Motorcycle Riding Boots: Don’t Just Wear Boots, Wear Ones Designed Specifically for Riding
There are many different types of motorcycle riding boots for the different types of bikes and riding that motorcyclists like to do.
Motorcycle riding boots are an important piece of every motorcyclist’s gear arsenal. Your feet and ankles have a lot of small bones in them, so protect them with a pair of boots designed specifically for motorcycling. They’re definitely worth the investment. Years ago, one of my cousins crashed wearing street shoes, scraping up his ankle badly and pretty much grinding one of his pinkie toes down to a nub. I bet he wishes he’d worn a good pair of riding boots that day. Not to mention a good
because he’s got some other road rash scars from that one.
Sure, simply wearing leather boots when riding is a good first step, but there's more to a real pair of motorcycle riding boots.
As I’ve said in other articles on this site, if you crash, you’re going to get hurt in two ways: impact and abrasion. The outer part of the boot needs to be made from an abrasion-resistant material and leather fits that bill really well. Kevlar is a more updated fabric material that performs quite well in this area also. And since they’re called boots, they should definitely extend above the ankle at least. Beyond that, many have molded plastic ankle cups inside that are like a helmet for your ankle, spreading any impact over a larger area to minimize injury.
Most people like to ride in the summertime and things can get pretty hot. And you don’t really want your dogs sweaty and barking because the mercury is rising.
Some models of riding boots feature ventilation, but these are usually in the realm of the sportbike riders. Let’s be honest, if you wear a pair of motorcycle racing boots on a Harley that would just look silly. You can look the part and be comfortable if you just do some research.
Keeping your feet dry is an important part of being comfortable. If direct ventilation isn’t an option, then your boots should have a moisture absorbent material on the inside to wick away moisture. Regular boots won’t necessarily have “breathable” lining to let the heat out.
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Slip-on boots that are pulled on like a pair of cowboy boots probably aren’t the way to go. Lace-up boots are okay until the first time you come to a red light and hook a lace on the shifter or footpeg. Hopefully, you’re not leaning to that side when it happens. True riding boots will have zippered openings and often a Velcro closure so nothing gets caught.
Types of Motorcycle Riding Boots
Road racing boots are easy to spot because of their wild designs and colors. They also look busy because they tend to have a lot of things going on, but all those bits have a purpose. The shin plate is for impact protection and they have toe and shin sliders for skimming across the road surface when cornering the bike at extreme lean angles. (We don’t do that on the street, do we?) Roadracing boots will usually have vents to cool of your feet also. There is typically a front vent across the arch area and a rear vent to get the air out.
These motorcycle riding boots are designed to be comfortable when you're on the bike, but are kind of awkward to walk around in since there’s not a lot of ankle flex. The soles tend to be made from harder rubber than regular boots also. This is to avoid gripping the tarmac in a slide, which could do serious foot and ankle damage.
Look for a zipper closure with Velcro flap over the top to ensure easy entry and exit.
Touring boots are, not surprisingly, designed for riders of touring motorcycles. Bikes made for reeling in serious miles. They run the gamut from bad-ass biker to combat style to toned down versions of the racing boots.
Some of the most popular touring bikes are cruisers, which are exemplified by Harley-Davidson (not to mention all the "metric" clones out there). These bikes obviously call for a different look than road racing boots. The Motor Company markets their own line of Harley boots to give their customers the look to go with their bike.
Other types of touring bikes range from Triumph's Sprint ST sport-touring bike, to the Honda Goldwing luxury tourer. These call for a different look entirely. While not full-on race replica bikes nor slung-back cruisers, sport-touring riders tend to be more sport than cruiser. Good motorcycle boots for these highway haulers are basically toned-down versions of the road racing boots. They don’t really need toe and shin sliders, but they typically have the other features like zipper entry with Velcro closure and molded ankle and heel cups. Leather is the material of choice here too.
The Goldwing types are probably looking more for a general purpose riding boot, possibly something waterproof for the occasional long roadtrip.
Waterproof Motorcycle Riding Boots
Since cruiser and sport-touring riders are more likely to take longer road trips than your average sportbike pilot, getting a waterproof motorcycle riding boot is a smart way to go. Boots that incorporate waterproof fabrics such as Gore-Tex are both waterproof and breathable. This is because the micropores in the material are much smaller than a water droplet, so it keeps water out while allowing your foot sweat out.
Gussets (sometimes called gaiters) are another feature to look for in waterproof boots. These are the fabric flaps behind the zipper that keeps water from getting in.
And since cruiser riders are more likely to go walking around at a motorcycle event or rally, these boots tend to be a bit more comfortable for walking than racing boots.
Dirt Motorcycle Boots
Motocross and other types of off-road riding demand other things from boots. These boots tend to have heavier shin plates and calf plates to protect against rocks and chunks of dirt that are kicked up during off-road and motocross riding. Going over jumps and rough terrain requires a more rigid boot even with the cushy suspensions of dirt bikes.
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