2019 Mid-Price Motocross Boot Comparison

 

When you think about it, motocross boots are some of the most complicated gear we wear. Behind helmets, a solid pair of motocross boots are essential for riding safely on the track or the trail. But, with some costing $100 and others costing $700 where do you begin? 

Well, at the very cheap end of the spectrum, you can bet those boots make a lot of compromises to be as inexpensive as they are, and at the top-tier level, pretty much all the premiere boots are excellent, just vary slightly on fit and feel. I decided to aim for the middle and take a look at what kind of motocross/off-road boots you can expect between $200 and $300 dollars. At this price point, we expect a fair amount of protection and performance with some high-end details and finish left out. 

The focus was on how these boots compare to the top-level boots on the market in general and also how they compare to each other. Much like how motocross shootouts can solidify and highlight the differences and similarities of the machines, riding in boots back-to-back on the same day, on the same bike can really show how boots perform, and what they do and don’t do the best. 

Also, this test isn’t a full durability test where the boots were ridden until they fell apart. That being said, some of the top choices will be worn longer to see how they wear down. This comparison is all about fit, feel, and function on the bike. Fit is all about being true to size and how much room is in the boot. Feel is about the comfort level and support. Function is all about the bike interface - how easy is it to shift and break, how much bike grip, how much peg grip, and ankle articulation. 

All test boots are a size 10, as I wear a size 10.5 in name-brand casual shoes. And I also have a pretty standard width foot, if not a tiny bit on the wide side, but I’ve never worn or had the need to wear specifically wide size shoes. My arches are a little low, but I don’t run any special insoles in any of my MX boots. Lastly, I do grip the bike a lot with my ankles and I also prefer a very snug fit to give me maximum control and bike feel. 

WEIGHT CHART: From Lightest to Heaviest

TCX X-Helium 2,774 g (6.12 lbs, 3.06 lbs per boot)
Alpinestars Tech 5 3,256 g (7.18 lbs, 3.59 lbs per boot)
Falco Extreme Pro 3.1 3,379 g (7.45 lbs, 3.73 lbs per boot)
FXR Factory Ride 3,507 g (7.73 lbs, 3.87 lbs per boot)
Gaerne GX-1 3,533 g (7.79 lbs, 3.90 lbs per boot)
Shift White Label 3,545 g (7.82 lbs, 3.91 lbs per boot)
Thor Radial 3,574 g (7.88 lbs, 3.94 lbs per boot)
Fly FR5 3,620 g (7.98 lbs, 3.99 lbs per boot)
Fox Comp R 3,685 g (8.12 lbs, 4.06 lbs per boot)

FEATURE CHART: From Most to Least Expensive

Boot Price Ankle Pivot Replaceable Sole Shank Sizes
Falco Extreme Pro 3.1 $299.95 Full ankle hinge Yes Plastic 8 - 13
Alpinestars Tech 5 $269.95 Medial only, biomechanical pivot Yes Steel 5 - 16
Fly FR5 $269.95 Biomechanical pivot No Steel 7 - 13
Gaerne GX-1 $269.95 Biomechanical pivot Yes Steel 6 - 13
TCX X-Helium $269.95 No Yes Steel 5 - 14
Fox Comp R $259.95 No No Steel 8 - 14
Thor Radial  $249.95 Full ankle hinge Replaceable insert Steel 7 - 15
FXR Factory Ride $225 No No Plastic 8 - 12
Shift White Lable $219.95 No No Steel 8 - 13



1. Alpinestars Tech 5

MSRP: $269.95 ($279.95 as shown)
Weight: 3,256 g (7.18 lbs, 3.59 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: inside only, biomechanical pivot
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Shank: Steel
Sizes: 5 - 16

All of the boots in this comparison had to compromise somewhere, but the reason the Alpinestars Tech 5 is on top for me is that, on the bike, I don’t notice many compromises at all. But, when putting them on and looking at some of the material choices shows where the Tech 5s fall short of Tech 7s, 8s, and 10s. The main feature of the Tech 5 is the biomechanical hinge on the medial (inner) side of the boot, but not on the lateral (outer) side, where Tech 7s have the bio-hinge on both sides. 

