I’m in my 30s and still have a few t-shirts from high school that I’ll occasionally wear around. They’re pretty worn out at this point, not really fit for outings anywhere respectable, but I still appreciate them. We’ve been through a lot together. And though I’ve not had them near as long, I’ve got a similar affection for my TCX X-Blend Waterproof Boots. It’s been nearly two years since I got my pair in Vintage Brown, and the X-Blends continue to be one of the best footwear options I own, regardless of whether I’m planning a ride or not.
TCX takes a lot of pride in constructing top-notch motorcycle boots and shoes. The company focuses solely on footwear and it comes through even in a simple pair of boots like the X-Blends. Styling isn’t gaudy and protective elements unique to motorcycle footwear, like reinforced toe and heel cups, are integrated seamlessly. The only real bit differentiating these from typical work boots are the leather shift pad and the subtle indentation around each ankle cup.
The upper is full grain leather, available in a vintage-style distressed brown or black. A thick, durable rubber sole is nice and grippy and the inner footbed is very comfortable. I’m a size 10.5 typically, but since there’s no 10.5 available in the brown colorway, I went for an 11. Sizing was right for me from the start, and I suspect that even those with slightly wider-than-average feet would be able to break in a pair of X-Blends comfortably thanks to the compliant leather exterior. A waterproof lining provides protection from light precipitation. A simple lace closure system is all there is to keep the boots tight and snug, and all that’s needed.
The Long Haul
In the time I’ve had the X-Blends, I’ve been on a variety of different motorcycles from small bore sportbikes to Harleys, liter-sized sport touring mounts to mid-sized standards and these boots have been a perfect companion in all situations. Well…all but one.
I was returning from a long weekend ride up to eastern Oregon the summer before last and had been facing some scattered rains and heavy winds in the John Day area. Nothing unbearable, and in those conditions the X-Blends held up their end of the waterproof bargain well. Then I came out of a series of canyon curves to glimpse a view of the horizon ahead and the sky was black. Determined, I forged headlong into the storm. It turned out not to be the wisest plan.
I was absolutely unprepared for the deluge. My leather jacket, denim riding pants and X-Blends did what they could but the fist-sized rain drops were crashing down on me in a frenzy. The wind pushed them sideways into my body and created running streams of water across the highway. It was all I could do to keep my little bike (a Ninja 300) on two wheels, so I found the closest shelter and decided to wait out the worst of it. In that kind of downpour, the X-Blends got soaked through.
After a few days drying out at home, I tossed the X-Blends back on and they were as good as ever.
I’ve also spent some serious days on my feet, walking miles and miles in the X-Blends. During a longer assignment a year ago, I had only an Underground pass and my two feet to get around London during a down day and I wanted to take in some sights. So I started a 10-hour wandering tour of the city, walking from my hotel to the nearest station, on to the National Gallery, then to the Tower of London and on to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater before retracing my steps back to home base. I would do it all over again in the X-Blends in a second. My feet were comfortable the entire day.
And that doesn’t touch the innumerable times I’ve tossed the boots on for a quick ride, or for a little more upscale look than a pair of running shoes would provide. Whenever I need a brown pair of shoes these days, I tend to look for the X-Blends first.
What’s remarkable, is that the X-Blends are still in very good shape. The only stitching to come undone at all on either boot is a single line on the left side shift pad, an area that’s seen plenty of use. Since this reinforcement is double stitched, I’ve got no concerns yet of the piece coming off.
Of course, the leather exterior wears scuffs, some discolorations and creases that come with such sustained use. As far as I’m concerned, it’s enhanced the look of the X-Blends.
I’ll also admit that I’ve been completely irresponsible as far as caring for the leather. I’ve done zero cleaning or maintenance and the boots are still holding strong.
Parts of the rubber sole have worn smooth, at the back of the heel and ball of the foot primarily, but 95% of the bottom portion of the boots remain in good condition.
The laces are also starting to wear and fray in spots that rub the eyelets most. I haven’t had a lace break yet though.
But beyond that, the X-Blends are still alive and well and are some of the comfortable shoes I own. The leather is supple and the footbed nicely formed to the shape of my foot. They still offer good protection from moisture in light rains too.
At this point, my only regret is not having a black pair as well. For $239.99, comparable to the price of many non-riding work boots, the X-Blends are an investment that will last a long while.
TCX X-Blend Waterproof Boots
Sizes: 6 – 12.5
Colors: Black & Vintage Brown