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TCX X-Cube Boots Review

TCX X-Cube Boots Review
TCX "X-Cube" Waterproof Boots Review
by Rick K. and Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
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Summary

The TCX X-Cube boots are available in waterproof and "Air" versions.

These are comfortable mid-height boots with a short-boot look.

But they provide more protection than many shorter motorcycle boots, especially around the ankles.

The X-Cube boots also have very nice styling and detailing, with complete double stitching used throughout.

The soles are thin, although this gives the boots more flexibility for walking.

A specially designed footbed adds comfort for everyday use and the boots meet the CE safety standard for Personal Protective Equipment.

A "speed" lacing system pulls evenly and reduces pressure on the dorsal surface of the foot.

Overall, the TCX X-Cube boots provide a lot of protection with very nice styling, all at a reasonable price point.

Background

I have a soft spot for TCX boots, if only because the company inherited what was left of Oxtar genes. My original Oxtar TCS boots (review) are my all-time favorite sport/street/race style boots and I'll rue the day when they'll need replacing.

The Oxtar brand became TCX several years ago and the quality of Oxtar and then the original TCX branded boots went, to put it politely, into the restroom.

But that has all changed, now that the brand is owned by the Novation Group, headquartered in Italy. This is an interesting conglomerate; they own the Kayland, Jolly and Cosmas footwear brands. Those names may or may not sound familiar, but they produce very high-end technical shoes and boots for firefighters, safety personnel, military, police and mountain climbers and outdoor technical use.

This is very interesting news, because it means that the TCX brand is now with a company that knows and understands technical performance footwear. They're also bringing their high-tech background to bear, with new designs, manufacturing techniques and experience in plastics, carbon fiber and other materials to their motorcycle footwear.

We've been impressed with the growth in the TCX lineup, which now includes a wide range of motorcycle boots from racing to touring to off-road, street styles, women's boots and more.

TCX X-Cube Boots

TCX X-Cube Boots

The TCX X-Cube boots are similar to the very popular TCX Jupiter boots (review), which were described in a webBikeWorld Owner's Report in 2008. The Jupiter model has a long history; in fact, the original Jupiter boots carried the Oxtar brand.

We thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the latest version of this popular style, which webBikeWorld readers have said is both waterproof and protective.

Note that the current version of the Jupiter 2 boots have a Gore-Tex waterproof lining, but at $199.99 they also carry a list price that is fully $70.00 higher than the X-Cube boots at a list price of $129.99.

It's easy to see the styling similarities between the Jupiter boots and the X-Cube boots and both have their advantages and disadvantages. One of the most noticeable differences is the improved ankle protection on the X-Cube boots and, in fact, this is probably the main defining characteristic of this model and also what separates them from the crowded short- to mid-length motorcycle boots segment.

The X-Cube boots are made from a combination of leather and a polyester mesh that TCX calls "Air Tech" fabric that is used on several other TCX boots (although the mesh-like fabric doesn't provide any ventilation on this waterproof pair). Also, double stitching has been used throughout the boots. The stitching is very nicely done with even rows and a minimum amount of hanging threads.

Finally, there's a nice grab loop at the back of the ankle, which helps when putting on the boots. We found that the most efficient method is to loosen the laces, place the boot on the floor and slide the foot in and down while holding the top open in front and at the rear.

The thick-ish internal padding is very comfortable and creates some friction to hold the foot in place, but this makes it slightly difficult to slide the boots on to and off of the feet.

TCX X-Cube Boots Front Rear Views
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Protective Features

We're calling these "mid-length" because of the extended ankle support designed into the X-Cube boots. The boot tops fit up over the ankles and are thickly padded and include malleolus (ankle) protectors on the inside (medial) and outside (lateral) parts of the ankle.

The protectors aren't of the hard type with race-boot quality, but they're much better than what's found on many short motorcycle boots and leagues better than the non-existent protection on the discontinued Jupiter boots.

The ankle protectors are enclosed in a polyurethane ankle support "brace" that extends up from the sole on either side of the boot, filling the "V" formed by the leather sections that continue around the rear of the boot at the Achilles' tendon and up to the laces.

Documentation supplied with the X-Cube boots indicates that they meet CE standard EN 13634-2002 for impact abrasion and cut resistance. The paperwork states that the boots are Class II PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for motorcycle use "for sporting purposes (training and competition) and generic road use, including professional use".

