Tips on Selecting the Best Motorcycle Boots

Mens Biker BootTHE 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).

MOTOCROSS BOOTS

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.

Be Sure To Add Your Motorcycle Boot Tips Below!

39 thoughts on “Tips on Selecting the Best Motorcycle Boots

  • Boots that fit and not the expensive high $$ dress boot. Get a work boot. And remember the boot must fit your foot as well as under the shift lever. Yes, I do know the shift lever is adjustable up or down but not in length.

    Now where can I get a US size 12 – EE or EEE width? Everyting I see is medium or “D” width.

  • Alot of good info here! I been riding for 35 years and agree to allot of the recomendations here. I also like SIDI/ Aerostich boots and I use to where Bates, The old ones lasted for many many years. My latest are Tourmaster and our quite comfortable. I don’t wear laced boots anymore. As for cowboy boots (Enginering or Harness I would buy from Boulet of Canada or Chipewa (American Made) as my first choice they are both worth the extra money.and will last a good many years if you take care of them . I don’t feel to assured of the quality of boots made in China or getting the right size If I mail order them.

  • Tried many boots over the years. Issue always convenience vs comfort vs protection vs waterproof. The lower height just over the ankle boots most comfortable and convenient, low protection, not waterproof. The Harley zip up harness boots, good convenience, good comfort, moderate protection, not waterproof. BEST walking comfort, protection, waterproof is actually a top quality 9 inch high pair of hunting boots; gortex lining for waterproof, wicking layer and removable insole to dry up foot moisture, reinforce box toe, shank support for Vibram-type traction sole, real leather for flex and comfort . Covenience of speed laces (these are usually long enough to double tie AND tuck ends and loops into outer side of boot.) Never had these untie even after walking in mountains all day (fully waterprooof in snow, puddles, etc.) Once worn in, VERY comfortable walking, and quality companies will resole. I use these for serious riding. No fashoin statement, tho.

  • Best boots I ever owned are Matterhorns by HH Brown (USA). Got mine via eBay, brand new. Military low-calf hight laced boot. Gore tex liner. After 200 miles in the rain, the only thing still dry were my feet.

  • These are some of the better comments I’ve read posted in response to an article. Several posts mention the dangers of low speed drops. The most important thing to remember is not to try to “save” the bike by putting your feet down. If the motorcycle starts to fall, let the bike go and get off and away from it. It’s not worth a rolled ankle, a broken foot or lower leg spiral fractures to avoid a scratched up bike and some embarassment. Even wearing the best armored boots out there may not prevent these injuries. Keep your feet on the pegs or boards.

  • The steel-toe myth continues to be propagated. A basic ANSI rated cap steel-toe is rated at well over 3,000 pounds of force. That’s right a ton and a half. If your foot gets subjected to that much force without a steel toe, it has just been turned into pudding. In that case, you are probably better off having the sucker pinched off than crushed. Besides, if you’re in a wreck that can subject your foot to that much damage, your foot is likely the least of your worries.

    That said, I’m not here to promote steel-toes in motorcycle boots. I don’t know if the specific danger actually makes them all that necessary. But never, never sell them short when it counts to have them…say, when an 8″ cast iron pipe gets dropped on your foot or something similar. Happy riding.

  • I have tried lots of boots. For durability, style, comfort on and off my bike–Cruiserworks hands down. Worth every penny.

  • Hi Guys, Happy new year !!!

    Just got myself a brand new pair of SEDICI boots. Price was reasonable US$ 148,00. They are very comfortable, nicely built in leather and a firm rubber sole with reinforced ankles and sides. They were advertised as breathable waterproof but to my surprise, after a long 8 hours ride under strong rain storm, they were inundated and deformed in the ankle area. I can still wear these boots in dry weather condition or wear a rain cover on top.

    Have any of you tested boots that are really waterproof?

    Carlos Ismerio – Sao Paulo (Brazil)

  • Since I’m retired and on a fixed income I don’t have money to burn. I got a great deal on a very well made pair of black harness boots from The Sportsman’s Guide. Their brand name is Guide Gear. I caught these boots on sale for 49.97 and they’re every bit as good as boots costing 3 times as much and they look great. These boots are not water proof or even water resistant. I got caught riding in the rain and my feet got soaked. This would have happened with most any other leather boots. I bought an inexpensive pair of rubber rain boots that fit over my leather boots and that keeps my feet dry. You can spend more on a pair of harness boots but I don’t think they are going to be any better that what I have.

