Since all my Yami's only have the kick lever decomp, no manual option, I am used to that method and have never used the hand lever. Both work, personal preference . At least the XT's have a loud "click" from the release once TDC is past, easy to know, the XL doesn't. As for the boots, as many said, they get by with tennis shoes, flip flops ect.. and that is good enough, just one time is all it takes for a backfire and ,ouchhh. I have a pair of Thor 50/50's, from quad trail riding/sand duning,they are nice and light, about as comfy as you can get as far as boots are concerned, even good when walking since they don't go up as far as normal mx boots. .