The right type of attire can make or break your riding experience, from the right boots to the right helmet. If you’re new to riding, you may be wondering what type of motorcycle boots you should buy.
There are several types of motorcycle boots, including street boots, touring boots, dirt bike boots, adventure boots, and sport/racing boots. The kind you should buy depends entirely upon how you are going to be using your bike, where you plan to ride, and what kind of motorcycle you have.
If you’re looking for more information, we’re going to be going into detail about these different types of motorcycle boots below. Understanding the different boot types will help optimize your experience on the road and get the most out of your bike.
Different Types Of Motorcycle Boots
Street motorcycle boots are the most casual rider-friendly option. If you use your motorcycle as a means to get from A to B in a regular commute, then these will be the best footwear choice for you. Street boots offer the most comfort while riding and while walking when not on your bike.
Street boots are often much shorter than the other types of motorcycle boots. They offer much less protection but are more comfortable over prolonged use. A good pair of street boots will keep your feet warm, can often come with waterproofing, and can last a long time.
As you might expect, street boots are not good in situations where you want to travel for long periods on the road. They also won’t protect your feet from the elements because they’re not as bulky and don’t come with the same reinforced materials as some other boots. They’re great for casual use in an urban environment but can’t provide enough protection or utility for more demanding conditions.
Touring boots are designed specifically for lengthy excursions on your motorcycle. If you’re traveling long distances or just generally spending a great deal of time on your bike, these are the boots for you.
Touring boots blend comfort and protection. Generally speaking, touring boots offer good protection but are also constructed to protect your feet from the elements. Touring boots are generally much better to walk around in than adventure boots (see below), but adventure boots will do better in off-road situations.
Adventure boots are built for motorcycle trips that might include both off-road and on-road terrain. They are versatile boots and made for the most diverse array of conditions, which means they’ll often blend the comfort of more casual boots and the toughness of dedicated off-roading boots.
Adventure boots are the jack-of-all-trades of the motorcycle footwear options. They are usually quite tall boots, offering protection to the shin and calves, as well as having Velcro or buckle fasteners, and they’ll also be made out of more durable materials than street boots.
The strength of the adventure boot is also its greatest weakness. While the boots can provide a mix of protection and comfort, they normally won’t be as comfortable as street boots.
Dirt Bike Boots
Dirt bike boots are dedicated solely to off-roading focused activities. These boots will offer the most protection. If you’re primarily taking your motorcycle away from the road, this is the best choice of footwear for you.
Dirt bike boots will often have a lot more safety features than any other kind, such as toe blocks and protection for the heels and arch. These boots will also often be assembled from very durable materials.
While dirt bike boots offer maximum protection, they provide little in the way of comfort. These boots are built to protect your feet and lower legs, which means they are often stiff, rigid, and uncomfortable to wear when you’re not on your bike.
Racing boots (sometimes referred to as sport boots) are some of the most advanced gear available to motorcyclists. These boots are usually reserved only for use by competitive racers or the most die-hard enthusiasts, so they’ll often feature some of the most cutting-edge technology.
Racing boots have the greatest variety of possible features out of all the different types. You can find anything from waterproof membranes, ankle bracing, various kinds of protective layers, and all sorts of other things.
While racing boots can provide incredible amounts of protection and functionality, they also come with a price tag to match. Good racing boots can cost hundreds of dollars, and cheap options can give you a false sense of security. Racing boots are not designed for everyday casual wear and can become uncomfortable after prolonged periods of use.
What To Look For When Buying Motorcycle Boots
Choose The Right Type Of Boot
The best kind of boots for you depends entirely upon how you use your motorcycle. There is no one best boot for all situations. Understanding which type of motorcycle boot is best for your riding style is the first thing to consider when buying a pair.
Motorcycle boots can vary widely in price. High-end racing boots cost hundreds of dollars, and while they come with a plethora of useful features for a rider, if you’re just cruising around the local area, it might be overkill.
At the same time, you can buy motorcycle boots cheaply, especially if they’re second-hand. While these might seem like tempting deals, you should be careful. You often get what you pay for, and this is particularly true for motorcycle attire.
A good pair of motorcycle boots should cost you anywhere from $80-$200. Any more than that, and you’re starting to get into more advanced sport/racing boots. While some stores might offer a deal or promotion that knocks a few dollars off, cheaper boots are generally manufactured using less durable materials, which could cost a lot more than money in the long run.
There are 3 main styles of motorcycle boots:
- Motorcycle shoes (sometimes known as “shorties”)
- Harness boots
- Tall biker boots
While there are these style options, you aren’t going to find every type of boot offering every style of boot. For example, nearly all motorcycle shoes would be classed as street boots.
