The CDC conducted a study that concluded that 30% the most non-fatal motorcycle injuries between 2001 and 2008 were inflicted upon the legs and feet. That was a majority. Therefore, the importance of proper motorcycle boots cannot be understated. It is easy to just slip into a pair of street shoes and ride off. A little more thought might place you in a pair of hiking boots, but frankly, they are just not the same.
Dedicated motorcycle boots have a few things you won’t find on regular, street-oriented footwear: extra rigidity, molded protection, reinforced shifting pads, slip-resistant soles, and lace retention. The fit is usually a little closer, too. Therefore, motorcycle boots give you a combination of protection and control without necessarily sacrificing the comfort. Sure, they might cost more than your regular footwear, but when you consider the combination, they are worth it.
Naturally, there are many choices out there when it comes to motorcycle boots. Here’s a quick look at how to navigate those choices and settle on a pair of boots that is right for you.
First and foremost, the type of riding you do determines what type of motorcycle boots you’ll need. If you are a dirt rider, then your choices are in an entirely different realm. They offer you the coverage and protection you need and are made with strength and rigidity in mind. If you are a street rider, your circle of options is much wider. You can choose boots that are more basic and stylized, or you can choose boots that offer more bracing and protection, but still have their own distinct look. As a touring rider, you may want a boot that offers the protection, but with the added dimension of waterproofing. Consider what you’ll be doing, and you are halfway there.
You have a few options when it comes to coverage, or boot length. At the low end of the spectrum, you have ankle-length boots or riding shoes. They are as low as you want to go, but you have to be careful, as some models might just barely cover up your ankles and/or ride low on your Achilles tendon, which might leave you feeling a little unprotected. Decent ones will give you hiking boot coverage, but will obviously be more protective and have better fit than an actual hiking boot. ¾ length or mid-length boots offer you a couple of inches or so more coverage. Full-length boots will cover you halfway up your calf, yet are still able to fit underneath a pair of riding jeans if you don’t wear leather riding pants. Obviously, taller motorcycle boots will give you more coverage.
Maximum protection is found on racing boots, but the same level of protection may be found on boots that are constructed more-or less the same way, but also made to be a better fit with riding jeans than leather pants (i.e., not quite as bulky). They feature a lot of molded protective pieces that cover the exterior of the boot, such as ankle padding and shin padding. These will aid in impact protection and will also keep your boots from snagging on anything, which will increase probability of injury. Toe-sliders also tend to be standard, as do shifter pads. The latter will keep the tops of your boots from wearing out due to constant gear changes. Some models are a lot more sophisticated than others. Lower end boots may not feature any explicit protection at all and will mimic a pair of street shoes, but it pays to opt for the extra protection. Plus, it looks a lot cooler, too!
Waterproof vs. Vented
For the most part, motorcycle boots have a solid, all-round construction that allows for a suitable blend of protection and comfort. For added convenience, however, you can get that same protection while enhancing your comfort in certain extreme conditions. Waterproof boots may or may not feature Gore-Tex in their construction, but will keep your feet dry in the event of a rainy day. Note, however, that if you are dressed in such a way that water can leak down into your boots (inadequate or no rain gear), then that defeats the purpose of having waterproof boots, so dress accordingly upwards of your boots as well! Vented boots are pretty simple, conceptually. The leather construction features perforation that allows more airflow through the boot. This will help keep your feet cooler during hotter times of the year or in hotter climates. Only you can decide whether or not you want a pair each of waterproof and vented boots, or whether you can live with having a single pair of boots that can handle wet and dry conditions.
Walking in Someone Else’s Motorcycle Boots
If you are shopping around online for motorcycle boots, you may consider checking out product reviews. If another customer’s experience with a particular boot matches up with your needs and desires, then chances are that you’re on the right track and that boot is a solid choice. Beware that customer reviews aren’t always consistent, however, so you’ll have to use your instincts to determine whether you are looking at an isolated experience or a product that you may want to avoid.
As mentioned, there are a lot of choices out there, and each pair of motorcycle boots will offer you different options in terms of style, protection, comfort, control, and other features. It’s easy to get sucked into poring over each and every minute detail into account, but taking the simple factors above into account will help you narrow down your choices and hopefully settle on the pair of boots that is just right for you.