Fit

Sizing is spot on. To be honest, if I wasn’t looking at the boot I’d say I just put on a Tech 7. Yet, these don’t have the full snugness of a Tech 10 or Instinct. The footbed has a bit of contour to match your foot and there is a small amount of arch support. There is a good amount of padding all the way around the foot and the toe-box is tapered to a point much like the 7s and 10s. The heel cup is a natural shape and has good support on the bottom and back. 

Feel 

The Tech 5s have a softer sole than most of the other boots in the test, and softer than 7s and 10s, but they aren’t too soft. The soles flex enough to be really comfortable to walk in and give you positive feedback on the bike, but not so much that your feet are going to get tired. The stats show that Tech 5s have a steel shank, but that must only run from the heel to the ball of the foot. I could see wearing these on an all-day dual sport ride on and off the bike. 

Function

With the tapered toe-box shape, the Tech 5 performs like a high-end boot. Meaning, at no point was I searching for the shifter or brake pedal. I could easily slip my foot under the shifter and use the brake when pointed downhill. I didn’t have to consciously think about using the foot controls. In both flexing and extending the ankle the Tech 5 has some resistance but it isn’t difficult and there is a springy-ness to the boot that pops it back into shape. Bike feel when gripping with your calves is good - nothing hung up or felt bulky, good amount of grip, and good ankle padding on the inside. 

Cons

While most of this boot reminded me of a Tech 7, there are differences. For one, the boot does bulge out at the ankle since there is only a hinge on the medial side. Also, you can tell there is less craftsmanship. Some of the materials (pieces of plastic and textiles) don’t line up very easily and required both of my hands to adjust. Also, the buckles are plastic and pretty cheesy/lightweight. Lastly, there is almost no hard protection in the Achilles area, from the heel to the mid-calf. 


2. Fox Comp R

MSRP: $259.95
Weight: 3,685 g (8.12 lbs, 4.06 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: No
Replaceable Sole: No
Shank: Steel
Sizes: 8 - 14

When first looking at the Fox Comp R, it does look a little funky with the unique silicone top strap and the bike side of the boot is completely flat making me wonder how I was going to bend my ankle. But appearances are not always what they seem. While the Comp R doesn’t have an ankle hinge, it does have a “floating cuff” section that allows for ankle movement and security. 

Fit

The sizing on the Comp R is a tad more generous than the Instinct boot, which runs a little small - the Comp R feels very true to size. There is a tiny bit of room in the toe-box which is just enough to not feel cramped. The width feels standard. Not much arch support, but that is a pro and con to different feet types. The heel cup feels natural and secures my heel in place when walking and riding. I could get the straps nice and tight to have my preferred “full-wrap” feeling. 

Feel

Overall, these boots feel pretty substantial without being bulky. They are the heaviest of the group, but that is about the weight of top-level boots. The sole is on the stiffer side, compared to others in this comparison, and even might be stiffer than the Instinct’s soles. They do have a steel shank that offers added support. The sole doesn’t bend very much when walking or kneeling to work on your bike, yet isn’t uncomfortable. There are no hotspots or pinching when moving around. On the bike, the sole is stiff and gives a moderate amount of peg and control feedback. Ankle support feel is pretty high and the boot doesn’t want to twist or bend side-to-side.


Function

Just like the Tech 5s, when riding the Comp Rs have a high-end boot performance feel. The taper and low-height of the toe box makes shifting and braking extremely natural. I didn’t have any adjustment period with these boots, compared to some of the wider/bulkier boots in the test. Ankle articulation is on the stiff side, but similar to Tech 10, and it is easier to flex than extend. The Comp R has a floating cuff that allows for a good amount of flexion with almost zero ankle bulge. This is actually really impressive since the inside of the boot two flat pieces of rubber. Also, the back of the boot is completely protected and has a lockout system that stops the boot from overextending. While I could shift and brake normally, I feel like it is a little on the conservative side by locking out too early. Peg grip is pretty solid and bike feel is fantastic. As I said, I’m an ankle gripper and the Comp R has a smooth and secure interface with the side of the machine. 

