There is a reason you do not see motorcycle owners riding in flip-flops: well, there are ten reasons, as some would tell it. If you care about keeping all of your toes – and keeping your feet safe in general – a high-quality pair of motorcycle boots are a must!
There are just too many possibilities for things that could go wrong with unprotected feet while riding, both from the machine itself or in the event of a fall or a crash.
Just as you consider the valuable real estate that lives just above your neck (which you, ahem, cover with a helmet), your feet should also be adequately protected every time you ride your motorcycle.
Just because they protect your feet does not mean that motorcycle boots have to do so at the expense of style. Today’s motorcycle boots come in a wide variety of materials and boot styles, with some designed to go straight from your bike into the office or classroom. There’s a style, fit, and price point for every shopper, and before we highlight our favorites, we will walk you through what you need to look for in a motorcycle boot.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for in a Pair of Motorcycle Boots
With so many different boots on the market to choose from, it can be overwhelming to narrow down your selection and make a final decision.
However, by focusing on some key characteristics of motorcycle boots, you can find the right pair for you, your bike, and the conditions in which you typically ride. Outlined below, you will find the main features you need to consider to assess each pair of biker boot options.
Common sense will tell you the higher the riding boot, the more protection it offers. Motorcycle injuries to the foot often result when a foot is pinned, trapped, or even just scraped against pavement.
A motorcycle boot that at least covers the ankle is a must, and anything higher than that offers even greater assurance that your feet and ankle are adequately protected while riding.
While your sneakers may be designed with “breathability” in mind, your motorcycle boot material needs to be designed first with durability and protection in mind. This is why you will see motorcycle boots are often produced with an even tougher, thicker leather than some casual shoes.
Whether it is leather or another material, you should be sure the boot is already treated for weather protection or use a spray to treat them yourself. No one wants to find themselves riding with cold, wet, soggy feet!
A high-quality material used in the boots may generate a higher consumer price tag, but the payoff comes when your feet are both protected and comfortable, and dry during long rides.
One area that is sometimes easy to overlook is the sole of the motorcycle boot, but its role is critical. When it comes to motorcycle boots, you want to ensure the sole offers enough grip and is also oil-resistant. A sole can pick up a lot of oil, which can easily lead to a fall if the sole material does not repel that oil.
While laces are often a favorite choice, they can be hazardous if they come untied during a ride. Therefore, a number of motorcycle boot manufacturers have added Velcro straps, buckles, or other items in lieu of (or on top of) laces for added security.
Boot closures sometimes come down to simple style preferences, but this is an area where you should keep safety in mind, too. The closure may also dictate how easy it is to get the motorcycle boots off and on, which should also be considered as you try out different styles.
A rider can quickly tire of a pair that feel like a hassle to put on when you are simply itching to hit the open road!
When it comes to added protective elements, the amount will depend on whether you are looking at true racing boots or those simply designed for streetwear. A steel plate for toes is common, and then you may also find points of “armor” made out of Kevlar or other materials in especially fragile areas.
Even if you find a pair of motorcycle boots that offer excellent protection, the boots are worthless if the fit is terribly uncomfortable. Comfort is important for long rides, and an ill-fitted boot could actually do more harm than good.
Bear in mind, you should always try the boots on with the type of socks you would wear while riding, and also keep in mind that sizing can vary slightly among manufacturers (especially when you compare European and U.S. sizes).
Try the same boot, a half-size (or even full size) up or down from your normal shoe size to compare and be sure you give a few different brands a try to find the best match for your feet.
Finally, versatility may be particularly important to you if you ride a motorcycle to your place of work. You may want a durable boot to offer the right protection while riding but also subtle and understated enough to blend in at the office. Luckily, there are a wide variety of styles and materials available to make it possible to find the best motorcycle boots that fit in every setting.
The Best Motorcycle Boots for 2021: Our Top Seven Picks
1. Alpinestars Radon Drystar
As you might guess from the name, this is a motorcycle riding boot designed to keep you dry. Customers give the Alpinestars high marks for their ability to withstand rain, even at high speeds. In addition to keeping your feet warm and dry, this riding boot offers comfort and protection with a slightly higher cut.
Adjustable lateral hook and loop grip straps mean you can personalize the fit of the boots, and they also include removable anatomic foot-bed foam. The sole is constructed of a vulcanized compound that ensures strong grip, and dual-density ankle protectors, along with a TPU shin plate and shift pad, offer serious riders the kind of armor they need out on the open road. Rear and lateral reflective inserts are another nice touch in this sleek and well-designed motorcycle boot.
