What boots should you wear on a motorcycle?

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Written By Dominic Howard

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Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience, but it also comes with risks. One of the most important protective gear for motorcycle riders is boots. The right motorcycle boots can help protect your feet, ankles, and lower legs in the event of a crash. They also provide a good grip on the pegs, help reduce fatigue, and protect against the elements.

Choosing the right boot is an important decision though. The boot needs to provide protection without negatively affecting control and comfort.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the key factors to consider when choosing motorcycle boots. We’ll also provide some top recommendations for different types of riding. Read on to learn more!

Comfortable Motorcycle Boots

Finding the right motorcycle boots that are both protective and comfortable can make all the difference when riding. The key to comfort is getting a proper fit. Boots should be snug but not too tight, with enough room to wiggle your toes. High-quality leather that molds to your feet over time tends to be the most comfortable material. For maximum comfort, look for boots with padded insteps, flexible soles, and cushioned insoles. Features like shifter pads that prevent abrasion on the toe and oil-resistant soles with good grip will also enhance your riding experience. Try to find boots with adjustable closures so you can customize the fit. Some riders prefer the feel of boots that come up over the ankle while others like the freedom of movement with low-profile boots. Waterproof boots can keep your feet dry and comfy as well. With the right pair of boots that fit your preferences and needs, you’ll be able to rack up miles in optimal comfort.


One of the most important factors in choosing motorcycle boots is comfort. If the boots are uncomfortable to wear, you’ll be distracted while riding and won’t want to wear them as often. Here are some comfort factors to keep in mind:

  • Fit – Boots should fit snugly without pinching or restricting your movement. Consider trying boots on at the end of the day when your feet are the largest.
  • Weight – Lightweight boots are much more comfortable to wear, especially on longer rides. Boots made of leather, textile, or composite materials tend to be lighter than full metal boots.
  • Padding – Padding in the heel, ankle, and tongue provides cushion and prevents rubbing which causes discomfort and blisters.
  • Break-in time – Leather or synthetic leather boots often require a break-in to soften up and mold to your feet. Expect some discomfort until fully broken in.

Focusing on these comfort factors will help narrow down your options to boots you can wear for hours at a time with no distractions while riding.


Protection is the number one priority in choosing motorcycle boots. Your feet and ankles are very vulnerable in the event of a crash. You’ll want boots with these protective features:

  • Armor – Boots should have built-in armor to protect your feet, ankles, and shins. Hard plastic or composite armor materials provide impact and abrasion resistance.
  • Coverage – Choose boots that cover above the ankle. Higher coverage protects more of your lower legs. Some boots extend up to the knee for maximum coverage.
  • Construction – Look for full-grain leather or other abrasion-resistant materials. Multiple layers and reinforced stitching also enhance protection.
  • Soles – Thick, rubber lug soles offer cushion and grip. A steel shank provides arch support and prevents the boot from curling under impact.
  • Waterproofing – Water-resistant or waterproof membranes keep your feet dry and prevent moisture that could soften up the boot.

The safest motorcycle boots tick all of these protection feature boxes. Of course, the more protection the boots provide, the heavier and less flexible they’ll be. Try to strike the right balance for your needs.


Motorcycle boots need to provide good traction on the pegs so you can shift your weight and control the bike. Rubber lug soles offer the most traction. Avoid leather soles which can be slippery. Other traction features include:

  • Heel shifter pad – Some boots have a raised, textured panel on the heel for extra grip when using the rear brake pedal.
  • Angled sole – The boot sole may angle up at the toe for better grip in the forward foot pegs.
  • Reinforced toe cap – A hard toe cap provides durability and traction when shifting up.
  • Oil/fuel resistance – Rubber compounds in quality boots resist damage from gas and oils to maintain traction.

Testing the boot soles on different surfaces can give you a feel for traction and grip before hitting the road. Secure footing allows you to operate the motorcycle controls more effectively.


Motorcycle boots come in a variety of styles to suit different types of riding. Choosing the right style can help match the boots to your bike and intended use. Styles include:

  • Racing boots – Designed for track and aggressive riding with the best protection. They are high (above the ankle) boots with hard armor and maximum coverage. Not ideal for everyday street riding.
  • Motocross boots – Also designed for off-road with excellent protection, ankle support, and grip. Have an easy pull-on design with buckles and straps.
  • Adventure touring boots – Made for long distances, touring boots have good protection and are comfortable to walk in off the bike. They have modern, rugged styling.
  • Cruiser boots – With their classic leather styling, cruiser boots complement these bike styles. Offer good protection and comfort for street riding.
  • Casual riding shoes – For commuting and lighter street riding, casual riding shoes have styling similar to regular shoes but with toe and heel protection.

Consider when and where you plan to ride most to narrow down the choices by riding style and determine the right boot style.

Brand Recommendations

With so many motorcycle boot brands available, it helps to have a short list of top recommended brands to start your search. These brands are known for making high-quality boots across different styles.

