I think every girl has a life defining garment, or piece of clothing in their wardrobe. Whether it’s pulling pants, a killer suit for job interviews, the dress for the dream date or the designer handbag that is the one thing that gives you that confidence boost when you have to face the world.
For me, it’s a slightly tatty pair of boots I bought from eBay for £25, not long after I got my bike.
I never realised how much my height might get in the way of riding my bike, until my boyfriend at the time brought my new Ducati Monster home for me. When I rode it round my car park for the first time, I felt like Bambi on ice. He declared that it was because I was too short for the bike, and he would order a lowering kit for it, and I wasn’t to ride until he’d had it lowered. Weeks went by, no kit. He was also supposed to take it to get MOT’d, but kept turning up drunk, so I took matters into my own hands, and booked an MOT at a reasonably near garage.
I got there ok, parked up ok, left the bike, and went for a coffee, all good. Went back, bike had passed MOT, and the garage had parked it on a steep camber outside their shop. I promptly dropped the bike, snapping off the end of the gear lever. Uh oh. Worse was to come when I rode home, and the fob for the car park wouldn’t work. I tried to U turn the bike outside and dropped it again, this time on the other side, smashing the brake lever clean off. My boyfriend went ballistic, and told me under no uncertain circumstances was I to ride the bike until he had bought the non-existent lowering kit. My only other option was, according to him, to get a pair of Daytona Ladystars, which at over £300, he knew I couldn’t afford, after buying a bike, insurance, jacket, boots, trousers, etc. (It was in effect, a ploy to keep me at home, and for him to get away with his ongoing philandering).
I spotted a pair of Daytona Boots on eBay, not listed as Ladystars, but as “Daytona Boots size 5”. At £25 it was worth the punt, and 3 days later, they arrived, unceremoniously, taped up in a bin bag. They were the Daytona Ladystars I was desperate for!
The key to these boots, and why they made a huge difference, is they have a built up sole, and large built up heel, all concealed within the boot. It’s around an extra 2 inches, which as any girl knows makes a huge difference…I imagine Prince would have worn similar if challenged by an ambitious seat height. These boots have enabled thousands of women to get on bikes that would not have managed to ride before.
It was like night and day riding in the Ladystars for the first time. My feet felt planted, and I could easily balance the bike on either foot. I could tell my boyfriend wasn’t happy, as I was now mobile, but with upcoming surgery 2 months away, I had to get as many miles on the bike before I would not be able to ride for a few months and winter was on its way. I started commuting to work across town, popping to the Ace Café, I was mobile, and didn’t rely on my boyfriend for transport anymore. (Or for anything, he was soon kicked to the kerb)
A few years on, and the boots are very worn, having supported me through 6000 miles on the bike. I’ve “made considerable progress” up the motorway in them, rode a World Grand Prix Race Track in them, been on noisy tunnel runs, been up a mountain, rode across Italy, I’ve laughed in them, cried in them, had many teas, coffees and chips in them…even done the dirty in them…
So, when I got back from Italy in July, I realised the soles were badly cracked, and needed replaced. Colin, at J&S in Stockwell arranged for them to be sent back to Germany to be re-soled. I panicked, at the thought of either not riding until the boots came back…or using my original Alpinestars boots, with no built up sole.
I went for the Alpinestars, and although I could still only get a toe down, I’d built up enough muscle memory of where to balance the bike against my legs for it to stay secure when stopped. It was as if the Ladystars had been my stabilisers, and I’d finally graduated away from them…BUT…At some point in the future, I may want a bike with a seat height of more than 770mm, plus, the Ladystars are so damned comfortable and solid.
When they’re finally dead, I’ll probably replace them with the same, but this little scruffy pair of boots have changed my life. Gave me the confidence to do what I wanted to do, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.
Footnote to this, the average height of a UK woman is around 5’4”. Seat heights on bikes tend to be going up, leaving fewer options for women. If manufacturers want to ignore a large potential market, seat heights will continue to get higher.