If there is one thing I enjoy about writing & reviewing products, it’s the opportunity afforded to me to try out products and report the results back to you, our biker audience. In this case, HARLEY-DAVIDSON FOOTWEAR sent me 3 pairs of boots many months ago. Continue reading IRON TRADER NEWS HAS PUT HARLEY-DAVIDSON FOOTWEAR TO TEST, AND THE WINNER IS…
By Leah Misch: Photos compliments of S&S cycle.
After literally wearing a hole through my last pair of riding boots, I decided to check out Harley-Davidson Footwear’s Performance Line for a durable riding boot with a feminine edge.
My focus as a motorcyclist laying down some serious miles across the United States is safety. I remember seeing a cute pair of Jana boots in the H-D Footwear catalog listed as ‘performance boots.’
I thought, wait, shouldn’t it be listed as ‘lifestyle boot?’ They’re too cute to be listed as actual riding boots in their Performance Line and not just for casual wear.
I wanted to make sure these fashionable ‘performance’ boots would be safe to wear for riding; so, I called H-D Footwear’s customer service line. I asked about this infamous slip-resistant rubber outsole with Goodyear welt construction and based on what I learned I decided to give them a try.
Honestly, I was still skeptical wondering about the mechanics behind a rubber grip shoe offering ‘maximum grip’ until I actually experienced the Goodyear welt construction sole. They are tough enough to hold up in rain yet still comfortable to walk around in at rallies after a long day of riding. Not only that, but they were cute with a little bit of a sexy heel that bring a fun rhythm of respect, turning the heads of motorcyclists I encountered on the road.
Function and fashion…. Finally, what I was looking for! I loved my Jana boots so much that I opted to try out another pair from H-D Footwear. The ‘Heights’ offered the same slip resistant outsole with Goodyear welt construction with a little bit of a heel, but were more forgiving in the summer heat.
I’m on a mission to see if I can wear a hole through either of these functional and fashionable riding boots, but so far they are holding out strong! See the entire line at harley-davidsonfootwear.com.
Feet So Happy You’ll Wanna Dance!
H-D Footwear has bikers covered in all situations with boots and shoes that boldly represent a riding life. But as the riding season revs up across the country, we’re all about practicality and comfort. That means turning to H-D Footwear’s Performance Line, a group of riding boots for men and women that address the demands of riders by focusing on durability and safety.
The new Parkwood for men combines lightweight materials, including breathable mesh, with cement construction and a slip-resistant rubber outsole that defends against oil and abrasion. It’s a classic six-inch lace up that provides ankle protection plus flexibility.
The pragmatic Berkner for women is a low-cut black leather boot with a 1.5” heel, mesh lining and cushioned top. But is doesn’t skim on style, featuring abrasion-resistant overlays, silver-tone details and copious H-D branding—plus solid, Goodyear welt construction.
Any boot feels better with comfortable socks and H-D Footwear has a selection of them, including CoolMax designs with details that make a difference—such as moisture-wicking technology and cushioning. It’s a fact: happy feet make the ride better!
Find your nearest dealer and see the entire line at harley-davidsonfootwear.com. They’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too.
Story and photos by M. Stemp, Photos compliments of Rhonda Waters, Kellie Huisenga and Michael Kinzler
Racers know that less weight equals more horsepower, and more horsepower translates to increased speed. The fastest rider wins, right? That’s why the weight of a steel shoe is important to flattrackers, explains Gary Kinzler, owner of LightShoe, a company that makes one-off, handcrafted steel shoes for flat track racers.
What’s a steel shoe? Explains Kinzler, “A hot shoe, steel shoe, or skid shoe as it has been called, is a metal ‘slipper’ that fits over the racer’s left boot. It is usually held on by a strap or screwed into the heel of the boot. It allows the rider to put their foot down while sliding through corners.”
Making steel shoes is an unusual business, one with more nuances than you might expect, and Kinzler is one of very few people with expertise in this super-specialized area. But with the increase in popularity of Hooligan Racing and American Flat Track’s pro series, Kinzler‘s talents might be poised for an imminent bump in demand.
Kinzler learned to make steel shoes by necessity – and by trial and error. He raced when he was younger and, like most amateurs, flew on fumes. “I didn’t have enough money to buy a steel shoe when I needed one so I had to learn to make one. I learned to weld from my dad.” But he wasn’t long for the track; once he started breaking bones he looked for another way to participate.
Things ramped up when his two sons started racing and he thought steel shoe fabrication might be a way to finance the family race efforts. This led to plenty of experimentation with materials and designs.
Early in his learning curve Kinzler searched out racers to sponsor and that’s how he met Joe Kopp. Kopp said he’d get leg cramps from wearing a heavy steel shoe. “Cramping up going into a corner at 120 mph? That’s the worst case scenario,” said Kinzler. So he started making lighter weight aluminum shoes for Kopp but they wouldn’t last. He tried for four or five years to make aluminum work but the matrix simply wasn’t strong enough.
