Product review: Dainese Torque Out D1 Air boots
Motorcycle boots like the Dainese Torque Out D1 Air are not supposed to be ground down by daily use. But that's how things roll at OVERDRIVE. Some boots excel at this. In fact, the boot that preceded it on testing duties was the outrageously good TCX RS2-Evo which has done more or less everything except go for a swim in the neighbourhood pool while on test at OVERDRIVE. They've proved to unbreakable, luxuriously plush and they've lasted a very, very long time too. So clearly, the bar is very high. But can the Dainese Torque Out D1 boots Air do even better?
What is it?
The Dainese Torque Out D1 Air is positioned as a lightweight race boot with the full complement of protection. It's a premium boot too. The standard sliders include magnesium toe and heel sliders as well as CE Level 2 certification. There are internal nylon cups for the heel and toe and all that wrapped up in a combination of Dainese's proprietary D-Stone fabric and microfibre. These boots are ventilated and Dainese uses a vertical zipper at the back of the boot with a inner plastic flap that folds down and back for you slip your foot in. The plastic on the outside is what Dainese calls D-Axial, its mechanism design to protect you from hyperflexing the joints in a crash, while a hinge over the ankle allows you to operate your foot normally, on the bike as well as off it. The Torque Out D1, though, is no longer Dainese's top sport boot, that would be the R Axial Pro.
What we liked
What a great looking boot! The Dainese Torque D1 is all sleekness, lightweight looks and high-tech simplicity. Where people like TCX and Sidi made ever-more complex looking moto-footwear, Dainese seems to be able to skin the protection and its attendant hardware in the simplest of skins.
This is also a good boot on the bike. It feels like a substantial piece of protection on your foot and offers great bike feel too. The sole isn't thin - that's one way to retain feel - and that means it should last a while too. Unlike Rs 5,000 sneakers, a Rs 30,000 boot must last a long long time, right?
The ingress and egress mechanism is simplicity itself although it always felt like something on the left boot wadded up as my instep entered the boot. This feeling passed as soon as the zipper was closed though. You do have to remember to bend your foot forward to allow the zipper to close easily.
What we didn't like
This boot could easily be a music system for The Addams Family. I thought my previous motorcycle boots were squeaky but the Dainese's are from another alternative dimension.
The squeaks originate in the plastic mechanisms that prevent hyperflexion and all moto-boots with external systems have them. But this is the loudest I've ever seen. It doesn't stop me from using them, but people will notice.
The other issue with the boot is a potential deal breaker. And that is the narrow toe box. Sidis and Dainese both prefer narrow toe boxes and it does make the boots look sleeker and more stylish. The flip side is that they're harder to get into. But still worse is the fact that whatever little walking you have to do, there will be discomfort. In contrast, the TCX RS2-Evo had a more spacious toe box and that made living with on and off the bike far easier.
The only other thing I would change is the height of the boot. Dainese designs its 'in' boots to integrate into its leather suits. That allows the company to create relatively low height motorcycle boots. The Torque D1 is also a bit low. But when worn with other brands' pants or leathers, I would have liked the Dainese to be two inches taller.
At Rs 31,000 for a pair, these are not cheap but then again, this is a premium Italian brand. Two things stand out immediately. First, the Dainese's are very good looking boot. I'm normally not one to coo over the styling but the Torque D1s look great! There's a sleekness to the front and a high-tech, simple-lines sort of design for the plastics that make it look simultaneously expensive as well as sleek. That's very cool. The fluoro-green-black contrast works well too.
Second, this is a hard boot to the touch. Every part of the boot, apparently either simple leather or plastic is rock hard to the touch. It makes it feel as if the boot is crusted over in protective devices cleverly wrapped in the simplest of skins.
Overall, these are a solidly good boot for most people - if you can afford Dainese's prices. The feel from the motorcycle is good, the plastics are hard to scuff and the boot retains its good looking over a long time even in hard use.
The people who need to careful are the ones who have a wide foot. The Dainese boot is narrow and the toe box is cramped. It makes walking around with it harder than any other boot I've owned so far, although the Sidis - another famously narrow boot - will easily give the Dainese a run for the money. A challenge that will expire when the Sidi's sole, heh heh, falls off with age.