Buying Motorcycle Boots
Motorcycle Boots are designed to help minimize injuries to the foot and lower leg. This is one of the more common areas to be injured in an accident. Boots, like any footwear, need to be comfortable. Boots that are not comfortable can be really irritating. Think about how hot the boots will be, or how insulated, and what kind of temperatures you are likely to find yourself in when you have to walk or ride wearing them.
From a safety standpoint, the main requirement of motorcycle boots is that of a stiff sole. The Hurt report, done back in the 80’s, found that a stiff sole was the one characteristic that seemed to make a statistical difference in injury rates. For this reason, many riders wear hiking boots as an alternative to motorcycle boots. This has additional advantages for walking after arriving at a destination
It should be obvious, but boots are designed to protect primarily when you crash and slide on the road. No boots are really designed to protect a foot that is caught between a motorcycle and a car, or under a motorcycle and against the road.
If a boot is too stiff, it can be difficult to shift. All motorcycle boots use leather to provide flexibility. It is a good idea to have leather patches to protect the boot from the shifter, which will eventually create wear in the area where the foot pushes up to shift.
Soles need to have a non-slip quality. Roads can be wet, oily, and you can put your foot down on a painted line that provides little traction. That traction can save you from slipping and going down at a stop. Oil resistance is a good quality to have. If you are ever in a situation where this makes a difference, you will appreciate it. If your legs are not long, the thickness of a motorcycle boot sole can help some, so that you don’t have to stand on your toes at a light.
Boots can close with any combination of zippers, velcro, and buckles. The main issues here are that some boots go on and off easily. Others take work. Buckles give a greater degree of adjustability. If you ride in the rain (and we all get caught at least sometimes), waterproofing characteristics of the closure become more important.
Boots come in a vast variety of heights. You should select a height that works for you. At least the ankle should be covered. The higher the boot, the more you are likely to notice how easily the ankle articulates. Some boots have stiffening to keep the ankle from flexing laterally in a fall.
Motorcycle boots have various kins of protection from impact, including hard plastic covering the shin, hard toes (but never metal), and hard areas over the heel. Metal toe boots are generally frowned on, as they can amputate the toes in the wrong crash.
Over the years, I have tried a few boots that looked better in a work setting, but honestly, this was never successful.
Some boots have Goretex linings. This is an expensive option, but can be a lifesaver if you ride in the rain and need it.
Many consider SIDI the leader in motorcycle boots. BMW often has pricey, but very functional boots, Alpinestars and TCX all are generally thought to make quality products. Motorcycle boots are expensive, and most riders keep them for a relatively long time. Because of this, it is important to be comfortable, and to choose your boots carefully. It goes without saying that you should never buy a pair of motorcycle boots if there is any question about the fit. Think about whether your calves are big or thin, the shape of your foot, and be sure to consider what it will be like to walk in your boots. Even if you ride a bagger, you will not always want to carry shoes to walk in, nor will you want to have to change every time you get off the bike.