Cons

The silicone strap is a bit of a gimmick. I do understand that it allows the calf section of the boot to expand and contract slightly when riding offering more comfort, but in all the other boots I’ve ever worn, I’ve never thought “I wish the top strap was stretchy.” It is adjustable but it is a pain to adjust and even buckle. It takes a good amount of force to pull it back and get it over the securing peg. Also, the upper part of the boot is pretty soft and folded around the bottom edge of my knee braces in a weird way. It didn’t affect comfort or riding, it just made it extra hard to secure the silicone strap. Lastly, while the foot section and back of the boot is heavily protected, there are some gaps in the hard protection on the outer side of the boot. 

3. Gaerne GX-1

MSRP: $269.95
Weight: 3,533 g (7.79 lbs, 3.90 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: Biomechanical pivot
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Shank: Steel
Sizes: 6 - 13

Looking at the GX-1, especially the red or orange colorways, it doesn’t look that different than the SG-12s. It is one of the only boots in the comparison to have a stitched sole, which means any cobbler can replace it, but it does give it an old-school look. The ankle pivot system is new - both the medial and lateral sides of the boot have a tab extending from the lower section into a slot in the upper section letting the boot flex but maintain support. 

Fit

As with other Gaernes, the GX-1 runs big. Maybe not a full size too big, but there is a good amount of room around my foot and at the end of my toes. This also means it doesn’t have the modern “full-wrap” feeling that some of the other boots do (Astars, Fox, Shift, and TCX). That being said, if you have a wide foot or are a 10.5 that’s almost an 11, this would be a great choice. Conversely, the fit on the ankle and upper part of the boot is quite tight, which I really like. 

Feel

Out of all the boots in this comparison, the Gaerne GX-1s have the most quality build feel to them. All the sections of plastic and leather line up perfectly and these are by far the best buckles in the test. They snap closed with a smooth, positive lock and make it easy to really cinch down each strap. The GX-1 has an old-school feel to it, and not necessarily in a bad way. The footbed is lightly padded feels pretty flat compared to the other boots. The sole is very stiff and has good support, yet isn’t the nicest to walk around all day in. When flexing my ankle deeply, I can start to feel the front plastic sections on my shin, but it isn’t painful, just noticeable. 

Function

Shifting and braking aren’t as effortless as some other boots. After a while, I did adjust to the bulkier feel and didn’t have to think about it from there on out. The ankle pivot works great and offers fantastic flexion and extension that is a good balance of support and freedom of movement. While the performance is good on the bike, I do notice some ankle bulging despite having the biomech pivot. Other than a small section of the Achilles area, the GX-1 is heavily protected by hard plastic and has a solid overall protective feel. Peg grip is high and since the pivots are very slim, there is solid bike contact without hang-ups or noticeable edges.

Cons

The sizing is a bit of a con for me, but it would for a wider foot. Also, the stitched sole does make the GX-1 feel a little longer than the other boots. If you have wide or thick ankles, the slim ankle area might be an issue. 

4. Shift White Label

MSRP: $219.95
Weight: 3,545 g (7.82 lbs, 3.91 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: No
Replaceable Sole: No
Shank: Steel
Sizes: 8 - 13

While this is probably the ugliest boot, in my opinion, I cannot deny the performance of the White Label boots. It shares the same upper silicone strap of the Fox boots, which is comfortable, if not a bit gimmicky. But it also shares Fox’s foot shape which makes its functionality very high. 

Fit

The White Labels fit is right on the money. I get the full-wrap feeling of high-end boots without being too tight or uncomfortable. The toe-box is tapered and the width feels standard. My heel was secure and made full contact in the heel cup. The ankle area is moderately snug, not as tight as some but adequate. There is some arch support but not a ton. 

Feel

There is a good amount of cushion in the White Labels that make them very comfortable. Also, the overall construction of the boot, with very little hard plastic, makes the comfort level of the whole boot very high. On the other hand, the ankle area doesn’t have an abundance of support and it feels a little easier to bend my ankle side-to-side. The sole is moderately stiff but doesn’t offer as much bike feedback as some of the other boots. 

