Fitting boots for any kind of riding

Since receiving a pair of black Sidi Cobra boots way back in February, I’ve put them through just about every kind of riding that could sensibly be done with footwear of this type. The boots have seen hundreds of road miles, been around three different race tracks and got caked in dirt during two days at Rich Oliver’s Mystery School. In light of such abuses, the Cobras performed exceptionally well and, remarkably, have plenty of life left in them before retirement.

At $260, the Cobras are midpack in terms of Sidi’s sport boot offerings. They aren’t extremely high-tech and don’t offer the level of protection afforded by a other boots in the company’s line, such as the Mag-1 or Vortice, so if competitive racing or highly spirited sport riding is your thing, the Cobras may not be the option to choose. They are by no means a bargain-basement item, however, and come with features that will keep everyone from everyday street riders up moderately paced track day riders well-protected and comfortable.

To start with, the base material used on the Cobras is the same Technomicro found on most Sidi motorcycle boots, a microfiber material that is made to mimic natural leather but offers lighter weight, higher strength and softer texture. Technomicro is also water repellent, breathable, and abrasion and mildew resistant. Double stitching is used throughout, and there are DuPont polymer toe shift pads on both boots. The Cobras also feature a Nylon shin deflector plate and Nylon toe sliders, thermoplastic resin ankle protection and shock-absorbing heel cups. Additional padding is sewn into the Achilles area, and there’s a nylon inner sole featuring removable arch support. The inner portion of the boots utilizes a Cambrelle lining. The closure system is a YKK zipper that extends nearly the entire length of the boot, with a large Velcro flap that closes the top around the calf.

In terms of sizing and comfort, I wear a 10.5 shoe, which the Sidi sizing chart equates to a metric 45 (encompassing 10.5-11). With a hearty pair of calf-length socks, the fit is spot-on. If socks are somewhat thin, there’s a bit of extra room around the toes. The Cobras don’t come with an inner bootie, and there is some open space around the cuff of the boot and my calves, which is the only gripe I can find with fit. And that’s only when I’d ride on the street and pull the cuffs of my riding jeans over the top of the boots. Fit is snug and precise when wearing leathers. The inner sole is firm without being uncomfortably hard, and the arch support is subtle but noticeable. They’re absolutely all-day comfortable while on the bike.

They’re also flexible enough to work well when dirt tracking or shifting around on the pegs while turning laps at the track but provide enough resistance to inspire confidence that your ankle and foot will be protected in the event of a crash. The boots performed with flying colors the numerous times I went down at Rich Oliver’s and had the full weight of a Yamaha TTR230 resting on my foot.

That rigidity is nice when a bike’s resting on you, to be sure, but it does make them less comfortable when off the bike. They’re perfectly fine for short jaunts, going in and grabbing lunch or filling up at a gas stop, but if you plan to spend much time off the bike, I’d advise to pack a change of shoes.

The plastic protection on the boots is replaceable, and not likely to last long for those that are frequently sliding their toes on the tarmac. I’ve kissed the pavement just a few times with the toe protection, and the nylon plastic wears away fast. Sidi offers replacement aluminum or ceramic parts for $23-$28. Sidi also offers replacement soles for all its sport-style boots, which would be worth the $20 because it provides reliable grip on wet and dry pavement and in the dirt. Also of note, the standard Cobras are best described as water-resistant, and will soak through in a serious downpour. Sidi offers a Gore-Tex version if you predict lots of water-logged miles in your future.

All in all, the Sidi Cobra boots are hard to beat. They’re a step-up from more casual options out there in terms of protection and quality but aren’t going to break the bank at $260.

Highs

  • All-day comfortable on the bike
  • Provide great protection for the price
  • Proved to be quite durable

Lows

  • Not great if off the bike for a long time
  • Cuff is a bit wide for my calf
  • Sizing requires thick socks to be perfect