Revisted: Gaerne Balance Oiled Boot Review
I grew up riding and racing dirt bikes, and my brain's default boot is a motocross boot. Nowadays though, one of my current bikes is a much loved Triumph Scrambler, and for that bike, motocross boots are overkill. Too bulky, too heavy, and too stiff for walking when off the bike, especially if I hoof it any kind of distance. For my Triumph, I need something looks cool, feels like a real boot, but is comfortable on and off the bike.
Enter the Gaerne Balance Oiled Boot. Originally intended as a trials boot, the Balance is built to off some protection but also outstanding control feedback. As an every (riding) day boot, it falls into that crossover zone between lower height urban/work style boots and motocross boots. It provides foot and leg protection yet it is still comfortable for long hours in the saddle and for walking when off the bike. I recently got a pair to test during typical scrambler riding, and will I share my experienced rider opinion of them.
Boot Features and Details
My immediate impression upon unboxing the Balance boots is that the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail is top-notch. According to Gaerne, the Balance is made with full-grain oil-tanned leather. This "Oiled" leather is soft and supple, looks beautiful, and will develop character as the boots get used. Other key details are a Drytech breathable waterproof membrane, and flat, soft gum rubber soles to better feel and control the bike. Here’s a full rundown of the technical features of the Gaerne Balance Oiled boots:
- Timeless trials/scrambler/crossover styling
- Beautiful full-grain oiled brown leather
- Simple, minimalist branding
- Made in Italy
- Injection-molded front shin guard
- Above-the-ankle leg protection
- Durability Features
- Full-grain oiled leather construction
- Replaceable alloy buckles
- Double stitching used in most areas
- Drytech waterproof breathable membrane between outer leather and liner allows perspiration to pass through, but keeps water out, for warm and dry feet in all weather conditions
- Anti-slip gum rubber outsoles for easy walking on wet or slippery surfaces
- Wide toe box is excellent for riders with wider feet
- Lightweight - 5.4 lb. (2.45 kg) per pair in size 11 (46 Euro)
- Top gaiter with velcro closure keeps dirt, dust, and water out
- Alloy buckles with adjustable strap length for a custom fit
- Fit under most jeans
Next, I threw them on to see how they felt in stock form. The three-buckle design made for easy entry and the footbeds were comfortable with no hot spots or gaps. After buckling up, I walked around for a while as I prepared to head out on a ride to see how they felt. Boom! Instant comfort and a noticeable difference in weight compared to a set of motocross boots. The gum rubber anti-slip soles are grippy (to the point of being squeaky like a new set of sneakers) with mildly aggressive lugs for grip in soft or wet conditions. All-in-all, I was super-impressed with the quality and workmanship.
After checking them out in the garage, I headed out to give the boots a shakedown. I rode a mix of asphalt and gravel roads here in Idaho, over three separate rides.
I could tell right away I would like these. Very few boots are as comfortable as the Gaerne Balance right out of the box, and as I took off, I was surprised by how easily I could operate the brake pedal and shift lever. This allowed me to relax and concentrate on riding instead of focus on braking and shifting. Shifting was slightly tricky due to the taller toe box, but not enough to raise the shift lever.
The Balance is aptly named. The boots strike a perfect balance between moto and urban/work boots, and protection and comfort. With a height of 13.5-inches (US size 11) and integrated shin guards, my lower legs felt less vulnerable than when riding in urban/work style boots. Yet, they are still comfortable both on and off the bike. It’s a perfect combo for multi-day ADV adventures, out for a rip on your scrambler, or long days in the saddle with multiple stops.
Being a former AMA pro MX'er, I am an incorrigible dirt guy. So....I decided to do some gravel drifting on my T120 (don't try this at home) to see how the boots felt in loose conditions and came away impressed. The gum rubber soles solidly gripped my footpegs. I could slide back on the balls of my feet and drift the bike standing up without fear of slipping off the pegs. I could also hang my leg out in tight corners flat track style and slide my foot on the gravel without feeling like I might snap a tib or fib if I dabbed my foot. All that feedback let me focus on the road ahead and not think about anything else.
Gaerne has a rich history of making motorcycle footwear, built in Italy—by artisans. Accompanying that is a long list of world championships to back up its its reputation. Thankfully, instead of pounding their chest with cheesy ads telling everyone how cool they are, Gaerne lets their products do the talking. They may not be the biggest brand in the market, but one could argue they are the best motorcycle boot brand on the market.
There is a wisdom in the idea that quality comes with a price. In my opinion, there is no clearer example of this concept than these boots. They are not cheap, but I say they are worth every penny. By combining amazing quality with attention to detail, the Gaerne Balance Oiled works for a broad range of bikes, riders, and riding. If you’re in search of a versatile, classy, extremely comfortable boot for riding ADVs, scramblers, trials, with great fit, feel, feedback, and easy walking off the bike, the Balance Oiled is for you.
- Super comfortable right out of the box
- Easy to walk in
- Oiled brown leather is buttery soft
- Style for miles!
- Buckle straps may be a little short for those with large calves
- No shifter pad or protection
- Price is a bit steep
- Almost too beautiful to put on and wear the first time!
- Oiled leather can scratch and result in an undesirable appearance
- Very little foot and ankle protection compared to motocross boots
Purchase Details: Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots, available in Brown sizes Men’s 5–14 (EU 38–49). Currently priced at $329.77 (prices subject to change).
- Dale Spangler