Our new fascination with less-than-full-height motorcycle boots has led us to the Roadgear TDF, a relatively new product in the Roadgear lineup.
I’m not sure that “short” is the best way to describe this type of motorcycle boot, but “height inhibited”, “ankle height” or “less than full height” don’t cut it, so I’ll stick to “short”.
The Roadgear TDF boots are about 3/4-size; that is, they’re about 75 to 80 percent of the height of a “normal” pair of motorcycle boots.
We discovered that shorter boots work nicely with motorcycle jeans or touring pants and our favorite short boot is the Kochmann Scout, although the Scout is so different than the TDF that it’s not really comparable.
The closest competitor to the Roadgear TDF is probably the Setup Pegaso short boots we reviewed a while back. The Pegaso boots are about the same height and offer about the same level of protection, although Roadgear has included a couple of extra goodies on the inside of the TDF boots.
The TDF boots use the Outlast “phase change” material in the lining. Outlast is claimed to “continuously interact with the unique microclimate of the human body and the environment to moderate temperature from being too hot or too cold to being just right”, according to the manufacturer. In other words, it’s supposed to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.
I’ve used a couple of different garments that incorporated Outlast, and I’m not as convinced. I have noticed that my feet feel warmer than I think they should when I’ve worn the TDF boots in anything but cool weather.
But that warm feeling may also be attributable to the waterproof lining in the TDF boots. I haven’t had much luck with the so-called “breathable” waterproof linings in much of the gear that I’ve worn, because the products don’t seem to breathe the way the manufacturers claim that they should. The lining in the TDF boots isn’t thick, so I don’t think that’s the problem, and the material has a nice “hand”, or feel, but the boots just seem to make my feeet warmer than I’d like.
Roadgear also uses an additional “Aerotex” liner in the TDF boots, which is claimed to be waterproof, breathable and windproof. The seams are taped, so the TDF boots should be completely waterproof, but I can’t confirm this as I haven’t worn them in a strong enough downpour and I haven’t given them the bathtub immersion test either.
Probably the most unique feature of the TDF boots is the way that they open and close. The boots use a single zipper along the outside of the boot, with a membrane underneath to help maintain the waterproofing integrity.
But where you would expect to have a single rearward facing flap to cover the zipper and keep out most of the water, the TDF boots use a top-mounted dual closing arrangement. The upper portion of the front of the boot rotates forward to ease entry of the foot. This top section has two elastic tabs on either side that are pulled back to close the top of the boot. The tabs have the “loop” section of the hook-and-loop fastener sewn to the inside and they attach to a corresponding “hook” section of material, located towards the back of the boot near the top.
It sounds more complicated than it is, and hopefully the photos below will serve as a good illustration. However, I’m not very thrilled with this design for a couple of reasons. The 1″ Velcro patch limits the adjustability of the closing system, which sort of defeats the purpose of having the tabs made from elastic.
I think it might have been better if there was a much longer section of the “hook” part of the Velcro on the side of the boot, which would then allow the “loop” part on the elastic tab to be stretched to plunk it wherever it would be most comfortable for the rider and in a position that could snug the boot up as desired.
The other problem is that one of the two elastic tabs that close the boot is located on the outside of the leg. Other than serving to make the design symmetrical, it doesn’t seem to add much to the support or the security of the closure. This outside tab also uses a too-short section of “hook” on the side of the boot, limiting the placement of the “loop” part on the tab, which then also limits the amount of adjustment in the top of the boot.
The TDF boots include a 2″ diameter section of hard armor sewn inside the leather on either side of the ankle for protection. But the design of the boots means that the armor is sewn into the movable flap, rather than into the body of the boot.
I’m concerned that the elastic tabs have limited holding power, due to the short lengths of hook-and-loop. And if the tabs come loose in a crash, the armor, which is attached to the tabs, may not protect the rider’s ankle as intended.
I think the bottom line here is that although the TDF boots look good, the design may be just a bit too clever for its own good.
Other than that, the boots are well made, with good quality stitching. About half of the stitching is single row and the other half is double row. The toes and heel cup feel relatively hard, so they should offer good protection. There’s a nice, big toe patch on each boot to protect against shift wear.
And the soles are rugged and relatively sticky. Sticky is good, as it helps the rider keep traction when paddling the bike around or when holding the bike upright at a stop sign or stop light, especially when the road is wet or oily. Sticky also helps when the rider is off the bike, and the TDF boots are comfortable to wear and for limited walking.
Each TDF boot also has a nice, big patch of Scotchlite reflector in the rear, and they really light up at night when illuminated by headlights.
I can understand why some motorcyclists may feel that full-height motorcycle boots are too confining. But many motorcyclists want to wear boots made specifically for motorcycling and they want the look that a “normal” full-height motorcycle boot provides.
If so, the Roadgear TDF may be for them. It would probably make a good touring boot and although it is less confining than a full-length boot, I’m not convinced that the unique design really advances the state of the art.