Harness boots have straps that go around the base of the boot due to most motorcycle footwear not having laces. They are great for supporting your feet, but you have to be particular about sizing, or else the boots will be too loose, or your feet will get squished.
Tall biker boots are the most commonly known style of boots. There’s often not much difference between harness boots and biker boots on the surface. Tall boots can have buckle, clasp, or Velcro fastenings, and there’s also a great deal of height variation in tall motorcycle boots.
Type Of Motorcycle
The type of motorcycle you own is also an important part of the equation when it comes to choosing the right boots. Motorcycles with a taller shaft will require taller boots to protect your knees and shins.
If you’re doing a lot of off-road riding, street boots just won’t offer you enough protection. While you might not suffer a major injury, without adequate padding and support, you’re risking serious long-term damage to your knee and ankle ligaments.
Another important factor is comfort, and while there is a lot of well-meaning advice out there, you don’t necessarily have to buy the ‘best’ boots. If you’re cruising around the city and you feel more confident in touring boots, there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people have a particular style and type that they gravitate to, especially if bigger and bulkier boots give them more confidence.
The Effect Of Your Environment
The weather and road conditions are also important to consider. If you live in a warmer climate, you’re going to want boots that focus more on insulation. Riders in warmer climates are going to want to pay special attention to how breathable the boot is.
If you live far away from a city, and the roads aren’t well maintained, so you might want to look at bulkier, more durable boots. If the roads are narrow or more challenging to navigate, you’re going to want boots that provide excellent grip.
Looking at the overall weather patterns can be surprisingly beneficial. If you live in an area with exceptionally cold winters and warm summers, you’re going to benefit greatly from all-terrain adventure boots or touring boots. Some brands focus more on waterproofing and weather protection, and some will focus more on bulkier support.
The most popular material for motorcycle boots is leather, specifically treated leather, which has great properties that make it ideal for boot construction. Leather boots offer good protection against asphalt roads, and they’re also resilient to weather.
Other materials go into boot construction, and high-end gear can use carbon fiber throughout the boot or as support for ankle braces. It’s important to know that motorcycle boots are designed to withstand significant impact, so you don’t necessarily need the most advanced materials unless you’re competing in top-tier events.
Modern motorcycle boots are also frequently created from plastic and canvas. Using plastic in the boot can add extra rigidity and protection but at the same time doesn’t make them too heavy. If you live in an area with extreme weather or dirt roads, boots made from these protective but lightweight materials could be a good choice.
Getting The Right Fit
Once you’ve identified the style and type of boot that you think is best for you, it’s important to get the proper fit. Motorcycle boots that are too tight will damage your ligaments over time, and if they’re too loose, it could potentially cause an accident on the road.
The best way to ensure a proper fit is to seek assistance at a shop or store that is known to sell good-quality motorcycle gear. Most brands will have a sizing guide, but these don’t always translate well to your actual foot size.
Another thing to be aware of if you’re buying tall boots is that they also have to fit your calves and lower legs snugly. You don’t want them too tight as it can cut off circulation to your feet, but you don’t want them to loose, as any play between the boots and your legs can affect your performance on the road.
Preparedness Pays Off
While this may seem like a lot of factors to consider, spending even a little time thinking about what is best for you will pay off massively in the long run. Motorcycle boots are one of the most overlooked but also most important pieces of equipment for your experience as a rider.
Motorcycle boots aren’t simply footwear to keep your feet warm, and they’re not just slightly sturdier versions of normal shoes. They are specifically designed to protect your feet from high impact, as well as keep them comfortable even in harsh weather.
KEY POINTS• There are a lot of factors involved in choosing the right motorcycle boot
• The style of boot, the type of bike you ride, and your environment all play a part
• It’s important that you have dedicated motorcycle boots to improve your overall riding experience
What Type Of Motorcycle Boots Should You Buy As A Beginner?
The best type of motorcycle boots for beginners varies depending on many factors. However, generally something that is suited to your riding style that balances comfort and functionality is best, be it off-road, city riding, or otherwise. You can expect to pay around $100 for beginner boots.
You might see some boots listed in catalogs as Cruisers. These cruiser boots are a form of street boots, and are optimized for casual riding. They often do have a few extra features tagged on, stuff like waterproof membranes, but you’ll pay a lot extra for this.
The marketing around these boots is a little misleading as some vendors will state that these offer a cross between durability and comfort. But these boots are not all-purpose, and they won’t offer you the protection you need in off-road environments.
These boots are great for beginners who use their bikes to commute to and from work. While this footwear can go past $100, they are great boots for your motorcycle commute and to wear around the office. Not having to bring two different sets of shoes to work can be a game changer.
