Alpinestars Afrika XCR Boot | CR Tested

There are three things I value most in boots these days: comfort, speed, and versatility. Comfort is a no-brainer, and most of the better motorcycle boots I’ve tried have a pretty good feel on the bike, but just about all of them fail if there’s much walking involved.

Alpinestars' new Afrika Gore-Tex XCR is a good walker, something I miss on most motorcycle boots, whether they're traditional or techie. There are times - at events, rallies, or even just riding around being a tourist - that I need to do some real hoofing, and this boot makes that possible. The best luck I’d had in the past with a boot to both ride in and wear all day was with work boots - the winner being a pair of Dr. Martens Industrial boots which had a steel toe, but no real ankle armor, and weighed three times as much as the Afrika. Though the bottom looks flat and nondescript, I’ve found the Afrika has good grip on a variety of surfaces, but most importantly it sticks on pavement (wet or dry).

Also, I don’t want to fiddle around with a bunch of cool-looking clasps or endless Velcro straps; I just want to slip them on and go. Now, armored motorcycle shoes should have a better retention system than a pair of Vans sneakers, and the Afrika does, but it does so with a minimum of fuss. There’s a drawstring that Alpinestars calls a Speedlace, and a single Velcro strap over the top (which also holds the ends of the Speedlace). Both boots can be on in 20 seconds.

Versatility is also key. The Gore Tex liner keeps your feet dry in an unexpected downpour, but the short boots are a bit brief for any serious touring. Despite their all-weather capability, they flow air pretty well on a hot day too. Lookswise, they appear to be a cross between racecar driver fire suit booties and traditional high-top sneakers. The style is not my cup of tea: when I opened up the box, I was thinking “who would wear these?” But the overall dark color makes them disappear, the suede upper is a nice touch, and they work well in most casual settings.

Protection is present, but Alpinestars erred on the side of comfort, with soft ankle cups instead of hard armor. The dark reflective patch on the heel is very subtle unless there’s a light on it. At 200 bones, they ain’t cheap, but they’ve found their way into my regular rotation of footwear, on or off of the bike.

Price $199.95

4.5 stars