Bates “Beltline” Motorcycling Boots Review
Bates Beltline Boots Rock! Or Hip Hip (Whichever you prefer!)
We here at Motosquirrel are for the most part city dwellers! Good Ol’ urbanites! (Maybe not for long- stay tuned for updates!). And what motivates and moves us out, about and around the city whether on our motorcycles or just walking around, are well made shoes!
Newer generations of humans (Had to add this zinger!) sort-of have a mixed understanding, experience or opportunity to enjoy well made footwear. It seems that it has been many decades since the US or other western countries either imported hand crafted shoes, supported local footwear makers or as is the case with many boot manufacturers, have instead, decided to produce most of their products overseas.
I recall the years upon which companies, U.S. politicians and local retailers tried to convince we the buyers and end users of products that all of this future foreign production would mean a win-win for everyone! “Prices will go down”,- Boy were we duped! Nowadays, most of us have had to pay a heavy price for, often it seems a lack of quality. (See Goofy Anecdotal Shoe Story in my most recent BLOG)
Enter Bates Boots and Footwear
Bates has been manufacturing all things military, outdoors, working security as well as industrial and casual work-day shoes and footwear since 1885. An American company (Cool!) that is located in Massachusetts, Bates prides itself on still making a good percentage of their offerings right here within the good Ol’ U S of A!. Note: We at Motosquirrel will never turn a blind eye to poor products or poorly designed items or their combinations whether made in the U.S.A.or not.
But what makes us most happy is when there is a local maker (Bates combines US production with overseas as well to survive) of well made and designed products that are worth their pricing as well as supporting our own economy and jobs. What makes Bates even better is that they have branched off into…..wait-for-it…Motorcycling Footwear and Boots! Visit the Bates website and you will find a surprising array of varied purpose shoes and boot gear that can and will keep your feet happy.
What you will also find on this site and at “Big Box Interweb” Motorcycling products resellers, is a ton of great 4 out 5 reviews that are very positive for many of Bates’ offerings. For the very few negative reviews that we saw, these are usually due to an extreme fitting issue or that the shoe didn’t exactly fit the desired purpose of the rider etc.
Motosquirrel is a hard judge of shoes and a strong critic of quality (…..See our recent “Goofy Anecdotal Blog Story in our recent blog!). But, like everyone else in this poor economy, we cannot always afford the quality that we expect as well as Companies not being able to offer quality, seemingly, at any price! What is a poor Motosquirrel to do? It seems that every buyers expectations have recently been lowered.
Let’s take it backwards. Let’s frame Motosquirrels’ more recent motorcycling boots requirements. Recently, we at Motosquirrel were in need of a relaxed city type commuter boot. We didn’t want a boot that looked all “Motorboot” and definitely not all GP or squid racer. These new boots needed to look more normal, like walking boots or athletic trainers etc. The style didn’t matter, but we wanted to avoid the “Wow!- did you ride hear?” response by folks we encounter. It is not that we aren’t PROUD riders here at Motosquirrel, it is only that sometimes……say when you are applying for a loan within a bank or meeting someone new (Who may be deciding on their trust of you), we may want a clean slate without any preconceived notions of who you are. We can always tell them that we are Motor-Heathens at a later date; AFTER THEY FALL IN LOVE WITH US AND GIVE US THE LOAN!
Whew! Ok, so the look has to be discreet. We also wanted a boot that is protective enough for up to about 40 mph traffic, easy to remain wearing around the office, comfortable enough to walk in within a reasonable distance as well as being able to manipulate
our motorcycles’ controls.
The Beltline line seemed to fit the bill, but there is a bitter-sweet caveat. This particular style of boot by Bates is being ….DISCONTINUED. Should YOU, dearest and smartest reader, CONTINUE to read on now that you have gotten this discont. info?- Why Yes! Because (Sweet Part) Bates, based on the success and few criticisms of their Beltline line are continuing to finesse this design into a better boot and offering. (We will be reviewing their usurper at a later date, but this review gives this line it’s foundation).
After our receipt of Beltlines we were impressed with their quality of packaging and attention to details. The big blue shoe box itself is a “Saver” and quality item if you wish to store other things or for giving these boots as gifts. Inside, were well placed information, great shipping padding as well as a nice little Bates sticker.
