Female-specific foot protection
Sidi, a company responsible for creating high-tech road racing boots for male riders, now offers a ladies version called the Vertigo Lei that retails for about $300. Based on the anatomy of the female foot, these beauties offer a feminine exterior, but with the technology of the male version of the Vertigo boot. As a female rider, the features were appealing, but I was skeptical as to whether or not these boots would meet my expectations. The boots arrived just in time for a December track event, and this review is based on my experiences with the boots after three different track events for a total of five days of track time.
At the first event, these boots were undoubtedly stiff, as is expected of any boots but they loosened up nicely over the course of each track event. Sized according to standard European measurements, the Sidi Vertigo Lei boots run on the narrow to medium side in the foot bed. As a woman with a half-sized foot (and by that I mean I wear an 8.5, not have half a foot!), I was nervous about whether to size up or size down, as I so often do when purchasing shoes. I also had a difficult time finding online reviews about these boots that were specific about sizing , so I decided to take a leap and purchase a Euro size 41, which equates to a U.S. women’s size 8.5. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they fit right out of the box. Since the foot bed was on the narrow to medium size, they felt nice and cozy at the first track event. After breaking them in, they still have a snug fit, but have also loosened up just enough to make them more comfortable. It is my opinion that these boots do indeed run true to size.
In addition to the Vertigo Lei running slightly narrow through the foot bed, they are also fairly narrow through the ankle and do not allow much space for leathers and socks. Since my leathers end at my ankle, I had difficulty zipping these boots over them and found it necessary to pull both my leathers and thin Under Armor pants up higher towards my calf to allow for the boots to zip. Fortunately, these boots were designed with the Tecno VR adjustable calf system, which I have found to be my favorite feature of this boot. The Tecno VR system, patented by Sidi and used specifically on Sidi's Vertigo line of boots, was designed to fit calves of all sizes. The system features a simple adjustment knob that allows users to tighten the calf portion of the boot accordingly. I found this system to be ideal as I was able to expand the calf portion to full capacity and was then able to pull my leathers up above my ankle and zip the boot completely. After the boots were on and secure, I adjusted the calf to the proper tightness and was ready to ride.
On the bike, the boots felt comfortable and I had no difficulty in terms of body position. The Vertigo Leis were tested on three different bikes at two different tracks. Two of the bikes, a 2008 Honda CBR1000RR and a 2007 Honda CBR600RR, were GP shift and the third bike, a 2006 Suzuki DRZ400SM, was standard shift. For the most part, shifting was not an issue. However, in certain positions—such as weighting the pegs in some corners and up-shifting or down-shifting (depending on whether the bike was GP or standard shift)—I found the inner ankle to be lacking support. In these specific positions, the material of the boot would bunch up around the ankle, causing minor pain by the end of the day. I also found this bunching of material—the bunching of the boot, not the leathers—to be an issue while walking and after some minor bruising right above my ankle bone after the first couple of track days, decided to try unzipping the boots in between sessions while walking around in the pit area. This helped to alleviate the ankle issue slightly, but did not completely resolve the problem as I still encountered bunching in the inner ankle portion of the boot while riding.
While I found the material on the inner ankle of the boot lacking in support, the Vertigo Lei's certainly did not lack support on the outer ankle portion of the boot. The outer ankle side of the boot is actually quite rigid and features loads of thick protection. Fortunately, I did not have the opportunity to "crash" test these boots, but I am confident that they would protect my feet and ankles during an incident. The boots are double stitched in the specific areas of the boot that are prone to damage during a crash and the material on the outer portion of the boot is Lorica, a light weight composite micro fiber that is known for its strength and durability. Despite my satisfaction with the rigidity of the outer portion of the boot, I am still disappointed that the inner portion of the boot does not provide more support.
Although I have reservations about the ankle support, I do believe that this boot is an impressive step up when it comes to ladies-specific track boots. I'd like to reiterate that the features offered by the Sidi Ladies Vertigo Lei boots, like the adjustable calf system, are not even an option on other brands’ ladies-specific models. Overall, I am very pleased with the Sidi Vertigo Lei boots and appreciate the Tecno VR adjustable calf system immensely. I like the fact that these boots are extremely sharp looking with a feminine design up the side of the boot in either red or pink. They feature loads of protection and offer replaceable ankle cups, toe pads, and shin deflector plates. While these boots weren't made for walkin', they certainly were made for women interested in riding!