Are Motorcycle Boots Necessary?

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Are Motorcycle Boots Necessary?

Motorcycle boots

Motorcycle boots can easily be overlooked when purchasing protective gear for a motorcycle. Motorcycle foot protection is extremely important when out riding in all conditions. They provide protection from the elements, harsh road conditions and will help protect your feet and ankles in an accident. Although it’s possible to ride in normal shoes, the positives of riding with motorcycle specific boots out ways the negatives by miles.

Motorcycle protective footwear needs to be stylish and comfortable to aid in wearing them all day. Motorcycle shoes and boots will usually stay on your feet all day when out riding, even during stops or sightseeing walks. An uncomfortable pair will wear you out quicker, making it quite a long and torturous ride, so make sure they are fitted correctly when purchasing and give them a good test walk around the store.

Money is a big part of the decision when purchasing motorcycle foot protection. There are many different price points to think about for a huge range of different motorcycle specific shoes and boots all designed for different types of riding and conditions. It’s a good idea not to buy the cheapest product around to try and save some money as its usually not a good product and will more than likely wear out quickly or just be uncomfortable and potentially not very protective in an accident. That being said it’s not necessary to buy the most expensive flashy pair of boots on the market.

Figure out the type of shoe or boot you need for your riding, research the different brands on the market and then compare prices from multiple retailers. This will aid in purchasing a decent pair of motorcycle boots or shoes for a reasonable price. Just remember, a $200 pair of motorcycle boots is much cheaper than a trip to the emergency room for some missing skin and a broken ankle.      


The road is a harsh place for your feet to hang out. Its dirty, grimy, wet and is no place for a nice pair of casual shoes to be. Not only are your feet battling the road conditions and elements, but an accident may occur sending you sliding down the road. A pair of non-motorcycle specific shoes will likely fly off in an accident providing no protection at all.

In the event of an accident, your feet will likely be in contact with the road surface and can even get trapped underneath the bike during a slide. Not only do you need your motorcycle boots to protect your feet against sliding down the road at high speeds, but potentially flipping, tumbling or having the bike pinned on your foot will damage, crush or snap your ankles. The main types of protection in motorcycle footwear is:

Soles – Usually thick, sturdy with good grip and made with a rubber type compound, sometimes containing steel. Rubber is tough and will grip better on wet surfaces such as putting your feet down when stopped at traffic lights. Usually a softer material is used for the foot peg contact patch to ease the tension on your foot.

Toes – A delicate part of your foot and needs extra protection. Usually some kind of re-enforced material or the sole itself will help provide protection for your toes or hardened plastic or metal pieces built into the front. Many motorcycle shoes and boots have a gear shifting pad on the top of the toes.

Laces – If the boot or shoe contains laces, they should have the ability to be hidden behind material so they don’t catch on things. Laces flying about in the breeze is extremely dangerous. A Velcro or buckle is an added safety feature to keep your boot on during a slide.  

Ankles – This pivot part of your foot is very delicate and will likely be damaged in the event of an accident if not protected. Ankle high boots or shoes are recommended to help provide extra protection for your ankles in the event of an accident. Even something as simple as falling over while stationary can crush your ankle under the bike so consider a pair of shoes or boots with hardened ankle protection.

Sliders – Race style or adventure boots will contain a slider on the front side of the boot for if your foot touches the ground while cornering.  

Temperature protection – A better built and more luxury boot will usually contain a heat pad to protect your feet, ankles and legs from the heat of the engine or exhaust.

Re-enforcement – The skeleton of the boot or shoe is hardened to stop your feet or ankles from getting crushed. This may be from the bike landing on your foot or another vehicle hitting the side of you. It’s like a protective case around your feet and ankles instead of a piece of floppy material.      

Purpose – What do you need?

There are many different kinds of motorcycle riders out there riding in many different conditions, from daily commuters in the rain to track day riders. This means there are many different designs out there for all different types of riding and fashion senses. It’s a good idea to start with the basic level of protection and comfort then work your way up from there. A daily commuter that needs to walk around during the day doesn’t want to wear full race boots to work. Although full race boots will provide the most protection for your feet, they are very impractical for a daily commuter.

Figure out if you need waterproof boots or more breathable boots or shoes for the summer. Maybe you need a hybrid for both conditions. Will you be participating in track days? Will you be walking once off the bike? Maybe you need 2 sets of boots for different riding or weather conditions.  

Motorcycle specific shoes


Casual riding shoes for motorcycle riders have become a popular choice as they look like casual stylish shoes but have reinforced rubber soles, kevlar and/or other protective elements. These shoes can be seen as motorcycle shoes in disguise, nobody can tell that they are specifically made for motorcycle riding and they usually look amazing. They are designed to look like stylish, casual shoes but have protective elements built in to help protect your feet from the elements, harsh road conditions and a potential accident. There are many different types to choose from at different price points from cheap breathable materials with little protection to full hardened skeletal re-enforcement and toe sliders.  

Just like all motorcycle gear, shoes and boots are not made equally. Shop around to find the safe, comfortable and perfect looking pair of motorcycle protective footwear for you.

Motorcycle specific boots

These are designed to provide as much protection as possible from the elements, harsh road conditions and a potential accident. There are specific types for track, adventure, dirt and road riding. They are usually designed to be almost knee height to provide as much protection as possible. They usually have clips instead of laces and will be made out of a mixture of thick leather, textile and gore-tex materials. Different plastics and metals can also be used for added protection of the skeleton, ankles and toes, with replaceable toe sliders for extreme cornering (toes touching the ground). Although they are made to be comfortable while riding, these boots are almost impossible to wear around during the day like a normal pair of boots. Some of the more luxurious brands even come with heat pads to help protect you from the heat of the engine and exhaust.   

What to look for

When purchasing a pair of motorcycle shoes or boots the options are basically limitless. Besides looks, the most important part of your purchase is foot/ankle protection and comfort. Motorcycle footwear that provides good protection and comfort will usually be on the more expensive side because of the many different and expensive materials used and the engineering and production.

Materials – Motorcycle boots used to be made out of leather. These days most motorcycle shoes and boots have a combination of different textile materials to help with comfort and breathability without sacrificing abrasion resistance. Look for extra support and protection around important areas such as ankles, toes and soles.

Design and build – Just like most motorcycle protective gear, stitching is a weak point so it needs to be re-enforced with double or triple stitching. Check out the soles and how they are attached, make sure the laces can be hidden and make sure the overall build quality is good. Bad stitching or poorly glued soles on boots can happen.

Fit – Just like any pair of shoes or boots purchased, the fit needs to be correct and comfortable if you’re going to wear them all day. Its always recommended to try the footwear on in person and walk around the store a little to test the fit and comfort levels. Don’t forget to take your socks into account, thicker socks are always recommended when riding to aid with protection, Kevlar socks are also a thing!

Even a cheap pair of motorcycle shoes will protect your feet better than a pair of runners or converses, which are basically guaranteed to fly off your feet in the event of an accident. Personally I have a pair of casual motorcycle shoes with ankle protection that I wear to work each day which are extremely comfortable, and I have a pair of track boots that I use primarily for track days, but I also wear them on the weekends when I bust out the leather gear and head to the mountains to get a knee down.