The X-Cube boots are rated at Level 2 resistance to abrasion on impact, which is ≥ 12 seconds (Level 1 is ≥ 5 seconds). The boots are also rated at Level 2, Grade 5 resistance to cutting (a controversial test, apparently, read this article to learn more).

Despite the description in the owner's manual, the X-Cube boots do not have the TCX Torsion Control System (TCS) or the Metatarsal Control System (MCS) featured on the company's race boots. The X-Cube boots do have the Comfort Fit System (CFS), however, a replaceable footbed feature designed for comfort and fit, not safety.

TCX X-Cube Boots Top View Close-up
Close-up detail of the stitching and fabric on the TCX X-Cube boots.
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Water Resistance and Ventilation

The boots shown here are the waterproof version of the X-Cube boots. Actually, when we purchased these, I didn't realize there were two versions, waterproof and "Air" or ventilated. I would have purchased the X-Cube Air boots if I had known, because this style boot probably wouldn't be my first choice if I knew it was going to rain.

But on the other hand, they're a good choice for those who are looking for a motorcycle boot with good protection that can also (sort-of) pass as a street boot.

The TCX literature and website does not list the type of waterproofing or membrane used in the X-Cube boots. We assume it's a generic version of a Gore-Tex type membrane that allows the transfer of moisture, but that isn't certain. In fact, based on the price and the absence of any confirming information, it's possible that a membrane isn't used at all and the boots have a non-breathable vinyl water barrier.

However, despite the combination of the high tops and thick ankle padding, the boots don't seem to get any warmer than expected, so we'll have to assume there's some type of breathable membrane included.

That's not to say that you'll feel a nice breeze blowing through the boots; in fact, they feel equivalent to a pair of waterproof work boots or hiking boots in terms of the heat and moisture buildup. The boots can be worn indoors, i.e., in a store or restaurant, for a brief time without becoming too warm or damp, but after about 15 minutes or so, the heat buildup can become uncomfortable.

The X-Cube boots are just too good-looking to dump them in a pail of water, and neither of us have been caught out in the (non-existent) rain, so we'll have to assume the company's claims for waterproof-ness is accurate. It appears from looking at the photographs on the TCX website that the X-Cube Air version of the boots uses the same external fabric but without the waterproof barrier.

TCX X-Cube Boots Inside

TCX X-Cube Boots Outside

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Sizing and Fit

We ordered size 44 (10.5 US) boots and these fit exactly as expected and to size. The profile appears narrow, but in fact we have no problem with the width, which seems like a standard D average width for this boot size. Some of the retailers claim that TCX boots generally have a wider-than-average fit, but based on this and other TCX boots we've reviewed, we'd say the fit and width is average, standard, to size and as expected.

More TCX boot reviews can be found on webBikeWorld, including the TCX Jupiter Boots Review, the TCX SS Performance 2 Boots Review (race boots), the TCX Sunray Boots Review (women's boots) and the original Oxtar TCS boots Review.

Lacing

Let's take a closer look at the laces on the X-Cube boots, because the system is commendable. Laces are usually included on the shorter style motorcycle boots, but this has been a problem on some of the boots of this type that we have reviewed.

Depending on the design, the laces on some boots don't slide evenly, which can result in a difficult entry and exit and also uneven pressure on the dorsal (top) side of the foot.

The "speed" type lace design on the X-Cube boots works very nicely; a firm tug on the laces brings even pressure pretty much up the entire ladder arrangement. There are three nylon webbed loops on the top of the boots, and the laces go through a wider loop at the top, just before the vertical climb to the ankle. These wider loops are covered in some type of plastic, which helps the laces to slide through.

The leather is also cut with a "V" shaped dart at this point to improve bending movement for the ankle for walking. Two more rows of looping holds the laces at the vertical top of the boot and there's about a 45 mm section above the last (top most) set of loops that does not have laces.

A wide leather strap is placed across the top of the ankle to help keep the laces from fouling in the foot pegs, although it's not long enough or wide enough to fully guard the lace loops, as it is on the Rev'it Air Blend Fighter boots (review).

