Vendramini makes some very interesting motorcycle boots, no doubt about it. If you need proof, just take a look at the Vendramini “Desert Alp” Elephant boots shown here.
But maybe “interesting” isn’t the right word. How about unique? Over the top? Yes, I think that’s getting closer…
If you want more proof of Vendramini’s whimsy, check out the Vendramini Aero boots we reviewed a while back. Although that style has since been discontinued, you can still find a pair or two for sale on the Vendramini website.
The Vendrami distributor in the U.S. is BikerWorld USA, and they sent us this pair of Vendramini Elephant boots for evaluation along with a note telling us that the Elephant will soon be available for sale in the U.S.A.
Unfortunately, I don’t have many more details on these cool-looking boots. I’m hoping to catch up with the Vendramini reps at the upcoming Dealer Expo in Indianapolis to learn more. I’m guessing that they’re waiting for this year’s Expo to make the formal announcement about the availability of the boots in the U.S. market.
In the meantime, I thought that you might be interested in seeing some of these photographs and our first impressions.
The Vendramini Elephant boots are based on the existing Vendramini “Desert Alp” boots (photo below) which have been in the Vendramini lineup for some time. The plain leather Desert Alp, the Desert Alp Elephant and the Vendramini Tuareg boots constitute the “All-Road” line of Vendramini boots.
Vendramini has grown from a small boutique manufacturer selling a couple of different types of boots to a worldwide concern with seven distinct boot categories: Race, Touring, Metropolitan, Classic Metro, Custom, All-Road and Off-Road. They also sell a line of motorcycle gloves.
I’m not sure if it’s fair to compare a company like Vendramini with some of the other motorcycle boot manufacturers who mass-produce products that compete on price. Vendramini boots are aimed at a more discriminating rider who is looking for near-custom-made quality and style and is willing to pay for it.
Although I’m sure Vendramini uses modern tooling is used to manufacture the boots, I also know that there’s a lot of hand work involved, especially on the Elephant boots, and Vendramini claims that each boot they make is at least hand inspected and tested.
The Vendramini Italy website also claims that all boots are guaranteed for two years (although the BikerWorld USA site doesn’t confirm this). The Elephant and most of the other Vendramini boots also meet the p.r.E.N. 13634 European standards for safety gear.
Other than the “Elephant” (look) leather, the Vendramini Elephant boots are apparently identical to the standard Vendramini Desert Alp plain leather boots. Oh, and by the way: for the record, there is one thing that should be very obvious but I’ll state it anyway. Vendramini Elephant boots are not made from Elephant leather. They’re made from plain old cowhide and although I’m sure Bos taurus would disagree with Vendramini’s strategy, Elephantidae have no problem at all with that.
The leather has been processed to look and feel like tough old Elephant hide. Or at least I think it looks like tough old Elephant hide. Since the only Elephants I’ve ever seen were behind bars and I’ve never had the opportunity to touch one, I’ll have to take Vendramini’s word for it.
These are big, tough boots. Each size 44 (Euro) weighs in at 1520 grams (3 lbs., 5-5/8 oz.). For reference, that’s about as much as a mid-weight motorcycle helmet. Vendramini says that the Elephants are perfect for “90% on-road and 90% off-road”. What I think they mean is that the Elephants are a pretty good all-around boot.
I’d have to agree, as long as you can get over the styling, the size and the weight. They don’t work very well on a sportbike, I can tell you that, but they’re perfect on the old KLR650 I borrowed from my neighbor for a couple of runs. The KLR seems to have the seat-to-peg length that allows the Elephant boots to remain nice and stretched out when riding.
They’re also very comfortable, once you get them on. The size 44’s fit me just the way I like ’em from the ankle down. They’re very snug, which gives me confidence that they’ll stay on my foot.
The Elephant boots are not without some caveats though. I have what I think are pretty slim calves; measured 6″ down from the center of my kneecap (38mm), my calve measure about 15.5″ in diameter (113.5mm). But the upper part of the boots do not open very wide — I measured a fully closed boot (with the outer flap closed to match the Velcro) at about 122mm, or 12″ at its smallest, and about 16″ at the widest.
