By Dale Spangler
DOGFIGHT - Urban Riding Boots: Klim Blak Jak vs. Forma Legacy
When it comes to motorcycle riding gear, too many riders are willing to sacrifice protection for fashion. How many times have we seen a rider in jeans, a t-shirt, and Converse sneakers — especially in an urban setting? And what happens when they hit the deck? Their shoes pop off like a cork from a bottle of champagne. It’s not a pretty sight to imagine the end result of a pavement slide sans shoes.
Motorcycle footwear is one of the segments where it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of moto boot options that allow riders to look good and have the peace of mind that protection provides. Two such options are the Klim Blak Jak and Forma Legacy. Both fall into the “Urban” category, which allow riders to stealthily wear protective footwear without looking like you just stepped off a space shuttle. Both offer high-level comfort, protection, and style that will have you racking up compliments wherever you go.
For this Dogfight, I’ll break down each pair of boot’s protective details. Then I’ll share my experiences from riding in them on my Triumph T120.
Boot Features and Details
The Klim Blak Jak and Forma Legacy are both purpose-built motorcycle riding boots with features not found on ordinary hiking or work boots. These features make a big difference on the bike, as opposed to a construction worker on a job site. Riding needs such as shifting, long periods on the pegs, heel and toe impacts, and boot entry are addressed by motorcycle-rider-specific features and details. Let me break down those features and details.
Klim Blak Jak Boot Features and Details
- Classic wedge sole work-boot styling
- Metal lace eyelets
- Low-profile embossed logos
- Reinforced toe and heel construction
- 3MM XRD® tongue and ankle pads
- Welted rubber outsole construction
- Midweight lasting board for riding and walking comfort
- Perforated leather for breathability
- Asymmetrical shifter pad located on the left foot
- Moisture-wicking antimicrobial breathable liner
- 2.5 lb. (40 oz) per pair (size 12)
- Removable insole
- Entry assist pull loops
Forma Legacy Urban Boot Features and Details
- Classic heel sole work-boot styling
- Full-grain vintage oiled leather upper
- CE® (European Conformity) level protection
- Reinforced internal PU (polyurethane) ankle malleolus protection
- Padded collar
- Reinforced heel and toe protection
- Rear reflective insert
- Anti-slip urban rubber sole
- 12-month warranty
- Personalized Forma Drytex tubular lining (waterproof and breathable)
- Anti-shock EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) midsole
- Anti-bacterial insole
- Symmetrical reinforced shifter pads
- 3.7 lb. (59.2 oz) per pair (size 12)
- Easy rear pull loop
- YYK® zip and lace closure with reinforced eyelets
Full disclosure: I have ridden in a pair of Danner Vertigo 917s for over a year now. The drawback, of course, is no moto-specific protection. That said, I used the Danners as my benchmark for build quality, comfort, and style in this comparison.
Klim Blak Jak
I wasn’t thrilled at first to wear the Klim Blak Jak boots. The carpenter style is not my favorite, but that went out the window as soon as I slipped my feet into them. These boots were instant comfort from the moment I slipped them on. Zero break-in, just lace them up and go, with plenty of toe room, no loose or sloppy areas to cause friction or hot spots. The Ortholite insoles that come standard in the Blak Jak boots are buttery soft and provide ample arch support.
The Blak Jaks felt light and easy to walk in, thanks to the 40-ounce weight per pair (2.5 lb. in size 12). I’m confident I could wear the Blak Jak boots all day long at work or at an event, and walk comfortably because of the cushy, welted rubber outsoles. One drawback with the outsoles is they felt a little slippery on the rubber pegs of my Triumph T120. But once I scuffed the bottoms a few times on the pavement at speed, they gained a bit more grip. (This wouldn’t be an issue on an ADV bike with moto-style pegs, and would actually work even better with the softer welted rubber.) Shifting was effortless, with no adjustment to my shift lever necessary.
All-in-all, I had zero complaints about the level of comfort both on and off the bike. In my opinion, the carpenter style is an acquired taste. But, the Blak Jak boots are so comfortable, I quickly forgot all about looks and focused on enjoying my ride.
I had the exact opposite reaction to the Forma Legacy boots as I did to Blak Jaks when I saw them. The Legacy boots have loads of style, and the polished brown leather screams quality. With a taller overall height than the Blak Jaks, naturally, the boots are a bit heavier. However, at 59.2 ounces per pair (3.7 lb. in size 12), the extra 20 ounces is noticeable, probably because of the use of the solid rubber heel soles.
Upon slipping my feet in the Forma Legacy boots, my initial impression was that they are stiff compared to the Blak Jaks. They also felt flat-footed with minimal arch support provided by the standard insoles. The zipper opening made for ease of entry, although the taller height made me realize I’d need to wear longer socks than my standard ankle-length socks.
As I rolled out my driveway, I noticed the Forma Legacy boots require a break-in period and felt more like a typical moto boot. Compared to the Blak Jaks, the Legacys grip the pegs better with its aggressive anti-slip urban rubber soles. However, shifting took a bit more effort because of the extra stiffness. After about 45 minutes in the saddle, the boots began to loosen up. Shifting became noticeably easier; however, now I felt loose spots and folds in the leather from riding with my ankles bent. I definitely needed thicker socks and better insoles if I were to wear them for any length of time. By the time I rolled into my driveway after about an hour, I’d developed hot spots on my ankles from pinches and rubbing. As much as I loved the style of the Legacy's, it was hard to get over the difference in comfort compared to the Blak Jaks.
My final thoughts are based on three primary areas: build quality, style, and comfort. First off, let me say, you can’t go wrong with either pair of these boots concerning build quality and style. Both are well-made, high-quality products that are stylish and fashion-forward. It’s the difference in comfort that separates these two boots for me.
Klim may not be a brand known for its “coolness” factor, but what they are known for is quality. Klim is one of a short list of companies that build product to a quality standard instead of a price point or market position. I’ve heard more than once, “if you’re stranded, and your life depends upon the gear you have on, you want to be wearing Klim.” That level of commitment carried over into the Blak Jak boots, and I had zero complaints about them. I would put the Blak Jaks on the same level as some of the finest work boot brands on the market for comfort and looks—with the added benefit of motorcycle-specific protection.
As a boot brand based in Italy, Forma is heavily involved in motorcycle racing at the highest levels. Forma has been around since 1999 and is known for innovation and safety throughout its range of high-quality motorcycle boots. That said, as much I love the look of the Forma Legacy boots, to wear them consistently, they need better insoles to be comfortable on long rides. I installed a pair of Form Premium Moldable Insoles ($44.95), put on a pair of thicker and longer socks, and it made a huge difference. The extra arch support from the Form insoles combined with the thicker socks alleviated the looseness and eliminated hot spots.
At $179.99, the Klim Blak Jak boots come in at $59.01 less than the Forma Legacy at $239.00. At almost $60.00 more, it makes for an even harder pill to swallow when one has to add a set of insoles to the Forma boots right from the get-go. Bottom line: I preferred the Klim Blak Jak based upon build quality, comfort, and price. My hope is that Klim expands its line of Urban boots and decides to make a version with similar looks to the Forma Legacy. If so, they will have an even bigger home run.
Colors: Tanner Brown or Gunmetal Black
Sizes: Men’s 7–13 (Euro 40–49)
Weight: 2.5 lb. (40 oz) per pair (size 12)
Colors: Brown or Black
Sizes: Men’s 2–14, Women’s 5–12 (Euro 36–48)
Weight: 3.7 lb. (59.2 oz) per pair (size 12)
- Dale Spangler
- Dale Spangler