I wanted a more MX / Adventure style boot for riding my Ural, but the toebox of the Element boots by O’Neal was too big for the Ural’s cramped conditions.
I told myself in 2016 that I would have my Sidi OnRoad boots resoled once the snow fell. I hardly rode that year, became apathetic about commuting on my FJR, and once 2017 rolled around I didn’t send them in. I didn’t ride a single day in 2017, and with my Ural on the way from Pennsylvania I owned a pair of boots with the tread nearly worn through.
I needed a replacement pair, preferably one that I could wear during drier, warmer weather that would also provide protection for when we took the Ural on dirt trails. I wanted to return to my OnRoads eventually, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, either. My budget was $200 or less.
I tried the Element boot from O’Neal because of its adventure riding design and low price, but ultimately they didn’t work out. The toe box was too big and tall to fit easily in the Ural’s tight quarters. While not an issue for some, the boots were also too big around to fit inside my overpants.
The Element is a mix of leather and synthetic materials. There wasn’t a real breakdown anywhere that I could find, aside from that the heat shield is 100% leather. There are four plastic buckles that keep the boots snug, but there is no real adjustment.
The primary concern for people considering this as a long-term boot is that the sole is cemented and bonded to the upper. This means that it may be difficult or impossible to resole this boot. It might depend on who you take it to and if they can get a replacement set of soles from O’Neal. ADVRider had mixed reports of getting these re-soled.
There is a steel shank in the boots for support, and injected molded plastic armor in the shin. There is no toe or ankle protection, aside from the beefy construction of the boot.
Sizing and comfort
I wear a 45 in the SidiOn road, and 11 – 11.5 in most shoes / boots. I bought a size 12 in the Element and they fit me pretty well. I have a narrow, “C” width foot (“D” is the most average in the US). I had a little slippage in the heel, but not so much that I worried about blisters from walking.
The boots were more comfortable than I expected. The boot’s design altered my gait a bit (there isn’t a ton of ankle flexion, which is intentional). I walked like Robocop. It wasn’t bad, but if I had kept these boots I would have packed sandals or sneakers for off-bike exploring.
Ultimately, the boots were too big for me to feel comfortable using them on the Ural. While the Ural has a heel shifter on both the forward and reverse gears, the boots were too wide and too tall for my comfort. I felt like I had very little leftover space near the controls, and was particularly concerned about accidentally applying the rear brake as I rode. This may not be an issue for riders with smaller feet. If you have an adjustable shift lever on your bike, you might be okay. The Elements would not fit under the shifter of my FJR.
Ultimately, I returned these to Amazon, but if the dimensions were a little smaller I would have kept them. There are reports of the boots not lasting past a season or two of hard motocrossing, but given my needs on the Ural they may have lasted for several years.