A Complete Guide to Motorcycle Boots
As most of the accidents result in injuries to the feet and legs, motorcycle boots form an important part of riding gear. Riding a motorcycle with light footwear is frivolous, because without sturdy shoes, feet and shins can get injured pretty badly in an accident.
Motorcyclists are at high risk of accidents on the road and quite often they are overlooked by other road users. According to the National Safety Council, the number of people injured and killed on motorcycles is increasing again, after a decline in 2009.
So, in order to be well protected in these situations, a safe combination of helmet, clothing, gloves and boots must be worn. In today’s blog, we will discuss different types of motorcycle boots that will fit your riding style. In addition, we will also share some insights on things to consider while testing a boot, comparison of some well-known brands, and a detailed buying guide. So let us begin.
Why motorcycle boots are important while riding?
According to a report from NHTSA, in the event of motorcycle accidents, 82% of the cases involved injuries in the lower extremities of the rider’s body, which is why motorcycle boots play an important role when riding a motorcycle.
However, a leather shoe with low ankle height is not sufficient; it is important that your ankles and shins are covered and thus protected. Moreover, make sure that it perfectly snugs; manufacturers lately have started producing different variants for women and men, because the anatomy of the feet and calves of women and men is very different.
Features to look for in motorcycle shoes
Boots are exposed at certain points not only to heavy impact in the event of accidents, but also to heat, abrasion and shock. Leather has actually proven to be the strongest material in almost all types of motorcycle shoes, but in case you do not opt for leather, make sure they are equipped with special reinforcements to withstand occasional rubbing with the asphalt, especially in the toe area, on the heel, and on the ankle.
In general, motorcycle boots have two important roles; on one hand, they should increase safety through their snug fit and robust leather and on the other hand, they should make braking and shifting between the gears a lot easier.
Every motorcyclist has differently shaped feet and legs. Therefore, make sure that your motorcycle boots have sufficient adjustment options in the form of Velcro fasteners, zippers or buckles. Elastic material can also provide a better snug fit.
Another important feature is the waterproofness of the upper material. If your boots are waterproof, you can do without gaiters or overcoats in bad weather. Also, the sole of the shoes must be slip-resistant, so that you always have a secure grip on the bike. In addition to the rubber outsole and leather insole, some models also have a thin steel sole. This ensures a plus in sturdiness. However, your boots should still offer flexibility so that you are comfortable while shifting between gears.
What are the types of motorcycle boots?
There are many different variants of motorcycles boots, as a matter of fact; manufacturers have adapted their motorcycle boots to the different requirements of motorcyclists. Generally speaking, we differentiate motorcycle shoes into four basic types: touring boots, sport boots, biker or city boots, and off-road or enduro boots.
|Touring||1. Suitable for long motorcycle tours
2. Material: usually made of leather
3. Features: reflectors and a minimum of protectors
4. Closure mechanism: mainly zip and Velcro
|Sports||1. Suitable for sports driving
2. Material: mostly leather and sometimes synthetic
3. Features: inserts made of synthetic material
4. Closure mechanism: ratchets or buckles, under them are often zippers
|Biker Boots (City)||1. Suitable for riders who do not like high-ankle motorcycle boots
2. Calves and shins are not covered
3. Material: leather or textile mix
4. Features: Extended ankle protection
5. Closing mechanism: buckles, ratchets or lace
|Enduro Boots||1. Suitable for motocross sport
2. Material: mostly leather
3. Features: impact protection for the shin, robust cushioning at the ankles, particularly tightly enclosed ankle joints, steel caps on the toes
4. Closure mechanism: mostly buckles or Velcro
Touring Boots: The most comfortable boots for long journeys
Touring boots are the real all-rounders and are basically suitable for every motorcyclist. As the name suggests, they are used on tours. So you can use touring boots for your multi day motorcycle adventure as well as for weekend getaways.
