Review: Does the RS Taichi WP Boa Bring Balance to Boots?

February 1st, 2012 by Jason Giacchino

 
 
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We here at ATV Connection often find ourselves testing out a wide variety of products pertaining to the sport of ATVing but were still quite intrigued with the following product the moment we took it out of the box.  Despite its name, the RS Taichi Boa is not a snake trained in Chinese martial arts.  It does, however, aim to balance the yin of hard wearing, full moto boots with the yang of comfortable tennis shoes. While costly moto boots are indisputably the best choice for sheer protection, they are often too hot, cumbersome, and lack flexibility for a leisurely ride (and perhaps even more pertinent; on a leisurely UTV drive).

Until now the only other real option was to take your chances with sneakers, loafers or hiking boots (we would have included moon boots here as well but for the sake of fashion police the world over, will refrain).  There’s no denying the comfort and unrestricting nature of gym shoes, but it’s taking an awful big risk on an ATV where considerations such as ankle protection, heat resistance and roost are concerned.  UTV riders are shielded from many of these risks due to the nature of the cockpit but often find themselves hiking through formidable terrain on foot in the event of intentional exploration or a mechanical failure.

The RS Taichi Boa is a unique piece of footwear from Japan that targets the shortfalls of settling on either side of the current footwear spectrum.  It boasts over-the-ankle coverage, the toebox rigidity of a moto boot, a very unique closure system, lugged soles and waterproofing.

Slipping into the Boa can best be described as truly the combination of moto boot rigidity up front with hiking boot support from the middle of the foot upward.  The lugged soles are far more giving than the plank-stiff stuff you’ll find in a racing boot but not so flexible that the foot tends to bow on the foot peg.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this boot is the retention system which, rather than traditional laces or plastic latches, uses a rubber coated wire that you feed into a circular ratchet on the shoe’s tongue.  Crank the ratchet to the right and the shoe instantly begins to tighten up.  Tug the cover and the wire instantly releases.  It’s not only unique but a very clever method of doing away with laces and latches that tend to catch on foliage.

Once satisfied with a nice tight setting, we found the Boa to make for a surprisingly capable walking shoe.  The over-the-ankle protection makes traversing sketchy terrain a lot less harrowing compared to navigating the wilderness in gym shoes and the soles are perfect for all-terrain stomping.

The plate-molded toebox on the left foot is sturdy enough to make ATV shifting duty a charm and, surprisingly, the boot provides a much higher degree of shift-lever feedback than would a racing boot.  Since the Taichi Boa is quite comparable to a more supportive basketball shoe, UTV operation in them was effortless.  Another nice touch is a honeycomb shock absorbing gel pad with coconut peel sheet to keep things smelling fresh by absorbing sweat.

The waterproofing is really the ace up the sleeve for these boots, however.  Creek crossings, mud pits, ice and slush; all of the conditions that tend to trouble almost every other footwear option are confidently conquered by the Boa.  And as a bonus the waterproofing tends to repel mud as well. We were unable to get our pair soiled to the point where a simple hose-off didn’t have them looking like new.

There were a few downsides we discovered in our testing.  Oddly when we ordered our pair of Boas, they topped out at size 10. We managed to get by with a pair of tens, but we know many riders who could give Sasquatch a run for the money. However, Taichi has wisely decided to import the shoes in several larger size options since then.

While we were really impressed with the waterproofing, airflow in the hot summer months is stifled. We should note that a non-waterproof, laced variation of the shoe is also available (the Delta) which eliminates the airflow issue of the WP Boa and comes in additional color and size options.

Finally at $190 a pair, they really aren’t too much more affordable than full-coverage racing boots (which tend to contain large quantities of exotic materials). The non-waterproof variant is also available for a more wallet friendly $139.95.

Verdict

If you can squeeze into the fairly thin (but getting better) selection of sizes offered, and don’t mind the limited color selection, the RS Taichi Boa may well be the ultimate all-purpose riding shoe.  It’s comfortable, stylish, and extremely versatile.

For more information on either shoe or to order direct, visit the distributor’s site at
Taichimoto

 

 
 
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