Alpinestars – This Italian brand offers technologically-advanced racing, motocross, touring, and casual boots worn by many top riders. Known for protection, comfort, and dynamic styling.

Sidi – Specializing in racing and performance boots, Sidi boots are known for their quality Italian craftsmanship and for replacing worn parts under their re-sole program.

TCX – TCX manufactures boots for street, adventure, enduro, and motocross riding. They offer the latest safety features at mid-range pricing.

Icon – Based out of Portland, Oregon, Icon provides rugged styling you can wear on and off the bike including their tough Patrol and Raiden boots.

Joe Rocket – With patented armor systems, Joe Rocket makes affordable and protective boots in a wide range of sporty riding styles.

Tourmaster – Popular with cruising riders, Tourmaster boots offer versatile, durable, high-value boots for long road trips.

Fox Racing – Known for motocross, Fox makes technologically-advanced boots worn by champions like Ricky Carmichael and Mark Roczen.

Gaerne – Specializing in racing and off-road boots, this Italian brand is worn by Dakar Rally winners and features patented torsion control soles.

With any of these top brands, you can be confident in getting well-made, protective boots backed by a reputation for quality and innovation.

Best Boots for Cruiser Riders

The cruiser category covers a broad range of bikes from retro classics like Harleys to more modern power cruisers. Cruiser boots have a classic styling while providing good protection for riders. Here are some top picks:

  • Harley-Davidson Faded Glory Boots – Full grain leather with a distressed vintage look. Features include ankle protection, flexible soles, and heel shift pads.
  • Tourmaster Solution Boots – These black leather touring boots have a sleek triple-strap design. With reinforced construction and rubber soles, they offer good comfort and support.
  • Sidi Crossfire Boots – A bold red and black design highlights these boots with distinctive technical styling. They provide excellent protection and control.
  • Joe Rocket Heart Breaker Boots – An affordable option for cruiser riders, these short boots have a leather/textile combo upper and injected molded shin guards.
  • Gaerne G-Raid Boots – A rugged adventure styling in brown oiled leather. These Italian-made boots have metal shin plates and internal ankle protection.

Cruiser boots let you ride in style while still offering solid protection for street and touring use. Look for full-grain leather paired with abrasion zones and armor plating.

Best Boots for Sportbike Riders

Sportbikes allow riders to ride fast and aggressively, so the boots need to perform to that same high-speed standard. Here are the top sportbike boots:

  • Alpinestars SMX Plus Boots – Highly protective sports boots with injected TPU shin and calf guards. Tech features include dual compound soles and shifter pads.
  • Joe Rocket Speedway Sport Bike Boots – Integrated steel shank, reinforced toe box, and injected ankle disk offer maximum protection with a composite shell exterior.
  • Sidi Vertigo Boots – Iconic sportbike racing boots worn by champions. Features like an anatomically shaped toe ensure a precision fit and excellent feel and control.
  • TCX X-Cube Boots – Lightweight performance and durability combine in these entry-level sportbike boots from TCX. Composite fiber construction provides impact resistance.
  • Icon 1000 Elsinore Boots – Icon’s premium track-inspired boot looks as good off the bike as it performs on it. Features include full-grain leather, carbon fiber heel cups, and a metal toe slider.

With integrated armor, precision fit, and dynamic styling, sportbike boots are built for speed and aggressive handling. High-end models can handle the racetrack.

Best Boots for Adventure Riders

Adventure and dual sport riding take you off-road and on long-distance trips far from home. The boots need to provide versatile protection. Top picks include:

  • Alpinestars Toucan Boots – A premium Gore-Tex liner keeps feet dry while the contoured high-grip soles and shin plates handle off-road terrain. Protective and comfortable.
  • O’Neal Rider Boots – Built for dirt environments, these motocross-style boots feature air mesh panels for ventilation plus a steel shank and injected guards. Great value.
  • Sidi Adventure 2 Boots – Legendary quality and replaceable parts make these dual sport boots ready for the long haul. Oil-resistant rubber soles provide grip when walking off the bike.
  • Tourmaster Solution WP Boots – Waterproof protection for all-weather riding at an affordable price. They have guaranteed dry liners and tempered steel shanks.
  • Fox Comp 5 Boots – Thanks to strategic pivot points and an adaptive closure system, these extreme enduro boots allow easy movement when riding aggressively in dirt.

For adventure riders, ankle coverage and grip are key along with good protection from debris and impacts. Light colors reflect heat better as well.

Riding Style Considerations

Beyond bike style, also consider your own individual riding style and needs when choosing boots. These rider factors can further help determine the ideal boots for you:

  • Casual vs. aggressive – More protective features are needed for aggressive, fast riding like on a sportbike vs. casual cruising.
  • Commuting – Opt for comfortable, stylish boots if riding mainly involves getting to work or school.
  • Off-road – Need enhanced ankle support, traction, and flex for dirt or adventure riding.
  • Climate – Insulated, waterproof boots for cold and wet regions. Well-vented for the desert heat.
  • Passenger – Consider comfort and avoid bulky boots if riding two-ups regularly.
  • Distance – Focus on comfort with cushioning and flex for all-day rides.
  • Experience level – New riders may want boots with easier break-in and broader protection.

