THE BEST BOOTS FOR MOTORCYCLE FEET. No one needs to tell you that motorcycle boots protect your feet. And even if you don’t ever plan on crashing, your feet are in regular contact with the ground, including every time you stop. In the process, your feet can become acquainted with curbs, grime, spilled oil, branches, rocks, sand, gravel, water, mud and/or other debris that both on- and off-road riders may encounter.
In very direct terms, your feet need protection, which means good quality, motorcycle-specific boots.
If you happen to be a rider that engages in a more spirited type of motorcycle entertainment, which results in very low bike leans, which can include scraping motorcycle parts, and/or the sides of your boots on the pavement, you are a candidate for even better boots.
When you’ve had the sides of your boots scrape some fast pavement shooting underneath you, not too far from your shoulder, you will REALLY appreciate that your feet have adequate boot protection.
And just in case you DO plan on crashing, well then, that will be the day you will be the most respectful of your boots and all your other protective gear.
THE MAIN POINT ABOUT MOTORCYCLE BOOT SELECTION
All that protection stuff is vital to the purpose of our boots. But if they ain’t comfortable, we may be apt to leave them at home.
Which means the main point about getting a good pair of motorcycle boots is getting a pair that is COMFORTABLE for you.
Of course, let’s not get things all turned around here: Tennis shoes may be comfortable, but they do not fulfill that protective role.
There are LOTS and LOTS of different motorcycle boots. Let’s consider some of the popular ones.
LEATHER BOOTS WITH LACES
Motorbike boots with laces deserve a special mention. Although some riders like the fact that laces can be tied to provide a real snug, secure fit, those laces “can” present a safety hazard in the event they come untied while riding.
Loose laces, or loose ends of any kind (such as a long scarf, or even some very frayed jeans), can translate into bad news on a motorcycle.
Imagine the effect of a boot lace getting caught in a chain while riding on the highway. Or how about a lace getting caught on a footpeg, brake pedal, gear shifter, or any other part while dismounting a bike. The first example could end in tragedy and the second may end up in simply getting tripped and dropping the bike.
A workable solution is to always DOUBLE TIE your laces if this is the kind of boot you prefer.
CLASSIC LEATHER BOOTS
The boot that is most readily identified with motorcycles, is the classic engineer style, which has been around a long time, and which could also be considered the iconic “Biker Boot.”
Engineer boots are black with adjustable leather straps across the ankles, and at the top of the shaft.
Another classic biker boot is the “Harness Boot.” These are different enough from engineer boots that they can be readily differentiated, however, it’s not unusual to hear someone incorrectly identify a harness boot as an engineer boot.
Harness boots are usually about the same height as engineer boots, so they share that in common. Harness boots are also available in black, so that’s another similarity. But brown harness boots are readily available, as well.
The differences between the boots are that harness boots usually feature a square toe and engineer boots featured rounded toes.
Finally, a defining feature of harness boots is their non-adjustable leather straps that attach to metal rings on both sides of the boots near the ankle region. (Those circular rings giveaway that cowboy heritage).
Regardless, if you prefer a classic biker boot, one of these two will serve you well, and in either case, the better ones are made of heavy duty leather, have strong soles, and may have a steel toe. They are usually a “slip on” style, as opposed to a zipper, buckle or lace variety.
NOTE: Steel toes obviously offer more protection around the toes and are popular with construction workers and tradesmen. It seems like a good idea for bikers, and steel toes are commonly featured on biker feet.
But, just because they have been common for many decades does not make them the best choice.
An alternative to a steel toe would be a “safety toe,” or what may sometimes be referred to as a “composite toe” and other manufacturers may have additional names.
These protective toe elements are NOT made of metal. They are lighter, which is an advantage for riders who also walk in their boots. But a more important advantage is that in some motorcycle wrecks, a steel toe may become crushed into a rider’s toes and may need to be cut away by emergency workers. I’m sure you can picture a variety of unfriendly scenes. The point here is to not just presume that your motorcycle boots should have steel toes, even if many boots feature them.
MOTORCYCLE ZIPPER BOOTS
Good motorcycle boots protect your feet, ankle and shins. Which means they cover a chunk of the bottom of your legs. Which also means they may NOT be the easiest things to get on and off.
Enter the style of motorcycle boots with zippers that manufacturers provide to make the task of getting boots on and off your feet as easy as possible.
Interestingly enough, you can’t even always tell by looking at a boot that is being worn whether it uses a vertical zipper, or not. For some boot styles, the zipper is cleverly hidden so a biker may not even let on to others that he’s living on easy street when it comes to wearing boots.
Furthermore, just because a boot does have a zipper opening, does not necessarily mean that it cannot also be a waterproof boot, as well.
For those zipper boots that are waterproof, the manufacturing trick is that they have included a pleat that unfolds when you unzip the boot. In effect, the pleat creates a waterproof seal, regardless of whether the zipper is open or closed. But you will still want to ensure that the zipper boots you are looking at do state they are waterproof, since that’s not a universal feature.
SPORT RIDING BOOTS
High quality motorcycle boots for sport bikers typically offer better protective qualities than classic boots, since sport bikes, by their very nature, go faster, and are often worn by riders who are more performance demanding than any other motorbike category.
More specifically, boots for sport riders are often purpose-built to offer better ankle and shin protection than classic boots, in the event of a crash. Some even have ceramic or metal external tabs to endure the pavement scraping that aggressive, high-performance riders may subject their feet to. Furthermore, good sport bike boots offer very durable soles, and typically have some type of reinforced toe (usually “not” steel).
MX boots, or off-road boots in general, offer very heavy-duty feet/ankle protection. Given that MX riders are constantly mixing their feet up with the elements, these boots are TOUGH.
They are usually taller and stiffer than regular motorcycle boots or even asphalt racing boots. (On the other hand, as a point of comparison, MX boots are usually not as stiff as downhill skiing boots).
Motocross boots are constructed from leather, metal, plastic and/or other man-made composite materials to completely wrap our feet, ankles and shins in their own cocoon of durable protection.
Unlike street boots, which can include some give and take around the ankles and shins, MX boots are usually worn with a tight fit. They are securely fastened up and down the shaft with a set of locking buckles that allow the rider to quickly adjust his/her comfort preferences and to ensure optimum fit. Additionally, good MX boots offer a padded interior, including even the tongue and collar, just to make sure these boots can be made as comfortable as possible. Off-road riders need VERY GOOD protection for their feet!
WATERPROOF MOTORCYCLE BOOTS
If only ALL motorcycle boots were waterproof. But they’re not. And if only all motorcycle boots that “said” they were waterproof, truly were! Alas, some boot makers may embellish their waterproof characteristics.
Water “resistant” boots can handle a little wetness and keep your feet dry, whether that be a light drizzle, or a short ride home after the rain starts.
Also, such boots typically require routine maintenance, such as waterproof sprays or other leather applications, to keep out as much water as possible.
But if you are a long-distance rider who may spend all day riding in the rain, or someone who has a long commute, you could truly benefit from a real “waterproof” boot.
Another option for you to consider are RAIN BOOTS COVERS. These are lightweight, foldable, nylon-like boots that you wear over your existing boots. They are like a raincoat for your feet. They won’t win you any fashion contests, but they do a pretty good job of keeping your feet dry.