We’ve seen many motorcycle riders take their feet and legs for granted. Why do we say that? Well, we see them ride off for their daily commutes and long trips wearing regular boots or sneakers!
Your feet and legs deserve more protection and comfort than what these casual shoes provide. That’s what motorcycle boots were made for. Now, we know that finding the right pair of riding boots can be difficult, given all the kinds and styles available in the market. That’s what this buying guide is for. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about motorcycle boots so you can correctly choose before you cruise.
Types of Motorcycle Boots
Generally, all motorcycle boots are designed with features to mitigate impact and abrasion on your legs and feet in the event of a crash. But where these boots differ is on the level of protection and comfort that they offer to riders. This boils down to their application. The very first thing you need to figure out before you buy motorcycle boots is how you’re going to ride—whether casually or competitively—as this will dictate the purpose of your footwear. From there you will be able to narrow down your choices and easily identify the type of motorcycle boots that you need.
Riding Shoes/Short Boots
Made for commuters and casual riders, these ankle-height boots offer the best combination of protection, comfort and style. Riding shoes or short boots are ideal for both on- and off-bike use. They look like your typical everyday footwear, with the added benefit of improved balance for when you’re on your bike. They’re designed to make both riding and striding convenient.
As their name suggests, cruisers or touring boots are for relaxed rides at moderate speeds. Classic cruiser boots are usually made of durable leather and go up past the ankles. They either have zippers on the sides or laces secured with buckles across the front. There is also the occasional harness embellishment for a more hip look.
Adventure/Dual Sport Boots
These boots are a mix of touring boots and MX/off road boots, and are a relatively new type of motorcycle boots. They’re ideal for hiking trips and riding on rough terrain as their increased height gives added support and protection to the lower leg region.
Road and track racing boots are made for professional and competitive riders. These full-length motorcycle boots are specially designed to improve your performance on the racetrack and offer the highest degree of protection against impact and abrasion.
Racing boots are reinforced with a number of replaceable and robust parts (e.g. heavy leather, plastics, metal, and other composite materials) to make them strong enough to withstand the force generated by collision or contact with the asphalt or concrete pavement, which happens when you lean sideways to make turns around the circuit.
Because motorcycle racing requires tearing through the racetrack at full throttle, you will need to adopt a more aggressive stance—including putting your legs and feet in a tucked position—to enhance your speed. Racing boots are shaped in such a way to accommodate this posture, which is also why they are not ideal for walking.
MX/Off Road Boots
These boots provide maximum protection and comfort for MX riders as they ride on different kinds of terrain. MX/Off road boots are durable enough to withstand not only the impact of a crash but also regular contact with mud, rocks, and other natural elements. Since riding on rough terrain can be unstable, you might find yourself gripping your bike with your legs, and your off road motorcycle boots should be able to protect you from abrasions that may result from this as well.
MX boots come up to full height and have a firm grip around your legs for maximum support and security. However, this leaves you little room for flexibility. Similar to racing boots, MX boots are reinforced with heavy leather, plastics, metal, and other composite materials on the areas of your legs and feet that are most prone to impact, such as your toes, heels, ankles, and shins. These parts are engineered to withstand severe abuse but most of them are also replaceable.
Genuine leather provides adequate protection against abrasion. It is also longer-lasting than synthetic leather, which has a tendency to disintegrate in a shorter span of time.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
This type of malleable plastic provides great resistance to abrasion and protection from impact. It is used on sports equipment, automotive parts, power tools, medical and electronic devices, and recently, as filament in 3D printing. Its elasticity allows it to withstand extreme temperatures.
Polyurethanes are high-resilience polymers used for many foam seating applications, foam insulation panels, elastomeric wheels and tyres, and automotive suspension bushings. They are also made into high-performance adhesives, surface coatings, and sealants.
Designed to wick away moisture and allow proper ventilation, this material offers absolute comfort by keeping your feet dry. Boots made with Gore-Tex® are suitable for use in various weather conditions.
Polyamide fabric is a soft, elastic and versatile material used for clothing, automotive, military, and packaging applications. Kevlar®, a para-aramid, which is a type of polyamide, is a synthetic fibre recognised for its durability and excellent abrasion resistance. Kevlar stitching is also used by some motorcycle boots manufacturers to make their boots exceptionally strong and long-lasting. Microfibre is a polyamide-blend fabric that is lightweight and has water-resistant and anti-scratch properties. Nylon is another brand name for a type of polyamide fabric.
Durable Foam Inserts and Lining
Motorcycle boots manufacturers use various types of materials for their foam inserts, foot beds, and lining, including EVA and Lycra, to provide substantial comfort, support and protection to riders. Cambrelle® is a trusted brand of special moisture-resistant inner shoe lining specifically designed to increase the abrasion resistance, ventilation, and flexibility of footwear.
Slip-Resistant Rubber Soles
This type of rubber soles prevents you from slipping and provides excellent traction and stability wherever you plant your feet. Vibram and Nitrile are two examples of this kind of soles.
The Goodyear Welt allows for the quick and easy resoling of motorcycle boots. Its sturdy fabrication fortifies the boots’ resistance to water, increasing their lifespan.
Fit, Size, and Comfort
The fit of your motorcycle boots is as important as their protective features and the materials they are made of. Boots that are too tight or too loose simply cannot offer you the protection that you need during your ride.
The best way to know how well a pair of boots fits you is to actually try them on. However, if fitting them is not possible, you may refer to the size charts that are usually provided by their manufacturers. These charts typically include US and European measurements, as well as men’s and women’s sizes. Also take into account whether you’ll be wearing socks and their thickness.
Don’t worry if you ended up getting the wrong size for your boots. Most online retailers accept returns as long as you return the boots in the same condition as when they were sold.
Your comfort matters, too. This isn’t just about how the boots fit, but also how your feet feel once you place them inside the boots and as you walk and ride in them.
Motorcycle boots can range anywhere from $100 to $800. Low-cut boots designed for urban riding can go up to $250. More technically-advanced boots such as those used in racing competitions and off road adventures will cost you between $300 and $800.
When buying motorcycle boots, keep in mind their purpose and use. Choose a pair that has all the elements you need for the kind of riding you do. You don’t need to get an expensive high-cut pair of MX boots if you only cruise on paved roads. Conversely, if you’ll be competing on the race track or riding on rough terrain, don’t skimp on high-quality boots that can enhance your performance and give you better protection.
A widely recognised symbol for high-quality products is the CE mark. CE means Conformité Européene and products bearing the CE logo meet Europe’s safety standards.
EN 13634 is the European standard referring to the requirements and methods to test the strength, design and protective features of footwear for motorcycle riders.
While it is advisable to look for motorcycle boots with the CE certification and EN 13634, don’t be quick to dismiss boots that don’t have it. You may find some boots that lack the CE mark but still have excellent structural integrity, quality construction, complete coverage, and a secure fit.
While the overall design and structure of motorcycle boots depend primarily on their function, some manufacturers have developed boots in various colours and styles to match the personality of the rider wearing them. Some boots feature colours and logos that allow riders to express their loyalty to a particular brand. These boots can help demonstrate brand pride and team spirit, particularly during competitive events like races and rallies.
How they look should be the least of your priorities when you’re buying motorcycle boots. It is best to look for boots that resonate with your unique rider personality only after you have considered the more important factors (i.e., type as dictated by your riding style, fit, comfort and safety).
Decide before you ride
Knowing what kind of rider you are and which type of riding adventure you take on a regular basis will help you choose the best motorcycle boots for you. Once you got that sorted out, you’ll be able to figure out which motorcycle boots will give you the level of protection and comfort you seek for your ride.