A good pair of motorcycle boots will protect your feet and ankles in the event of an accident, but they also make riding a motorbike more comfortable and keep your feet warm and dry in poor weather. Old school bikers, particularly those who ride customs and cruisers, prefer the more traditional style of big, clumpy leather motorcycle boots, but if you ride a sports bike you are probably more interested in more modern race-style boots.
Safety should be your first consideration when buying a pair of boots, so make sure that they have adequate armour, especially around the ankle where you are most likely to get injured in a crash. In a motorcycle accident you mostly need to worry about your ankles undergoing a heavy impact, either on your bike or another hard object, so plenty of protective armour around this area is crucial.
In addition to ankle protection, good motorcycle boots will have armoured sections across the shins, toes and heels, since these areas are all vulnerable in an accident. More expensive boots may also have steel reinforced soles which are designed to prevent your feet being bent the wrong way during a crash.
Another safety feature offered by many motorcycle boots are reflective strips or patches, which become highly visible when headlights are shined on them, making it much easier for car drivers to spot you. Again, high quality boots will have anti-slip soles which will help you keep your footing, even if you inadvertently put your foot down onto a patch of spilled oil on the road – even if you have come to a standstill, there’s a danger that you could injure yourself if your foot loses grip and the bike topples over onto your legs.
Off-road motorcycle boots, or motocross boots, have extra armour to provide the increased protection required by this style of riding.
Finding comfortable motorcycle boots
Apart from the safety features of motorcycle boots, you should also consider comfort, especially if you are likely to have to walk around in the boots as well as ride in them. Most sports style bike boots are not designed for walking in and can be very uncomfortable after a short while.
You should also take a look at the left foot boot to see if it has a gear lever grip – some boots will simply have some extra armour over the toes on the left foot to make changing up through the gears easier, whereas better quality ones will have special grippy material to ensure the foot doesn’t slip out from under the gear lever when applying upward pressure, particularly in wet weather.
It’s worth bearing in mind that race boots probably won’t offer great weather protection, so if you do a lot of long journeys all year round you will want to consider a set of boots specifically designed to keep your feet warm and dry. Weather-proof boots usually aren’t as sporty looking as race style motorcycle boots, but if you ride around in the cold winter months the last thing you’ll be worried about is how sharp your boots look.