  • Cruiserworks boots are the only/perfect solution..waterproof and the manufacturer will re–sole them every few years..keep your original box..ship them off and back they come..like new and guaranteed waterproof..very comfortable..had mine 12 years..NOTHING compares

  • I want boots that go way beyond comfy — I want boots that feel great. I want that feeling that puts a spring in my step and makes me want to look at them every now and then! Hard to find, but I have a pair of Ariat western boots that do that for me right now. The naysayers claim they’ll come off in a wreck, but they’re wrong. I’ve had my share of wrecks — even totaled two rides, never lost a boot. The trick is the boot has to fit, really fit — way beyond just comfortable. They’ve got to fit so good that they put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

  • I purchased a custo-made pair of Gasolina boots last Fall. They are leather and are perfect. They are the most comfortable boots I’ve ever owned, and well worth the price – which by the way is under $200!
    These are designed by a rider and made by hand in Mexico. They have a classic look and offer protection up past mid calf. Check them out at Gasolina.com. Tell Todd I sent you!

  • I found the laced law enforcement “tactical boot’ (mid calf) with zippered side and lockdown velcro, is light weight, stylish, oil resistant soles and are comfortable enough just to beat around in. I walk a couple miles in mine and they are not burdensome. I don’ t wear the safety toe, but I’m sure they can be found in the style. I love them for the ankle support and good archs. I wear mine about every other day. I can’t say they are weather proof, but here in South Louisiana, wet feet are fact of life here. That’s why I have two pair.

  • I’m quite happy with my BMW all-round boots. They last well, considering that I wear them about 6 days a week. I’ve been through water up to my ankles on them (but not for long), and they stay pretty dry. Not nearly as uncomfortable as the motocross boots to walk in, although I wouldn’t go on a hike with them. They can unfortunately get really hot in summer, but that is a general problem with much of the safety gear.

    I don’t know if it is possible to compromise between riding safety and walking comfort – you need stiff boots that come up pretty high for the bike, which does not make for a very pleasant walking experience. This is annoying, because I have big feet, and packing hiking boots takes up half a pannier.

    But the one thing that has protected my feet and legs the best has been my boxer engine with crash bars!

  • Yea I took a long road trip without getting the proper boots. I thought some good hardy, leather cowboy boots would suffice. Wrong. I dropped my bike going into a gas station to get out of the pouring rain, and dislocated my two little toes wayy out of place. Still not sure HOW it happened, but am pretty sure they would have been free from dislocation had they been in the proper boots! haha

  • Proper protection for your feet is one of the most important pieces of safety gear for motorcycle riders. I like boots that have oil resistant rubber soles and a low or flat heel for good traction. I have a couple pair that I switch off wearing. A very comfortable pair of Alpinestars that are waterproof with side zippers and a velcro flap. My other pair are Combat Light boots from Aerostich made by Sidi, these boots are not completely waterproof but have speed laces that tuck into a leather flap and an adjustable buckle for security. I think the person who said buy what is functional and comfortable has it down pretty good. Good boots that you don’t wear or leave in the closet won’t protect you in a crash situation.

  • I started out with heavy-duty work boots many years ago. I never had a problem with the laces, but I *always* double tied them (even when I wasn’t going for a ride). I went through a variety of “waterproof” boots, because rain riding is a fact of life for anyone who commutes or does a lot of riding. However, I, too, found that waterproof doesn’t mean what it states, although several years ago I got some rubber overboots – which do keep my feet dry – as long as I take the trouble to pull off the road and put them on before the water starts falling. Over the years, I still keep buying different types of leather boots. I’ve found some that are OK, but nothing that gives me the all-around features of safety, comfort, long-lasting durability, relative lightness for walking, thick soles that last a long time, along with a style that’s not too obnoxious. On the other hand, it’s possible that all those features can’t be included in one boot: which is why I have different types.

  • I started off with lace-up safety boots, until I heard the lecture on the issues with steel toes. I then purchased Harley-Davidson boots with lace-up and zippers on the side. I found the zippers had no lock and kept sliding down while riding. One boot almost fell off my foot while stopping at an intersection, which made for an exciting moment. Nexzt step (pun not intended) were zippered boots with the velco flaps. While great in cooler weather they were too hot for summer riding and did not fit under my blue jeans. I now ride with a harness boot to which I added an extra sole for added leg reach and better grip. I find, however that the heel can get in the way at times by inadvertently flipping the side boards or not always making good contact with the heel/toe shifter.

