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Old 03-19-2011, 01:21 PM   #1
Brtp4 OP
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Gaerne Balance Oiled and Balance Pro Tech Boots Review

Fellow ADV Riders,







We have been selling the Gaerne Balance boots for quite some time, and several of The BOMBERS use them. In simple words, they are awesome, one of those products we sell that continually exceed customer expectations. They are super well made, fit great (Gaerne is known for their excellent fit), and durable. This is a fairly long post, but these are one of my personal favorite products, and I want to take the time to explain the construction.

The Balance line was originally intended as a trials boot, thus the name "Balance". Trials boots are a niche, with low production volume. Because it was a niche product, more attention was paid to making it work perfectly than to cutting costs to achieve a particular price point.

The clearest example of this is how the Gaerne Balance leather is cut and the number of pieces. The leather cutting of motorcycle boots is done with dies; and the dies have to be carefully placed on the hide to cut around any flaws in the leather. The more leather pieces, the smaller they are, the easier they are to place on the hide and get a good yield (less waste). Every hide is different, with scars, holes, etc. this is why the cutter job is one of the more skilled.

Most boots use a lot of pieces for this reason, usually 10, 15, 20 or more. The Balance uses as few pieces as possible. The upper of the boot is only 3 pieces of leather, and 7 total. This is really low, not cheap, but makes a more comfortable boot. Look closely, the bulk of the upper is made from only two huge pieces. The result: less seams, better break in, better bend creases, less pinching, more comfort.

This is one of those intangible details of quality that too often gets missed. It is not obvious, does not show up in search, is not commonly known. It goes against current boot design trends, which can be summed up by saying "make it cheaper, somehow". Gaerne obviously does not think that way. They have been sold for several years now, Gaerne gets constant pressure to make the Balance less expensive, but they have kept it the same.

Another detail that makes them a great dual sport boot, but is intangible, is the mid-sole construction. The mid-sole is the area under the footbed, above the outsole. This area defines the stiffness of the sole flex - and the protection. It is also where many boot designers cut corners to save cost. The Balance uses a modified MX boot midsole, it is both supportive, yet moderately flexible to allow feel and the ability to walk.

Many customers ask why this is important, there are multiple reasons. The first is metatarsal (the bones in your foot) protection. A common scenario where this applies: while riding, moving forward, you strike an immobile object like a stump or rock with your toe. In some cases, this happens when your foot is on the pegs and weighted, in other cases you leg is off the peg and down. Your foot stops moving, but either your weight on the peg or the peg itself try to push your foot forward. If your boot has a soft, flexible midsole, it will fold under the ball of your foot, and break the metatarsal bones.

This tends to be less tangible to boot buyers than the ability to walk easily. It is why MX boots are rigid here, and roadracing boots also. A good DS boot needs rigidity here, perhaps more than at the ankle area even. The Balance has a fairly rigid midsole, less than an MX boot, but much, much more than a street or hiking boot.

Another reason these are great boots: DS and ADV riders stand a lot. A rigid midsole also is crucial for people standing on the pegs for a long time. Footpegs are small, and standing on them for long periods with soft footwear...hurts. BTW, no riders stand as much as trials riders, as trials bikes often do not have seats.

More...

BP
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:36 PM   #2
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Balance Oiled

Balance Oiled $337.97

More info at www.atomic-moto.com/balance_oiled

The Balance is the product family name, and is sold in two variations. The Balance Oiled is the flagship model in the family:



The Balance Oiled has two significant features: it is waterproof, with a Gaerne Drytech waterproof liner built in, and it uses a special oil-treated leather. The oil treatment makes the leather softer without sacrificing durability, and makes it water repellent. Most softening treatments are done in the tanning process, and work by breaking up the cellular structure of the leather. Gaerne's process does not. Perhaps a good way to think of it is like a baseball glove, that gets oiled.

The Oiled also has the limited piece construction described above, aluminum buckles, a hard plastic shin plate, anti-microbial liner, and a gum rubber sole.

Putting them on, the Balance Oiled are instantly comfortable. Gaerne boots are known for comfort and generally run wide, these do too. As nearly every boot sold, they have a cheap crummy footbed, which should be upgraded to a Montrail or Superfeet or similar.

They are light in weight, 2.65 lbs per side, compared to about 4.5 - 5.5 lbs per side for an MX boot. This makes them easy to walk in. The gum sole is not lugged, but gets good traction in most anything except mud. They can be worn easily under boot cut jeans or Carhartts, and also be worn with or without MX shin guards. Buckles work great, and stay closed. The Oiled version is a little warm compared to the non-WP version, but this is to be expected. They are still very comfortable.

