The TCX Street 3 Air: The Ultimate Motorcycle Riding Sneaker, Put to the Test on the Road

I have a confession to make. Even though I have a closet full of motorcycle riding gear, I do sometimes skimp. And the one item I skimp on most often is shoes. The importance of proper motorcycle boots can’t be overstated, yet I’m often guilty of throwing on a pair of Vans high-top sneakers and jumping on my bike, especially when it’s hot out. My only excuse is that I prefer the style and comfort of sneakers over boots. I blame it on my 90s skate-brat youth.

It’s a lame excuse when you consider how the market for motorcycle riding sneakers has exploded over the past few years. The options are too endless to ignore—so I recently snagged a pair of TCX Street 3 Air riding shoes, to see if they can tempt me away from my faithful high-tops.

TCX is an Italian company that’s owned by Dainese, putting it in the same group of brands as AGV and Momo Design. But unlike their parent company, TCX only produces footwear. Their range includes everything from touring and off-road boots to vintage-style leather boots, but their sneakers caught my eye.

The TCX Street 3 is part of the brand’s urban range and comes in ‘WP’ and ‘Air’ versions in multiple colorways. WP stands for waterproof—but since I’m based in Cape Town, South Africa, and summer is on the horizon, I picked the breezier Air model in camo green. There’s probably a joke in there about a forty-something reformed skate punk wearing camo sneakers in an attempt to be cool (and failing), but I can take it.

This particular version of the TCX Street 3 has olive green suede at the front, back, and edges, with a breathable mesh camo fabric at the sides, and all-black soles. There are black and grey options too, plus a couple of women-specific designs. The overall vibe is simple and timeless.

The silhouette mimics classic high-top skate sneakers, with stitched padding around the ankle that’s reminiscent of the iconic Vans Sk8-Hi. That padding hides slim D30 inserts, and there’s extra reinforcement in the heel and toe areas.

Flip the TCX Street 3 Air over, and you’ll discover a rubber outsole covered in geometric lugs. The lugs are chunky enough to offer grip, but not so chunky that the shoe looks like a work boot. Hidden inside the outsole is a molded polymer reinforcement plate. TCX calls it ‘Zplate’ in reference to its Z-shaped curve, which is designed to follow the natural contour of your foot. The idea is that it’s compliant enough to walk in comfortably, but rigid enough to protect you.

Those features added up help the TCX Street 3 Air achieve a CE rating, putting it streets ahead of my Vans (or even a pair of Red Wings) in terms of safety.

But do they make the Street 3 Air as comfortable as TCX claims it is? That’s a “yes” from me. A rigid sole isn’t just crucial in a crash—it also offers essential stability while riding. (The next time you see someone riding in tennis shoes, take note of how the soles droop over the foot pegs.) TCX has nailed the balance between on-the-bike stiffness and off-the-bike compliance so well, that I can spend a couple of hours riding and not feel the need to kick the Street 3 Air off the second I get home.

It helps that TCX has sized the riding shoe generously. I typically wear a US13, but I took a US12.5 this time and it fit with a little wiggle room to spare. It also helps that there’s a cushy Ortholite insole inside; as riding boots go, this is one of the most comfortable pairs I’ve ever worn.

The Street 3 Air closure is a simple lace-up affair; no zips or straps. And it’s flexible enough to slip into without having to unlace the top couple of eyelets, which is not something that every pair of high-tops can boast. There’s a tidy leather pull tab at the back, and a clever elastic loop at the front that you can use to stash the ends of the laces.

Once it’s on, the Street 3 Air has a stealthy look that blends well with the rest of my semi-casual riding wardrobe. It sports minimal branding, with a tiny TCX tag on the side and the Italian colors on a strip of fabric that hides under the pull tab. There are no bulky shifter pads either—just some embossing on each shoe where a shifter pad would be.

It’s worth noting that while the fabric that flanks the sneaker is breathable, it’s not as perforated as it looks in photos. It’s more akin to the mesh knit fabric you’ll find on a pair of trainers, albeit a little thicker. To be fair, TCX does market this as a ‘mild’ rather than ‘hot’ weather shoe, and it does run noticeably cooler than other riding shoes I’ve tested.

Is the TCX Street 3 Air as comfortable as a skate sneaker when you’re off the bike? Not quite. But it is damn comfortable, more stable while riding, and a heck of a lot safer. That makes it an easy choice over my Vans when I head out on two wheels—and at a very reasonable RRP of €169.99 [or $143.99 at Revzilla], it’s easy to recommend to friends too.