They are mostly made of leather and therefore mostly come in black. Touring boots fit easily with any kind of motorcycle pant. You will have numerous reinforcements on the ankles and shins that provide good protection. Besides, most variants have a high shaft for guaranteed safety. And depending on the touring boot, you can open and close using Velcro or zip fasteners. With this type in particular, you are most likely to find boots that can be adjusted in width as well.
|✔ All-rounder for every biker||× Not as sturdy as sports and cross boots|
|✔ Designed for long journeys|
|✔ Water repellent|
|✔ Comfortable and easy to wear|
|✔ Robust and simple|
Sport Boots: The most sturdy motorcycle shoes
Sports boots (or racing boots) are used for racing in the track. If you prefer this type of biking, then you know that the bike can reach high speeds. Of course, this also involves the risk of particularly bad falls. For this reason, the sport boots are particularly robust. In addition, they are more resistant to flammable liquids so that they do not catch fire in case you crash.
The racing boots are usually made of leather or Lorica® (high tech microfibers). They have many different reinforcements made of extremely stable carbon or plastic compound, with a large part of the shoe being covered with them. They also consist of zippers and Velcro fasteners to open and close. Many sports motorcycle boots also have buckles or ratchets. The design of the sports boots can be a little more extravagant and colorful. However, you can also find models that are plain black.
|✔ Designed for high speeds||× Not very comfortable|
|✔ Extremely sturdy||× Not very breathable|
|✔ High ankle||× Not suitable for long journeys|
|✔ Comes in various designs and colors||× Limited mobility of feet|
Biker Boots: Urban boots for daily commute
The biker boots have various names such as urban boots, city boots or chopper boots. You get these in different versions, whereby most models consist of a pointed forefoot. Some go halfway up the shins and some just above the ankle. In addition, many biker boots have small heels in order to have a better grip on the pedal. But they all remind you a little of old cowboy boots.
Biker boots are usually made of leather (black or brown). They are deliberately kept very simple so that you, as a typical rider, look as casual as possible on your machine. Reinforcements are rare, but the layer of leather is a little thicker. In addition, the biker boots often fit loosely because there is no lock and you just put them over your feet. If there is a clasp, it is usually buckles and straps so that the look does not suffer.
|✔ Designed for leisure||× Loose fit|
|✔ Great comfort||× No safety locks|
|✔ Simple design||× No safety inserts|
|✔ Robust leather|
Off-road Boots: Best for enduro riders
As the name suggests, this type of boot is especially used in motocross. The models are specially developed for uneven terrain with stones, dirt and mud. The motocross boots are built to be very sturdy, although you as a rider will not reach high speeds on the track, but still, your feet must be protected from branches, stones or other materials on the slopes.
The cross boots usually have a combination of different materials and are not just made of leather. The manufacturers focus primarily on the sturdiness and thus additionally equip them with plastic or carbon reinforcements. While riding a dirt bike, your foot is regularly on the ground to provide extra support. It is therefore not uncommon for the driver’s foot to twist. For this reason, cross boots are particularly reinforced in the ankle area. In addition, the boots go just below the knee so that your shins and calves are also protected.
You can usually open or close motocross boots with various buckles and ratchets. You will rarely find Velcro or zippers on them. The colors and the design can vary greatly and plain cross boots in black are rarely found.
|✔Designed for uneven surfaces and gravel||× Uncomfortable|
|✔ Dirt and water repellent||× Not suitable for long journeys|
|✔ Extra protection for shins & ankles|
|✔ High shaft|
|✔ Different designs|
Comparison of Best Motorcycle Boots
|Model||Bohmberg Men's Boot||O'NEAL Motorcycle Boots||Forma Adventure Boots||Modeka Black Rider||Alpinestars SMX 6 V2|
|Type||Sports||Sports + Enduro||Sports||Sports||Sports|
|Suitable For||Men||Men & Women||Men & Women||Men & Women||Men|
|Outer Material||Leather (PU Coated)||Microfiber reinforced with thermoplastic and non-woven material||Leather||Leather and Textile||Microfiber Polymer reinforced|
|Advantages||1. Comfortable inner sole|
2. Oil Resistant
3. Full length zipper
|1. Comfortable anti-slip design|
2. Shock absorbing and removable 5 mm EVA footbed with anti-perspiration treatment
|1. Very comfortable to wear|
2. Good quality
3. Robust finish
4. Light weight
|1. Removable foam sole and textile lining|
2. Robust padding
3. Comfortable textile lining
|1. Comfortable to wear
2. Good quality protection
3. Robust finish
4. Easy to put and remove
How to choose motorcycle boots
Protective shoes for motorcycle riders and pillions are part of the essential safety gear that is required while riding two wheelers. These essential gears are intended to ensure safety and protection against any kind of injuries in the event of an accident. For your ease, we have compiled and enlisted the most important criteria that you should look at while buying motorcycle shoes.