Function

This is where the Shift boots shine. While they are a tad bulkier than top-tier boots, compared to the other boots here, the White Label shift and brake with the best of them. The toe-box shape and height make it intuitive to get under the shifter and modulate the brake, even when going downhill. There is no adjustment period and I could ride like normal right away. Peg grip is just OK since the outsole material is pretty stiff. But bike grip is great and I had secure, confident grip with my ankles and calves, without hang-ups or bulges. Flexion and extension while riding are great, yet there are no lockouts for either. Also, where the boot actually pivots when you bend your ankle is higher than other boots because of the beefy heel/Achilles section of the boot. I didn’t notice while riding, just when walking around. 

Cons

While I feel like I can ride like normal right out of the gate with great shifting and braking, the White Label boots seem to be some of the least protective. Now, I haven’t taken a T-Bone hit or crashed in these, but other than the shin plate and the lower part of the foot area, there isn’t any hard plastic anywhere else. The whole inside of the boot is rubber, which flexes, and most of the rest of the boot is synthetic leather. This makes the boot comfy, but I worry about planting my foot in a rut and it bending side-to-side or twisting. Also, without much hard structure in the upper section, I worry about crashing and having a bike land on or rollover my leg. 

5. Thor Radial

MSRP: $249.95
Weight: 3,574 g (7.88 lbs, 3.94 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: Yes
Replaceable Sole: Yes (inserts)
Shank: Steel
Sizes: 7 - 15

Just like testing a bike by itself on a single day, the first time I rode with the Thor Radial boot I had a pretty high opinion of them, and I still do. Yet being able to switch between the boots really highlights which boots feel the best. Unfortunately, the Radial has a lot of high-end features but doesn’t have a true high-end feel. 

Fit

The sizing is just a hair on the bigger side, compared to top-level boots and the Tech 5s, Fox, and Shift in this comparison. They aren’t too big but they don’t have that snug, wrap-around your foot feeling that I prefer. And for those riders that don’t want their feet to feel claustrophobic, this might be a good choice. The toe-box of the boot doesn’t taper to a point as much as some other boots which would be good for riders with wider feet. 

Feel

The sole is pretty stiff and I didn’t experience any foot fatigue while wearing them. The construction of the boot has a pretty high quality to it. There are only three straps/buckles and the buckles are big and sturdy. All of the different sections of the boot fit together well. A plus is that the center section of the outsole is replaceable. 

Function

The best part of the boot is the ankle hinge. It is in the right place to feel very normal to flex and extend your foot. It also nearly eliminates ankle bulge and keeps the ankle very secure side-to-side with a good amount of support. Flexion is very easy in the Radials, but extension isn’t, which isn’t the hinges fault, it's the lockout. The back of the boot has three structural pieces of plastic that offer a great amount of protection, but when you point your toe, they all come together to prevent hyperextension, but they do it too soon, preventing smooth shifting and braking when going downhill. Also the toe area of the boot is a little wide and tall, giving the boot a bit of a vague feeling when shifting and braking. It doesn’t have the same “top-end taper” that other boots have. 

Cons

While all the ingredients for a great mid-level boot are here, the end result is just a good boot. The hinge is the best part, and the overall rideability is solid, but you notice that shifting and braking are a little clumsy with a bigger toe box and the extension lockout. Plus, since all the plastic pieces on the back of the boot are plastic, there isn’t any “breaking in” happening to get more freedom of movement. Lastly, even though there is padding on the inside of the boot, I could feel the hinge mechanism with my ankle. 

6. Fly FR5

MSRP: $269.95
Weight: 3,620 g (7.98 lbs, 3.99 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: Biomechanical pivot
Replaceable Sole: No
Shank: Steel
Sizes: 7 - 13

For a long time, Fly basically had a re-branded TCX boot as it’s top end footwear option. Now, they’ve created their own boot, the FR5, from the ground up. It has a modern molded sole, and biomechanical ankle pivots on both the medial and lateral side of the boot. While on paper the features seem to add up, in application the overall boot is just OK. 

