TCX Pro 2 boots - The right tools for the job
I settled on the TCX Pro 2 off-road boot as the one for me.
You may have heard of, or seen boots and other bike clothing with the brand name Oxtar; the company were forced to change their name to TCX in 2007, but remain the same - same continually improving R&D, same great manufacturer.
My reasons for settling on them as a choice came down to two things, protection and aesthetics.
I wanted a pair of boots that would offer me optimum protection and help to avoid or lessen any further foot/ leg injuries and a pair that looked good.
I was relatively lightly injured and do not want to anything worse to happen as it so easily can, so I wanted to get the best protection possible and if I were getting a road bike, would possibly have considered boots which offer comparable high end protection as the Pro 2. As it is, I went for the off-road style boots that have served me very well over the three and a half months I have had the boots on test.
The boots are CE certified, just like good body armour is. This means that they must meet particular standards to be sold as protective gear in Europe.
All products bearing the CE marking have undergone tests and the mark is only issued by an accredited laboratory to products that pass stringent resistance tests performed on products to guarantee the end user the very best protection.
As well as the tough materials the boot is made of, the Pro 2s include TCX's Torsion Control System for further protection which allows movement of the ankle, but prevents torsion and twisting beyond natural limits and is supposed to prtect the joint from possible injuries.
Opening the box It is always a pleasure to open a new box of footwear - the smell and look of the unworn shoes is truely a sight to behold. I thought I should take some photos of the boots before they got bashed up - they should be displayed in the accompanying gallery.
You must remove the inner boots and put them on before putting on the Pro 2s. It is sometimes easier to remove the inner boot when it's on your foot than having to pull it out afterwards, there is a thoughtfully placed, small section of leather in the heel cup of the inner boot which holds your heel in place and makes this job easier.
As a matter of course with bike boots, I add a new set of odour controlling insoles and use an anti bacterial foot spray inside the boots directly after removing them; this helps to avoid the nasty side effects of putting your feet in such a tight, enclosed space for a long period of time and keeps them fresher for longer.
I wore them for ten minutes around the house to get used to the sensation and then on the bike for a very short blast. Directly afterwards, I used my very good quality road boots (from a famous Italian brand) and they instantly felt far less secure and loose/ ill fitting in comparison with the TCX Pro 2 boots. It was a similar feeling that I felt when upgrading from normal street boots to biking boots for the first time or when upragding from my first bike boots to the higher quality brand that I now have.
Part of that will be the fact that my (now old-ish) road boots have worn in considerably, and the same thing will happen with the Pro 2s, although, if I upgrade from these at any time in the future, I doubt the difference in feeling of security will be much.
Un/Fastening the bootsAfter having them for a couple of months, I have found the knack of adjusting the buckle straps, which at first was a little difficult. This only goes to show that once adjusted, they don't move and will stay secure.
Adjusting the straps is done with a 'ratchet' type system. Pushing the strap to a angle close to 70º or so and then pulling or pushing and returning to flat/ 0º allows the proper length to be found.
The aluminium buckles fasten into plastic 'housings' which are bolted to the boots. If any of the parts become damaged, they are replaceable separately, meaning you will still have a working pair of boots rather than have to buy a new pair or send them away for repairs.
Of course, the straps need adjusting depending on your choice of trousers/ shin armour (which affects the 'width' of your calves); if you always wear the same clothes with the boots, there should be no need.
All spares are easily available from the distributors at www.nevism.co.uk.
I must say, although I feel that they have worn in somewhat, they don't feel 'loose' at all. One thing I had hoped would change though, was the noise they make! The squeaking of plastic against plastic is very loud and I would advise removing the boots before coming home late at night (unless you want to advertise the fact).
Off road, on track(s)I had the opportunity to try the boots out in a few of the situations for which they were primarily made - Green Laning being the first.
As it was my first time, and I was taking it a little too fast sometimes (trying to keep up), I inevitably 'dropped' the bike a bike times, once or twice I even went swimming by accident. The boots held up well splashing through puddles, and being bashed against tree roots, but when your legs are completely submerged, there's no footwear on earth that will keep you 100% dry.
The fact that the soft inner boots are separate was a bonus here, as I could wash and dry them aside from the main boots - a much easier job than having to worry about lots of newspaper and hair dryers.
My next test of the boots came on a supermoto track day at Anglia Karting in Swaffham, Norfolk.
It was a great day all round with beautiful weather and no bike problems to speak of. This left me to (try to) concentrate more on my riding.
The TCX boots held up perfectly well as I scraped them along the track getting my foot down in an effort to maintain balance and judge lean on my supermoto. Although I am inexperienced at this and so am not a total foot down god, the boots were far less worn that I had expected them to be.
The Pro 2s also came into their own on a 'Learn to Motocross' day I tried.
Luckily, the track was dry rather than muddy, and it was relatively hard. There was still a lot of dust, but there were no conditions that the Pro 2s couldn't handle.
One test did come during the last session when I took a corner over enthusiastically and went over the edge of the berm and was thrown over the bars head over heals. My right ankle took a bit of a hit (temporary pain) and I got the feeling I scraped my shin on the bars as I flew over. However, this scratch on my leg is higher than the boots, so no worries there.
I walked away, feeling even more the conquering hero because I was able to do so!
These one are keepers!
I have thouroughly enjoyed wearing the TCX Pro 2 boots - they have more than served their purpose as very protective, comfortable (if a little noisy) off-road/ supermoto boots and If they gave a little more feedback, I would even consider using them to commute in!
With the availablility of spares and resoling a possibility, I can see these ones lasting me a long time.
Yes, they're a bit noisy; yes there is a reduced amount of movement, but sacrifices must be made with off road boots that have this level of protection. I feel a great sense of confidence especially on the KTM, which simply just isn't there when wearing my regular bike boots.
In an ideal world, we choose the right tool for the right job, and while the TCX Pro 2 boots might hold you back when whizzing round Brands Indy on an R6, that is not their intended use. If you want top notch protection when you're 'roughing' it off road or require the peace of mind that the protection gives you at any time (and look great while doing so), these are the boots for you!
They willl be staying my toolbox for sure!
TCX website - http://www.tcxboots.com/eng/ (requires Flash)