TCX X-Cube Boots Soles

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The Downside: Thin Soles

The X-Cube boots are from the TCX "All Uses" line. Other categories of boots sold by the company include Racing, Touring, Women's, Off-Road, Quad, Trial and Speedway.

The street orientation of the X-Cube boots means that styling is a focus, and apparently that led to the decision to give the soles a thin profile. This is a major difference between this boot and the TCX Jupiter boots. The thickness of the soles measures about 6 mm thick at the thinnest point, under the ball of the foot.

On the positive side, the thin soles don't affect the comfort of the boots. But we're not sure how long the soles will last, especially for "foot draggers", although TCX says the soles have been given a high wear resistance.

The material feels about average for skid resistance and the surface of the bottom of the boots is relatively smooth. Also, the bottom of the soles are flat, with no step for the heel. Some riders may like this; others may not.

The toe and heel cups of the X-Cube boots feel like they include short molded hardened protectors. Although the soles may not provide the same type of cushioning found in other boots, the design does allow more flexibility than average, which helps to make walking a bit easier when wearing the boots.

But the soles also do not have much torsional rigidity, so this comes at the expense of some protection for the feet.

TCX X-Cube Boots Slide Show
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Conclusion

The TCX X-Cube boots are good-looking, well made and they have a focus on ankle protection that is missing from many shorter style motorcycle boots.

The price is right and the boots do seem like they're worth more than they cost; a definition of "value". It's easier to walk in the X-Cube boots than others we've tried and again, the quality and overall construction definitely seems at a higher level than other boots of this type in this price range. We have mixed feelings about the thin soles and lack of a defined heel step, however.

We're pleased to see the TCX brand in good hands and that the line has improved and increased with a full range of products. The X-Cube boots have impressed us enough to want to try more TCX boots in the future, so be sure to check back, because surely we will be featuring the brand in more upcoming webBikeWorld reviews.

More wBW Motorcycle Boot Reviews

wBW Review: TCX X-Cube Boots
Manufacturer: TCX Boots List Price: $129.99
Colors: Black. Made In: China
Sizes: 36-48 Euro. Rating: Four Star Rating
Review Date: September 2012

Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC since 2000. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld© Site Info page. Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

Your Comments and Feedback

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Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details).  Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.

From "S.E." (October 2012): "I have some positive feedback/comments on the TCX X-Cube boots. I have had a pair of the waterproof variety for over 2 years now. Like you, I didnít even know there was an "Air" version.

However, when it is time to replace mine, I will again go with the waterproof variety. I live in Houston, Texas where the summer temps often top 100 but they arenít any hotter than any other shoes I wear. I wear mine year-round adding a second pair of socks for the colder months. Since I ride rain or shine, I like it knowing that even if I get caught in the rain, my feet will stay dry. Iíve ridden in a driving rain in full rain gear but with the X-Cubes uncovered and my feet were probably the driest part of my body!

Regarding the thin soles, I have been very surprised at the life I have gotten out of mine since I wear them about 10-12 hours a day, 4-5 days a week. They have lasted tens of thousands of miles on the pegs, and probably several thousand miles walking around as well.

One item I did notice when I got them was that they seemed rather narrow for TCX boots. My track boots are the Competizione RS model and I like them since they seem wider than brands such as Sidi. But when I got the X-Cubes, they seemed very tight and narrow even though I got the same size as my Competiziones. In fact I almost sent them back but instead wore them around the house for a day or 2 and they loosened up nicely."


From "D.G." (October 2012): "I bought a pair of these boots about a year ago, perhaps longer. I absolutely love these boots. They are comfortable to wear all day at the office, work well on the bike, have great protection, and are well built. I think that these are more comfortable than my Danner Hiking boots.

Only downside for me is that they look like wrestling shoes or Elf boots and the TCX label is very obvious. I truly believe that these are the best boot for the money out there for all around riding purposes. Not sure if I would take them adventure touring but for street touring and commuting. Buy them!"


From "Y.L." (September 2012): "I have the Air version, going on four years now, and your review covers everything I liked, though a few of the pans I didn't notice as these were my first pair.

They are workable walking shoes for short distances with the extra flexibility in the sole, though I release the leather strap pretty often. Quite durable and gives a better feeling of security than the short-boot version, X-Square, that I also have. Well, durable given they are only used for commuting. Definitely great boots for the money. Thanks for the review."

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