Fit 

The fit is true to size. It is right in the middle of the boots in this comparison, not super snug, but not loose either. There is a good amount of room in the toe-box, more than Astars, Fox, and Shift. The heel cup feels pretty good, but even with the straps buckled tight, I got some heel lift. The padding inside is moderate and the ankle area feels a little loose. 

Feel

Overall this is a pretty flexible boot. The sole is on the softer side compared to other boots, which is a pro and a con. For all day riding, it can tire out your feet, but for off-roading where you might have to hike or get off and push, it can make that easier. Ankle support is OK, but not as substantial as some. The finish of the boot is also just OK. The buckles are sort of cheesy and the overall look of the boot doesn’t really do it for me. 

Function

The FR5 is along the same lines as the Radial as far as brake and shifter feel. They aren’t so bulky that you can’t ride normally in them, but, on the bike, they feel a notch or too harder to articulate than the top finishers in the test. You have to be deliberate with your shifting and foot placement. Ankle articulation is good as far as flexion goes, a little harder to extend the ankle though. Even with the biomech hinges, there is a bit of bulging when flexing. Peg grip is excellent and even though I’m not talking about durability, for how grippy the sole is there is no marks or chunking at all. Lastly, when I’ve worn these boots in the past, I caught a rut and the hinge came apart, meaning I had to head back to the truck, and take the boot off to get it back together. 

Cons

Overall, this isn’t a bad boot, but compared to others with the same price tag, it feels less like a top end boot and more like an entry level boot. The shifting and braking aren’t intuitive since the toe-box isn’t as tapered as others. And with flexibility comes lower levels of protection. 

7. FXR Factory Ride

MSRP: $225
Weight: 3,507 g (7.73 lbs, 3.87 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: No
Replaceable Sole: No
Shank: Plastic
Sizes: 8 - 12

The FXR Factory Ride boot is just a step up from an entry-level boot, and it is priced as such. Also, it doesn’t really have any stand out features, other than a molded sole and click-lock buckles. But I can say the main feature after wearing the boot is its robustness and protection factor. 

Fit

This boot has a generous fit that would be best for a wide foot. For me, it definitely does not have the prefered “full-wrap” feeling. There is plenty of room to wiggle my toes and there feels like there is a gap above my foot, like the whole boot could be flatter. Arch support is minimal and since it is on the loose side, heel retention is just OK. I wouldn’t want a size smaller, but I would probably run thicker, old-school-style socks with the Factory Ride. 

Feel

The main feeling of this boot is that it is pretty substantial. It doesn’t have much in the way of frills, but it feels like it would last a long time. The sole is very stiff and has a ton of support with minimal peg feedback. The padding in the boot is a little thin. Ankle support is high and out of all the boots the Factory Ride takes some break in time to get full movement. This is actually a good thing for a non-hinged boot because if they are super flexible right out of the box, they will only break down further. The FXRs feel supportive and firm and my foot and ankle felt well protected.

Function

On the bike, this boot had the bulkiest toe-box. I really had to think about shifting and moving my whole leg to get my left toe under the shifter. The toe area almost feels wider than the middle of the boot, when it should be tapered smaller. Brake feel is also low. Ankle articulation is stiff, but not detrimental to riding and boosts the rugged feel of the boot. Peg grip is right in the middle of the boots - not great, but not bad. Since there is no hinge, bike grip is solid without hotspots or hang-ups. 

Cons

If FXR could make the toe area of the boot lower and skinnier, and maybe tighten up the fit, this boot would be a really solid package. But as is, the on-bike feel of the boot just makes me not want to wear them since shifting and braking takes more effort. 

8. TCX X-Helium

MSRP: $269
Weight: 2,774 g (6.12 lbs, 3.06 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: No
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Shank: Steel insert
Sizes: 5 - 14

This boot is appropriately named since it is by far the lightest in the comparison. Just like the FXRs, there is no hinge and no frills to the X-Helium, but these are on completely the other end of the spectrum when it comes to burliness. These put a premium on flexibility and bike feel over protection and stiffness. 

