6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Motorcycle Boot

Many threats await your feet and ankles when you ride a motorcycle: jumps at the MX track, dragging toes on the pavement at a track day, cold weather and hot exhaust pipes, crushing blows from a crash or slide out, loose or flying road debris, Mother Nature’s elements and many more. At the very least, your feet are in frequent contact with the ground every time you ride a motorcycle and not only are you supporting the weight of your body, you are now also supporting the weight of a few hundred plus pounds of motorcycle as well. Every single time you stop.

Feet and ankles are more fragile than we care to think they are. It only makes sense to support and protect them from the dangers that await them when riding a motorcycle. But finding a good boot, let alone the right boot for your ride, isn’t always an easy task. We’ve outlined six things to look into to determine the style of motorcycle boot that will work best for your riding style. Check it out!

1. Type of Riding You’ll Be Doing

Motorcycle Boots Are Made to Look Cool and Protect You at the Same Time!

First and foremost, you will want to buy the type of boot made for the kind of riding you will be doing. For example, maybe you grew up riding dirt bikes and using MX boots, but have recently discovered that you love to ride dual sport or adventure motorcycles now. Although your MX boots might work, there is probably a much better boot designed specifically for adventure rides that provides more comfort, weather-proofing and traction than your MX boots do. You will most likely enjoy your ride a lot more if you have a boot that fits the occasion. So start off by asking yourself few questions to figure out exactly what you’ll need, such as:

  • Where am I going to spend most of my time riding?
  • What’s my riding style? (Aggressive, more cautious, etc.)
  • What kind of terrain will I be riding on?
  • How much protection do I want?
  • What design will work best with my motorcycle and can I properly operate my bike while wearing them?
  • What type of look am I going for?

2. Level of Protection

MX Boots Like the Alpinestars Tech 10 Boots Are a Great Choice

After determining the style of riding boot that will work best for you, figure out how much protection you are going to need. Some riding styles are much more aggressive than others (motocross and track days, for example) and require maximum protection. Boots designed for these styles usually feature built-in components that offer specialized protection in areas where you’ll need it the most.

Don’t bother buying a pair of shoes that claim to be motorcycle shoes but fail to even cover your ankles. It’s pretty simple: the shorter the boot or shoe, the less protection you’re going to get. Some of the most common injuries in motorcycle crashes happen to the feet and legs. So, not only do you want a boot that adequately covers your foot, ankle and shin, you want it to provide enough support so that if you need them to, your boots will help your feet and ankles withstand a serious blow or force without twisting. Not to mention – an unprotected, protruding ankle bone will likely be one of the first things to find the pavement if you slide out on your bike.

Here’s an idea of different styles and the level of protection they typically offer:

Motocross Boots

Motocross boots are among the most protective boots out there. Off-road riders typically ride fast and hard, all while subjecting their feet and legs to the elements and the varied terrain. Features of motocross boots often include:

  • Full-grain leather and other materials
  • Unyielding protection in the toe box, rear and main sections of the boot for stability and abrasion prevention
  • Velcro and high-impact buckle closure systems
  • Replaceable buckles, soles and booties
  • Gaiters to prevent dirt and water from entering boot
  • Steel shanks to support the foot and protect against continual flexing
  • Torsion control bracing systems
  • Removable footbeds

Alpinestars Tech 10 Boots

Adventure and Dual Sport Boots

Adventure and Dual Sport boots are generally a mixture of the best parts of both on and off-road boots. Some of the typical features of these types of boots include:

  • Waterproof or water resistant protection
  • Anti-slip, all-terrain soles
  • Internal molded protection areas
  • Velcro, buckle or zippered closure
  • Replaceable, removable foodbeds
  • Full-grain leather and other materials
  • Breathable, padded inner liners
  • Steel shanks for added foot support
Forma Adventure Boots

Staff Picks:

Sportbike/Track Day Boots

Aggressive boots for more precarious riding, Sport Bike/Track Day boots offer protective factors specifically designed for contact with the pavement and for withstanding high impact blows. Common features include:

  • Replaceable toe sliders
  • Contoured heel, shin and ankle protection
  • Torsion control
  • Zippered or buckled closure
  • Lightweight construction
  • Superior abrasion resistance
  • Flex for proper articulation
  • Double and triple stitching
  • Ventilation
  • Shock absorption
  • Built-in shift pads
Sidi Vertigo Motorcycle Boots

Staff Picks:

Cruiser Boots

Cruiser boots not only need to protect your feet, ankles and legs from crash impacts, they also need to provide protection from the elements and hazards of the road. Further, they need to provide sturdy, non-slip traction upon contact with the pavement. Features you should look for include:

  • Slip-resistant and oil-resistant soles
  • Full grain leather
  • Double and triple stitching
  • Steel toe and shank reinforcements
  • Reinforced heels and ankle cups
  • Anti-torsion sole
  • Various heights
  • Leather harness reinforcements
  • Brass or nickel buckles or harness rings
  • Built-in shift pads
River Road Traditional Square Toe Harness Motorcycle Boots

Staff Picks:

Touring Boots

Touring boots are made for long wear and typically focus on comfort, ergonomics, protection and weatherproof abilities. Many of the main features of a touring boot include:

  • Removable anatomic footbeds
  • Waterproof
  • Buckle and zipper closures
  • Toe, ankle, heel and shin protection
  • Breathable liners and temperature regulation
  • Leather, Gore Tex and other materials
  • Shifter pads
Sidi On Road Gore Tex Motorcycle Boots

Staff Picks:


3. Construction of Boot

How your boot is constructed should be one of the most important factors you take into consideration. Everything from the materials used to how your boot is held together can make a big difference in your safety. Not all boots are created equal, so educating yourself on the materials and methods of construction is important when finding a good quality boot. Also, since motorcycle boots come made for so many different situations, the safety features included in each kind vary too.

