When covering your feet, “they take too long to put on” is no excuse if you’re about to take to the roads on a motorcycle. Your feet are the closest appendage to the ground and often the first thing to hit the tarmac either before, or during an accident so it is vital to pay attention to them when shopping for riding gear.

As with gloves, the three main factors you should consider before purchasing are protection, control and comfort and it is relatively easy these days to find a good mix of the three. Below are a few things you should consider and how they will affect these three main factors.

 

Material and construction

Your everyday pair of walking shoes are made of soft, pliable textiles or leather and with the exception of the sole, are not designed for absorbing impacts or protecting from abrasions. Motorcycle boots are built primarily for this purpose and as such are made of much thicker and firmer leather and feature a chunkier sole that is shaped to accommodate the foot controls of a motorcycle. Modern boots are also built with materials such as Gore-Tex, adding breatheability and water resistance, keeping your feet dry.

 

Height

The majority of walking shoes and trainers stop at the ankle, offering no support should an accident occur, leading to sprained or even broken ankles. Motorcycling boots are designed to keep the ankle from taking too much lateral movement while still affording enough up-and down movement to allow operation of the rear brake and gears of a motorbike.

High top boots are your best bet for complete protection as they cover the shin and often include armour to protect your whole lower leg, however they are more cumbersome and will take a little getting used to, at least until they are broken in. Half height boots are available for those seeking a little more comfort and flexibility, though at the cost of shin and calf protection.

 

Armour

For the maximum protection possible, some boots, like motocross boots, feature plastic, composite or even metal armour plating around the lower leg and ankle. While being very protective, these boots can also be very cumbersome, so unless you are going to be taking part in a high risk activity such as dirt track riding or green laning, it is better to settle for more practical road boots.

 

Closures

There are many types of closure, from Velcro and zips to ratchet closures and even good old fashioned laces, selecting one ultimately depends on personal preference.

Velcro is the most convenient, but also the least effective, so it is usually only used to supplement other closures such as zips. Ratchets are the most convenient, and offer a good level of effectiveness but boots that include them are generally for off-road use so can be quite bulky. Laces have fallen into disuse in modern motorcycle boots, mainly due to the danger of snagging on foot controls or even mechanical components of the bike, though for the motorcyclist who still likes the retro appeal of laces, there are still many options in the form of “classic motorcycle boots”.

 

Size

No matter what boots you go for, it is vital that you pick the right size, as badly fitting boots can restrict your ankle movement and even slip off if the worst happens. When buying boots, go for your usual shoe size, and if possible, go into a motorcycle gear shop and try on a few pairs. The boots should hug your heel, but still allow enough room for a bit of toe movement. When walking in boots at a shop, bear in mind that they are not broken in, and if you haven’t worn motorcycle boots before they will feel much more unwieldy than regular shoes, but don’t let that put you off, you will quickly get used to them on the road.

 

Now that you’re all geared up, it’s time to discuss buying an actual motorcycle! The next few pages will give you a better understanding on what’s on offer, and cater to learners of all experience levels and licence categories.

Choosing a Motorcycle – The Types of Motorcycle >