By Bongiwe Didiza
In truth, I absolutely love the GS Pro boots! Of course, there are a few things I am not crazy about but on the whole, I love the colours and the look of my ‘Robocop Boots’ as I like to call them. Initially, I was intimidated by the size and weight of the boots when I first held them…..
I am aware that my love for the GS Pro boots doesn’t extend beyond a handful of off-road riders. Those I have interacted with, who aren’t fans of the sci-fi-looking footwear, cite weight and difficulty in maneuverability when wearing them, as their main areas of contention.
Having worn the GS Pro boots in many different riding conditions over the past few months, (including participating in the GS Trophy try-outs); I hope my opinions on these beefy adventure boots will benefit those who haven’t had the opportunity to experience them as extensively as I have.
Soft and Plush On The Inside
The inside of the GS Pro is nice and soft because it’s made from 100% calf leather. As a vegetarian, I would ordinarily protest at the thought of an animal’s coat being used to adorn my feet but when it comes to materials used to enhance my riding safety and comfort I don’t have any quibbles with animal skin!
A Bootie In A Boot
Once I had gotten past the look and weight of the GS Pro boots, the next thought that invaded my mind was that I would get the most painful blisters of my life. This notion was based on the fact that the GS Pros are made from hard-wearing materials which make them sturdy and inflexible. Only when I slipped one on, did I discover that they have an inner shoe or as I call it, a ‘bootie’, which in fact, is what you wear.
Think of it as a two-layered Russian Doll; you wear the bootie inside the boot so that your foot is not directly in contact with the GS Pro itself. The comforting thing about this is that the bootie protects you from the hard outer shell of the GS Pro boot. This swiftly resolved my concerns about the possibility of getting agonizing blisters.
The bootie is comfortable and made of durable yet breathable material. It is removable, making it easy to wash and dry. Designed with gel ankle cushions, the booties aids mobility within the GS Pro boots which are pretty unbending especially when brand new. Thanks to the inclusion of the bootie, you are able to move your ankle as freely as you ordinarily would when wearing any other type of shoe, the only exception being that your feet are clad in protective armour.
A Cuff To Keep The Dirt Off Your Pants
A lot of detail has gone into the production of the GS Pro boot and in as much as that’s something all motorcycle boots have in common, one unmistakable standout highlight that I picked up on, become my all-time favorite feature; being the cuff at the top of the opening of the boots.
Located at the top of GS Pro boot, at its opening, is a cuff designed to reduce small stones and other debris from getting in between your pants, boot and possibly underfoot. It’s not 100% foolproof but over the course of the many months I have worn these boots, I can honestly say the cuff is impressively effective.
Here’s an example; imagine you are on an off-road adventure, where your focus is fixed on remaining upright on your motorcycle as you bounce over stony terrain. Suddenly, you feel the prick of something sharp in your shin and, no matter how hard you try to ignore it, the unrelenting stab in your shin threatens to divert your attention from the gravel track. The cuff on the GS Pro boot helps minimise the occurrence of such instances; something you’d only appreciate when you are riding between a mountain-side and a sheer drop.
Strangely Not Water Proof
The cuff also helps minimise the amount of water that would otherwise splash into your boot but in spite of its plastic-clad look, the GS Pro boots are not waterproof. I learned this the hard way having ridden in the rain for the better part of a particular excursion. On the bright side though, as soon as you remove the bootie and boot to dry out, they do so fairly quickly. Perhaps the hot summer sun helps in that regard; I didn’t try it in winter.
Awkward To Walk In
In a nutshell, let’s just say these boots weren’t made for strolling around in!
With hard protective reinforcements all around, the GS Pro boots proved quite difficult to walk in. Being rather heavy, the weight of the boots felt as if you’ve set your feet in blocks of cement. Coupled with the tall stable shaft, form-fitting calf & shin protector and plastic reinforcements at the heel and toes, I found myself mechanically stomping around like an angry toddler, much to the astonishment of onlookers.
On a serious note though, the protective materials used to manufacture the GS Pro boots hold your lower limbs in place, so that there is minimal risk of you twisting your ankle or leg.
As with all new gear, it was critical that I wore my GS Boots as often as possible before riding in them. This allowed me to get a better feel for them, as by wearing them, I was breaking them in. After becoming comfortable in the boot, my next step was to start riding in them. This felt strange because the dynamics between walking and riding in them will be vastly different.
Even though I had worn my boots for quite a while, riding in them felt like a completely new experience and once again the GS Pros felt rigid. As any rider would know, it is critical that your ankle can flex comfortably when using the rear brakes and changing gears. Being unable to do so when I first started riding in my boots was my most pressing worry.
Initially, I made rookie mistakes such as putting too much pressure on the rear brakes simply because I couldn’t “feel” the brakes. At times I was too soft on them and at other times too hard. I was in a constant state of either wondering why the bike wasn’t slowing down or at risk of going over the handlebars.
Equally embarrassing was my changing into the wrong gear every so often purely because I couldn’t feel which gear I was in. Granted, my motorcycle has a gear change indicator, but with 11 years riding to my name (a lot longer than the gear change indicator technology has been on the market), I intuitively listen to my bike rather than rely on technology – as good as it is.
In spite of all their good qualities, I found the GS Pros to be quite slippery on-road. Granted, they are off-road boots but one often has to ride on the tarmac in order to get to the gravel roads. Although I had spent quite a long time wearing them, I eventually realised that being slippery wasn’t a result of the boots not being sufficiently broken in, rather, I think it’s the material used on the sole.
The steel toe caps give the GS Pro boots a sense of ‘bling’, but these also proved to be dangerously slippery. At my height, my idea of tippy-toeing is actually me being on the balls of my feet. However, if you are not blessed with the gift of height and you tiptoe in these boots, chances are you will have a disgraceful dismount of mammoth proportions.
Off-road though, the sole and steel toe caps have magnificent gripping ability. Perhaps the solution would be to ride in different boots on road with the GS Boots in your top box!