Lately, I’ve been doing quite a few track days… enough that I was burning through the plastic toe sliders on my Alpinestars boots (a model from a few years ago that is no longer produced) at the rate of about five sets a month. So, when I was offered the chance to test a pair of Oxtar’s TCS Evo Replica RX boots for testing, I jumped in with both feet (sorry, that was pretty bad).
The Evo Replica RX boots (from now on I’ll refer to them simply as ‘Evos’) are constructed mainly of leather and vented Lorica, with molded plastic protection covering large areas of the boots, and replaceable titanium toe sliders.
Putting on the Evos is accomplished via side entry, with a pull lace system to tighten the boots around your foot (using a quick-release sliding plastic tensioner), backed up by a zipper that goes up to your ankle, and heavy-duty velcro that continues all the way to the top of the boot. Getting your feet into the Evos can be a bit difficult at times, requiring you to put your heel on the ground and use a little body weight to ‘encourage’ your foot to pop through the narrow opening. Once your foot is inside, however, it is comfortably ensconced in what Oxtar refers to as an Air-Tech Breathable lining. The three different types of closure provide a secure, highly adjustable fit.
When I say ‘comfortably ensconced’, emphasis belongs on the word comfortable. I can say without hesitation that the Evos are the most comfortable road-race boots I’ve ever worn, and although it’s obvious they’re not designed for hiking, they’re plenty comfortable for walking around a bike show or the parking lot of the rider’s hangout in your local mountains/canyons. Once on the bike, they simply dissapear, fading into the background and doing nothing to remind you that you’re wearing anything other than regular old comfy tennis shoes.
Fortunately, that comfort doesn’t come at the expense of protection, for which I was grateful when I took the Evos along on a high-speed lowside at Laguna Seca recently. The built-in ankle support protects your ankle from impact as well as providing some resistance to hyper-extension, and the plastic armor keeps impact damage from reaching your foot, your achilles tendon, and the portion of your shin that the boot covers. One nice feature is a replaceable plastic slider on the outside of the ankle and another on the outside of the calf at the top of the boot. These are designed so that if you end up sliding on the side of the Evo, they will keep the friction from reaching the integral plastic armor. If you chew through these sliders in a crash, you can order new ones from Oxtar, rather than having a chewed-up boot. Fortunately, my Evos not only provided excellent protection, but came through the slide almost entirely unmarked. A little Plexus and a rag when I got home, and only a few tiny scrape marks remain as evidence of my crash.
The vented Lorica upper and breathable liner helps keep your feet cool, a valuable feature considering that pretty much every track within 6 hours of my office sits in a veritable desert wasteland. For those of you who live in colder climes, Oxtar also offers the TCS Evo RX, which offers all the features of the Evo Replica RX save the vented Lorica upper.
Looking at the white Evos, you might think they won’t last too long before they start to look beat-up, and I thought the same. However, I’ve discovered that by using a combination of cleaner designed for the white leather outers of athletic shoes (available at Foot Locker) and Plastic Cleaners of the type often used on dirt-bike plastics (available at your local dealership), it’s pretty easy to return the Evos to like-new condition every few weeks. Sure, you have to clean them more often than black boots, but that’s the price you pay for looking cool, I suppose. The Evo Replica is only available in white, but the Evo RX (non-vented) comes in black, blue, and red, just in case you want something that won’t show scuff marks as much.
Oxtar may not be as well-known as some other brands, at least in the US market, but I was pleased to discover that they make an extremely high-quality product. For more information on Oxtar boots, check out Helmet House – you can also use their ‘Dealer Locator’ function to find your nearest Oxtar retailer.