When you’re self-employed, working from a home office, you tend to dress…well, maybe casual isn’t descriptive enough. Let’s just say I’ve forgotten how to iron creases or tie a half-Windsor. Jeans, tennies and my favorite ironically sloganed t-shirt are my usual apparel. Zip me up into my trusty Aerostich and I’m ready-to-ride.
Except for my feet! Your feet and ankles are very vulnerable to injury, and not just in a crash. Your sneaks may look great and be as comfortable as wearing no shoes at all, but they’re not really up to the dangers of riding, even if you’re not on the racetrack. How about a little hot exhaust header on your ankle? Or slipping in a nice patch of antifreeze and having 600 pounds of angry motorcycle land on your ‘ol malleolus? Ow.
One solution is to keep your work shoes at work and swap out your riding boots, but that does add time and complexity to the process…and are you really going to do that if you just need to go pick up a part or grab lunch? Be honest.
Maybe you could use a pair of the AXO 5to9 riding shoes? I could—and I do. My favorite parts guy pointed them out to me, and their skate-park style and simple design (I have the black-and-red pair: the blue-and yellow may only appeal to Boy George c. 1985. Yikes!) got my attention. Wear them with jeans and nobody will know they’re moto-shoes. But they offer many (but not all) of the features you’d want to protect your feet.
AXO—who you may have known as an Italian purveyor of stylish but functional off-road equipment—is butting into the streetbike market with a line of boots, jackets, pants, gloves, one-piece race leathers and other gear. The 5to9 is a casual take on the AXO 9to5 riding shoe, a more traditional moto-style shoe. The upper is constructed of leather and perforated synthetic stuff, bonded to a stiff, thick rubber slip-resistant sole. Safety features include a shift pad over the toe, an extra-stiff sole (parts-guy Tony pointed out you can put a shoe on the floor sideways and stand on it and the sole won’t fold over) and plastic ankle protectors. On my foot, the shoe extends just over 4 inches, nicely covering my knobby little ankle bone.
They’re not as technical as some riding boots, but the 5to9′s notable feature is the BOA fastening system, which makes securely fitting them to your feet fast and easy. You may be familiar with BOA from all kinds of outdoor footwear and other equipment—including braces and orthopedic devices—but only AXO uses it for motorcycling footwear. It’s a little ratcheting disc on the tongue that quickly winds the thin stainless-steel cable that acts as a shoelace. When it’s tight, you snap the disc down and it locks. To adjust or remove the shoe, unsnap the disc and tug the tongue. It’s fast and easy to don and doff, and fail-safe in a way zippers or laces can only dream of. In fact, BOA guarantees against failure of the fastening system for life.
In use, the 5to9 is a comfortable and practical pair of shoes. Fit runs a little big—I’m a USA size 9.5 and the 9s fit me fine, if a little narrow. Walking is okay, though only as good as your average pair of skate shoes; the 5to9′s soles are flat and fairly hard compared to athletic shoes. But you can stuff your favorite insole in there and they’re a good all-day kind of shoe, so long as your entire day isn’t spent on your feet. The shoes are made in China, but my pair look well-finished, with even, double stitching and durable material that feels nice to the touch.
On the bike, they provide good control feel but don’t feel flimsy. They’re a summer shoe, with noticeable breeze coming through the vented pleather. How well would they stand up to a crash? Better than regular sneakers, probably, and I’m pretty certain that they’d stay on, which is much of the battle when it comes to protective gear. Obviously, roadrace boots will provide the best protection, but ATGATT is a pretty rigorous church to belong to and not all of us can keep that kind of commitment.
At $150, the 5to9 is a good value for practical, comfortable, well-made footwear that feel good on your feet—and let you feel a little better about your riding safety. Find out more about AXO.