Gaerne SG-12 Motorcycle Boots | Long-Term Race Tested
Few companies grow to fame yet retain the core principles and ethos that propelled their accent in the first place, but the Gaerne boot company is one such company.
After 50+ years of handcrafting motorcycling footwear, they remain the only major manufacturer of MX boots to completely centralize design, construction, and quality control under a single roof in an northern Italian enclave just outside of Treviso. The result is a premium motorcycle boot with no compromises.
The Gaerne SG-12 is heralded as Gaerne’s flagship MX boot, and I tested a pair during over 40 hours of desert racing, MX training, and off-road race simulations. I should also add that on motorcycling weekends, whether its racing or family riding, I wear my boots from sunup until my head hits the pillow for the night, so needless to say, comfortable and functional boots are mandatory.
The list of reasons why I love the Gaerne SG-12 boots is long, but suffice it to say that I was smitten from the moment I pulled them over my riding socks. The quality and craftsmanship are immediately apparent.
The ratchet straps are easy to adjust and the alloy buckles have a positive snap upon closure. Without an inner booty, these boots are very quick to pull on and off, so your riding buddies are not waiting around for you to fine-tune the fitment of your boots every morning.
Additionally, and an extremely cool feature I haven’t found on any other MX boot, is that the shin plate is adjustable to accommodate knee braces or larger calf sizes. With the use of a #2 Phillips screwdriver, the upper boot enclosure can be expanded to one of three different positions. For those of us who have wrestled with fitting knee braces into boots in the past, this is a godsend.
Each Gaerne SG-12 boot weighs about 4.6 pounds, which is right in line with the Alpinestars Tech 10 and the Sidi Crossfire SRS series. However, the overall profile of the SG-12 is a little smaller than Tech 10 and slightly larger than Crossfire SRS, which really puts it in the sweet spot in balancing mobility and protection.
Once on the bike, I immediately noticed the smooth heel and ankle articulation, facilitating exceptional rear brake and gear-shifter inputs and virtually eliminating the break-in period common with a lot of other boots.
Lower spec boots typically have stiff uppers and soft soles, rendering them uncomfortable to wear, too stiff to easily manipulate foot controls, and with the soft soles, they transfer too much force and impact directly to the rider’s feet. The Gaerne SG-12 boots are the complete opposite.
The uppers are completely adjustable and the pivot hinge provides for comfortable flex and articulation. Lower down, the sole is stiff enough to absorb big g-outs and overjump scenarios, yet not too stiff for walking around.
In addition to the easy articulation, the soft memory foam footbed makes these boots all-day comfortable. For MX and off-road racing applications, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
There are modern off-road boots that look great in photos, but are poorly designed and constructed. In some cases, they are literally single use. Yes, I’ve completely destroyed entry-level boots in a single day of desert racing. The material used in the sole of the SG-12 boots looks great even after hours of off-road racing, and will easily last a few seasons before they need to be re-soled. When you invest in a quality boot like the Gaerne SG-12, you visit your local moto-cobbler and have them re-soled.
The only thing that initially bothered me about the SG-12 boots was the persistent squeak emanating from the ankle pivots. Fortunately, a little silicone spray lube fixed that issue, and thus eliminated the only nascent gripe I had.
The Gaerne SG-12s are truly great boots all-around for off-road competition. If all you are doing is play-riding with kids or sight-seeing on your dual-sport bike, a cheaper boot with fewer features will probably better suit you. However, if hard riding and competition is your passion, and you want a high-end Italian beauty that works exceedingly well in all conditions, the Gaerne SG-12 is a sure bet.
Gaerne SG-12 Boots Fast Facts
- Sizes: US 8-14
- Colors: 16 choices (Red/White shown)
- Gaerne SG-12 Boots Price: From $620 MSRP