Ever stared blankly at the wall of shoes in a shop and wondered what the difference is? Us too!
Motorcycle boots are no different, with the manufacturers creating a myriad of niches to entice us to part with our hard earned cash.
Here at Motohawk we have literally hundreds of different motorcycle boots so we’ve come to know a thing or two about finding a pair of good fitting boots. Read on if you want some help finding your perfect pair…
Think of the type of riding that you do - on road vs off road, summer vs winter, commuting vs holiday rides. Motorcycle boots fit broadly into one of five categories.
If you want to complete the Rossi look, a pair of road and track specific boots will fit snugly, offer the utmost protection and usually offer a decent feel of the pedals. You can often also replace parts such as toe sliders to extend the life of the boots. But don’t expect day-long comfort and if you’re regularly undertaking longer rides, you might want to think about a pair of touring boots.
With the ever-increasing popularity of touring and adventure bikes, touring boots have shed their reputation as bland but functional boots and become a hardy and comfortable option for long days in the saddle. You won’t get the stiffness you’d find on a road boot and as such, they’re more comfortable to wear. Generally waterproof and with lots of adjustability, a good touring boot will last the distance.
If you’ve specced your Multistrada with spoked wheels and are heading off the beaten path, you might want to consider a pair of adventure boots. Boasting a decent compromise between the protection of a motocross boot and the comfort of a touring boot, adventure boots will keep your feet dry, offer lots of adjustability and be comfortable enough to walk in at the end of the ride.
If you’re heading off road you’ll want a dedicated pair of mud-hungry motocross boots with protection-a-plenty for your ankles, shins and feet. They’ll be well sealed to minimise mud-splat and expect them, like a road boot, to sacrifice protection over comfort.
If you’re stepping off the bike and straight into the office, a clunky pair of motorcycle boots might not be practical. Step forward street boots - protective footwear styled like your favourite trainers or a pair of Timberlands. They naturally won’t offer you nearly the protection of a full size motorcycle boot, particularly in the shin and preventing torsional twisting. But they’re an infinitely better option than riding in your trainers, which we definitely wouldn’t recommend.
What Features to look for:
Safety - Motorcycle boots exist first and foremost to protect your feet and lower legs from impact and twisting in the event of an accident. Look for armour reinforcement in the ankle, toes, heel and across the shin. The more armour there is, the stiffer and less flexible the boot will be so find a good trade-off between comfort and safety.
Material - it used to be that leather was the default in quality for motorcycle boots. But materials have become so advanced over the years that many of the textiles used to create motorcycle boots have excellent abrasion resistance, waterproofing and breathability.
Waterproofing - Gore-Tex is still considered to be the gold standard in waterproofing. But many manufacturers offer their own brand of waterproofing that’s equally as effective without the price tag such as Alpinestars’ Drystar technology.
Closure System: Velcro and side-zips are the most common fastening on motorcycle boots.But for the best fit look for a boot that has a ratchet style enclosure as you can dial the fit by turning a dial that evenly tightens the boot all round.
Replacement Parts: Decent motorcycle boots are an investment and the ability to extend their useful life by replacing the most used parts makes them even better value for money. Look out for replacement toe sliders, fastenings and even new soles.
Different brands have different sizing so don’t assume that your shoe size will automatically translate into your new motorcycle boots. We’ve included handy size guides on all of our boots so you can measure your foot and get a decent starting point.
You’re looking for a good trade-off between snugness and comfort. Your boot should feel snug around your foot and your leg. Pay particular attention for gaps at the heel and any sliding movement in your foot. But your feet should feel comfortable in there. Check that your toes aren’t pushing against the end of the boot and your little toe in particular isn’t being pinched. Also check for width as you won’t like your boots if they start to squeeze you after an hour on the bike. And check that the protection is in the right place.
If you have wide feet or popeye-style calf muscles, it’s worth looking for a boot with ratchet-style adjustment as these will allow you to dial the fit in (or out) closely. If you’re in between sizes, we recommend siding up and if you’re buying them for deepest, darkest winter riding you may want to consider sizing up for thick or extra socks.
Finally, it is true that the material will soften and loosen a little over time. But don’t expect a boot that feels painted onto your leg to suddenly feel comfortable.
Caring for your boots
A good pair of motorcycle boots will last you several years but they do require a little maintenance. Be sure to air them, particularly after wet rides. And the volume of salt on the roads in winter means it’s always best to wipe them down with a damp cloth after each ride. Also avoid putting them on radiators and using cleaning chemicals on them as the materials and stitching generally don’t like either.