While boots are essential for every rider, consider your individual needs and riding environment to pick the right match. An experienced sportbike racer has different needs than a casual Vespa scooter rider for example.

Fitting and Breaking In Your Boots

Once you’ve selected the right motorcycle boots for your needs, it’s important to get the fit dialed in. Here are some tips for fitting and breaking in motorcycle boots:

  • Try boots on at the end of the day – Feet swell throughout the day so boots will fit tighter later on. Go up a half size if snug when trying it on.
  • Toes should lightly touch front – Allow thumb’s width from tip of toes to end of boot for some wiggle room.
  • Heel secure in the pocket – The heel should be locked in with minimal up and down movement.
  • Ball of foot aligned – Ensure the ball of foot lines up with the widest part of the sole for support.
  • Width right – Boots should feel snug but not pinch anywhere across the width of the foot.
  • Optimal flex point – The front flex panel should match where the foot bends naturally.
  • Break-in gently – Heat inside with a hair dryer to soften the leather. Flex ankles and walk to loosen up.
  • Use boot stretchers – Stretchers spread pressure across the lining for an easier break-in.
  • Try on with riding socks – Ensure a good fit with the socks you’ll ride in. No thick hiking socks.
  • Allow 2-3 weeks for a break-in – After the break-in, boots mold perfectly to your feet for maximum comfort.

Taking the time to properly fit and break in your new motorcycle boots will ensure many seasons of comfortable protection for your feet on the road.

Maintenance and Care

Quality motorcycle boots are an investment designed to protect your feet ride after ride. Follow these care tips to get the longest life from your footwear:

  • Clean gently – Use warm water and mild soap avoiding harsh detergents. Wipe down with a damp cloth.
  • Condition leather – Apply leather conditioner to prevent cracking, especially after getting wet.
  • Protect from chemicals – Gas, oil, and other caustic chemicals can damage and degrade leather.
  • Store properly – Stuff with paper to retain shape and avoid humidity. Keep out of direct sunlight.
  • Replace insoles – Insoles compact over time. New insoles restore cushioning and support.
  • Re-sole when worn – Hard soles get slippery when worn out. Re-soling restores grip and feel.
  • Scrub soles – Use stiff nylon brushes and soap to remove packed in dirt on soles.
  • Check buckles and straps – Ensure buckles function and straps are intact. Replace as needed
  • Touch-up scratches – Lightly sand damaged areas and use touch-up balm on leather scratches.

Following this motorcycle boot care checklist helps maintain the protective qualities and extends the life of your riding investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do I need motorcycle boots?

A: Motorcycle boots provide essential protection for your feet and ankles while riding. They offer impact resistance, abrasion protection, and better grip on foot controls.

2. Can I wear regular boots for riding a motorcycle?

A: Regular boots might not provide the necessary level of protection required for motorcycle riding. Motorcycle boots are designed with specific safety features to safeguard against road hazards and accidents.

3. What safety features should I look for in motorcycle boots?

A: Look for features such as reinforced toe and heel areas, ankle support, shifter pads, anti-slip soles, and proper closure mechanisms. Some boots also come with built-in armor for added protection.

4. Are there different types of motorcycle boots?

A: Yes, there are various types of motorcycle boots, including racing boots, touring boots, cruiser boots, and adventure boots. Each type is designed with specific riding styles and protection levels in mind.

5. Can I wear sneakers or tennis shoes while riding a motorcycle?

A: It’s not recommended to wear sneakers or tennis shoes while riding a motorcycle due to their lack of protection. Motorcycle boots provide better safety against impact, abrasion, and road debris.

6. How should motorcycle boots fit?

A: Motorcycle boots should fit snugly but not uncomfortably tight. Make sure they provide enough room for your toes, and your ankle should be supported without feeling restricted.

7. Do I need waterproof motorcycle boots?

A: Waterproof boots can be beneficial, especially if you ride in rainy or wet conditions. They help keep your feet dry and comfortable during inclement weather.

8. Are there specific boots for different seasons?

A: Yes, some motorcycle boots are designed for specific seasons. There are ventilated boots for summer and insulated or waterproof boots for colder seasons.

9. How do I maintain my motorcycle boots?

A: Regularly clean your boots using mild soap and water. Treat leather boots with conditioner to prevent drying and cracking. Check and replace any damaged parts, such as zippers or buckles.

10. Can I use motorcycle boots for walking around off the bike?

A: While motorcycle boots are designed primarily for riding, many models offer reasonable comfort for walking short distances. However, they might not be as comfortable as regular walking shoes for extended periods.


The right motorcycle boots keep your feet and ankles protected so you can enjoy riding with peace of mind. Use the criteria in this guide to shop for boots tailored to your bike style, individual needs, and riding environment. Invest in quality boots from reputable brands, allow time to properly break them in, and care for them regularly. