The TCX R-S2 boots are high performance, track-targeted race boots. These tanks place into the highest tier of safety and performance, and for that you’re going to pay a premium. So why did I spend so much of my money on race boots if I’m not MotoGP champion Marc Marquez? Because I like having functioning ankles, that’s why.

At the beginning of this year I had a small get-off while riding the roads around Lake Berryessa, but what should have been a minor inconvenience instead resulted in me limping back to my bike and having a very uncomfortable rest of the day. What I was wearing on my feet were a pair of Sedici brand “track boots,” Sedici being a CycleGear brand. Let me tell you something about Sedici: it looks great, yet does nothing other than provide road-rash protection. Since I came down on my right foot, my ankle bent at a very unnatural angle resulting in a very broken lower fibula. From that point on I decided I was done cheaping out on gear.

I’ve had my pair of R-S2’s for eight months and have had a couple times where I was glad to have them. I’ll go into detail about all the protective qualities of the boots, but be assured that I have tested crashworthiness personally. My conclusion: they hold up.

These ankle-savers would normally retail for $400, but can be had for much, much less now that TCX has released an updated version. The upgrade to the next iteration is expensive, and frankly, not worth it. Save yourself some cash if you’re looking at TCX and scoop up the original R-S2’s at a steep discount.

When talking about race gear, comfort is a strange but crucial aspect to consider. The goal when searching for the right gear isn’t for it to feel good, but instead to fit so well that you forget you have it on when riding. That’s the best way I can describe how these boots fit, since I don’t feel like I’m wearing fuzzy slippers while wearing them, but they never get in the way and I never have to think about them when I’m riding at the limit.

The interior of the boot is lined with a breathable, moisture-wicking liner, except for around the achilles, the heel and the footbed. The achilles and heel have a nice memory foam-like cushioning that eventually molds itself to you, and I can confirm that after a few months of wearing them there is a very noticeable impression in the material. Overall, the footbed and arch are definitely bigger and wider than European brands like Dainese, of which I’ve tried on a couple pairs. I found that Dainese boots were always too tight, but TCX was much more accommodating for my very “American” feet. The breathable liner acts as a nice buffer between your foot and outside world, which is great for temperature regulation.

I’d say these boots are comfortable from just above freezing to well above 100 degrees F. They are not water-proof, as is typical for most race boots, so you’ll have to get some rain covers or dedicated winter boots if you plan on riding through a wet season.

Moving to the outside of the boots, you’ll find a few air vents by the heel and shin, which let in small amounts of air to help keep you cool. With a similar goal, the bike side of each boot has suede heat shields for comfort and to keep your boot from catching on your bike. The front of the boot is made up of elasticated and perforated leather, which breathes well and is soft enough that your gear shifts don’t feel impeded.

The toe box is where I encountered a problem: it’s so thick it made shifting difficult. When going for an upshift, the lever wouldn’t come all the way back down because the boot was in the way. Even though I could complete my shift from first to second, second to third required me to pull my boot out to let the shifter fall back into place, after which I could finally give it another click up. Luckily, my Ninja has an adjustable shift lever with quite a bit of travel, so moving it up as high as possible solved this problem for me. Outside the toe box is a very durable and grippy shift pad sewn on that keeps the metal shifter from bruising your toes.

Now the last comfort utility is also one of the major selling points for TCX, a technology which helps differentiate these boots from so many others on the market: the PAFS system. PAFS stands for Precise Air Fit System which is an inflatable bladder along the front of the boot. Pumping it up (remember Reebok’s Pumps?) will give you a tighter, more secure fit without the discomfort of laces or buckles. I’d say it works great, but this first generation tech has some kinks to work out as it tends to be leaky. If I start a ride with a fully pressurized system, I usually find the boots fit a bit looser after a couple hours.

Due to a generous range of motion, it is even possible to walk around in these boots without looking like the tin man, though the sole is a bit too hard for standing for any extended period of time. Overall, the R-S2’s are exactly what you hope for in terms of comfort from such a massive boot: you set it and forget it.