At this point you’ve probably already determined the type of boot you need for your riding style, along with how much protection you hope to have. Asking yourself some additional questions, doing some research and deciding what is most important to you when it comes to the construction of the boot can help you narrow down your choices. For example, ask yourself:

  • What difference can a glued versus a stitched sole make? Which do you prefer?
  • Can parts like buckles, soles, insoles or toe sliders be replaced if needed?
  • Does the boot have sufficient protection such as steel reinforcements/molded heel, ankle, toe, or shaft armor?
  • Are the boots held together with at least double or triple stitched seams to prevent the boot from coming apart in a crash?
  • Do you need heel shock absorbers and if so, do the boots have them?
  • Do you need a weather proof boot? If so, is the boot constructed with materials such as Gore-Tex for dry comfort?
  • Which type of closure do you prefer: laces, buckles, zippers, Velcro or a combination? Investigate the pros and cons of each.
  • In stiffer boots like motocross boots, do you prefer something with an internal bootie for a better fit?
  • Which type of sole would work best for your riding style? Is it oil-resistant to help prevent slipping?
  • Which materials are the boots constructed from?

A lot of research has gone into motorcycle boot construction over the years and current models on the market are more advanced in protective features than they’ve ever been. Motorcycle boots include specific features that go beyond what your basic work boot includes. However, any motorcycle boot is still a better option than a pair of sneakers, casual shoes or (heaven forbid) flip-flops and sandals. If you value your feet and ankles, treat them right on your bike and invest in a good pair of boots.

4. Comfort and Duration of Time You’ll Wear Them

Boots Should be Comfortable for Your Ride

The comfort of your boots will ultimately determine how often you end up wearing them, so you want to find a pair that feels good. Make sure that before you buy your boots or wear them out of the house, you’ve spent some time in them feeling for any pressure points or uncomfortable spots that might bother you when you ride. Starting out comfortably is a good indicator that you will wear your boots more often and for longer stretches of time instead of foregoing safety to forego pain or discomfort.

Many times, the more protection your boot offers on your motorcycle the less comfortable they will be when you walk around in them. Some boot styles, such as cruiser, touring and adventure boots, are a little better at pulling double duty. Other styles, such as motocross boots, will definitely require you bring a change of shoes if you plan on spending time off your bike. Consider how long you plan on wearing your boot and if you plan on wearing them for more than just riding. Ultimately it might boil down to what you are willing to sacrifice – safety for a boot you can comfortably walk around in for hours or room in your bag for an extra pair of shoes? Do your research and depending on your riding style, you might just find a great boot that can do it all.

5. Price

Generally the term “you get what you pay for” is pretty accurate. However, not everyone has $500+ to drop on a pair of motorcycle boots – and that’s ok. If you’re not spending serious time on high MPH track days or on gnarly motocross tracks with your feet in the dirt, there are plenty of less expensive options that can offer awesome protection for your riding style. For the majority of boot styles, you can find an excellent quality boot for somewhere in the ballpark of $200-$400, give or take a few dollars for specific features.

You might not be completely sold on spending your hard earned cash on a pair of specialty motorcycle boots, but you can bet that if the time comes for you to actually need the protection that they offer, you won’t regret your purchase. In fact, a quality pair of motorcycle boots can ultimately save you tens of thousands of dollars in costly medical bills if you needed a good boot but weren’t wearing one. If you plan to ride, plan to budget in some high-quality riding gear, including a great pair of motorcycle boots.

6. Style

Street Bike Boots Come in Tons of Styles

Lastly, it is time to take your own personal style in to consideration. Logically speaking, how your boots look should be one of the least of your concerns because whether or not your boots are going to help you win a fashion show shouldn’t be near as important as how they perform. However, we all like to look good, especially when we ride. Luckily boot manufacturers understand that style is important and have come out with plenty of eye-catching designs in recent years that will boost your confidence on or off your bike. Whether you are searching for a retro, modern or classic look in a boot, you are bound to find a great pair of boots from one of many manufactures who know the importance of creating the perfect boot to match your personal style and taste.

Happy Hunting

Now that you know the six main things you should look for when buying a motorcycle boot – type of riding, level of production needed, construction of the boot, comfort of the boot and the duration of time you’ll be wearing them, price and style – check out our huge selection of men, women and children’s motorcycle boots in the widest variety of styles around and get your pair of boots in the mail today.

What is your favorite boot for your riding style? Let us know in the comments below!

By Rachel Bretzing