The brief CBT History...
These were the first general purpose riding boot of this style in the world. Their origination story is simple: We wanted a basic old-fashioned heavy-duty rider's boot that provided support like an MX boot, was fast and easy to get in and out of,and held onto one's foot well -- but without all the added-on MX boot armor. More supportive than the classic 'engineer' style boot, and much heavier-duty than the typical zippered race, street or touring boot. A de-contented MX boot.
In hindsight it's hard to believe that twenty five years ago there wasn't anything else like this available. The CBT boot was the original. A new type of hybrid existing halfway between a street boot and an off road boot. It created an entirely new product category.
After about ten years we'd sold a good number of them and (also as 'adventure' style bikes became more popular) other boot companies started to make their versions of the CBT boot. Even Sidi came out with a version. All these subsequent versions from others were more complicated or 'improved' in some way: More buckles, pleated areas, waterproof liners, etc. The others wanted to be able to say they were better than the CBT boot.
This is like the way designer jeans manufacturers sometimes say they are better than original Wrangler's, Lee, and Levi's 501's maybe. Every market works like this. There's an original...and if it's successful there are others that are similar but supposedly 'improved' in some way.
CBT Boot Design and Durability
Like many products that are the originals, Aerostich Combat Touring Boots have become a classic. They were the world’s first riding boot specifically intended for hard-use sport, sport touring and adventure-riding applications. This unique design is essentially a lighter, simpler MX-style boot without the hard armor, decorative styling, and multiple buckles. The boots are manufactured exclusively for Aerostich in Romania, by Sidi, an Italian company. Sidi's own motorcycle ‘adventure’ boot (and all other similar boots) were developed about ten years after the CBTB’s were first introduced, when the market niche for this type of boot broadened. The first CBTB’s are now over twenty years old, so some are now well-worn. A few questions have come up about resoling, repairs and durability...Continue
With regular leather care Combat Touring Boots last a long time. Three areas typically wear; the soles, the inner speed laces and the hook and loop closures. Matching replacement soles are available from Aerostich, and acceptable replacement work-boot type soles are available locally at most shoe repair businesses. Replacement inner speed laces and hook and loop areas are also available from Aerostich or may also be substituted locally.The CBTB arch straps occasionally fail, and these are available from Aerostich.
As with all manufactured products, there are multiple (and subjective...) cost and design compromises and trade-offs.For example, the and upper hook and loop areas provide a reliable, easy-to-use, fast, low-profile closure which reduces the boots cost, weight and bulkiness.This helps the boot be easier to put on and remove, and works better underneath jeans and street pants. Those advantages outweigh any slight durability concerns, and in actual use the hook and loop provides an effective closure for many years of wear. And if the hook an loop areas ever need replacing (after fifteen + years?), this is a simple, inexpensive job.Good quality hook and loop lasts for tens of thousands of 'peels' before needing replacement. (The companies making this material test and rate various types for ‘peel’, ‘sheer’, durability, and many other characteristics.)
Beginning about twenty years ago I've worn three pair of CBTB’s. And as you’d guess, I've been mostly satisfied with the various CBTB +'s and -'s. (I recognize this boot is not perfect.) I ride between 5,000 and 15,000mi/yr, and wear the boots mostly for all-day and longer trips, with some general wear use...but not every day.For my short three mile daily commute I usually wear a lighter ankle-high general-purpose lace work boot, which Aerostich does not sell. CBTB’s were designed to function first as heavy duty 'touring' boots. (This probably means different things to different riders...) Here are my individual experiences:
- My first pair. Prototypes. Over twenty years old now.I wore them for two years. Hook and loop was fine the entire time I evaluated them. Afterward they were given to a friend who still wears them. The hook and loop may need replacing, but I don’t know. I think they've been resoled several times, and maybe the lace has been replaced once or twice. Not sure. The leather lining may also have worn in a couple of places, but these boots are still in use.
- My second pair.I wore these for about twelve to fifteen years. Resoled once or twice. Speed lace replaced once, I think (?). Hook and loop was always functional, though slightly weaker at the end than when new. Again, these boots were given to another rider, but I've forgotten whom. (Funny to know the friend who still wears the prototypes, but not this pair...) These boots were replaced only because my foot size changed (Left foot lengthened, apparently age-related). They were in good overall condition when I replaced them, and I was grumpy being forced to break in a new pair.
- My third pair.In current use for the past three or four years. Hook and loop in excellent condition. Resoled last fall. Broke the buckle strap on this pair about a month ago. First time I've broken one of these straps on any of the three pairs.
My Combat Touring Boots took a little more time and effort to break in than some boots, but for me and many riders the extra work is worthwhile because these boots have no decorative styling or trim, were put together using as few separate pieces of leather as possible, have no areas of thin leather or pleated gussets, as few stitched seams as possible, and no hidden waterproof membranes. Combat Touring Boots are a simple, heavy-duty all purpose riders boot, designed to be as comfortable, protective, easy to wear and durable as possible. I hope you will give a pair a try.
CBT Boot Break-In:
Breaking them in? I did it last week, to have a pair to leave with a motorcycle I co-own in Arizona. This was the fourth time in twenty years I've had to break in a pair. I ride in the third pair every day. The first pair are still in use by a friend, after 20 years. They were the prototypes. The second pair are also in use. My feet got longer and this pair went to another friend. This time and the last time (#3 and #4) I soaked the boots in a sinkful of water, let them drip dry for a couple of hours, then went for a two mile walk in them. And got blisters. Then I left them for several days to air dry fully, with the tops propped open with a chopstick. The I oiled the folds and hinge lines, and let that soak in for a couple of days. Now I've worn them for about the last week on a motorcycle trip (I'm in the middle of it now...) and they are perfect. I added our fancy semi-orthotic insole and I'm set for life, probably. A pair in MN and this pair which will stay in Arizona...
Executive Summary: They need two things: 1. A two week break-in, starting with soaking overnight in water, draining for an hour, walking in them wet for a couple of miles, then slow drying for several days, propped open. Then lightly lubricating the hinge folds (or the whole boot) with a soak-in leather dressing. 2. A higher quality insole. I use the more expensive of the two we sell. The standard insole is not supportive enough for me.