You pay for the best, you get the best.
So, I've had these bad boys out for a couple rides now, and I wanted to share my first impressions.
First and foremost, these boots absolutely deliver what I bought them for...comfort and fit. I had tried on several full race boots from various manufacturers, and there was something always lacking in the fit department. They'd fit perfect around the forefoot, but my heel would slip up and down out of the heel cup. They'd fit around the heel but my toes would be mashed in the toe box. They'd fit fairly well, but tight around the calf and I'd never get pants inside them. Etc.
I have a pair of streetburners (review of them in a minute in their own thread) and what I love about them is the Sidi adjuster across the foot. It is brilliant, you just clip it and dial in how tight you want the fit. The Vortice is packed with those adjusters. It is priced like it too.
I tried their Cobra and ST. The STs were nice, but I did not like the cam lock across the calf, and how you adjust the fit of it. True it is similar to a ski boot cam lock, but you don't adjust how tight it is like a top end ski boot cam lock. On a nice ski boot, you spin the unfastened cam like a screw to make fine adjustments. On the Sidi you pull out a ribbed plastic tab. I can see that being a pain in the rear, and knowing there are better cam lock systems out there, this detail turned me off the ST. The Cobra fit OK, but no calf adjustment made me worry about getting a pair of Dainese Alien pants inside with their built in shin armor.
Well, luckily my birthday arrived, so I decided to treat myself to the Vortices as a B-day gift.
THANK YOU TO ME!
These boots are nothing short of fantastic.
The fit of these boots is a 10/10 because once you get your ideal size, you can fine tune the fit at three different positions on the boot. You can tighten them across the top of the foot, across the front of your shin, and at the top to secure the boot around your calf. No other boot I've seen is this customize-able stock. The Sidis in general fit me well, and the toe box, while a smidge on the narrow size, is more than manageable. I don't notice it when riding, and walking I only get some slight rubbing on the outside of my little toe. I would err on the side of going large over smaller, because you CAN cinch the boot down in those three areas, but still have a room in the toe area. In other boots if you are a 'tweaner size, you either have to live with a loose heel, or crammed toes. Not in this baby.
On the bike, they aren't there. At least you don't notice you're wearing a rigid full top end race boot packed with enough armor to make your lower leg look like the Terminator after all Arnold's skin gets melted off. The on-bike comfort is the best I could ask for, period. In fact, when I am riding, I notice no comfort different between these and the Streetburners, a low cut boot. NONE. Amazing comfort, easy to shift and brake (although I did have to adjust my shifter to allow for a little more room.) Great feel through the thin but very rigid soles. So why a 9 out of 10 instead of a 10/10? They leave a little to be desired when you get off the bike and walk. They walk like a ski-boot walks due to the rock solid sole, that familiar heel-toe clunky walk, not fluid. Now, they are only 1/4 as bad as a ski boot is...they are comfortable and not painful, just that the sole is so rigid. But you have to remember, this is a full race boot made for riding, not wandering the mall. So it pains to me to even deduct a point at all, but I do so because some other manufacturer might have cracked this code on the race boot. Who knows. If I were just riding to the mall, I'd wear the Streetburners. But for pure riding, the Vortices every time.
I am happy to say I have yet to test the safety of these boots, and I hope I never will. But if I were to guess, if I had a catastrophic crash which annihilated my body, the only thing I'm pretty sure they will be able to reciver intact would be my legs front the upper shin down. Total Loria construction, very robust ankle protection, heavy shin protection, great achilles protection, and great heel and toe protection. These are the real deal. I can't imagine my ankle twisting in them. These are truly the top of the line when it comes to safety.
TECHNICALITY AND FEATURES 10/10
This boot oozes R&D dollars, and if you are a toy addict like I am, you want these boots, because everything on them is cool. The fasteners take the cake...they are just brilliant. The vents are well placed and flow a nice amountof air. I did not get the perforated Air version, because I was afraid they'd be too cold in the Fall. I am glad I did, because on a pair of ride sin the high 80s/low 90s Virginia heat (where humidity pushes the heat index above 100) I never felt my feet or legs get hot. My socks got a little moist up around my calfs, above the ankles, but I wasn't wearing nice riding socks or moisture wicking socks...heavy black tube socks. If I wore nice socks, these would be dry as a bone. All the external safety bits are 100% replaceable. The pad of the sole is easily replaceable. The design shop hit a home run overall with this boot.
These boots are pimp. Even in all black, they are very in-your-face and wear all of their technology on their sleeve. A* and Dainese boots look great too, but they tuck all their tech inside under styling. These boots put it all on display, and you look and feel like a road warrior wearing them. Hands down my favorite looking boot on the market. The only thing more pimp, is the same boot in red and white. I wasn't brave enough for that. I wish I had been. But black just looks mean on this boot. So I guess I really wish I had both.
These boots are crazy expensive. They are worth every penny, mind you, but still they are priced out of most riders budget at about $495 list price. And the price and features different between these and the next model down is huge. I wish Sidi would replace the ST with a boot at that price level that had less extreme race protection but still featured the Vortice fasteners. And then offered a model between it and the Cobra to replace the Vertigo. I think that would be a winning formula and dust the competition across the range. But then again, they forced me to pay for their top end boot so maybe they are on to something. But I'm a different bird. I come from ice hockey, and my goalie skates cost $550. And that's one of the less expensive pieces of gear. So sub $500 for a top end boot didn't give me any sticker shock. But still, I was in the market for a Vertigo or ST level boot. The customize-able fit convinced me to spend the extra $100 to $200 bucks. Because if you are honest with yourself, you don't skimp on gear because of price. And if it fits that much better, you're that much safer because it's one less thing distracting you from the road.
I highly recommend these to anyone who is going to track, race, or just do some extended street riding. The only time I plan on wearing my Streetburners now is if I am tooling in-town and planning o make stops. Otherwise, Vortice all the time.