During his experimentation years he saw his shoes fail over and over. “It was so demoralizing. I couldn’t sell something that failed so I quit making them,” he said. Then in 2002, he talked to some racers—in particular, Chris Carr—who said they needed him to start making steel shoes again.
So he re-thought the traditional three-piece design of sole, toe and heel. That thick bottom provided strength but it was heavy. Gary’s re-design with a one-piece sole emphasizes structural integrity and eliminates weak points. It’s stronger and lighter. “It’s like the uni-body on a car: the body is the frame and it’s strong structurally from the start,” he explained.
His fabrication process goes like this: the sole is plasma cut from sheet steel then the LightShoe logo and serial number are stamped in. (Yes, each one is numbered; Kinzler is over 2220 now.) He shapes and grinds the sole to correctly fit the bottom of the racer’s boot then tack welds the toe in place, followed by bead-blasting and hard-surfacing, braising nickel over steel. The hot shoe is held on with a strap.
He’ll tell you that the best steel shoes incorporate the optimal combination of design, materials and construction – and as hard as he’s worked toward reaching that goal he’s still making improvements. And he still asks racers to test his shoes.
Many factors can affect a steel shoe’s longevity: track surface, shape of the track, the racer’s style and how often the foot touches down. Resurfacing and repair work are frequent requests and as a one-time racer himself Kinzler knows that proper fit goes to safety, too. “If your steel shoe comes off, the race is over,” he said.
But as much as he concentrates on product quality, Kinzer believes LightShoe’s competitive advantage is customer service. “You have to cater to the customer and stand behind the product. If something’s wrong, we address it!” LightShoe steel shoes sell for $275, including shipping, and come with a one-year guarantee.
Look for LightShoe’s converted Bluebird school bus at races where Kinzler works on the spot. As many race teams have learned, it’s handy to have a competent welder nearby. From Kinzler’s POV, he’s glad to help when called upon. He donates to fund raisers and tries to stay involved when there’s a need in the flattrack community. “Sure, it’s good visibility, but you give not with the expectation of getting something back but because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Kinzler has lived in Sturgis since he was a child—his dad was a Jack Pine Gypsy—and he’s pleased to see dirt track races happening at the Buffalo Chip in 2017. The Chip’s new TT track, which includes right hand turns, is especially cool. Why? Well, for one thing: Maybe racers will need a hot shoe on the other foot, too!
For some interesting hot shoe history, go here: http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/bikesinthedirt/chapter4/
Rockford, MI – December 20, 2016 – Bates Footwear’s highly anticipated Bomber riding boot is now in stock and available online and through select powersports dealers. The Bomber is 100% sourced and manufactured in the United States, and offers motorcyclists premium performance, protection and all-day comfort both on and off the bike.
The Bates product design team drew inspiration from the company’s military heritage, incorporating motorcycle-specific features and materials into their tried and true military boot platform. The result is a sturdy yet comfortable 9-inch riding boot that features water-resistant leather and nylon uppers with a rugged Vibram® outsole. Poron XRD® impact foam in both side panels offers ankle protection while leather toe shift reinforcements ensure longevity.
The Bomber riding boot was designed to pay tribute to Bates Footwear’s American Military heritage. Embossed stars on the heel represent the five branches of the United States military, while the red welt stitching along the top of the sole symbolizes those who sacrificed for our freedoms. The embossed Made in the USA emblem on the tongue signifies that these boots are 100% sourced in the United States and manufactured in the Wolverine Worldwide factory in Big Rapids, Michigan. In accordance with US Army Regulation, the American flag on the outside of the right boot is shown with the field of stars facing forward to symbolize the flag being carried into battle.
- Water-Resistant Leather & Nylon
- Dri-Lex® Lining
- Leather Heel Pull
- Leather Toe Shift Reinforcement
- Poron XRD® Side Impact Foam
- Vibram® Rubber Lug Outsole
- Leather Welt Construction
- Made in the USA
- Available in Black/Camo or Brown
- Leather made in Vicksburg, MS
- Upper Nylon made in New York, NY
- Laces made in Cumberland, RI
- Lacing Hardware made in Stoughton, MA
- Thread made in Mt. Holly, NC
- Inside Lining made in Weymouth, MA
- Cushion Insert made in Wadsworth, OH
- Insole made in Hampton, NH
- Midsole and Outsole made in Concord, MA
- Assembled in Big Rapids, MI
The Bates Footwear Bomber motorcycle boot is in stock and available online and through select powersports dealers. Learn more about the Bates Footwear PowerSports Line at www.BatesFootwear.com, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.