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The Sidi Vertebra is a race style motorcycle boot with cooling perforations, adjustable calves and removable toe sliders. The Vertebra got its name from the plastic 'spine' running down the back of the boot that was developed to allow more movement whilst wearing the boots off the bike but remaining rigid for use on the bike. It is a fine balancing act and whilst you will never get the perfect all-round boot, Sidi have come very close with the Vertebra.
The Vertebra is available in a limited range of colours that includes black and silver, red and blue. The limited amount of colours doesn't bother me, since I prefer black kit, but I can see how those riders that like matching their kit to their bike aren't going to like these.
The Vertebra looks modern, sleek and stylish unlike a lot of protective clothing available on the market. These boots show that you can look good and have the ultimate in protection, but it does come at a cost.
Consisting of a leather boot covered in plastic armour around the ankles, shin and calf the Vertebra offers more protection than leather boots alone. The plastic armour works at two different levels. Firstly, it provides a barrier against stones, gravel and other debris that gets spat up from both the bikes' and other traffics' tyres. Secondly the plastic helps to keep the boot rigid to ensure that your ankles can't flex.
There are plenty of types of boots on the market that has the protective armour but the Vertebra seems to have the largest. For example, the plastic shin guard covers the whole shin area and not just a small part of it, as is the case with other boots. The plastic also seems to be thicker and more heavy-duty but the boots don't appear to be any bulkier or heavier as a result.
The Vertebra also has removable toe sliders to protect the toes during cornering. Personally, I find the toe sliders are a bit too big and it is easy to drive them in to the tarmac a bit too hard, which can pitch you off so care must be taken. Some people take the toe sliders off altogether, but I like the additional protection and confidence they give so I just take care.
The Vertebra also offers protection against the elements and are fully waterproof. I have been caught out in some horrendous down pours and mine have never leaked. The zips are always the weak point for leaking, but Sidi have managed to ensure these boots don't let the water in. My only criticism with the Vertebra is they are not that warm in the colder temperatures, but I guess this is to be expected given these aren't winter boots. This problem is easily overcome by wearing thermal liners, and given the Vertebra's generous cut there is no problem is getting these comfortably in the boot.
The Vertebra is anatomically designed to ensure that your foot, ankle and lower leg are kept in the optimum position whilst riding and this is achieved through the rigidity of the boot. Once you get over the fact your foot won't move about freely and you get used to the position, the Vertebra is very comfortable. Walking, on the other hand is another matter altogether. These boots are definitely not made for walking around in as there is very little movement around the ankle. Whilst the plastic spine was meant to overcome this, and there is a marked improvement, it is not that great and you will end up walking like Jake the Peg. In addition, the spine squeaks with every step and there is no way of stopping it. In the two years I have owned these boots the squeak is as loud today as it ever has been. I have tried applying grease, vaseline, engine oil, cooking oil and various other lubricants but nothing has stopped it.
The quality of the Vertebra is second to none. The leather is thick, the stitching has remained in place, the plastic armour is thick and has held on fast and these boots have withstood the test of time and thousands of miles very well. They are scuffed, the plastic has scratched and the leather pitted in places but this is to be expected. Overall these boots have held together exceptionally well.
At £170 the Vertebra aren't cheap but can you place a price on your ankles? When I go out on my bike I want to know that I have the best possible protection just in case the worse comes to the worse, and the Vertebra gives me this confidence.
Overall the Vertebra is a fantastic pair of boots and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are excellent quality, generously cut and being ideal for riders with bigger calves, like myself, I find these are the perfect fit and my leathers fit in the boots without rucking up and digging in to my legs like I find with other boots. The plastic armour ensures that my feet and lower legs are fully protected from any debris and that my ankles are locked in the correct position, ensuring I am most comfortable on the bike. It is a shame that they are not more comfortable to walk in, and that the spine creaks with every step, but these boots are made for riding and when I go out on the bike I spend more time riding than walking so it is not such a big deal. I appreciate they are not the cheapest boots on the market but being so long lasting they represent great value for money, besides can you put a price on your ankles?
The patented Vertebra System is the basis of the support structure, making the boot a highly-articulated piece of technology. Each vertebra moves independently. Vertebra System allows enhanced performance and, at the same time, also forms a shield protecting the back part of the leg. Vertebra System has been specially modified to apply the new Ankle Support System.