I’ve been looking for a good pair of riding boots since quite a long time. My pair of Woodlands were feeling quite abused, being the designated pair for anything from riding to gym to running to trekking and everything in between. Budget constraints meant that I couldn’t go above 12k under any circumstances, so all “brands” like Alpinestars and SIDI were out of the picture. I would’ve gone for the Joe Rocket Sonic R waterproof boots, but Performance Racing Store didn’t have them in stock, so hard luck there.
It was during this time that Bachoo motors launched their own range of boots called Tarmac, and I decided to buy their top level boot, the Venom. They have other cheaper options in their lineup as well, which aren’t bad at all, but didn’t satisfy all my requirements. I’ve used the Tarmac Venom for more than 10,000 kms now in just over 5 months, a distance that I feel is quite reasonable to do before writing a review for any piece of riding gear! I wear the to office everyday, have taken them on long rides like Bombay to Bangalore and Hyderabad, and for short stints to Lonavala and Charoti as well. I’ve survived with these boots through summer and rain, winter will be done soon, very soon. In the meantime, here’s my Tarmac venom review.
Tarmac Venom riding boots review: Looks 8/10
Tarmac venom is available in 2 colors, black and white. In spite of fully understanding how difficult it would be to maintain a white boot, I went for it. The black looked too bland to me, the white stood out. The white one is also more visible, which would hopefully increase the safety during those inevitable night rides.
No one can deny the fact that the boot looks pretty awesome. It has that big size, ridges and troughs at all the right spots, and the height makes it look very professional. In my opinion, the Venom looks better than entry level boots from other brands, like for example Alpinestars S-MX 6.
The boot looks beefy, something that you would be able to trust your bones to. The inside is lined with a red cloth, and looks cool too. The toe slider and plastic shin protector are removable, so I expect them to also be replaceable in case of damage.
Overall, Tarmac Venom is a good looking piece of footwear.
Tarmac Venom review: Ease of use 4/10
Tarmac Venom may look good, but it is not the easiest boot to get in and out of. There’s a 3 step ingress and egress strategy at work, which I personally feel is a bit overdone. This is how it goes if you want to get out of the Venom:
- Open top plastic buckle
- Open top Velcro section
- Open lower zip section
You need to go reverse when putting the boot on, which takes a while. I think Bachoo Motors would have done better by just attaching the plastic protector to the top area, rather than making it into a removable buckle setup. The top buckle isn’t the most intuitive system designed either, and takes some attempts to understand and use. Press a button with your left hand, while pushing a thin plastic strip into a hole below the button with your right hand. The plastic strip doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence either, I am always scared of twisting it into something useless.
The sole is nice for walking and general riding, providing adequate grip and comfort. However, in heavy rains it changes character and becomes very slippery, so much so that I have trouble keeping my feet on the foot pegs! Faced this issue only during really heavy rains though.
The Velcro patch is quite big in size, which is nice. The zip is also of good quality, but takes very little to get jammed. Part of the reason why it is hard to pull the zip up is the gaiter that provides waterproofing. That layer of material keeps getting in the way of the zip, sometimes getting stuck in it, and making life miserable overall. This one time the zip got stuck halfway on the boot, and I had to ride a few hundred kilometres this way since the damn thing won’t go anywhere, no matter how much I pulled. A nuisance for sure.
Tarmac Venom review: Comfort 6/10
These boots are kinda weird as far as the comfort department goes, in the sense that they are extremely well cushioned and still very flexible, but that cushion makes them almost unbearable in any weather but cold, since they have absolutely no ventilation, whatsoever. I have gone up stairs, hiked, walked, run, basically done everything that a rider won’t need to do, and these the Venom does it all well. You might look like you got fucked in the ass while going up stairs with these boots, but they will still take you there. The boots are not too thick either, so gear shifting and braking is done without trouble, although it takes some getting used to.
The boots squeak audibly with every step, but I don’t really mind that. One really big flaw is that there are plastic extension near the toes on the inner side of the boots, so if you walk with the feet close together, they sometimes get stuck in each other and you can fall! On the very second day I faced this issue and the ankle section got removed from its place! Had to take a screwdriver and fix it back where it belongs. Bachoo Motors made a big mistake here, the situation becomes like walking with your laces tied together! Stupid indeed.