No matter what type and purpose you choose, there are features that differentiate a good biker boot from an ordinary one. Motorcycle boots are of course available without a high ankle as well, but these generally act as a sneaker, which is why, they do not usually protect the ankles during impact. We have summarized some other important purchase criteria below:
- The boots must be sturdy, especially near the ankle joints and areas around sole. Often times in accidents, the foot gets trapped between the chain and the rear wheel, so make sure that the overall built is strong as well.
- Pay attention to the material used for making the boot. Leather shoe is quite proven among motorcyclists. Nowadays, however, there are also other materials that offer equal protection; thanks to state-of-the-art technology, a modern motorcycle boot has a mix of leather, polymer-reinforced microfibers, and textile that are more comfortable than a complete leather shoe.
- Protective padding is important. We agree that padding make motorcycle boot more difficult to wear, but it provides better safety.
- A reinforced shift is essential. Good motorcycle boots have so-called switch reinforcement on the left foot. This ensures that the material is not worn or rubbed off by the pressure that is exerted when shifting engine gears.
- The sole should be comfortable in order to give you an optimal comfort during your journey.
- The shin guards must be well padded. The shin guards are an important safety feature and if they are not padded, not only you are compromising on safety, but comfort as well.
- Motorcycle boots should be waterproof. Touring boots often have this property. Imagine if it suddenly starts to rain on your long distance trip, this feature is worth its weight in gold. However, waterproof motorcycle boots usually have the disadvantage that they are not breathable. If this is important to you, you have to weigh up the pros and cons. It is also important to ensure that the boot is oil repellent.
- The shaft should always be particularly high when the rider drives on a racetrack or off-road and should include knee protectors.
- If you choose racing boots, toe sliders are particularly useful (usually made of metal). However, the screws attached here must not be in the sliding area, which is why you should compare them while you are testing the boots physically at a store.
- The sole of the boot should also be compared between multiple brands and models. For hygienic reasons, it is important that the sole is removable so that you can wash it. Also, you will observe that cheap variants have a substandard quality of sole; which can tear quickly and is not very comfortable. For this reason, a good brand is recommended.
Numerous medical experts have confirmed that proper fitting is important while selecting your shoes. Additionally, a proper snugging shoe will ensure utmost comfort and convenience while riding.
The largest manufacturers – including Daytona, Touratech, and Alpinestars, also offer motorcycle boots in different shoe widths for wide and narrow feet. We have compiled together a list of popular brands that provide the most ideal fit.
- Spirit Motors
Note: In order to get maximum protection from your boots, make sure they are properly fit, the heels and ankles should be stiff, even if this makes walking in the shoes difficult. Nevertheless, the footwear should be comfortable and should not be too tight or it will hinder the blood flow and may cause occasional numbness.
The outer material of most motorcycle boots are made of leather. It is a strong and breathable material and most of these have weather guards that keep the water from seeping inside. As long as you care for your boots and choose good quality leather, you can enjoy them for a long time. Lately Lorica® motorcycle boots are also appearing more and more, there quality is robust, light in weight, and are water proof. Moreover, they are less demanding when it comes to maintenance.
We have put together the advantages and disadvantages of leather for you:
|✔ Robust||× Periodic maintenance required|
|✔ Long life||× Expensive|
|✔ Comfortable and easy to wear|
Buying advice: We do not advise opting textile boots because maximum safety cannot be guaranteed. The best motorcycle boots are made of real leather, but the leather should have a Gore-Tex membrane (Gore Tex makes the shoe breathable and waterproof). In any case, if you buy motorcycle boots that are not made of real leather, make sure that they are atleast abrasion resistant.
