Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a longer-term review report on the Sidi Vertigo boots by Dave Young.
Dave will be using the boots during track days this summer and will report back with his thoughts and opinions on these boots, which are probably one of the most popular motorcycle racing boots available.
The boots were purchased using a combination of the voluntary “Support the Sport” check-off box for webBikeWorld visitors who have made purchases of motorcycle clothing and accessories at New Enough. The remainder of the cost was graciously donated by New Enough for this article.
Before I opened the box for these new track and racing oriented boots, I was not sure what to expect. I had seen pictures of the Vertigo boots and I have some friends who wear the older model Sidi Vertebra boots, but I had no first hand experience with the brand.
I have witnessed Sidi boots go through some awful get-offs and come out beat up and looking pretty mangled, but none of the wearers had any foot or ankle injuries afterwards. You can’t have a much better endorsement than that!
The one complaint I have heard leveled against the Vertebra model was the noise they make when the owner is simply walking around; you can always hear a pair of Sidi Vertebra boots coming from the squeaking of the overlapping plastic plates used to protect the ankle and shin rubbing together.
Well, this doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Vertigo boots. While they have a more conventional appearance than the Vertebra, the Vertigo boots do not appear to be any less protective.
As you can see from the photos, they have very hard plastic protective plates over the shin; over the inside and outside of the ankle bones; the calf area; and the Achilles tendon and heel.
All of these plates are easily replaceable with the removal of standard Phillips head screws.
The boots also have the typical replaceable toe sliders and shifter patch, in addition to a hard toe case. The two features that make these boots standout however is the calf adjustment method and vent system.
The vent is similar in layout to an old pair of AGV boots that I have owned for many years. The vent is on the outside of each boot about midway between the toes and heel.
The plastic protrudes outward, giving a sort of ram air effect, but there is no exhaust vent for the air flow so I believe the cooling effect will be minimal. Time will tell, and I’ll report back after some nice, hot summer track days.
The big advantage of the Sidi boots over my old AGV boots is that the vents on the Sidi can be opened and closed by sliding a button either forward or backward.
With the AGV boots, I needed to remove four plugs which theoretically should be placed somewhere safe, only to never be seen again.
As for the calf adjustment, I must admit to being a bit skeptical. The system works with a small knob attached to an internal reel on a plastic plate protecting the back of the leg.
With the push of a button directly under the knob, the entire protective plate hinges backwards expanding the size of the boot opening. Once pulled all the way back, the foot is inserted, the side entry zipper is fastened, the “hook and loop” flap over the zipper is closed (to keep it from opening or scratching the bike), and then a knob must be turned to tighten the calf plate.
This works by having the reel pulling on what appears to be to loops of heavy gauge fishing line attached on either side of the boot forward of the plate.
The weak link appears to be with the strength of these plastic lines. While I believe the protective structure would remain intact should the lines break in a crash, this seems to be designed more as way to differentiate themselves from other manufacturers boots than as a sound way to make the boots adjust more readily to different sizes legs.
With regards to fit, the boots seem to run very close to the Sidi sizing chart. I normally wear an 11 shoe and the European size 46 fits me well, which is correct, according to the chart.
I am also making good use of the calf adjustment as I have rather large calves and once my leathers are tucked inside the boot, I am able to close the rear plate about halfway.
The only issue arose because of my leather suit. The Dainese leathers I wear have a built in hard protective shin guard that runs all the way from the knee cup to within a couple inches of my ankle. This makes it very difficult to close the zipper at the flex-joint of the ankle.
The calf adjustment on the Sidi Vertigo does not reach down that far on the boot and thus the tight fit. This could be an issue when walking but is much less so when the ankle is bent up while on the foot peg. Once I have put in some break-in mileage I will be able to report further on this issue.
Overall, I am quite impressed with the build quality and the safety features. Once I have a chance to wear them on a bike instead of just in my living room, I will report back on their functionality. Hopefully, I will not be testing the safety features first hand (fingers crossed!!!)
I’ve been able to put some miles on these boots over the summer. After a full season of track days, I can say with confidence that you are not likely to want to use them on the street.
While not uncomfortable, they are extremely stiff both in the foot casing as well as the ankle and leg. The protective elements built in to the boots for track use are the main reason for this. While short walks around the paddock, restrooms, etc., are more than tolerable, for extended periods, they tend to rub around the ankles and against the calves.
For those riders who are more concerned about protection on the street and who will spend most of their time on the bike, or for those who ride with their pants legs tucked into the boots, then this should not be an issue. However, Sidi makes several other styles of boots that are much more street oriented and thus more suitable to this purpose, in my opinion.
As noted previously, I was primarily interested in a boot for the track and when used in this situation, you would be hard pressed to find a better product.
While I will make many sacrifices and go to great lengths to keep you informed, dear reader, crash testing this product is not one of them. Sorry! But I have no doubt that with the safety features previously discussed, my feet, ankle and legs are protected by state-of-the-art technology.
What I can speak to is how well they worked while on the bike and I believe the highest compliment I can give them is that the only time I thought about them was when I was on a long straight traveling in excess of 100mph. The reason that I noticed them at all is because the higher the speed, the greater the amount of air that moved through the vents.
These vents are much more noticeable than my old AGV vented boots with the added benefit of built-in slides to close them off in cold or wet weather (neither of which I experienced this season). I did drag the sliders several times with minimal effect to them and none to the recessed attachment screws.
I also did not need to worry about the adjustable calf feature. The plastic cables used to tighten the hard plastic held up fine and showed no sign of stress.
Once I set it to fit over my legs and leathers, no further fiddling was necessary. While I have the opposite problem, this adjustment would be a boon for someone who has small calves or wants to wear their leathers on the outside of the boot as it ensures a proper fit with no worry of the leg and foot pulling fully or slightly out of the boot.
The only issue I had with the boots was not the fault of the boot at all but of the bike. When hanging off the left side of the bike, the inside of the right heel would rest against the exhaust pipe of my 916 even with the stock pipe protector in place. This caused the plastic on the boot to partially melt. Wrapping the exhaust pipe with some heat wrap solved this issue.
Overall, I am very pleased with the Sidi Vertigo boots. They offer state of the art protection with the ability to fine tune the size of the boot to the foot. In conjunction with the ventilation, this serves to eliminate comfort issues that might otherwise distract the rider from the task at hand…riding a motorcycle…quickly and safely. What more could you ask?