2. Joe Rocket Black Sonic X
The lower price point on the Joe Rocket leather motorcycle boots makes them a viable option for many consumers, but you can rest assured the cheaper price does not mean these are cheaply made.
Constructed of split-grain leather and heavy-duty textiles, these boots boast double stitching throughout for added reinforcement. They are also easy on and off, with a full-length zipper entry, and consumers report you should consider sizing up with these as they tend to run small.
The ankle, toe, and heel are all reinforced in this boot for added protection, and TPR rubber is used for the gear shift protector. The non-slip rubber sole and reflective trim also make this a great motorcycle boot in terms of overall safety. For an affordable and well-made boot, the Joe Rocket Black Sonic X is an outstanding choice when looking for the best men’s motorcycle boots.
3. Harley Davidson Badlands Motorcycle Boot
Harley Davidson offers a wide array of boots, clothing, and other gear for riders, and they consistently deliver a quality product. While theirs is certainly a recognizable brand name, buyers expect more than just a name and a logo, and these boots deliver on that.
The Badlands boot is popular among riders who want a lower profile boot that offers protection but in a more subdued style. These boots are made of 100% leather and are oil, slip, and abrasion-resistant. The classic boot style boasts a full-length cushion sock lining and padded collar. Consumers suggest sizing up in this boot as needed and also treating it with a weatherproofing spray before use.
4. Fly Racing Maverik Off Road Boots
While the previous option may be considered subtle, this one is anything but subtle…making it the perfect choice for those who race (or just want to look like they do!) The Maverik boot is packed with features to offer superior protection for riders at a reasonable price point.
The adjustable quick-lock buckles make these riding shoes easy enough to get on and off, and the 3D molded plastic shin and shift protection are durable and rugged enough to stand up to serious wear and tear. A rubber heat shield keeps the boots protected from the engine, and inner and outer ankle protection means these boots get high marks for safety.
For those who like to keep things simple, the Maverik comes in a solid black option, but you can also choose from three other styles: red/black, white/black, or grey/black.
5. Harley Davidson Clancy Waterproof Boot
Another popular and reliable choice from Harley Davidson is the Clancy Waterproof boot, favored by those who often ride in cold and wet conditions and a great boot for riders in any climate. Boasting a breathable waterproof membrane lining, Goodyear welt construction, and a shaft height of 5.5 inches, this boot protects your feet with high-quality and durable materials.
These boots are easy off and on, and they also come in brown for those who tire of the “all black” riding gear. To keep your feet safe, dry, and warm, the Clancy is a solid, lower profile choice for riding.
6. AdTec Reflective Motorcycle Boots
For those on a tighter budget, you can’t beat the AdTec boots and an under $100 price point. These tough and durable work boots are made of heavy-duty leather with a cushioned insole and are fully backed by the manufacturer’s guarantee. The rubber outsole provides non-slip traction, and reflective trim on both sides means added safety when riding at night.
A family-run business for more than 40 years, AdTec is dedicated to fair prices for its customers and quality workmanship in its products. This boot may not boast as many of the protective features as some of those in the list designed specifically for motorcycles, but this is a low-cost choice that works well for the casual rider.
7. M-Boss Classic Black Harness Motorcycle Boots
The M-Boss boot is the classic design many people picture when they hear “motorcycle boots,” but they are not just big on style. They are big on quality and durability as well. Made of genuine full-grade cowhide leather, they have an acid and oil-resistant outsole, flex toe design, and a smart mask climate control insole that wicks moisture and provides the ultimate in comfort. Easy to pull on and off and stylish to boot (we had to say it once), the M-Boss boots are a classic favorite for riders.
FAQs Regarding Motorcycle Boots
Are all Motorcycle Boots Waterproof?
Not necessarily! Read the manufacturer’s information carefully regarding the weather-resistant features of the boots (or lack thereof). You may need to apply a weatherproofing spray to keep your feet dry while wearing the boots.
How do Motorcycle Boots and Work Boots Differ?
While many “work boots” could pass for riding boots, there are a few key differences. Work boots certainly protect your feet from the elements and also offer things like reinforced toes. Still, a true motorcycle boot will generally have features like molded ankle protection and oil-resistant soles.
Do I Have to Wear a Certain Type of Sock with Motorcycle Boots?
Generally, you will want a thicker sock with a motorcycle boot, but this will also depend on the style and the thickness of any lining that is already attached to the boot. Take at least one pair of thick and durable socks with you if you plan to try the boots on in person, and also wear them around the house with a thick pair before deciding whether or not to keep any you have ordered online.