Date reviewed: November 2023 | Tested by: Steve Rose | Price: £299.99 | www.altberg.co.uk
Altberg boots are made in the UK at the company’s North Yorkshire factory by people who know their stuff and care deeply about the quality of their products. I’ve had these Altberg Roadrunner boots for a year and I’ve worn nothing else since they arrived. They’ve done a little over 20,000 miles in that time, on all kinds of bikes and in all weathers to see how they perform.
The Roadrunner boots are made to order in Richmond, North Yorkshire. Altberg’s factory offers a mix of high-tech kit, traditional craftsmanship and friendly customer service. You can go there in person for an in-house fitting. It’s not quite made-to-measure, but it’s as close as you’ll get.
The boots are made from 2.4mm, full-grain, water-repellent leather from hides sourced in the UK and Europe. Fitted with a breathable Sympatex lining for waterproofing and warmth, including a military-grade waterproof inter-layer (Altberg also makes boots for the army and police).
The mid-sole is designed to resist crush, torsion and flex, and the outer sole has shock-absorbing cavities in the heel.
This is top-notch, old-school boot construction and very different from the synthetic uppers of most race boots, which rely on external plastic armour for abrasion resistance at the key impact points.
The Roadrunners are available in UK sizes from 6-14, including half sizes, plus five width fittings.
Altberg suggests you add half a size to your normal shoe size to allow room for thick winter socks. It also suggests the same if you have wide feet.
If you don’t know which width to choose you have a couple of options. Firstly, measure each foot all the way around with a flexible tape measure at the widest point and send that measurement to Altberg, where the team will recommend the right width.
Or you can make an appointment to visit the factory in Richmond and the folks there will measure them for you using a high-tech machine that looks out of place in this very traditional workplace. Try not to giggle when they discuss ball-width and girth.
The Roadrunners are secured on your feet by a substantial YKK full-length zip on the outside of the boot plus two leather flaps running over the zip that secure with Velcro. A small loop at the rear of the boot allows calf adjustment with an elasticated panel underneath for ease of getting on and off. A rough guess is that I’ve put these boots on and taken them off around 700-800 times in the last 12 months and nothing has shown any sign of failing yet.
They’re certified to EN 13634, passing at the maximum Level 2 for resistance to abrasion (sliding down the road), impact cut (penetration by a sharp object) and transverse rigidity (crushing forces from, for example, your bike falling on it).
They don’t have additional armour that would allow them to carry the IPA or IPS marks that denote additional impact protection at the ankle or shin respectively, but these optional parts of the EN13634 standard. (Note; the label in our boot pictured is an old label that doesn’t reflect the company’s up-to-date certification. Altberg confirmed to BikeSocial that all certification is up to date and new labels are on the way).
All motorcycle clothing sold in the UK and Europe is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is a good thing for riders as it can help them choose kit that has provable levels of safety because, to meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. To fully understand the labels found in all bike kit, click here.
The Altberg Roadrunner boots are easy to get on and off and equally easy to fasten, unfasten and adjust for a perfect fit. They’re tall enough that waterproofs still cover them even at sports bike knee angles, and narrow enough that you can get boot-cut denim jeans over them too.
I find the Roadrunners comfy on the bike – whether it’s a road bike, adventure bike or even a sports bike. The thick sole means the toe section sits a little higher than a race boot, but I haven’t had any problems so far with hooking them under a gear lever on any bike.
Off the bike the Roadrunners are comfy enough to walk around in, even on a full day working on the Bennetts stand at British Superbikes. They’re more noticeable than a lightweight boot, such as my old Sidi B2 Gore-Tex, but the Roadrunners have caused no blisters or rubbing so far.
The Roadrunner’s sole is Altberg’s own design with a cleated tread for optimal grip on all terrain. It’s made from rubber that’s resistant to oil and acid and it’s certified to the highest level of slip resistance.
On the bike the sole grips metal or rubber-surfaced footpegs very well in the wet, is confident on icy car parks or slippery forecourts and after 12 months it shows almost no sign of any wear. When it does finally wear out an Altberg sole can be replaced at the factory for between £64.99 and £84.99 depending on whether you also want new and/or uprated footbeds.
My commute to the BikeSocial office is 150 miles each way and can be either all motorway, mostly back roads or a mixture, depending on the bike I’m testing and how late I sleep in. I spend so much time riding in rain that waterproofing is pretty much my first requirement from any kit I wear. A lot of those journeys are in heavy rain from start to finish at motorway speeds for up to four hours at a time and so far, the Roadrunners have kept my feet 100% dry. That’s impressive. What’s also good is that they dry quickly and clean up easily, making them look as good as new
I’d expect a full-grain leather touring boot with a chunky rubber sole to be heavy so I was surprised that the Roadrunner comes in at 1,060g, which is just 60g heavier than my old Sidi B2 boots and only 32g heavier than my even older Daytona Road Star GTX boots.
There’s something very reassuring about looking into the eyes of the person who will be making the protective kit you rely on. I had the same feeling visiting Altberg as I had when I was fitted for made-to-measure leathers a few years back.
Altberg’s factory is packed full of dedicated craftsmen/women. The boots are workmanlike and fuss-free. But for those of us who want something that’s, er, workmanlike and fuss-free, carries on working and can be repaired when something wears out, the Roadrunner boots are pretty much perfect.
No bling, no faff, no Star Wars armour. The experience of visiting the factory and being fitted is lovely and the performance of Altberg’s products is superb. As I said at the top of this review, I haven’t worn anything else since my Roadrunners arrived and I can’t see that changing.
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