Nearly a decade ago, Aether broke into the niche market of luxury performance wear, quickly making a name for itself with its signature style: minimalist, functional and dress-code-friendly. Nowhere is that blend of traits more apparent than its line of motorcycle clothing. It’s not easy balancing style with the necessary protection for riding, but Aether has pulled it off, refining its products over the years and crafting pants and jackets with a blend of characteristics motorcycle riders need and crave alike.
Now, for the first time, Aether is jumping into the motorcycle boot arena. In keeping with the brand’s minimalist ethos, Aether simply dubbed its first-ever endeavor into footwear the “Moto Boot.”
The boots were officially released this week, but I’ve been testing a pre-release pair for the past month, breaking them in both via day-long rides in the country and through hours of New York City commuting, both by train and motorcycle.
The Good: “Plush” came right to mind the first time I laced up the Moto Boot. Aether used 100-percent Italian leather — not just for the upper and the welt, but for the lining of the entire interior of the boot, including the insole. My first couple of steps told a different story, though: “Stiff” and “rigid” were the next descriptors that came to mind. That’s not a bad thing for a motorcycle boot, though; it just means there’s a break-in period, which all well-built boots tend to have.
Like the rest of Aether’s motorcycle gear, the Moto Boot nicely blends style, performance and protection. The caramel-brown leather boot looks just as much at home on a bike as it does in an office or restaurant, right in the same league as a Thursday Boot Co. Captain or Red Wing Iron Ranger. (It also comes in black leather.)
The Aether Moto Boot comes with a reinforced heel and toe box, as well as internal D30 ankle pads for extra on-road protection. But where most boots with reinforced toe boxes wind up being bulky, the toe on the Moto Boot is still slim enough to work the shifter on the tight confines of a sport bike.
Who It’s For: The motorcycle rider looking for a boot that can multitask and fit in anywhere: group rides, the office, a restaurant or bar. Just make sure you break it in first.
The Bad: In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, the worst part of living with the Moto Boot is the lack of comfort during the break-in. It’s a given that most well-constructed boots will have a rough honeymoon period, but the Moto Boot’s reinforced heel and toe box amplify the struggle, due to the utter lack of give at first. After a few weeks, I’m honestly wondering if I’ve broken them in, or if I’ve simply developed calluses to compensate…probably a little of both.
Overall, the Moto Boot’s design is stylish enough to warrant a steady stream of compliments, but if there’s one trap fashion-forward motorcycle boots regularly fall into, it’s the need for a shifter pad aft of the toe box. I get it. Most regular boots I’ve owned end up serving as riding gear at one point or another, and wear from the shifter is inevitable, so having an extra layer of leather down there to compensate makes sense. But that extra few square inches of leather will still wear away in time and to me, shifter pads always seem out of place. Why not just add a full toe cap and keep a symmetrical design?
The Alternatives: There aren’t many other choices when it comes to durable casual boots that double as legit cycling footwear. But the Belstaff Resolve Boots ($450) clearly stand out as one of the few direct competitors to the Aether Moto Boot. Both items live in the luxury/performance space and have near-identical price tags, so the choice between the two will likely be down to brand loyalty.
Below them is the Red Wing Iron Ranger ($320), which, even though it makes for a great all-around boot, doesn’t offer the extra impact protection of a genuine motorcycle boot. The Rev’It Marshal Boot ($300) looks the part of a higher-end motorcycle boot and offers the requisite impact protection, but its construction isn’t as beefy as the others. It’s still a reliable boot, mind you — it’s just made for a more affordable price point.
Verdict: As the company’s first outing in a well-established space, Aether knocked it out of the park with the Moto Boot. At $595, it’s certainly on the pricier end of the spectrum — but it’s on par with rest of Aether’s motorcycle line, and considering the materials, construction and added impact and abrasion protection (and maybe a small dose of the ol’ luxury-brand-name tax), it seems worth the cash. If you’re looking for a genuine motorcycle boot that also offers flexible style, and don’t mind spending the money for a durable product, the Aether Moto Boot is worthy of adding to your everyday rotation.