    Bottom line…I’m still looking for a comfortable boot that is high up on safety, comfortable for both riding and short walks, easy to put on and take off, (I really do not care about any fashion statement), provide good traction, waterproof etc. …so far…no luck! I’ll keep looking…

  • Really like the Double Zipper Field Boot by River Road, These are lace-ups with zippers on both sides. The zippers are not really long enough to be used to remove/put on the boot but the lacing system is great anyway. Very secure support, nice sole and heel with excellent traction.

  • I have two pair of boots: Harley Davidson, mid calf length, which I have used for five years. Very comfortable to ride, not so good to walk and definitely not waterproof. A couple of summers ago I invested a few bucks in a good pair of Red Wing, over the ankle, lace up, waterproof worker boots. With these you can ride and walk in comfort. I do double knot the laces.

  • The “Slip on” classic leather boots that motorcyclists have been wearing for decades are a poor substitute for real, designed for motorcycling, amored, zip-up boots. Skip the lace-up hikers’ too.

    If you wear “slip on” boots on your motorcycle, be prepared for them to “slip off” in an accident. And for the fellow whose buddy broke an ankle on the bike in sneakers? A similar thing would probably have happened in a pair of “Classic Leather Boots”, because there is no ARMOR in them.

    I had a student do a slow speed tip-over on a little 200cc dirt bike in leather boots and break her ankle under the engine. 4 pins to rebuild it and much rehab later…

    Buy real armored “SPORT RIDING BOOTS” if you like the way your feet and ankles look and work, and would like to keep them like that.

  • Interesting thread. . .
    It goes to show that a stereotypical comment said in jest (Lady Rider) can offend a male just like it can upset a female. Attention ladies; Ya ever notice that guys that workout and have giant biceps never wear long sleeves? Even in winter them pythons are on display. Perhaps it’s all relative.

    Riding Boots: The one important feature for me is No Laces!
    Boot laces can get caught on parts of a motorcycle that you never expected. Problem is that you don’t realize you’re caught until it is imperative to put your foot down.
    It has only got to happen to you once in 100,000 miles to swear-off laces.
    (Or anything else that is left flapping in the breeze while riding).

    Previous to that I used Bates 8″ Tactical Sport Boots. Probably similar to what Motorcyclenut mentioned below. Other than the laces issue they are amazing! Affordable, comfortable, last forever.

  • GOOD ARTICLE! I HAVE TRIED EVERY KIND AVAILABLE, MY FAVORITE ARE MY SIDI DOHA’S, FOR RIDING AND WALKING, BUT I HATE GETTING THEM DIRTY!! i WASH THEM OFF AFTER EVERY TRIP, STILL LOOK NEW.THE BEST, BUT HEAVY FAVORITE IS MY RED WING ENGINEER BOOT, I ALSO LIKE THE HARLEY BOOTS, GREAT FIT, BUT THEY TORE UP TOO EASILY AS FAR AS THE TOE, AND SIDES, LOOK SHITTY, BUT I LIKE THEM TOO, ONE PAIR I HAVE ARE TERRIBLE QUALITY AS FAR AS A “MADE FOR MOTORCYCLE BOOTS BY MOTORCYCLISTS” BOOT WERE WATERPROOF, AND HAD A HUGE AD IN MAGAZINE AS BEING THE BEST, BUT NOT!! WORE OUT IN LESS THAN ONE YEAR………THERE ARE PLENTY OUT THERE THAT ARE GOOD NOWADAYS…….YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR……RED WINGS ARE TOP OF THE LINE CONSTRUCTION……….PEACE!

  • I am insincerely sorry but the comment by Lady Rider has annoyed me.Looking at a womans breasts is not a choice issue for men it is Genetic.Men dont have a choice nor do they have the peripheral vision that women do(as a result men look while women have a sly perve.Further to that there is the issue of how women set about displaying their boobs.uplifting,padding low necklines need i go on? and then after this manic display of said funbags they say dont look?
    May i suggest a good read on the subject?Why women can’t read maps and why men don’t listen.By doc.Barbara and Alan Pease? it may shed a lot of light for a lot of confused people.besides they make men want to have sex with women ,A perfectly natural thing and one that assures the survival of the race and lots of nice fun .ty

  • Great article. I must say as a women its a must to be comfortable and safe when it comes to motorcycle boots. These days we can look sexy and feminine in the right boots.

