Frank Thomas Street Boots - Extreme Long Term Test

Oldschool

Moderator
Extreme Long Term Test

Well the end has finally come for my Frank Thomas Street Boots with the soles delaminating.

This is no surprise when you take into account that the top songs on the charts the year of purchase were “Maneater” by Hall & Oates and “Down Under” by Men At Work along with the soundtrack from Flashdance. Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States and Pierre Trudeau was the Canadian Prime Minister at the time. The word or act of “Twerking” had not been invented (thankfully) nor the most famous twerker born yet . Madonna was shocking the world instead, rolling around on stage purporting to be a virgin. In the 1983 Tech-world; Apple could sell you the”Lisa” for a paltry $10,000.00 with dual 5 ½” floppy drives and a megabyte of Ram and IBM introduced the program, Lotus 1-2-3.

These boots have encapsulated and protected my feet over 32 trips around the sun and since before I was married (for 30 years this past August). They are older than either of my (now adult) children, and lasted 2 years longer than the Space Shuttle’s 30 year program. It has been so long that I can’t remember the model name of the boots, although the closest product to them now, (sold by Frank Thomas) are the “H 20316 Aqua Boot”. Back in 1983 I surely paid under $100.00 for the boots but my memory isn’t good enough to recall the amount for certain. What I do recall with a bit of wry humor is a salesman telling me that; “There are 3 things on the planet earth that can easily be seen from space; The Pyramids, The Great Wall of China, and the return pile at Frank Thomas!” This I still find very humorous considering how long these boots have lasted.

They have not been without issues, but none of those issues came about until they had seen me through at least 2 decades of riding. The company is and was then British, but like so many companies they outsourced their manufacturing to another poorer country with cheap labor. In the case of these boots they were carefully put together in a factory in Pakistan. They were and still are waterproof, but that feature was the first issue that needed a repair. The boots have a zipper on the bike (or inside) side of the boot with an internal bellow and external Velcro flap covered in suede and holding the inner ankle armor. The soft part of the Velcro was double stitched to the leather of the boot and at the very bottom of the zipper; the stitching caused the leather to tear just above the sole allowing water to enter. A fix with some black windshield adhesive permanently fixed that problem.



Issue 2; the zipper pull on the right boot broke off about a year ago and a zip tie was put in its place easily remedying that small problem. This was thirty one years after purchase, and countless pulls up and down, so I can accept that. The left one is still working as new.



Issue 3; the soles both began coming away from the boots due to the inner white rubber cushioning crumbling to dust due to old age. Parts of it where still securely glued to both the outer black rubber sole and the inner foot bed. The delamination started as a result of this material (that 3 decades ago was a nice firm but spongy layer) drying and rotting. It was glued several times with silicone and windshield adhesive, but the glues had nothing solid to bond to, so eventually it failed. I finally, in an attempt to make them last to the end of the season, scrapped out the remaining dust and used expanding spray-foam to fill the space. It actually worked for a few weeks, bonding the sole to the boot although not very aesthetically pleasing, but failing when I caught my heel on the door frame of my garage. This was thirty two years after purchase and the end of the road for these boots.



The lining of the boots have never torn and were always comfortable if not very cool. These were 1980’s waterproofing technology and that has come a long way since then. When these boots left the factory they claimed water-proof and that was true, other than the rivers of sweat that would pool inside your boots on a hot day. On a cold wet day, your feet would stay dry as long as the water wasn’t deeper than the top of your boots and your rain suit was securely over the top edge of the boots.

The tread on the soles was fine for walking and for gripping the pegs of the bike. They stood up fairly well to the 3 decades of (mostly) resting on the pegs of the 6 bikes that came and went during their time in service.
The leather and rubber of the boots construction took (and saw) very little care other than cleaning and a bit of “Dubbin” over their lifespan. It was only in the last 5 years that I noticed any cracking due to drying out. They definitely have cracks now, both in the rubber toe-shifter pads and the body of the boots but time will do that to any skin.


Protection-wise, these boots offered a steel shank, double layer leather with plastic plates (stitched between the layers of leather) over the ankle joints and a stout shin plate/padding of unknown material. They lacked any significant toe reinforcement or Achilles protection. There were rubber shifter pads and small padded leather toe-sliders on each boot. Like most protective gear from that era, they suffer by comparison to today’s standards and equipment. I would not want to have the weight of a bike land on my foot wearing these boots (the soles were too flexible), whereas with my MX Boots, I would not worry. That said; these Frank Thomas Street Boots served me well through my street-racing years, and touring years, keeping my feet warm and dry and intact.

So to recap; assuming $100.00 investment and 32 seasons of use for that investment the per-season cost works out to approximately $3.13. Not bad (and an amazing value) for a boot that was considered “cheap defective junk” by the know-all salesman that sported a curly mullet. No accounting for taste or judgement. The style of motorcycle boots certainly has changed much less than the music, and hair of that era. I challenge any company today to make a product that will outlast or outperform these boots over the long haul.

 
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Lonney

New Member
Dang and i felt bad replacing my five year old Shoei RF 1000 !!
RIP Frank Thomas boots


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

ghetto_d

Member
i know - my first jacket was a frank thomas - low price for such a feature-laden jacket. still love it & wear it quite a bit.
nowadays, i don't know where to source frank thomas gear - are they even still in business?
 

Dustin

Moderator
All things considered, those boots look pretty damn good for 32 years old! I guess just like all your things, you took great care of them
 
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