These boots are very very cozy though, you feel extremely comfortable in rain or under low temperatures. But even a little bit of heat will quickly bring a tsunami of sweat inside your foot, which will keep splashing inside since the boot is waterproof and offers no ventilation at all. During a rather hot ride to Lonavala, I felt almost dizzy with the amount of heat trapped in my boots, and had to stop, give my feet some air and then get going again.
Overall, Venom is a very comfortable boot for cold/wet conditions, but it is an absolute nightmare if temperatures go up. There is no biting or pain from any angle whatsoever, but for that you gotta make sure you go for the right size. As per my foot size, I should’ve gone for US size 42, but these boots run about 2 sizes small, so I went for the 44 and that works perfectly for me. Never buy riding gear online, go to a shop, wear it, feel it, optionally lick it, and buy it only if it feels good. An ill fitting piece of riding gear maybe worse than no riding gear at all.
Tarmac Venom review: Waterproofing 10/10
These boots are waterproof, as waterproof as it gets! I rode with them through the entire shitty rainy season of Mumbai, through some of the worst showers I’ve seen, hours and hours of downpour, and my feet still remained dry. Of course you need to make sure that the water does not get in from the top, by wearing a waterproof riding pant or rain pant, but otherwise nothing is going to get in through this bastard.
The waterproof gaiter, although a pain in the ass during zipping the boot, does its job well in keeping the water out. It goes from the bottom of the boot till just below the velcro, so don’t expect to remain dry if water level goes above that. I would’ve preferred if the gaiter was all the way to the top, but then what would’ve made wearing the boot a big problem. Also, most of the other waterproof boots that I’ve seen till now have a similar setup, none of them are like full length gum boots, and that seems to be perfectly fine and workable for all but apocalyptic weather.
Tarmac Venom review: Protection 7/10
Venom is a solid build, apart from that asshole of a zip. They are quite heavy, look well made, and give you the confidence that your foot won’t end up being a mangled mass of flesh and bones after a fall. There are metal (maybe plastic, I’m not certain) sliders provided on the toes, which should be helpful in a high speed fall. There’s big protection around the shin and the ankles, thanks to a big piece of plastic running all around. This big piece of plastic will definitely help you slide better, but is a giant pain while walking, since the pieces get stuck between the boots and you can trip over.
In other words, the boots will save your life in case of an accident on your machine, but may kill you by tripping you over and breaking your neck.
There are a lot of plastic pieces all over the boot that make it look trendy and should help absorb an impact as well, although they might just break off and fly away at the slightest of impacts. All in all, I feel fairly safe inside these boots, and am sure that in case of a medium to even high speed fall, they will provide adequate protection to your feet, making sure those bones and tendons remain intact. This 10,000 rupee investment might save you from a 100,000 rupee hospital bill, so money well spent eh?
Tarmac Venom review: Verdict 6/10
I’ll keep it simple, there is only 1 kind of environment where these boots would be useful, that is cold+wet. Temperatures need to be below 25 degrees at all times for you to feel comfortable in the Venom. It would be an ideal choice for Ladakh, just wear a pair of warm socks inside and you’ll be cozier than a hibernating polar bear. This boot is really NOT meant for general Indian conditions, hot and humid that is. You might even faint riding with these boots in the legendary heat up north! Don’t forget to get 2 size up, learn to live with that irritating zip and learn to walk to with your feet apart, and things will be nice and happy.
Tarmac Venom riding boots are great value for money, they are heavy, well made, look nice, are waterproof, and will definitely provide you protection in case of a fall. At 10,000 rupees, they are the only boots that provide this level of protection while still looking alive. Spartan also has some boots in their lineup like the Hercules and the Zeus, but they looked rather sad to me, and I anyways try to avoid Spartan as much as possible after that horrible after-sales experience I had with their riding pants. A very good alternative would be the Joe Rocket Sonic R boots, which at 12,500 provide awesome value for money!
Overall, I would NOT RECOMMEND these boots to a rider, unless he satisfies the criterion described above.
Let me know if you guys have any questions!