Spare a thought for the humble motorcycle boot or shoe. It has a lot of jobs to do, possibly the most tasks of any single piece of gear. A boot must protect your feet, ankles, and possibly lower legs from the worst of a crash or fall. At the same time they have to be comfortable, weather resistant, and practical for walking around in. That last job is the one thing that sets boots apart from all the other types of protective gear out there.
Unlike jackets, helmets, and gloves, we tend to keep our boots on when the ride is over – unless you cart a spare set of shoes around and have somewhere to stow your boots, that is. In which case – good for you. But most of us would rather not go through that whole song and dance.
This also means the boots have to be attractive enough so that you’ll actually want to wear them, but that’s up to you, what you think attractive is.
The first thing you should know is that you can’t just wear any old boots and expect them to work as a bike boot. I’ll prove it to you, right now in the next paragraph.
Why Bike Boots are Different
Now, I don’t always keep track of what the kids are wearing, but it’s always been true that some regular boots and some bike-specific boots look nearly indistinguishable. It makes sense. Two cars may also look the same – four wheels, a roof; you know, car-like features. Under the hood, however, cars couldn’t be more different.
Lots of the special motorcycle features in these boots are invisible to the naked eye. Most bike boots have a molded ankle that prevents that joint from painfully twisting when you come off your bike. Wearing a regular boot in this situation would mean you have nothing between you and having feet that point backwards.
The soles of bike boots can usually resist slipping when put down in stuff you often find on the road surface such as oil and hot tar. Not the stuff you walk on in the local mall, which may be some kid’s spilled ice cream cone.
Apart from the ankle, the whole boot is much stiffer and resistant to twisting forces. Any laces or other fasteners will also be tougher and designed not to come loose under crash impact. In accidents where riders were just wearing regular shoes or boots you often see them come off entirely. Same deal goes for the toe, which often has a metal cap which prevents the toe and foot from being crushed.
Other little details all add up to the total package. There may be little shifter pads on the boot or shoe that stops the gear shifter from messing up the leather or fabric. Also, there’s probably lots more double stitching than a regular boot or shoe would have. Bike boots are specially designed so that they don’t have stuff that can snag and be pulled into the works of the bike.