July 13, 2011
When I trained to be an MSF RiderCoach two years ago, I never thought the worst part of the job would be sore feet. But now, 1800 or so students later, my dogs are barking big time. Just thinking about those 12-hour days standing in a parking lot wearing motorcycle boots makes my tootsies tingle.
Luckily, the moto-apparel industry has a solution: riding sneakers. I’ve made it my personal mission to find a pair of shoes that are comfortable, offer more protection than a regular pair of basketball shoes and look more stylish than your average pair of black boots. I have a lot of choices in my closet, and to date my favorite have been Shift Racing’s Fuel shoes, but they are now, sadly, unavailable, as Shift’s lineup of street apparel has been unceremoniously drowned in the tub by parent company Fox.
Luckily, I know a guy who knows a guy, and that guy sent me a pair of RS Taichi’s Delta riding shoes. Does the brand ring a bell? That’s because RS Taichi is one of Japan’s premier lines of riding gear, around since 1976 and is now available in the USA thanks to importers Moto Liberty.
The Delta is clearly not intended for heavy-duty, high-speed use, but rather as a casual riding shoe when the rider needs to spend more time off the bike than on it. So it’s made out of soft, comfortable materiel; polyester mesh, cowhide, nylon, secured to a Vibram sole. Protective features include PVC panels over impact and shifter areas and a Velcro strap to secure the extra-wide laces. To keep your feet cool, the shoe uses a big intake panel over the toes (covered with tough-looking steel mesh) and air channels in the insoles.
My white-and-blue pair felt good right out of the box. They’re about as light and comfy as a pair of running shoes, and stylish in a Japanese disco-pop sort of way. The wide opening makes them easy to put on (my gripe about Shift sneakers is they are hard to don and doff), and the Velcro and wide laces secure them tightly to your foot. They go nicely with jeans as casual footwear and don’t really look that much like motorcycle shoes.
On the motorcycle, they work well. They are flexible enough to make shifting and braking easy, and slim enough to fit under the shifter easily. The Vibram sole offers good feel and grip on the pegs and confidence when you’re paddling the bike around on slippery pavement. And the ventilation makes you practically feel like you’re wearing sandals.
Off the bike, they’re pretty much just another pair of comfy shoes, and that’s a good thing. I wore them with some gel insoles, so I was kind of cheating, but the channeled insoles that came with the shoes look fairly substantial and comfortable. Even at 3:00 in the afternoon—the time of day I’ve come to call “feet-hurty” after 9 hours on the job with three more to go—my feet were still not yet aching.
The main drawback I can see for these shoes is durability. They are well made, but after just a couple of days on the range, signs of wear are appearing—I probably wouldn’t opt for the white, but luckily, there are six other colors you can pick. They are not the most protective footwear you can get, although they are probably much better than regular sneakers.
The Delta shoe retails for $140. Not cheap, but not a bad value, either. I like mine enough to probably wear them out. Call Moto Liberty or go to the RS Taichi website to find a dealer near you.