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What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

Gear review: Corcoran Jump Boots

Corcoran Jump Boots
I think I may daydream about motorcycle gear almost as much as I do about motorcycles. That's sort of the thing about motorcycling: it gets into the blood and soon you find yourself wishing you could have All The Bikes; then, you find yourself pining for All The Things Related To Bikes.

When it comes to clothing, I suppose the bulk of my attention goes toward jackets. I'd like several different types, to suit different moods and different weather conditions. One of my long-term goals is to save up enough money to one day buy a Vanson AR3 –– the fabled, yet-to-be-released armoured version of the Vanson AR2. Or, an Aero Cafe Racer; made of horsehide, I reckon those things are pretty much indestructible (a).

After that, my attention turns to gloves, trousers, helmets, various bits and bobs like scarves and base layers, then, finally, boots. The reason boots always come last is that I can't really imagine finding a pair particularly better than those I already have.

The boots in question are a pair of Corcoran Jump Boots, which my parents bought me for my birthday. My birthday was back in March, so I've been wearing these boots in all weathers for almost a full year. It speaks to their incredible durability that I only now feel I'm really starting to break them in.

Sturdy and no frills, the thick-leather boots were designed for use by U.S. paratroopers in World War II. That means they have strong ankle and arch support. So much so, in fact, that walking can be a little awkward in them for the first several months. The leather is particularly thick, about 3.5 mm by my measurement –– considerably more than the 1.5 mm of thickness you'll find on a Vanson jacket. In other words, this boot is built to last, and the overall toughness and bad-assitude of the the thing is such that you feel it could easily double as a weapon.

Seriously, these boots alone are probably the reason we beat the Nazis.

But as hardcore as they are, I find them surprisingly comfortable. Well, you know, surprisingly comfortable for their purpose; I wouldn't play basketball in them. They fit well to my feet and accommodate all different kinds of sock thickness, depending on the weather. I find that I am able to wear them all day without complaint.

I should probably offer the caveat of acknowledging that I am able to contend with hot feet better than some people I know (I used to hike the San Diego County sections of the Pacific Crest Trail in summer wearing wool socks), but having said that, I have never really found these boots to be too warm. Even on the day I got so hot I stripped off my clothes and threw myself in the River Wye, it was not the boots that were bothering me. On the far-more-common-in-Britain opposite end of the temperature gauge, I've found that, when paired with a decent pair of wool socks, my feet never really get cold in these boots, either.

They stand up well against the wet, as well. In a ride in October the nonstop rain soaked through my pants and my gloves and parts of my jacket, but my feet were fine. This was despite the fact I've not yet bothered to put any Nikwax into the boots.

In terms of appearance, I like the fact that Corcoran boots look like, you know, boots. That is to say, boots a normal person would wear. I've never been terribly hot on the idea of getting dressed up like a Power Ranger to go riding, and instead prefer gear more subtle in look. If I'm simply riding around town, these boots look normal enough with a pair of jeans that I can walk into a café or pub without physically announcing myself as a motorcyclist (though, admittedly, the helmet and armoured leather jacket probably do that anyway). Sure, they're only as stylish as combat boots can be, but I'll choose that any day over footwear that looks like it was designed for 8-year-olds.

Lastly, and somewhat important to me, Corcoran boots are made in the United States, in Pennsylvania. 

They are almost the perfect boot.

A year of rain, dirt, oil and mud, and
you can still see a little bit of shine on these.
I say almost because I have had two minor complaints. The first issue is that they were really shiny when I first got them. Shiny like patent leather. I suppose that's nice if you're military personnel trying to keep up appearances, or wearing these boots to your high school prom, but it can feel just a little silly when you're trying to go for an understated look on your motorcycle. Especially if, like me at the time I first got them, you are a newbie: nothing screams "NEWBIE" like shiny new gear. Fortunately, I was able to fix all this by spending a year splashing about in puddles and never washing or waxing the boots. These days, I think they look just about right.

The other problem I had, particular to the version of boot I got (stock No. 975), was its sole. It was utterly useless on just about any wet surface. Indeed, I feel the boots' super-slippery-slick-when-wet soles shoulder a fair amount of the blame for the second time I dropped Aliona. But I have recently fixed this problem by having new, grippy soles put on. And in looking at the Corcoran website there are apparently versions of the boot with different soles.

So, all in all, damned good boots. So good, in fact, that there isn't really any other boot I'd want instead. And unlike any other boots I might like, the Corcorans only cost about $130. 

–––––––––

(a) The jackets are so tough that the suggested method of breaking them in is to put yours on, submerge yourself in water, then wear it until it dries! These are jackets that you pass down to consecutive generations. Indeed, one of the things that I often think about when wishing for an Aero jacket is that I don't have any children to give it to, and as such I fear the jacket wouldn't get enough use in my single lifetime!

Comments

  1. Hubby has two pairs of combat boots he used to wear riding. They were bought at the army surplus store. He doesn't wear them anymore as he fell in love with his Sidis, but when he wore the combat boots he really enjoyed them.

    It is nice that the soles could be replaced on yours and that you have found your perfect boot.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Look like interesting boots. I myself, similar to the first commenter, use ex-MOD boots from the army and navy store, £30 for a 2nd hand pair, lasted me 3 years now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm sold ! So if I'm a 11 in running shoes, what size would you order for Corcoran ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Depends on the country your feet are usually in, I suppose. An 11 US is different from an 11 UK.

      Delete
    2. Guillaume, in the US, these boots tend to run a full size larger than running shoes. So in the US, if you wear a size 11 running shoe, generally look for a size 10 boot. In the UK, of course, the sizes are different. So in the UK, a size 11 shoe will equate to a size 11 boot. (And sorry for the late response; just came across this thread).

      Delete
  4. Chris - I'm boot shopping at the moment and deciding between these (on your recommendation) and a pair of Icon 1000 Elsinore boots. One note for your readers that I've found, on Corcoran boots, make sure to look at "Original" Jump boots. There are several Corcoran Jump Boots out there without the word "Original" in the name, and apparently they are made of lesser quality leather (and do cost less). Just a heads up to get the right ones!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am an 11 in sneakers, just bought a 10 D WWII Cochran's, plenty of room for socks, and for toes to wiggle. I use them with my dress suits. I keep dress shoes at my office, but I am out in the community a lot. I can keep a shine on them that I like from old military days. Switching back and forth is impractical and I generally overdress anyway. This way a get to wear suits and and drive my bike almost everyday and have boots that pass in an office setting.

    ReplyDelete

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