combined with the number of protective features and their ease of use, these are the only boots I've been wearing lately.
Also, Sidi has somehow found a way to let the air flow into the boots while also blocking water entry. I have not worn the Traffic Air boots in heavy rain; indeed, we've had something of a drought here in the Mid-Atlantic recently. But our brief water resistance experiment noted above indicates that at least the Traffic Air boots are much more water-resistant than we had originally assumed.
The Sidi Traffic Air boots have two nice features that have quickly make them a favorite. First is the usability factor; the side zipper makes these boots so easy to wear that all other motorcycle boots seem clumsy in comparison.
Second -- and perhaps most important -- is the good ventilation provided by the perforated side panels. Although I can only feel the air coming in directly if I stick my foot out when riding and turn it sideways, in the normal seated position I do feel the air circulating around inside the boots, which is very good considering that only about 30% of the total surface area is perforated.
The bonus feature is the water resistance we discovered and if it ever rains here again, I'll be interested in some on-road experiments to confirm it.
The Traffic Air boots are comfortable to wear and they feel similar to a pair of slip-on street work boots. They're actually pretty easy to use for regular walking around also and under a pair of jeans, few would know you're wearing motorcycle boots unless they saw the shift pad on the toes.
Two hundred bucks may seem a bit steep but since I'll wager that the Traffic Air boots will last until the lugs on the soles are mere nubs (the sole is replaceable), you should be getting your money's worth with years of hot-weather comfort.
wBW Review: Sidi Traffic Air Boots
U.S. and Canadian Distributor: Motonation
|List Price: $200.00|
|Colors: Black.||Made In: Romania|
|Sizes: 41 (7.5 US) to 48 (13.0 US)||Review Date: October 2013|
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From "L.H." (October 2013): "I see one basic design flaw -- the pad for the shifter should come all the way down to the sole and not have a stitched seam on the inner edge.
Over time -- we may be talking years here -- that stitching will wear out, and the pad will come loose along that edge. It happened to me with a different brand of boots but with a similar shifter pad. It cannot be re-stitched or the boot is no longer waterproof. Other than that, they look like great boots."