Fit

These fit really well. They are true to size and have mostly a full-wrap feel in the toe-box, but a little more room mid-foot and not a lot of arch support. These are on the narrow side and would probably be tight for those riders who have wider feet, but I found the snug fit to my liking. The ankle area has a neutral width and the padding inside the boot overall is on the minimal side. Heel retention is just OK - I do get a little heel lift when pointing my toe. 

Feeling 

There is an overall minimal feel to the boot that makes it very comfortable and offers a lot of bike feel and grip, but doesn’t feel like it will be super protective if you take a big hit. The sole is stiff when walking around and kneeling, but the center section (where the footbeg mainly rests) seems to be pretty soft and I can feel the peg a lot when riding. 

Function 

The narrow toe-box actually makes for an easy-shifting, easy-breaking boot. It feels very natural to shift and brake without having to think about it or adjust my riding. The ankle has no pivot or hinge and does bulge a little when flexing, but overall the boot stays narrow and has a wide range of ankle articulation. This is great for working the controls, but there isn’t as much ankle support side-to-side as other boots in the comparo. Overall, these are not bad boots, but I would say they are probably best for single-track or extreme enduro riders where high speeds aren’t the norm and having maximum mobility is a plus. 

Cons

There isn’t much plastic protection on the boot, which contributes to its comfort but not its protectiveness. Also, ankle support is on the low side. Lastly the buckles are difficult to close and take two hands to snap down, but perhaps some WD-40 would help. 

9. Falco Extreme Pro 3.1

MSRP: $299.95
Weight: 3,379 g (7.45 lbs, 3.73 lbs per boot)
Ankle Pivot: Full Ankle Hinge
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Shank: Plastic
Sizes: 8 - 13

Falco is an Italian boot brand imported by Pacific Powersports. It is the most expensive boot in this comparison, but there are a few things that make the Extreme Pro 3.1 a notch or two off the pace of the other boots in this comparison. A few year’s back, I wore the Extreme Pro 3.0 boot, which was the previous model and the only difference is that boot had a booty and current 3.1 do not. 

Fit

The fit is on the generous side but not so big that I need to size down. They have a very similar fit to the Gaerne boots in that the foot section of the boot is a little loose while the ankle and leg section is snug. Wide feet would be a good match for these boots. As mentioned before, the previous model of these boots had a booty, much like Astars Tech 8s, which I feel like this boot should still have to soak up some of the room and add comfort to the boot. 

Feel

For some reason, these boots are painful for me to wear, which is weird because I like the previous model Falcos. There sharp edges around the inner ankle area and ridges across the front of the ankle that are very distracting and uncomfortable. Again, a booty would help with this a ton. The sole is very stiff and doesn’t flex much at all. Good ankle support and overall a beefy feel. 

Function

I just couldn’t really get over the hotspots and edges I felt inside the boot to wear them very long. But, while I did the ankle articulation is very good and hinges smoothly to use the controls. It also has great side-to-side support. The bottom edge of the boot is a little long and would catch under my brake pedal and shifter sometimes. The toe-box is is narrow top-to-bottom, which makes it easy to get under the shifter, but it is wide side-to-side negating some of that shifting and braking performance. 

Cons

Everyone’s feet, ankles, and legs are different and the discomfort I felt in the Falcos might be unique to my anatomy. That being said, I have pretty normal feet and ankle anatomy (no broken bones or injuries). I would just say that these boots really should be tried on first. And, if they are anything like the 3.0s that I’ve had, they are extremely durable and the sole lasts a really long time. 

Overall

Each of these boots in serves a purpose and each has pros and cons. Hopefully, if you are looking for a new MX boot, you can match up your preferences with a boot that sounds the best to you. Being able to properly shift and brake is crucial to riding a motocross bike at a high level and having a pair of boots that works with your foot, gives you comfort, and some degree of protection is a must. 

If you have any specific questions about any of the boots in this comparison please feel free to leave a comment. If you have suggestions on what products we should do a comparison on next, let us know. A Knee Brace comparison is already in the works. 

Also check out our Product Section for more boots and leave your own boot review. 

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