MC Tested: TCX X-Wave Air Riding Shoes

Casual boots with lots of vents for hot weather.

TCX’s X-Wave Air riding shoe
TCX’s X-Wave Air riding shoe. We photographed it on a manhole because that’s, like, urban. Get it?Photo: Julia LaPalme

Among the many excuses that riders use for not gearing all the way up, hot weather has to be near the top of the list. When the sun is pounding down it feels good to have airflow, and it’s just plain easier to throw on a jacket when it’s 60 degrees out rather than 90. I get it! In an effort to keep fresh air cooling your feet, TCX released this X-Wave Air riding shoe. Being that most small children in Southern California aren’t old enough to remember what raindrops feel like, I have the perfect climate to test!

TCX X-Wave reviewed
I could stand for a pull tab to make getting in the X-Wave a little easier, but the chassis is well-built and very comfortable. Some darker laces would make them a little more subtle, too.Photo: Julia LaPalme

The X-Wave Air is made mostly from suede leather and mesh panels—specifically, “abrasion-resistant” mesh, says TCX (we certainly hope so!). It’s a lace-up shoe, no handy zipper along the side like some of TCX’s offerings, but getting in and out isn’t as bad as some other lace-closure boots I’ve tried. I was surprised at how rigid the rubber sole is, considering the X-Wave Air is pretty casual. It’s comfortable to walk in, but there’s no way a footpeg is going to poke your foot through the sole if you stand up or take an impact (again, the same can’t be said for some other boots and riding shoes). The last note I have on construction and general fit is that the X-Wave Air runs large. My pair is a US size 9, or Euro 43, and it’s a little big on me even though I typically wear a 10.5 or 44.

Out on the road, the X-Wave Air works as advertised. They breathe extremely well, making for two very happy feet in the 90-plus degree heat of my SoCal commute. I only have one complaint in practice: I wish there was a heavier pad of material (even if it compromised ventilation) over the toe of the shoe, for comfort when I’m shifting. TCX’s website says the toe is, “reinforced” but I don’t see it. The mesh panel is very thin there, and it makes me a little nervous from a safety standpoint in addition to comfort. In fact, armor in general is light. Besides the thick sole I mentioned before, and some nice hard pucks over my ankle bones, these shoes are pretty thin and minimal.

TCX X-Wave close-up of mesh
The mesh sections are said to be abrasion resistant, and breathe very well. I just wish there was a pad on the toe for the shifter.Photo: Julia LaPalme

I didn’t test them in a crash, thankfully, but I think this X-Wave Air delivers exactly what it’s meant to: much better protection than a standard pair of high-tops, without sacrificing any comfort in walking around. My personal preference is to have a little more armor around my feet when I’m riding (especially at freeway speeds), but I would trust these shoes to keep my feet safe. I would even go so far as to recommend someone spend $179 on the X-Wave Air, just to get them out of sneakers and into something built for the task.

TCX X-Wave Air Riding Shoes
PRICE: $179

VERDICT: I'd recommend real boots first, but as an alternative to sneakers these are great.