Motorcycle Boot Buyer’s Guide

March 14, 2016

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No matter what you ride, having a good pair of riding boots is always a good decision. Purpose built motorcycle boots will always have an advantage over standard casual shoes in terms of safety and performance, and are one of the few essential pieces of gear you should always wear. Taking a glance at the multitude of boots available, it might be overwhelming finding a starting point. Never fret! We’re here to help, and will walk you through the primary types of boots and their benefits.

Getting on our feet

There are more than a few good reasons to invest in a pair of riding boots. Depending on what style bike and terrain you ride you may need more one benefit than the other.Let’s take at a few quick benefits of having a solid foundation.
Safety: the most obvious and certainly most important reason anyone should lace or buckle up a pair of motorcycle riding boots. Toe box, ankle bone, shin, sole and other areas will often have reinforced armor or protection to help deter major injury to the foot or lower leg. We will discuss which style of boots have what coverage and protection you can expect.
Comfort: particularly more noticeable during longer rides, a riding shoe or boot can offer more support in the ankle and sole, areas casual footwear wont. Added materials around the toe box and sole can make shifting, breaking and even standing much more bearable over long periods of time.
Performance: riding motorcycles demand more out of gear than what your casual sneakers are capable of delivering. At the track, in the twisties and even around town, you need grip, dexterity, feel and control from your footwear.
Weather: commuters and touring riders alike benefit from having waterproof boots. Keeping your feet warm and dry will be a life saver when Mother Nature decides to take a turn for the worst.

Styles

As we alluded to earlier, the type of riding most often dictates which boot you’ll need. So let’s take a look at the various riding styles and go over what you should look for in a boot and how boots can benefit you when you’re riding.

Sport and Race Boots

Whether you’re at the track or shredding the canyons, riding faster requires more performance from your gear. These sport or race boots are purpose built to excel at high speeds by protecting, gripping and maneuvering from those rear-sets. A few giveaway characteristics of a sport/race oriented boot are extensive performance features and technology, replicable parts and, of course, ample protection. We said these boots are “built to excel at high speeds” and the abundant technology built into most of these boots will give you that dexterity needed for easy shifting, braking, and optimal grip and overall feel on the peg. Everything from buckle systems and enclosures, to inner and outer sole design are geared toward helping you go faster. Going faster means faster falls, and the typical replaceable parts you see are protective sliders (toe, heal, shin, etc…). Not only do these style boots provide increased safety but allow you to replace small parts that get damaged maximizing the overall lifespan of your boot.

The premium boot brands you see spend countless R&D and dollars to develop the safe and performing technology packed into these kicks. So if you’re not a serious speed demon, these style boots may not suit your style of budget. One thing to keep in mind, is these boots are fully designed for comfort in the tuck or aggressive position, not comfort off the bike. If you know you can’t resist cracking the throttle on those back roads, or a full-on road racer, you need to be in a highly functional and ultra-protective sport or race boot.

Touring Boots

Touring and sport touring boots

Whether you’re a commuter, tourer or somewhere in between, the touring-style boot can do it all. The highlight of these boots is unmatched all-day riding comfort, but that’s not the only reason most riders love these style boots. Most touring or commuter type boots focus on three things: comfort, support/protection and weather resistance. Compared to a tennis shoe and shorter style boot, touring boots give you support in the areas you need it most, allowing you to ride farther and longer. The taller design not only does a great job protecting your shin, but also helps combat the elements. If you like to ride in multiple seasons, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in one of these boots. From simple water resistance to full GORE-TEX construction, touring boots are a rider’s best friend in the rain or cold.

We talked about on the bike comfort, but typically touring or commuter boots can be tamed inside as well. Some rider’s don’t even need to bring or stash a pair of sneakers for work. On the sportier side of the spectrum, sport-touring designed boots have much of the same DNA as a race boot bread in them, just in a more comfortable and less specific intent. If you’re planning day rides, but want a more articulate, performance-oriented boot for day-long riders, you’ll have no problem finding a suitable boot in this style. As you might assume, touring boots will not have all of the same technology and overall performance as a race boot, however, unless you’re spinning laps at the track, you don’t necessarily need the performance. Still fully capable, extremely comfortable, and even more versatile, touring and commuter-style boots are a perfect fit for most riders on the road.

Riding Shoes and Short Boots

Short Boots and Riding Shoes

Shorty-style boots and riding shoes are becoming increasingly popular amongst riders who don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of full-height riding boots and demand on-the-town comfort off the bike. If you think you can ride in just your tennis shoes or sneakers, don’t! There is an infinite list of reasons why non-riding shoes are terrible for riding, but put simply, they don’t perform or protect you on the road. Short boots widely range from high-tech race boots to sleek touring boots. Giving up some upper-leg protection, you can still get an aggressive sport or a weather resistant and comfortable touring ankle-high boot. As we mentioned above, wearability off the bike, say in the office or out on the town is a massive lure. So much so, virtually every premium brand has now introduced a “riding shoe” for this specific desire.

Riding shoes are much more casual, designed to look like you’re not wearing boots at all! Despite the ultra-casual and dare-we-say, “trendy” appearance, riding shoes have a ton of protection in the sole and ankle, compared to the Chucks you’re wearing right now. Reinforced toe boxes for shifting, steel shank soles, armor and even abrasion resistant outer materials really shape a true motorcycle riding boot. If you look hard enough around the Motorcycle Superstore office you’ll see a number of employees wearing riding shoes all day long!

Cruiser and V twin Boots

Cruiser and V-Twin Boots

Rugged and tough, these are the classic biker boots you’ve seen for years. While the hefty sole and tall heel image stays the same, today’s cruiser boots are more than the glorified work boots of the past. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see these boots are fit for the open road more than ever, with heavy duty protection and featured built in. Additionally, companies are starting to incorporate performance and comfort features found in their sport or touring boots. This allows you to ride longer, safer and enjoy the ride more! A wide variety of styles from plain work boots to aged and oiled leather are available. Heights can also vary, so If you’re looking for a more waterproof or weather resistant option you’ll likely want a taller boot in this style. For a sturdy plant on the floor board on your Harley or v-twin, look no further.

Dual Sport Boots

Adventure and Dual Sport Boots

If you intend to venture off road a bit, you’ll need a boot that can hold up against the wild. Whether you ride 10 percent dirt and 90 percent street, or the other way around, you’re going to need something a bit tougher for your feet than traditional touring boots. Dual sport and ADV boots cover a wide spectrum, however a few things commonly seen on these style boots are heavy-duty buckle systems, plastic body and some sort of waterproofing. If you’re familiar with motocross boots, you’re not far off, and that’s because you have similar needs on the trail. You’re not going to have the same level of dexterity as a sport boot, but can take an impact between your motorcycle and a rock bed. Weather protection is a primary focus, and is accomplished by using waterproof materials like GORE-TEX and gaiters that prevent water from getting in. Most ADV riders get out rain or shine, and need a boot that can keep up and keep them warm and dry.

Sizing

Once you find the right boot, next step is finding the right size. Because a majority of boots are Italian made, you’ll see both American and European sizing. No need to worry, every boot has an accompanied sizing chart on our site, and you can easily convert American to Euro. An issue some riders run into is half sizes. Some boots will come in half sizes, but for the most part whole sizes will be your only option. There’s no rule for whether you should round up or down, but you will have to decide which direction you’ll go. Keep in mind, many boots have adjustability, so you can tighten things up if they are a bit loose, or vice versa. A helpful hint is to read rider reviews and get an idea of how the boot fits. Some fit smaller than others, some larger, use your fellow rider’s advice to your advantage!

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