If the name causes you to expect something suitable for a knee-down day at Silverstone, then your first look at these boots is guaranteed to raise eyebrows, for a racing boot it definitely isn’t. So why call it the Track Evo? Turns out that the Italian words for ‘Track’ and ‘Trail’ are as similar as they are in English and the boot is aimed not at rubber burning sports bike riders on racing tracks but at the adventure riders who may want to mix road riding with a bit off work on dusty country trails, or tracks….. Ah.
Once that’s understood you can begin to appreciate how well designed the Track Evo is for purpose. Most adventure bikes actually spend the bulk of their time on tarmac, with only a fraction off-road. Even then most riders are nipping over farmer Giles’ field rather than crossing the Kalahari. Adventure riders also tour, which means that they need boots made for walking almost as much as for riding. They must be functional; waterproof and protective but comfy if you want to explore a midday stop on foot. To be acceptable to an Italian designer, the boots must of course look the proverbial cogliones di cane. In our 1000 mile test, worn by our Sarah, the Track Evo managed all this and at a surprisingly acceptable price.
The Track Evo is constructed from a mixture of suede leather, microfiche and various plastics with a breathable inner liner. Armour includes polyurethane shin plates, a shift pad and malleolus inserts (that’s ankle bone protection to you). Fastening is achieved via TCX’s superb cam buckles that lever the sides of the boot together to an adjustably snug fit. A Velcro pad at the top and an elasticated gusset ensures that muck and rain don’t get down the inside if you wear them over your pants. The sole has a chunky yet soft feel, giving good grip on a range of surfaces.
Fit is about neutral – a 6 being identical to a shoe size 6 according to our lady tester. The boot is built to what TCX call their Comfort Fit System. This involves the boot mould being shaped by hand to match the actual shape of a real human foot. Further than that, materials are carefully selected to give limited or generous flexibility depending on where they are and what the design requires in order to be both comfortable and safe. In other words a lot of thinking, tweaking and sipping of strong Espresso has gone on in the design shed.
According to Sarah, who wore the boots over 1000 miles of mixed riding, the design works. She found the boots to be light, and amazingly comfortable even for a two mile off bike hike. At the end of the day they remained cool and free of sweat. The last time we saw such a good blend of toughness and comfort was on the now legendary TCX Infinity, and these look very much like being in the same tradition.
The boots survived not only a two hour ride in pouring rain, but also the Bigbikemad 20 minute water immersion test. Despite this provocation our tester’s tootsies remained totally dry. No crash tests were attempted but they gave a secure feeling, with the PU armour covering most of the shin and the ankles feeling reassuringly well braced, but not stiff. When moving around the boots do not squeak or click.
If you’ve never worn TCX boots before, the cam buckles take some getting used to. At first it seems unlikely that the plastic straps will hold the boot, but they do and experience shows this is a trick they keep on performing for many years. The strap can ping out and the buckles fail to click shut if you do not do them up under tension (i.e. when a leg is present in the boot). In use you begin to realize what a brilliant fastening system it is, allowing secure fixing while allowing rapid re-adjustment should you change the gear you are wearing. It also makes the boots quick to pop off and the end of the day.
Sarah loved the look of the boot, with the soft finish and technical yet stylish appearance. We were a bit concerned how long these looks would last, but despite mud and rain the nubuck style leather only ever needed a quick brush and wipe down to stay looking like new. Generally it was better to let mud dry and remove gently with a brass brush before applying a damp sponge. Whatever TCX have treated the Track Evo with; it works.
The Track Evo retails at around £180 in the UK, yet build quality seems to be up at the level of a much more expensive boot. We had no broken buckles, delaminating rubber or loose threads anywhere and after 1000 miles and a good clean the boots looked like new. If you do ever lose a buckle strap however, spares are available. Damn, these things look and feel good…
In terms of what’s in a name, quality and value for money must be included if its TCX we’re talking about. Price is pitched at around the same point as most good quality touring boots, but given genuinely exceptional design and build quality, and the way the boots combine good protection with genuine all-day comfort, we reckon it’s stonkingly good value. As an all rounder and a fine candidate for your only riding boot, we can heartily recommend these.