Motorcycle gear can be expensive and heavy but it is mandatory if you want to stay away from injuries that might cost you even more to treat and heal. And, while helmets and leather jackets are part of any respected biker’s starter pack, some forget about the importance of choosing the right shoes.
Since your feet and ankles are out in the open, a regular pair of trainers or sneakers won’t suffice to keep you away from injuries, so here are the most important things you need to know about motorcycle boots.
What makes motorcycle boots different from other shoes?
With all the money you spent on the coolest leather jacket from Harley and a high-performance full helmet, you’re probably wondering whether you should invest in a pair of motorcycle boots as well. After all, they’re just boots, right? Wrong.
The first and most important thing you need to learn is that the right pair of boots can make the difference between keeping and losing your legs, after an accident.
Motorcycle boots are designed with specific features in mind to not only make your ride more comfortable but to also provide maximum protection, whenever needed.
A quality pair of boots will offer special features like molded ankle protection, stiffness around the soles, a high-ankle design, and weatherproof materials. Traction and double stitching are also required if you want your product to last for years and not tear apart after a minor impact.
Types of motorcycle boots
If you assumed all motorcycle boots are the same, you were wrong again. There are countless brands and products on the market, and you need to pick the right one according to the type of riding you prefer.
Cruiser boots offer a better grip for your ride but don’t do too well when it comes to protecting your feet. Most cruiser boots look similar to any pair of work boots and are mainly designed for those who ride their bikes every day over short distances.
They are mainly made of leather or high-quality faux leather and feature thick soles. Most of these boots feature an ankle-high design to protect your ankles from sprains and injuries but some other types of motorcycle riding might require a knee-length to cover all areas that are prone to fractures, ligament tears, sprains, and other injuries.
Touring boots are specifically designed for those who enjoy long rides and often encounter various climates and temperatures during their trips. Thus, comfort should be your main concern, so you have to opt for a pair with bendable soles to provide increased flexibility.
The boots should also fit well and should be made of high-quality full-grain leather. Moreover, they also need to be waterproof and come with extra insulation to protect your feet from cold temperatures and keep them cool and dry throughout the day.
You can imagine that off-road adventure boots require another set of features to be deemed worthy of your money and attention. Bikers who enjoy off-road riding are more prone to knee injuries and ankle sprains, so you’ll need to find a pair of suitable boots.
You’re looking for a pair that offers improved protection to your shins, ankles, and feet, meaning it should be at least a few inches higher than regular cruising boots. Thicker soles with great traction are mandatory if you’re riding on rocky surfaces or dirt. You should also look for improved insulation, thick and sturdy materials, and even metallic tips to protect your toes.
What are the main features you should consider?
We have already talked about different types of boots according to your preferred type of riding so let’s take a closer look at the most important features you need to check to go home with a high-quality pair of motorcycle shoes.
Generally speaking, any type of shoe or boot that doesn’t cover the ankles isn’t considered an appropriate riding boot. We already mentioned how important height is in keeping your feet, ankles, and knees protected from impact and injuries but how do you pick the right height?
Most bikers practice cruise riding and touring, meaning they are looking for a day-to-day pair of boots that are sturdy and weatherproof. Ankle-high boots provide a stable construction and protect your ankles and feet from sprains, bruises or more severe injuries. This is why many riders prefer them as opposed to a high-top boot because the latter is stiffer and heavier.
One of the most common injuries bikers suffer from is when the foot is trapped under the motorcycle. This often leads to broken bones or ligaments, as well as sprains if the boot doesn’t provide the necessary support to the ankles. And, since these minor accidents can occur anytime, anywhere, we recommend opting for higher length boots instead of the regular ankle-high designs.
If you’re still pondering on investing in a pair of motorcycle boots, think of the materials used to manufacture most of the shoes you already own. We’re guessing canvas, faux leather, and rubber are the most common ones. Now, think about the protection your feet need when riding a bike and ask yourself again – do you need motorcycle boots?
Biker boots are mainly made of durable, high-quality full-grain leather that will resist wearing, tearing, impact, and various weather conditions and temperatures. They should also feature double or triple stitching in high-impact areas such as the toes and heels to offer more protection.
However, treated leather won’t always suffice when it comes to motocross boots, so you’ll have to invest in a pair made of a combination of leather, metal, plastic and other man-made composite materials that can provide the required level of protection and shock absorption.
Bike riders often get to choose between shoelaces and Velcro straps when it comes to the closing system of their boots. Although laces are the preferred option for most bikers because they ensure a customized fit, they can get tangled or untie while riding, which may cause accidents. To avoid this, it would be best to choose a pair that also features a buckle to strap down laces and secure them.
If you want extra protection and prevent all potentially dangerous situations, Velcro straps and buckles would be the better option.
Water resistance and ventilation
We talked about the boot’s height, overall fit, and manufacturing materials but another important element you should take into account is comfort.
No matter if you’re a cruiser or a person who prefers a longer ride, your boots must be able to provide maximum comfort for your feet regardless of the season and temperatures outside. For a better fit, we suggest choosing half a size bigger than you normally wear since your feet will get swollen after a while.
Although leather is a breathable fabric, the construction of your biker boots should feature additional ventilation points such as mesh inserts or small holes to promote proper air circulation and allow your feet to breathe.
Moreover, the boots should also absorb extra moisture to keep your feet cool and dry throughout the day.
Depending on your preferred type of riding, you’ll need to choose a pair of soles that provide the right amount of grip. Softer soles will wear down faster but will provide a better grip, while harder soles will offer improved durability at the cost of grip.
If you’re looking for more protection and shock absorption for your heels and toes, you might want to consider additional boot insulation, especially around the sole area.
No matter the type of grip you’re looking for, make sure your boot soles are oil-resistant and non-slippery since you will also be riding your bike in wet conditions.
Some of the brands that offer high-quality boots for all types of riding include Alpinestars, Red Wing, Harley-Davidson, Sidi, and Bates. They might cost a couple of hundred dollars or even more but a good pair of boots will last you many years.