As much as we might have our moments of muttering under our breath about lack of proper sizing, getting the same quality armor as the guys or how for every ten men’s jacket options, we get maybe two, this is a pretty great time to be a woman rider. Manufacturers are building bikes with us in mind, and apparel makers discovered that if it looks as good as it functions, we’re more likely to buy it.

The Europeans, of course, had this all figured out long ago; then again, they’ve always been a stylish bunch. Nowhere is this more true than in Italy, where some of my favorite “I feel good ‘cuz I look good, and I’m not skimping on protection” gear comes from. I discovered Stylmartin, an Italian boot manufacturer, through a friend, and immediately fell in lust with the Continental vintage-styled off-road boots. It was one of those “had to have” moments that I imagine impeccably dressed Fifth Avenue New York City women have when they spy a particularly delicious pair of $500 heels in the window of Saks. Or wherever it is they shop. I wouldn’t know; I tend to spend most of my money on motorcycle and camping gear. But you get my drift.

Stylmartin Kansas
Stylmartin’s Kansas riding shoe is constructed of a denim-look material that looks great with riding jeans. The scuff marks on the sides of the soles are fake; after a year of wear, the shoes show little sign of actual wear. (Photos by Kurt Yaeger)

So anyway, the Continentals are just as awesome as I imagined, and I look damn good in them, but I also needed something for more casual, around town riding. The Kansas riding shoes looked perfect. And I have to say, they’ve performed just as well. While they look like a regular pair of sneaks, they actually include a host of protective and motorcyclist-specific details, including hard protectors over both sides of the ankles, firm heel cups, a sole insert for stability and crush protection, toe shifter pads and reflective panels.

They arrived pre-laced and ready to wear…but the lacing pattern was unfamiliar to me. Rather than the old X-shaped lacing I’d learned as a child, the Kansas’ laces looked more like Zs, and I only had to pull on one lace to loosen them. Once I got them on and cinched back up, it became clear that the lacing pattern was intentional; it seems to really lock the shoe onto my foot, preventing it from flying off in an accident.

Stylmartin Kansas
You can see the unusual lacing pattern in this photo. The Kansas shoes clamp on and cinch down tight around my feet and ankles, giving me peace of mind that they won’t fly off in the case of an accident.

Of course, because of the close fit and secure lacing, getting them on and off isn’t as easy as just slipping into your favorite running shoes, but once on they are amazingly comfortable and I can walk around in them all day. Stylmartin says the Kansas shoes are water resistant (which I haven’t tested) and breathable (which I have, and they are great in hot weather). They came pre-distressed, with fake wear marks and scuffs on the white sides of the soles, and in the year I’ve been wearing them they show little else in the way of wear. The once-bright neon green laces are now a little dingy, but otherwise they look just as good as the day they arrived!

The Kansas shoes come with two sets of laces, one white and one neon green. They are available in Euro sizes 36-47, and can be ordered in a men’s or women’s fit. I wear a U.S. women’s size 8.5, and the size 39 fits me perfectly. Stylmartin also offers a wide selection of other styles and colors of riding shoes, so there’s likely something for everyone.


Price: $165

Sizing: Runs narrow, otherwise true to size.

Best use: Casual, around town riding

For more information, visit

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