The boots presented themselves as well made and a bit stiffer than you may think. Although these shoes lack any real lateral ankle safety padding or plastics, they do indeed have a stiff feeling, yet still offer a flexible enough for walking, sole system.
Covering both toe fronts of these shoes are shifter protection panels which areconstructed of toughened black PVC type material. No single sided protection here! Various strips of leather and man made leather, synthetics as well as molded plastics are double sewn throughout. Excluding the red color high thread content outside paneling (In this iteration red), the shoe is bordered in black throughout, effectively being a two-tone black and red affair.
The profile of the Beltline is where things get interesting. Seen from the sides, this set of shoes has the silhouette of that of “Boxing Shoes”. They have a somewhat flat sole that only rises moderately in the mid sole where there is a mild bump meant to catch the foot pegs of a motorcycle on either side. At this same spot you will find a carbon weave decorated mid sole foot ridge support panel molded for support.
Combine these with a very cupping heel space and you have a very form-fitting and comfortable riding or walking (Perhaps up to a few miles per day limit) mid ankle motorcycling shoe.
Small and surprising as well as patent applied for features make this line really stand out.
Being lace-ups, Bates didn’t just stop there! Knowing that it is in a cyclists best interest to keep any and ALL shoe laces out of the way, they intentionally patterned these shoes with hidden shoes eyelets that still allow for adjust ability while maintaining safety. Furthering this safety theme, Bates designed a “Molle” type attached band (Patent Applied For) that covers and holds the tied lace grouping at the top of the shoe after you are done tying them- safe and out of the way. (This is a great feature but doesn’t live up to it’s intended purpose until the second version of these shoes in our opinion). Also you will find a heel cup that surrounds the rear heel area as well as having quality shoelaces included.
Inside you will find Bates’ own sewn in water proof layer throughout the shoes interior up to about the final comfort cushion at above ankle. The molded tread is very grippy, oil resistant and does not impede shifting or braking in any way. Also worth noting is an edging of protection surrounding the bed of this shoe which rises about an inch (This was accidentally tested by us….more on this later- read on!)
Overall, we found these boots to be very comfortable, even though we prefer boots with a moderate heel and lean forward cant. One thing worth noting about this pair of Bates boots is that they do not suffer from the all-to-often found “Duck Bill” up-swept toe front found on many poorly made shoes bought today and for the last fifteen years or so. (Manufacturers do this to save money and time by not forming or curing, sewing or fitting shoes off the bias- NO ONE should be wearing duck-billed shoes unless they are worn out (Reference old clowns of yesteryear).
We had the opportunity to ride these fantastic shoes for about four hundred miles over a three week period. We can honestly say that not only were these shoes comfortable, BUT we have proof that they are protective. On one occasion, this Motosquirrel accidentally caught his foot between the collapsing centerstand and the kickstand already up in it’s place! Essentially the left shoe was being crushed straight-on from the toe tip up front (Against the centerstand) and the resting kickstand as I rolled off the stand to begin a ride. Let’s put it this way…..if these shoes had been casual shoes I would have likely severely sprained some toes or even broke some digits! Yes, it’s true, there are likely a thousand mega-core super boots that would have and WILL protect my feet better than the Bates. But, the Beltlines allowed me to walk around all day in comfort as well! They look pretty cool, are incognito and are also easy to get along with.
We, at Motosquirrel, definitely recommend giving the Bates Beltline a spin if you are searching for a pair of casual boots or shoes and still want to maintain a level of protection while riding around town!
As of this writing, the red and black Beltlines as reviewed are currently the lowest priced Bates motofootwear boots. The color is O.K. with some riders, but not others. Bates and other retailers are offering this series up to 50% off. Retailers such as Revzilla are running low on sizing and it is always worth a look on Amazon for leftover sizes or unusual sizes etc. We found the Beltlines as low as $49.99 U.S. and $114.99 for the step up to all black. HAPPY HUNTING!
PLEASE NOTE: Motosquirrel and this review site offer opinions only. See professionals for expert advice as we do NOT represent any manufacturer or retailer mentioned herein. Shoppers should do their own research!
Bates Beltlines Pros and CONS:
- Form fitting sneaker like boot !
- Good shifting feel
- Easy to walk in
- Very good street grip
- More REAL Leather Please!
- Patented Lace Keeper could Work BETTER
- Too Hot and NOT very breathable
- Color combination could be better imho!