Some models of motorcycle boots only reach just below the ankle; we do not advise purchasing them. Good and safe motorcycle boots should at least cover the ankle. This protects your ankles in the event of a fall. It is even better if the biker boots reach halfway down the lower leg. This gives you additional protection for your shins and calves, but you should always ensure that you have unrestricted mobility. It is also an advantage if the edges of the shaft are well padded and are sealed so that water does not enter.
Sole and insole
The soles of your boots must be sturdy to protect the feet. At the same time, certain flexibility is crucial so that you can comfortably operate the brake and gear levers. In addition, an anti-slip rubber sole is very important; else you may find it really challenging to ride in the rain. In this case, we can recommend steel or rubber soles that are oil-resistant. Also, if you want a good combination of safety and flexibility, then biker boots with steel toecaps are also a good option. While buying, make sure that you can easily replace the insoles; this ensures that you can remove them when they are wet, smelly or worn out.
For increased safety, the boots should be reinforced around the heel, toe, ankle, shin and outer areas. In the event of an accident, various reinforcements ensure low abrasion and minimum shock. We also recommend shift reinforcement so that the corresponding part of the boot is not damaged while gear changing. Also, in case you are riding a sports bike, make sure that an extra metal reinforcement is provided near the little toes. This will prevent your toe fingers from any impact while you are touching the ground on tight bends.
Your boots should be of high quality so that you don’t have to buy a new model in every riding season. You can tell if the boot is of good quality just by looking at the seams, because they are the major weak points in any boots. They should be sewn neatly, should be tight, and should not have any loose threads. In addition, the soles, the zippers and the reinforcements must be well integrated with the boot. If you notice a tiny spot of defect before purchase, drop that variant immediately and move to an alternate model. You should also be able to easily open and close the zips and Velcro fasteners. It is of no use to you if you tear off one side of the Velcro tape when you open it. Test the boots properly for functionality before buying them and pay close attention to how they behave.
Especially with summer boots, good breathability is crucial. Otherwise, perspiration can make your feet damp really quickly. This not only affects riding, but also the longevity of your boots. If your boots are smelly just after few days of use, you may end up buying another pair. Of course, you can get rid of the odor with a few home remedies – but treating your motorcycle boots after every trip is definitely not the point. Make sure your boots have a good ventilation system when buying.
If you have decided to go for breathable motorcycle boots, then you have to pay attention to weather resistant properties as well. This includes both rain and sun. Your biker boots must not get too hot in the most beautiful sunshine, because that is bad for the temperature of your feet. At the same time, they should be waterproof so that your feet do not get soaked in the rain. Additionally, the dirt, which often sticks to the boots in the rain, must be easy to wash off.
Motorcycle boots can have three possible closures – buckles, Velcro or zippers. With Velcro fasteners, you should ensure that they are securely fastened and that the bond works properly. If, on the other hand, the biker boots have zippers, they must be well built and firmly affixed. Furthermore, all zippers should have a cover, because the closures are also one of the weak points of motorcycle boots.
The last purchase criteria should be the design. Some bikers believe that a motorcycle boot should match your motorcycle as well as your jacket. However, we believe, that the design and the color should be the last of all your considerations. A boot that look really good, but offers minimal protection to the rider is of no use. Luckily, manufacturers have now started creating different variants of the same model to cater this growing demand. You can now find boots in different colors and styles that will fit every machine and leather suit.
Question: What size to choose for motorcycle boots?
Answer: Motorcycle boots have to fit snugly in order to guarantee a good grip and a high level of safety. However, your feet should still have plenty of space and there should be no pressure points. Most motorcycle boots have restricted toes, which is perfectly fine. However, you should still be able to move comfortably while braking and changing the gears. At the end of the day, your legs should feel comfortable. Also, while trying the boots, make sure you are wearing the socks that you have chosen already.
Question: Are leather motorcycle shoes waterproof?
Answer: Most boots made from leather are waterproof. Many good motorcycle boots have membranes between the leather and the inner shoe, which prevent moisture from penetrating. At the same time, moisture can easily evaporate if you are perspiring. However, it is important that you read the manual that provides special care instructions so as to ensure their longevity.
Question: Are hiking or gym shoes enough for motorcycling?
Answer: Hiking and gym shoes have neither the right soles nor sufficient reinforcements. Of course, they are better than sandals in an emergency, but you should still use the right motorcycle boots. Else, in case of an accident, you will regret your bad choice of shoes.