SIZING: Sizing is true to industry norm, and up or downsizing is not usually not needed. The best way to size these is to note your US size AND check your athletic shoes to get your EU size. Knowing both of these usually gets a good result.

More....

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Old 03-19-2011, 01:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brtp4 View Post
Balance Oiled $329.97

The Balance is the product family name, and is sold in two variations. The Balance Oiled is the flagship model in the family:



The Balance Oiled has two significant features: it is waterproof, with a Gaerne Drytech waterproof liner built in, and it uses a special oil-treated leather. The oil treatment makes the leather softer without sacrificing durability, and makes it water repellent. Most softening treatments are done in the tanning process, and work by breaking up the cellular structure of the leather. Gaerne's process does not. Perhaps a good way to think of it is like a baseball glove, that gets oiled.

The Oiled also has the limited piece construction described above, aluminum buckles, a hard plastic shin plate, anti-microbial liner, and a gum rubber sole.

Putting them on, the Balance Oiled are instantly comfortable. Gaerne boots are known for comfort and generally run wide, these do too. As nearly every boot sold, they have a cheap crummy footbed, which should be upgraded to a Montrail or Superfeet or similar. Sizing is true to industry norm, and up or downsizing is not usually not needed. The best way to size these is to note your US size AND check your athletic shoes to get your EU size. Knowing both of these usually gets a good result.

They are light in weight, 2.65 lbs per side, compared to about 4.5 - 5.5 lbs per side for an MX boot. This makes them easy to walk in. The gum sole is not lugged, but gets good traction in most anything except mud. They can be worn easily under boot cut jeans or Carhartts, and also be worn with or without MX shin guards. Buckles work great, and stay closed. The Oiled version is a little warm compared to the non-WP version, but this is to be expected. They are still very comfortable.

More....

BP
I have had a pair of these for a couple of years now and i can say they are the best boots i have ever owned. I have been riding for 40+ years now and have tried every type of boot, but these do everything perfectly.

Well worth the cost!!!

my two cents!
jb
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:59 PM   #4
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Balance Pro Tech

Gaerne Balance Pro-Tech
Price: $259.97

More info at www.atomic-moto.com/balance_protech



The Balance Pro Tech is the non-waterproof model in the Balance family. It features the same limited-piece construction, aluminum buckles, microfiber liner, gum sole, etc., as the Balance Oiled. There are 2 differences: the Pro Tech does not have the waterproof membrane, and it uses "only" top quality full grain leather. This leather would be one of the best materials used on any boot, and is excellent, just overshadowed by the Oiled. Fit is exactly the same.

On the bike, the Pro Tech feels a little firmer than the Oiled. Not stiff or uncomfortable, just less soft. The boots do break in nicely, and the lack of seams is great. They are a little less hot; this is because of the non-WP construction.

Either of these make great DS and ADV boots. They are light, walkable, and comfortable all day. Riders on go on long routes usually can't wait to get their MX boots off, but with these on it is a non-issue. They are super comfortable, with the addition of a good insole (we cannot stress how much an improvement they are...) the Balance is about as comfortable as a hiking boot.

Both models are usually available in sizes 8 -12. Other sizes are sometimes available, as the importer does a poor job of stocking them. They can be special ordered, with a wait of about 4-6 weeks.

For more questions, go to www.atomic-moto.com/gaerne or feel free to contact us.

Thanks,

BP
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Old 03-19-2011, 02:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdbski View Post
I have had a pair of these for a couple of years now and i can say they are the best boots i have ever owned. I have been riding for 40+ years now and have tried every type of boot, but these do everything perfectly.

Well worth the cost!!!

my two cents!
jb
Agreed. They are almost old school in their construction. This is a good thing, my old Hi Points were the longest lasting pair of boots I ever owned.

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Old 03-19-2011, 02:49 PM   #6
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They look great.

I see they come in full sizes only. Do they run big? Or small?

If told you I thought I was a 9 1/2 would you go 9 or 10?
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Old 03-19-2011, 02:58 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by dlew View Post
They look great.

I see they come in full sizes only. Do they run big? Or small?

If told you I thought I was a 9 1/2 would you go 9 or 10?
Probably a 9. Can you check your athletic shoes to get your EU size?

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Old 03-19-2011, 09:39 PM   #8
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I usually wear a 11.5. I needed a 12 in the Gaerne SG10, so I ordered a 12 also in the Balances -> way, way too big. The 11's fit very nicely. I think they run slightly big compared to "norm" in my limited experience.

