Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Review: Gaerne Balance Pro-Tech

"This boot is made of leather construction and features a new mold injection shin guard as well as three aluminium buckles that are replaceable. The sole is gum rubber to provide feel and control."

Image and description courtesy of the Gaerne USA web site.

I have finally found a nice pair of boots that are good for commuting (Spring & Fall - too hot for Summer) and light dual-sport riding. These boots were comfortable right out of the box but, as with all motorcycling footwear, require some break-in. They are not advertised as being water proof. If you'd like that feature, you'll need to get the Gaerne Balance Oiled boot (and pay about $100 extra dollars). As with all of my outdoor footwear, I chose to apply Sno Seal (two coats, actually) to the leather. I use a hair dryer to warm the leather so that it soaks in. I was especially diligent in getting the product into the area where the leather is stitched to the sole. Even after two applications, the leather still soaks up the wax to a dry surface. The directions indicate that if some product is left on the leather's surface, to wipe it off. I would imagine that this condition shows the leather has reached a 'saturation' point. Apparently, I can apply more sealant.

In an effort to break them in but not suffer too terribly, I have been wearing the boots to work. This exposes them to walking motions but also subjects them to body heat so that the boot can form to your foot. I noticed that it was a little difficult to press the rear brake pedal, initially, but that by the end of the first week, the articulation had increased dramatically. Also, without the calf-length or knee-length socks, the top of the boot can chafe your calf. Again, by the end of the week, that had abated somewhat.

These boots have very little impact protection for the ankle. So if you're going to be in any setting that exposes the foot and ankle to solid objects, you may want to consider an MX style boot or a dual-sport boot with a hard shell, like the AXO Prime (which I also happen to own). Gaerne does list both the Balance Oiled and the Balance Pro-Tech as trials type boots. Their offering for the dual-sport crowd is the GX-1, SG-10 and the SG-12. However, Gaerne considers them to be "MX" style boots (which can be too stiff/overkill for dual sport riding). A good compromise boot continues to be elusive.

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