This means that you’d have to have a 12″ diameter calf for the boots to completely close and if your calves are more than about 16″ in diameter, the boots may not fit.
Look at this photo below; the top flap is already closed only about half-way on my 15.5″ calves. I saw one photo of a rather large sized Vendramini test rider and the boots looked like they were just barely hanging on, so this may be a problem for those with large or stout legs.
You’ll also notice in this photo that the top buckle seems to be binding as it’s pulling on the front of the boot.. This is the most serious flaw with the Elephant boots and, I suspect, the plain Desert Alp also.
The top strap is attached to the front of the boot in a fixed position, while the buckle itself can be rotated. This is exactly opposite of the way it should be; the strap should be on some type of boss so that it can be rotated to align with the buckle. The bottom strap aligns without problems, but as soon as the boot starts to open, the top strap gets out of alignment with the buckle. It’s a real struggle to get the upper strap lined up with the buckle and then to ratchet it tight.
Here’s another photo of me wearing the boots that illustrates this problem. Note the orientation of the upper strap (orange arrow) and the amount of Velcro left on the side of the boot. It’s about 90 degrees from where it should be, so when I pull it down to align with the buckle, the leather in the front of the boot gets tight and binds up:
I wrote to Vendramini about this but have not received a response. I’m hoping that perhaps my pair of Elephants is a prototype and this will be fixed on the production version? Or maybe the problem will diminish as the boots get broken in?
I do believe that the boots need a much wider range of upper adjustment and I think the strap problem could be fixed by simply attaching the strap on to the boot on some type of rotating rivet or boss.
The buckles, by the way, are similar to those used on the Vendramini Marathon Boots we reviewed a couple of years ago. The buckle is actually a ratchet that is used to tighten up the straps once they’re inserted. The other side of the buckle releases the strap so the boots can be removed.
Once I get them on and strapped up, the Elephant boots are very comfortable and they feel like they offer about the maximum amount of protection anyone could want from a motorcycle boot. Believe it or not, walking in them isn’t difficult either. The leather is thick but relatively supple and the best part is the thick rubber soles. They feel like they’ll last forever and the sticky rubber is confidence inspiring when pushing around a tall bike like the KLR650.
Vendramini has an assortment of parts for the Elephant and plain Desert Alp boots also. The soles are stitched to the boots and are replaceable, unlike most other motorcycle boots. This Vendramini photo illustrates some of the options:
The toes of the Elephant boots are covered with some type of metal protectors, just like motocross boots. Also, the boots feature polyurethane coated leather; a V-Tex waterproof membrane; Outlast phase-change fabric (which is supposed to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter); removable insole; and crush resistance or armor for the instep, ankle, toe, heel and tibia.
Those steel-look sections on the boot are hard armor and there’s a round armor plate sewn into the leather over the ankle on the inside. The boots also have a padded elastic surround at the top to help prevent moisture and dirt from intruding.
It’s my understanding that the Vendramini Desert Alp Elephant boots are available in sizes 36 to 51 (Euro), which is actually a very wide range. See the wBWMotorcycle Clothing Sizing Charts for information on size conversions.
OK, now I want you to find a nice, comfortable seat. Turn on XM channel 77 (Audio Visions) and take a nice, deep breath through your nose and slowly let it out of your mouth.
Are you ready?
The Vendramini Elephants carry a list price of 399 €. At the current mercenary exchange rates, that’s about $517.00. But count in shipping and handling, and expect to pay around 600 Georges for a pair.
The Vendramini Elephant boots are outrageously cool, they’re built like a brick Kremlin and they walk the walk. I sure hope Vendramini at least fixes the strap problem and hopefully opens up the tops a bit. But who said motorcycling was logical? If you want the coolest looking adventure boots on the planet to go with that HP2, look no farther.
Close-up of hand-fitted replaceable toe protector.
Product Review: Vendramini Desert Alp Elephant Boots