Am I dating myself with my choice of footwear? So be it. My old Frye engineer boots served me well for more years than I should admit, but they’re done now. Actually I could probably have them resoled and ride in them off into the sunset, but it’s my job to review new stuff too, so how about these TCX Fuel WP boots? The Fryes aren’t really even motorcycle boots anyway, but that never stops us fashion hounds. Like I said in my 20-year old review of those puppies, you think of engineer boots on cruiser riders, but I’ve never had any problems wearing them on all kinds of motorcycles.
Why not try out these similarly styled TCX numbers? TCX is an Italy-based boot company so you know you’re going to get some style and a little flair.
The company was acquired by Dainese in 2020, so you know you’re also getting quality or at least paying for it, which seems to satisfy some people.
Unlike some Dainese boots, which are too narrow for even not-wide feet, these TCX jobs feel like there’s more than enough room in the footbed for my normal-sized 8.5 US dogs (size 42 euro, size 9 UK), and there’s even room for the Ortholite inserts they come with and probably aftermarket ones. Off the bat, these feel pretty comfortable, and for me the sizing was spot-on.
With my old Frye 8-inchers, I complained about pant cuffs getting stuck on top of the boot; w ith these 10-inch jobs, that won’t be a problem – and since there’s a zipper on the inside, the shafts can be adjusted to snug right onto your calves. When it’s cold, that’s going to be a good thing. When it’s hot, it means you’re not going to get as much airflow down inside the boots. All the time, you’re getting a snugger fit than a tall boot without a zipper, which m akes for easier walking and an all-around snugger, more comfortable experience.
If you’re lucky, you’ve got tall socks that will stay up; if you’re like me, it’s no big deal, because the uppers are lined with soft material that doesn’t chafe my leg meat even in direct contact on a long walk, where the rest of the boot is pretty comfy also. Stretch accordion panels at the Achilles tendon give these a bit more flexibility. Those big rubber lug soles give good grip in uneven going.
Cool stitching makes it look like the soles are sewn on, but it’s really TCX’s “Ideal” construction. The leather upper gets pressed and stitched onto a dedicated midsole, which is then bonded to the big lug sole. The synthetic yarn is dipped in melted tar to make the yarn and holes totally waterproof. Old-world craftsmanship, says TCX, and high fashion.
Speaking of waterproof, T-Dry is TCX’s version of Gore-Tex, which remains the Cadillac of waterproof membranes designed to let perspiration out and rain not in. I’ve never sampled T-Dry but I have sampled Alpinestars Drystar and Dainese’s D-Dry imitations, and there’s a good reason why both those companies also often offer more expensive versions with real Gore-Tex®: It keeps working after hours in the rain, where the imitators usually do not. If you’re in the drying-out desert Southwest like me, you may not care. If you’re going to ride in the cold Kentucky rain, caveat emptor. A couple of online reviews don’t speak highly of the Fuel’s waterproofness.
I’d kill for a ride in a nice drenching rain right about now to find out, but that’s not in the forecast in my part of the world anytime soon. I think Jamie Elvidge used to dip her boots in a pool? I wonder if that’s a good test?
That T-Dry liner is woven into a cushy, soft fabric that’s easy on the feet, so comfortable you can wear them without socks. But good socks definitely keep my dogs drier and happier. Especially those bamboo jobs. On hot days, of which there seem to be a lot more lately, a non-waterproof version would probably be cooler.
Thick cowhide is your number one line of defense against abrasion, all the way up to mid-calf, backed up by reinforced toe and heel boxes. There are hard plastic padded discs on both inner and outer ankle bones, the outer ones of which are further protected by the steel adjustment buckle.
There’s a second layer of leather on top of your left boot for a shifter pad, which is turning black on my brown boot. Which is a bit strange only because my old Fryes don’t have such a pad, and the shifter area is still as brown as the rest of the boot 21 years later. Probably a small price to pay, as the TCX Fuels feel like they’d be quite a bit more protective in the event of a rapid, unplanned descent.
I’ve been wearing these about six months now, so the long-term jury will remain out for a decade or two. They didn’t need much break-in at all, and the more I ride in them the more I like them, especially in cooler conditions. Quite fashionable too, but not exactly cheap at $290. Two halluxes up.
Is there or will there be a GoreTex version?
RevZilla says there is, but only in black and only in Europe. If so, those will be not only more waterproof but more breathable in hot weather as well.
What exactly is a “toe and heel box”?
Sometimes called a toe and heel counter, these are pretty much plastic inserts between the leather and liner of the boot for a bit more protection – sort of like what sportbike or race boots have on the outside but less thick and less rigid.
Will this style of boot work on a sportbike or naked bike?
Some of us have been doing it for years. The soles are a bit thicker and therefore clunkier, but we’ve never met a motorcycle we couldn’t ride in engineer boots, some easier than others. Your shifter’s adjustable, in case you forgot, and on some bikes you might need to raise it a smidge to work best with thicker-soled footwear.
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