Question: Is it mandatory to wear motorcycle shoes by law?
Answer: No it is not. The law only requires you to wear a helmet. Nevertheless, you should not ride without proper motorcycle gear and equipment, as insurance companies could reduce the claim, especially when you could have prevented the worse from happening with the right piece of gear. So, despite the lack of the law, we recommend wearing motorcycle boots.
Question: Are there special motorcycle shoes for women?
Answer: Yes there are. Brands like XTRM, Alpinestars, and Dainese are offering specialized motorcycle boots for women as well. These boots differ not only in their appearance, but also in their shape. Some of them have a heel and a wider shaft. In addition, they are cut a little narrower because men’s feet are usually wider than women’s feet. This makes them look more elegant, as well as comfortable.
Question: How to get rid of bad odor from motorcycle shoes
Answer: There are a variety of tips and tricks you can use to remove strong odor from your motorcycle boots;
- Spray with a shoe disinfectant and let it dry
- Wrap freshly ground coffee in a paper or handkerchief and place them in your boots
- Put cat litter deodorizer in the boots for a few days
- If possible, remove the inner sole and wash it
Question: How to properly care for leather motorcycle shoes?
Answer: In order to keep the leather supple and firm, it needs intensive care. Avoid moisture settling on the leather, as the material will otherwise become cracked and brittle.
If your boots do get wet, you can stuff the shoes with newspaper, which absorbs the moisture. Post your ride in the rain, put the boots in a warm place, but never next to a heater or directly in the sun, as drying them too quickly would ruin their texture. Once the the boots are dry, you need to lubricate them with leather care products and with a waterproofing spray.
Question: Which motorcycle boots are the best?
Answer: Motorcycle boot brands are a dime a dozen. In order to find your way around this, we have put together the top most famous brands.
- Alpinestars: Alpinestar is one of the best-known brands in the field of motorsport. The company was founded in Italy in 1963, and although the company now has offices in Los Angeles, research and development continues to take place in Italy. Alpinestars products are among the highest quality that money can buy. And not just motorcycle boots, but their racing suits, gloves, jackets and pants are widely acclaimed in the world of Formula 1 and MotoGP.
- Daytona: With the Daytona brand, you as a motorcyclist can count 100% on the quality from Germany. Practically every pair of the 70,000 motorcycle boots that leave the factory in Eggenfelden, are assembled by hand in around 80 stages. This has its price however; Daytona motorcycle boots are not exactly the cheapest models on the market. But if you buy one, there is a possibility that these boots will stick with you for the next 10 years!
- O’Neal: When it comes to motocross safety, O’Neal is arguably one of the best-known and most popular brands, having pioneered the motocross clothing category as early as the early 1960s. O’Neal is committed to creating the best possible shoes for bikers through innovative manufacturing processes and advanced technology. The result: extremely robust and sturdy motocross boots.
The most common injuries happen around legs and feet in a motorcycle accident. Good quality motorcycle boots can help here, because this type of protective clothing can protect feet and toes as well as the shins from worse injuries.
There are different types of motorcycle boots: enduro, short or touring boots. Which type you choose should depend on the routes you drive. When driving in the city, short boots are sufficient; on sporty routes, for example, enduro boots are the right choice, where the shin is protected with additional protectors.
In addition to the protective equipment of the shoes, which includes a non-slip sole, protectors or metal caps, the material and fit also play a role. The boots must fit snugly in order to offer leg and foot protection, but should still be comfortable. Depending on the material, different care instructions must be observed in order to guarantee a long lifespan for the boots.
To summarise everything, shared below is a quick checklist to ensure you end up buying a perfect motorcycle shoe.
- Boots needs to give proper support
- The upper material should be leather or a mix of leather and textile.
- Interior paddings should be soft
- They should be waterproof and breathable
- The shaft should be high and properly reinforced.
- They should have shin protectors
- Caps should be made of steel to protect the heel and toe
- (Removable) toe slider should be made of hard plastic or metal (in case of sports boot)
- Gear shift protector on the left boot.
- The fitting should be perfect
That is all for now. We wish you a safe motorcycle season!