Aug 8, 2011

Product Review: Thor 50/50 Motocross Boot

-->All Rights Reserved © 2009 Thomas W. Day
"The ultimate motocross boot to meet the demands of professional riders." Yeah, that's what I need for touring backroads on my 250 enduro and a V-Strom 650 because I'm obviously a "professional rider." Ok, my reasoning was a little sketchy, but when I tried on a dozen or so boots at Bob's the 50/50 boots were the best of the lot.

Back in my off-road racing days I was as old school as you could get, including wearing padded denim overalls, hockey pads, and lineman's boots instead of slick nylon integrated modern gear and--more important than all of that--the best protection afforded to modern motorcycling; Heckel boots. Bultaco distributed those blue and yellow plastic spoke-killers and only the rich or sponsored could afford them, at least in my realm. I eventually managed to con a distributor into letting me test and write about a pair of Malcolm Smith labeled Hi Point boots. I still have that same pair and wear them occasionally, off-road. To this day, I envy the bulletproof protection those plastic-hinged warrior boots provided. 

When I decided to armor up for a long-range back roads trip into North Dakota, I went shopping for more protection than my spiffy Gaerne "G Class" road boots provide and more mobility than I get from my ancient motocross boots. Neither pair, to be honest, are comfortable on any kind of hike. The Gaerne boots tear up my heels and the Hi Points blister every contact point on my feet in less than a mile. Considering the places I wanted to go and the bike I planned on taking there, I needed tough boots that I could wear if I had to walk back. Leather hiking boots might have been the ticket, but I was in a rare money-spending mood.

After trying on practically everything on the store's wall, I ended up liking the Thor 50/50 boots best. The stitched-on, double density sole, ankle protection, two locking adjustable buckles, and the flexible Achilles protection were big parts of making that selection. Instant walking comfort was next in line. Two aluminum buckles per boot and you are cinched in and heavily protected; no wimpy zippers like the Gaerne's or awkward belt-hole buckles like the Hi Point's. You cannot twist your ankle in these boots, if they are laced up right.

The 250 didn't make the trip, so my back-up V-Strom did. I didn't have to walk out of anything resembling remote territory, but I did do a lot of walking on that trip. I walked all over various museums and parks in Bismarck. I hiked almost 20 miles of the Teddy Roosevelt National Park. I practically ran through the Icelandic State Park hiking trail, chased by mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds and horseflies with attitude. My feet were never tortured by the 50/50 boots on any of those trips. In fact, I think my oldest, completely broken-in hiking boots wouldn't have been an improvement.

-->[At Left: View 2 of my Thor 50/50 Boots at 10,000 miles of road and 2,000 miles off-pavement.]
 At the other end of the comfort scale, that trip put me in the middle of North Dakota's wettest ever June. I was rained on from Day 1 to the last few feet of my driveway into the garage. I could have sworn the salesperson told me the 50/50's were Goretex-lined, but if he did he was wrong. The funny looking mesh above and below the lower buckle is a water-magnet (read "sponge"). My feet were wet almost every evening and most of every day. As bad weather touring boots, the 50/50 Thor's are a wash, literally. I'd suspect this is a weakness for actual motocross use, too.

Bob's Cycle is the local distributor (Little Canada, MN) of Thor Products.


Stacy said...

If these boots had a GoreTex liner they'd be three times the price.

Did you crash in them?

T.W. Day said...

They weren't cheap as they were. Hiking books of this quality certainly could have Goretex or some equivalent for the same price. The stuff isn't that expensive.

They took a beating on dirt roads, but no real crashes. Lots of sliding around corners with the boots leading the way.

Paul Compton said...

I've heard very good things about Altberg boots, in fact a quick search brought up this article by my friend Rowena;

Being tight with money, I wear these; With a decent treatment, they're pretty much waterproof and I can walk around in them all day.

T.W. Day said...

The Alt-Bergs look great. They probably don't make it over here, but they are as all purpose a boot as I have ever seen. Not cheap, but not totally out of my range, either. Thanks for the links.