Commuting on a motorcycle is just as dangerous — if not more so — as any amount of laps at the racetrack, and forgoing function for form simply doesn’t make sense. In a few recent trips to the supermarket however, we caught ourselves trading in our bulky, squeak-prone roadrace boots for our favorite pair of Vans. Fortunately, the light bulb in our head came on before anything bad could happen, initiating our search for a pair of riding shoes that were a bit less excessive than a full boot, but still comfortable and protective.
Alpinestar’s Fastlane Shoe quickly caught our attention. These kicks are heavily inspired by the Italian manufacturer’s auto collection and couple safety with style. Constructed from microfiber, leather and textile, the Fastlane offers more protection than meets the eye; thermoplastic rubber (TPR) protectors are featured in both the toe and ankle, providing abrasion resistance where you’ll need it most in the event of a crash. Double-density ankle cups further fortify the tail end of the shoe and reinforce the heel, while strategically placed reflective stripes increase visibility at night. Added safety comes in the form of a polyurethane midsole and metal shank that terminates about halfway down the sole, providing rigidity and reduced foot deformation during impact.
What the Fastlane offers in protection, it more than doubles in style and comfort. An intriguing addition to these kicks is the laser-ablated sole, which looks smooth from afar but features a laser-burned pattern that offers traction and a resistance to oils. Moving upward, the Fastlane uses a lace closure system and Velcro strap to provide a suitable fit and 3D mesh on the tongue and collar for comfort in warmer conditions. Debossed Astars logos are run throughout and add style to an already eye-catching package.
The Fastlane’s thin construction makes it readily apparent that these shoes aren’t intended for spirited passes through the canyon or an interstate adventure, but the pumps perform admirably around town — which is where we intended to use them anyway. The high ankle support and TPR protection adds a sense of security your average pair of tennis shoes can’t, and the metal shank provides at least some support, although we’d like to have more rigidity towards the toe-end of the shoe. Grip at the footpegs is as we’d like from a riding shoe, and feel is much more solid than we’d originally expected from the thinly constructed shoe. Shifting through the gears didn’t leave the tops of our feet tender either, as some of our track-oriented boots even do.
Overall comfort is superb, and you can’t help but feel like Michael Schumacher when lacing these things up — their sleek design is that F1-inspired. The shoe is on the narrow side but our size 11.5 example fit as we’d hoped it to, and the laces cinched up enough to provide a snug fit. One thing we noticed about the Fastlane is that you can wear them around all day — be it at the office, mall or out on the town — without your feet screaming for mercy.
But despite rocking these shoes all day around the office we did have a few small concerns, one being that they can at first be difficult to get on. Once broken in, they put up less a fight, but we’d still like to see a pull loop added to the back of the shoe for increased leverage; that or we’ll have to keep a shoe horn handy (Google it!). The laces themselves are excessively long too, making it important to get them tucked away behind the Velcro strap so as to not get them caught in the chain or other moving parts.
The Fastlane hasn’t replaced our everyday commuter boot, nor was that the intention. That said, the shoe has become our go-to for quick trips around town and proves a superb alternative to tennis shoes and other sneakers completely devoid of crash protection. Retail is priced at an Air Jordan-competitive $119.95 and three color options are available: black/yellow, black/white/red and black/silver/yellow.
Safety can look good after all!