One of the more overlooked pieces of motorcycle equipment, but also one of the most important, is footwear. There are much more obvious pieces of protective gear, like helmets for example, that every rider should wear regardless of riding style or distance. Most people are also aware that wearing a jacket is going to go a long way toward keeping you comfortable and protected against the elements. While boots tend to be one of the last things on a motorcyclist’s shopping list, they can really make a difference in both comfort and safety on your bike.
While it is indeed possible to get by on a motorcycle by wearing heavy-duty work boots for protection, these boots aren’t optimized for motorcycles. (Try even a high-quality pair of boots against your shifter for a couple of seasons and see how the instep holds up…) Having specific motorcycle boots will go a long way toward ensuring not only do your feet receive the highest amount of protection possible, they will also help keep you comfortable and make shifting much easier.
If you’re wondering, “What’s the best motorcycle boot brand?” that’s a rather tall question to answer. The reality is that there is no best brand and this really isn’t the most important thing to be paying attention to. There are really two key points to consider when you are shopping for new motorcycle boots: Form and Fit.
How Should Motorcycle Boots Fit?
The easiest way to ensure that you are getting the proper fit is to use a Brannock device. If this sounds like a completely foreign object, we assure you it isn’t: these are the silver devices you use to measure your feet that are scattered all over the place at traditional shoe stores. If you haven’t used one of these before (or at least not in a while), we recommend going to a brick and mortar store and getting yourself measured properly for boots.
Once you know your size, the only thing to do is try on boots and give them a shot walking around. If you are ordering shoes online, make sure that you keep yourself on carpeted surfaces so as to make returns quickly if necessary. You will also have to remember that not all boots are going to be the most comfortable in the world. We’ll be going over some of the different cuts of motorcycle boots (or shoes!) in a moment, but, just to give you an example… dirt boots, or the kind that you typically wear while dirt biking, are not going to be as cuddly as your favorite house slippers.
The most important thing to keep in mind is the actual fit. Do your feet slide around too much? Or, alternatively, does it feel like your foot is in a vice? Your feet should fit snugly in the shoe (and depending on the cut, your ankles might be relatively immobile), but it shouldn’t be distinctly uncomfortable.
People with wider feet may struggle to find appropriate motorcycle boots, particularly if you are attached to European brands. If you know that you have wide feet, keep your eyes open for boots that are specifically made to address this.
Additionally, you might find that the fit of the boot is fine, but there is too much room at the back of the heel. If you are experiencing this issue frequently… the problem might be with your socks. No joke. In addition to specialty motorcycle boots, there are also specialty socks. Getting an appropriate pair of motorcycle socks (which are often thicker at the heel than street socks) will often solve this issue.
Figuring out how to size motorcycle boots shouldn’t be hard. You’ll just have to invest the time in finding the right boot.
What Are the Most Common Sorts of Motorcycle Boots?
You may be of the mindset that “boots are boots,” but that couldn’t be further from the case with motorcycle footwear. The most common kinds of motorcycle footwear are the following:
As mentioned earlier, these boots aren’t the most comfortable when you are off the bike, but if you’re looking to grind up some dirt roads, they are all but necessary. These boots are made for maximum protection and often will go up to your knees. They often are not waterproof, but the one thing they are focused on they do well: protecting your shins, ankles, knees, and feet from spills.
If you’re the type of person who wants maximum protection on the bike while you’re cruising and then want to dismount and go right into the cafe, these are the boots for you. Often, this style of boot will look more like a sneaker! But don’t be fooled: they come with tons of armor and will protect you in a spill.
If you are planning on a cross-country jaunt, you are going to want to look into touring boots. These provide more protection than street boots and are far more comfortable than dirt boots. They are generally waterproof to protect long-distance drivers against inevitable turns in the weather. They aren’t as fashionable as street boots, but if you are looking for something that will promote maximum comfort for miles in the saddle and be reasonably comfortable when you’re off the bike.
These offer high levels of protection and are the ones you’ll most often see the participants of MotoGP wearing. They will protect you against slides and twists, and have an incredible level of tactile feedback. Again, these are arguably more comfortable than dirt boots, but not by a whole lot. They are built more for protection.
These are the lovechild of touring boots and dirt boots. If you ride a dual-sport, these are the dual-sport footwear to match your ride. They aren’t as comfortable as touring boots or as protective as dirt boots, but strike a compromise between the two.
No matter what your footwear preferences and needs are, having motorcycle-specific boots will make your ride far more comfortable and safe. Try doing some research into motorcycle boots today: we are sure you will be impressed.