By Frank Melling, Contributing Editor

Possibly the best value in racing boots

The Alpinestars S-MX 5 boots remind me very much of a girl I used to know. She had the extreme misfortune to be one of three children in a family of very high achievers. Her brother was training to be a doctor and could have been a professional soccer player, while her sister was a gifted artist and ballet dancer. Dad was a high flyer in business and mum a world-respected art restorer.

Then there was Nancy, who was intelligent and pretty and had an utterly lovely personality. In fact, you couldn’t have asked for a better person to fall in love with – which I did until her dad intervened in a serious, relationship-terminating way.

The problem with the S-MX 5 boots is that they are the “Nancy” of Alpinestars’ footwear range. The flagship boots in the range are the Casey Stoner blessed “Supertech R” and then there are the S-MX Plus and, finally, tucked away in the corner and almost out of sight, are the S-MX 5s.

This is a shame because, like Nancy, they have much to offer. I love the boots, and they are both safe and comfortable for racing and road riding. I had a big accident while wearing the S-MX 5s, and other than being worn away – not a surprise sliding down the track at speed – they were completely unscathed, and I was unhurt.

The plastic protection on the ankle is very much a “use once and dispose” fitting, but it does work – once at least.

The reason for the good performance is clear. The heel area of the boot is extremely stiff and, as one would expect with an Alpinestars’ product, is very well designed. Therefore the protection is excellent while still providing great movement heel to toe.

I also like the fact that they are easy to put on, having a very wide throat. Combined with the ease of access is a thoroughly excellent, serrated fastening system that allows the boot to be tightened really firmly around race leathers. Having the boot tight has a dual benefit. First, it makes for more comfort on a race bike, where the throat of the boot is often facing forward and into the wind. Second, it is much safer because the boot remains firmly located around the rider’s foot.

The boots are also very comfortable. They are well vented, and the microfiber inner lining really does work in terms of avoiding uncomfortably sweaty feet.

So, as with Nancy, who was not at the top of her family, I have fallen in love with the S-MX 5 boots. They the biggest bargain in the motorcycle clothing world.

As an addendum to this review, I want to mention the Alpinestars magnesium toe sliders. The S-MX boots, along with all other Alpinestars boots, come with plastic toe sliders. These are purely and utterly decorative, and you would need a very accurate stopwatch to measure their life expectancy if they ever touch tarmac – they are that bad!

The answer is to fit Alpinestars magnesium toe sliders, which really are the business. I get quite cross when I read comments that the toe sliders can’t be easily fitted to the boots or come off in use. Both these statements are utter and complete rubbish.

A new pair of sliders can be fitted in under a minute, and I know from experience – when I cunningly forget to bring a spare set of sliders to a two-day race – that they can be worn down to a sliver without a problem.

Even in full-on racing they never come loose nor, with any normal use, can the retaining loop be damaged. This is fact.

The feel they give is excellent too. As the slider touches down, there is a good, gentle feedback that your foot is on the floor but no grabbing. Very useful, very practical and essential for racing and track days or for looking cool if you ride on the road.