    Force the men out there to start looking at our boots instead of our boobs.

    Be safe and enjoy the open road…………

  • Mike have a look at tcx x-cube xsquare Jupiter 3 and sidi Doha. They seem to be good short boots that you can walk in pretty easily and still get pretty good protection.

  • My friend, who has been riding for several years, just got his cast off and is going to physio to rebuild his broken ankle. A 5 mph dump of his Suzuki Boulevard on gravel, wearing running shoes, ended his summer early when the bike landed on him.
    He’s learned his lesson.
    Right now I’m wearing an 8 inch heavy hiking style boot (Prospector) which laces up and is comfortable to walk in, but waterproof touring boots are on my spring buying list.
    Most important to me is a non-slip sole: my BMW is 900 lb, and I want something that will grab on a smooth garage floor or an asphalt intersection, even in the wet. With that weight, I’m prepared to carry other footwear to gain the ankle support and protection of good boots.
    Best names? Still to be determined. Touring riders, please list your favourites.

  • Well I found out the hard way, there has to be a balance between protection and comfort. I spent $550 NZ on a pair of Sidi Canyon Riding Boots, beautiful, quality and great protection. Unfortunately, the narrow part at the front of the boot rubbed on my little toe and I couldn’t walk in them. I found the boots were too big heavy and clod hoppery and I’m sure they contributed to accidentally hitting the foot brake and dropping my GSX1400!! I sold them and now have a pair of Gaerne G-Duke Aquatech boots and ohh the comfort like walking on a cloud!!!

  • I have never wore tennis,basketball,boating,deck,flip flops or anything else but the boot I have wore as daily footwear the black work wellington with the two inch undercut boot heel,never had a problem with them great boots!

  • Sidi.
    Hands down! I’ve worn engineer boots, ‘combat’ type boots, cowboy boots, (never tennis shoes), and have never found a pair so comfortable while also being water proof and nice and warm on cold winter rides witht the wind blowing out West as well.

  • I have many different pairs of boots. The ones I wear most often are the military style lace up boot with the zippered sides made by Bates. Being a RiderCoach and sometimes working 12 hour days on the range, we walk many miles setting cones and then riding demos. These are the most comfortable, plus they do protect! Wearing motorcycle specific boots, like many of you have noted, are not comfortable to walk around in, especially for long periods of time. I have boots for the track, for dirt riding, and even some nice Frank Thomas boots which are nice enough to wear to a nice restaurant. Be safe out there!

  • Agree with crf007. Particularly at the moment. Not so common on full size motorcycles, but not by any means unseen, particularly in the nice weather we are enjoying in England at the moment, are the flip flops, shots and t-shirts. I have seen the results of an “off” with those that see this as posing gear and they have come unstuck. Here in England you see a lot of teenagers flying about on scooters with knees and elbows stuck out posing for the girls. In terms of protection they might as well be naked for the protection they have. We have all probably done it in the past for the same reasons, but whether you wear leathers, man made gear or not, protection is everything unless you are a lover of extra pain and plastic surgery, the discomfort is worth every penny ( dollar ) Wear the boots, jackets, trousers etc. YOU ARE A LONG TIME DEAD. Don’t spoil a good hobby and feed the critics.
    Nick

  • I have been looking for a pair of boots. My issue is that I like to walk a lot when I get where I’m going and don’t want to lose the packing space attributed to packing a pair of hiking boots as well. I’m looking for something waterproof, durable, and has a good look, while allowing the flexibility of heavy hiking and running. I’m looking for a hiking boot that looks and acts like a biking boot.

    Any thoughts out there?

    Thanks..

  • Good information, there are also boots with speed laces that have a velcro flap and are my most comfortable of my three boots. All are Sidi’s and I hear that StylMartins are a good choice. I cringe when I see riders wearing flip flops, sandals and slip-on shoes!

  • Good article! I have two pairs of boots….Long trips, leather,waterproof & comfortable and heavy leather for local riding….Love seeing a sports bike rider with a full face and sneakers…My wifes always has a good laugh when she see’s that.

    The gators are OK but more to pack….

    Jerry

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