The General Option
If you’re going to be doing a little bit of everything, then a good set of touring boots will be the best option for you. You’ll be able to cruise on the open road and enjoy some off-road action, but if you plan to do a significant amount of off-roading, you might need a dedicated set of dirt bike boots.
Touring boots are a fantastic all-rounder, especially for beginners. While adventure boots are the closest thing to a jack-of-all-trades, they do sacrifice some comfort factors for their versatility. It’s also especially important that a beginner gets used to their vehicle as quickly as possible, and comfortable gear will help with this.
If you see yourself as engaging in track race events or competing in off-road trials like motocross, you’re going to need the gear to match these ambitions. You’ll need a good pair of racing boots if you’re doing track events, but be warned, racing boots are expensive and can cost hundreds of dollars.
Dirt bike boots are the best option for dedicated off-road events. These boots will protect you from the weather, and they also won’t break down from the intense conditions prevalent in these events.
For the vast majority of beginner riders, these boots will not be necessary. You should only ever purchase this type if you’re 100% sure you want to engage in either track racing or off-road events in some capacity.
Maintaining Motorcycle Boots
While most riders are intimately familiar with the conditions of their motorcycles, looking after your equipment is also vital to your safety and performance. Motorcycle boots protect your feet from the elements and can be prone to wear and tear, so it’s important you take proper care of them.
Taking Care Of Leather
Motorcycle boots are commonly made out of leather, but for this material to work optimally, it needs a little care and attention. You should always let your boots dry out naturally if they’re wet.
You might be tempted to put your boots on a radiator or expose them to a hair dryer to speed up the process, but this isn’t a good idea. If your leather boots get too dry, they’ll lose the natural waterproof properties that make this material so good in the first place.
Instead, you can put kitchen towels or old newspapers on the insides of the boots. Doing this will help absorb moisture but won’t excessively dry the boots out. Depending upon how often you use your boots, they might need proofing now and then as well.
Proofing Your Leather
There are all sorts of products you can use to proof leather boots. Be wary of oils that are too thick, as they’ll clog up the pores in the leather, which will stop any waterproof membranes from working.
Ask around at a sports store, or if you’re part of a motorcycle club, ask your fellow members if they have any recommendations. Most of the best products are topical cream solutions, and they’ll feed essential oils into the leather without clogging it up.
It doesn’t take a long time to proof any leather motorcycle boots, as you just gently apply the product with a sponge, and you’re good to go. Unless you’re using your boots every day for hours and hours, you probably won’t need to proof very often (once a year or so).
For non-leather materials, maintenance routines can vary. For plastic materials, simply wiping them down might be enough to keep them looking good as new, and most boot types will benefit from newspaper inside them to absorb any excess moisture. The specifics of your maintenance routine will depend on the specific boots you own, and you’ll likely be told what to do when you buy them.
How Important Is Maintenance?
To reiterate, maintaining boots is very important. While a large portion of motorcycle boots are made out of leather, even if you have plastic or other materials, you’ll still need to check your boots occasionally.
Failure to maintain your boots at all can lead to some problems because if your leather dries out and cracks appear on the surface, you will lose any waterproof properties the leather once had. That means soaking wet feet when riding in the rain, and you can’t re-waterproof leather as once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
Footwear You Should Not Wear When Riding A Motorcycle
It’s unfortunately common to see people wearing everyday shoes or work boots instead of proper motorcycle boots. Doing this is a bad idea in the long run, and if you plan to ride your motorcycle with any frequency, you can’t skip getting good motorcycle boots.
While at first glance, work boots might seem like a decent choice, they are not suitable for use while driving a motorcycle. While work boots are sturdier than regular shoes, they aren’t anywhere near as robust as motorcycle boots.
Work boots don’t have any ankle protection, which is essential to keeping your feet healthy in the long term. If your feet impact the road in any way, work boots will offer no protection as they just aren’t built for that kind of impact.
Work boots also have laces, and the reason motorcycle boots usually come with Velcro, buckles, or clasp fasteners is that these components don’t get tangled or come loose. Loose footwear is disastrous for any rider, and tangled laces are even worse.
Slip-on shoes are even worse than work boots. They’re hazardous because they can easily slip off your feet if you’re going fast. The shoes themselves could even tangle in the motorcycle components.
The grip is an important part of any good motorcycle footwear, but slip-on shoes completely lack any meaningful amount of grip. You could be setting yourself up for a serious accident in these kinds of shoes, and they offer no protection whatsoever against impact.
While there are many different types of motorcycle boots for all kinds of drivers, once you understand your needs and requirements, it shouldn’t take too long to figure out the best options for you. Having a good quality set of boots can significantly enhance your time with your motorcycle.