Long and short: new boots from Oxford. Would I buy them again? No. In fact, most likely look for a different brand.
I was due new boots. I got about in a pair of Johnny Rebbs for many years, and they were ace. Not super watertight, but they looked damn good. They were solid. They were comfortable and lasted, as I said years before the sole fell apart (not the rubber outer sole, the welt, as it is called in the business). Anyway, the Johnny Rebb's died and subsequently leaked like a sieve all across France and Germany. Through Poland. Through Lithuania and Latvia and into Estonia. At that point, I decided that's it! I'm getting new boots. And off I went to the motorbike shop.
I didn't want to spend all my money, so 300 euro boots were out. In my price range (about 120 euro, so not buy any means free) were a nifty looking pair of boots made by Oxford. And you'll agree (see below), they look spiffy enough. Almost space-aged. A bit over-the-top for my style, but waterproof and sturdy. Off I went, as proud as a honeymooner's dick, as the saying goes.
Well, like all good honeymoons, it was over in one week. A small hole developed in the top of the boots while riding through Finland. Manufacturing defect, I suppose, and not to do with the Fins. Certainly an issue something I figured we (me and Oxford) could deal with together. Theresa and I were riding hell bent for leather at this point, running to make Tromso in time for Theresa to go to a conference, so I left it a day or two before I emailed Oxford.
To cut a long story short, Oxford headquarters (UK company) politely informed me that my contract for operational boots, and their contract to provide operational boots, was via the retailer. In Estonia. To have any kind of warranty or help from them, I would have to return to Estonia and discuss the matter with the shopkeep. I was in Norway, it wasn't about to happen.
So, unfortunately, there is nothing Oxford can do.
I'm not 100% sure I agree: my dad would have field days over that phrasing, I mean to say there is a large gap between "can" and "will". Either way, they basically furnished me with a medium to large bucket of dicks, and suggested I eat them. Well, really, they didn't even do that: they most likely delivered the bucketfull to Estonia.
Wrapping up: I probably wouldn't do it again. Definitely not this particular boot.
In fact, given that I hope to only go through a dozen or so pairs of motorbike boots in my life (unless they're all as busted-arse as these), and given there are more than a dozen motorbike brands to choose from, I suppose Oxford, between their boots and "help", have slid somewhat lower down the scale of desirability for me. Somewhere between stepping on a hot nail and stepping on a cold nail.
In fact, I guess, it would seem like I am one of those whinging types if I was tired of tyres just yet, since I haven't ever written anything about them. But here we go. We have two very similar bikes that differ only in their suspension set up (Helga, the moto-noir has been lowered a couple of centimeters) , the heated hand-grips (Helga), the hand shields (Helga), ABS-off option (Helga), auto-alarm (Helga) and luggage (Helga with the Touratech, BM-duckle-W with the BMW original luggage). But, aside from these differences, the only difference to talk of is the tyres. And so here is what I so far think of the two kinds of tyres we have.
Helga has the Bridgestone Trailwing 101 on the front and 152 on the rear
The yellow rubber BM-duckle-w (that needs a new name, I am thinking of Helga..) has Dunlop Trailmax TR91
What can I say? From the look of the tyres, the Bridgestone is actually made for some more offroad than the Dunlop. And when you ride around in a bit of sandy gravel or gravelly sand, or even mud, it seems this way: the Bridgestones pull the bike in a straighter line with more traction off the black-top.
That said, on the road I expected a difference between the two. The Dunlop appearing more like a conventional road tyre with wet-weather capability. In fact, there seems to be almost no difference between them. I can't hear an increased road noise with the knobblier Bridgestones, can't feel a less smooth ride, have incredible similar braking distance, and don't notice any difference in rolling.
So what would I choose? Well, probably the Bridgestone. Next tyres? Probably something more aggressively off-road again. When we got the yellow, it came with a spare set of trail Metzelers. So I'll write about those one day...