Date reviewed: February 2023 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £190 | saltflatsclothing.co.uk
Clever design touches and the promise of being dual-purpose make the Stylmartin Vertigo motorcycle boots on review here a very interesting proposition.
The Italian company (the boots are made in Slovakia) calls it ‘Ride n Hike’, so are they really the best of both worlds, or a compromise on two wheels and two feet?
I’ve been using them for about three months on a 2001 Honda VFR800 and a 2019 BMW R1250GS, as well as for day-to-day office wear, shopping and long dog walks…
Using a full-grain leather upper with a waterproof / breathable lining, the Stylmartin Vertigo boots are available in the brown reviewed here, or black.
A pull tab on the back of the boots makes them easier to pull on, while clever use of 3M reflective panels on the outsides of the ankles, as well as in small strips besides the lace eyelets, makes them show up well in the dark; a useful safety addition that doesn’t look to ‘bikey’. The laces are also reflective, though the effect is much less noticeable.
The Vertigo’s styling is fairly subtle, besides the large Stylmartin text running along the sides of the boots. I find it understated enough to still look good, and while I was worried that the way it was achieved – through effectively cutting away the surface of the leather for each letter – would look soon look tatty, it seems to be wearing well besides a couple of small areas of the black dye wearing thin.
Protective panels wrap over the top of both boot’s front to provide a gear change panel, and aren’t showing any signs of undue wear.
Using a standard lace, the boots need pulling well open to get your feet into. I’d have liked to have seen open-sided speed-lace eyelets on the top two (like hooks), rather than the fully-enclosed type that Stylmartin has gone for as they’d have made getting in much easier. A small point maybe, but something we’ve seen on some other bike boots, and is very common on walking boots.
After publishing this review, BikeSocial reader Paul got in touch to warn that speed hook-type eyelets can get caught on the spring clip that secures the float bowl of Bing carburettors on old air-cooled BMWs, which can lead to disaster as you come to a stop and try to put your foot down!
The ends of the laces can be tucked into the leather logo panel on the top of the tongue to stop them flapping about, though on my size 44s at least, I haven’t felt the need.
All motorcycle boots sold in the UK have – by law – to be certified to EN 13594:2017, with ratings of Level 1 or Level 2 (the higher number means greater protection) being applied in four key areas. The Stylmartin Vertigos achieve Level 1 in boot height (as standard for this style), Level 1 in impact abrasion resistance, Level 2 in impact cut resistance and Level 2 in transverse rigidity, which is the resistance to crushing of the boots on its side, for instance trapped under a bike.
D3O inserts protect both sides of the ankles, and while these Stylmartins can’t protect your shins like a full-height pair of bike boots, they’re more practical when you’re not riding, and they offer much better protection when you are than something that isn’t designed for motorcycle use.
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 Stylmartin Vertigo boots do take a little breaking in, but they fit my UK size 9.5 feet well in a Euro size 44. They’re snug, with little movement, though of course you’ll need to try them on for yourself.
They did become more comfortable with use – the crease in the top that created pressure when walking appearing to ease over time – though they can still make the soles of my feet ache after spending literally all day in them. But I do have a fairly poor gait that has me struggle with a lot of shoes.
Compared to my proper walking boots, the interior of the Sytlmartins feels very similar, so give them a try and see what you reckon as they’re definitely far more suited to hiking than any other motorcycle boots I’ve seen.
The sole on the Stylmartin Vertigos is more textured than typically found on bike boots, and offers good grip when walking on mud, grass and sand without feeling awkward on the pegs of my bikes.
I did find them quite slippery on the wet floor of an outdoor shopping centre in the rain, but otherwise they’ve been fine and are showing no signs of excessive wear.
Shot with direct flash, the reflective areas of the Stylmartin Vertigo’s become clear
The Stylmartin Vertigo boots have proven waterproof in both normal use and an immersion test, though the fact that they aren’t full-length motorcycle boots means that in bad weather on the bike, you’ll likely struggle to get a good seal between the bottoms of your riding trousers and the tops of the Vertigos.
Realistically though, these certainly aren’t intended for all-weather touring. As a casual-style bike and walking boot though, the waterproof membrane does a good job, and water doesn’t find its way in until it gets above the tongue’s gusset, which is around the height of the fourth eyelet.
Weighing 725g each, the Stylmartin Vertigos are 100g lighter on each foot than the leather TCX Hero boots, and around 100g heavier than more street-style boots like the TCX Street 3s and the Alpinestars J-6. They’re also a little lighter than by old Caen walking boots.
There’s huge variety in motorcycle boots of this style now, though these are the first I’ve come across that claim to double as walking boots. Think about what you want them for, and your budget, then make a choice based on that…
It might not be the Sahara, but having a pair of boots that you can drive for more than six hours in, and clamber around the dunes of Camber sands with makes them fairly versatile off the bike
Everybody loves saving money, and one of the things I really appreciate about boots like this is that they work when I’m off the bike too.
I do have some trainers (from the Skechers outlet store), but other than that I haven’t bought any other casual shoes for ages, simply because my bike boots tend to be almost as good for wandering around town in, sitting in the office or walking the dog.
The Stylmartin Vertigo’s are unlikely to replace a dedicated walker’s boots, but they do a good job when hiking off the beaten track.
On the bike, the value of waterproofing in shorter, more casual-styled boots like these is somewhat questionable as owners are likely going to be in riding jeans or similar. Even if the rest of their gear is waterproof, getting a good seal is hard so they’ll be exposed to little more than patchy rain at most. But as a walking boot, the benefit of the membrane really comes into its own.
Whether they’re better than a pair of cheaper motorcycle boots, and a budget pair of walking boots is debatable, but if you like the look, the Stylmartin Vertigos are well worth trying thanks to some neat design and a generally very useful sole.