Great boot for general use and light dualsporting. I tried some longer enduro/trailrides and found the sole too flexible/soft to stand all day long trying to muscle a 450 four stroke around the woods - the much stiffer MX boots are necessary for that kind of riding. For everything else - street, ADV riding (whatever that is), dual-sporting, trials (obviously!), etc., I love the Balance Oiled.

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Old 03-20-2011, 06:06 PM   #9
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sizing help

Currently wear Sidi's in 48's (Aerostitch combats). I wear 13's in every other shoe style. I have a pair of Sidi disco's in 47's and they are just too small. Also, I have a wide foot.
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Old 03-20-2011, 06:31 PM   #10
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You'll be a 13 or 48 in these also. A 13 is a 48 in these, same as your normal, same as a Sidi. They are wider though.

The thing that Country Doc talks about, above, is important. The sizes 11 and 12 are a little large, I am normally a 12, I needed an 11 in these. This was odd, I am never an 11. I also had a few returns from customers in the 11 or 12 sizes.

Finally I checked my EU size on my athletic shoes, some are marked 12 us, 46 EU. My cycling shoes are 12 US/46 EU. But, a 46 EU is an 11 in a Gaerne Balance, and a 12 is a 47. This is not an anomaly, but is toward the large side. Yet, the 9s I sold fit like a 9. 14s I have sold are normal, one was returned as too small.

Basically, I think the sizing in general is mostly normal - I repeat, most sizes are NORMAL, so people should NOT just order 1 size down - but I think the conversions on sizes 11 and 12 are off. I know this sounds crazy, non-linear, non-scientific, etc. But I changed the way I recommend sizes on these, began asking people their EU shoe size, and have had good luck since.

So, I think anyone looking at these should note their US and EU size. May not make it perfect, but it seems to help.

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Old 03-20-2011, 06:48 PM   #11
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Tenderfoot

++ right on w/ the sizing- my Pro Tech's are size 11/46 and fit like a perfect 12. Great boots except for a crease on top of my ankle bone- I'll have to tenderize it with a ball peen and oil; not my foot, the boot!
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Old 03-21-2011, 04:57 PM   #12
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++ right on w/ the sizing- my Pro Tech's are size 11/46 and fit like a perfect 12. Great boots except for a crease on top of my ankle bone- I'll have to tenderize it with a ball peen and oil; not my foot, the boot!
TTS,

For non-wp boots, you can fix crease pressure points with a small drill bit. Drill holes on the crease, and it reduces the pressure, or, along a parallel line, and you can sometimes create a new bend. Once you accomplish this, you can seal the holes up with silicone.

Yes, I know it sounds nuts, but it works. Just be careful, don't cut loose with the Makita.

On a WP boot....hmmmm.....the goal is to either soften the crease area, so it is not pointed on the inside, or relocate it. I would build a foil or duct tape shape to stuff inside the boot, then fold the boot so the form pushed the crease out. Spray the crease with leather conditioner, wrap a bungee around it, and let it sit for a week.

I have done this with baseball gloves, worked there.

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Old 03-22-2011, 08:27 AM   #13
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Too bad they max out at 13. Us big-footed fellas never get any love from the really quality bootmakers.

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Old 03-23-2011, 05:15 PM   #14
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How do they compare in protection/support? They look a lot...uh, lighter in the exoskeleton. The hard parts and limited ankle movement in the Sidis looks attractive for crashing, if not walking.



(not trying to crap up a Vendor thread- just asking for specifics!)
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Old 03-23-2011, 06:31 PM   #15
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How do they compare in protection/support? They look a lot...uh, lighter in the exoskeleton. The hard parts and limited ankle movement in the Sidis looks attractive for crashing, if not walking.
(not trying to crap up a Vendor thread- just asking for specifics!)
No worries. Those Sidis are really nice boots, we do not sell them but I really like the company. I used to ride KTMs with Daniele Signori and consider him a friend. Sidi's (and Gaerne's) product quality are at the top of the industry, and I feel a notch ahead of other Italian brands.

That said, they fit a different space in the product market. The Adventures have a considerable amount of plastic, much much more than the Balance. They are more rigid, good for ankle protection, but not that good for walking. In fact, they have a similar amount of plastic and support as some MX boots.

Really, the Sidi boot that is comparable is the Discovery. The Discos have a similar amount of plastic, support, and flex. They gather less attention than the newer, more complex Adventures, but they (and the Balance) have a much wider usage envelope. In our opinion, they are better for dual sport use.

The other difference is that the Balance is a wider last. If there is one thing about the Sidi line that I am not stoked on - and it applies to the Adventures - it is that they run narrow. For some people this is an advantage, for me, I need a wider fit. We get few returns for fit with Gaerne, and I sincerely feel they have an advantage here.

Hope that helps.

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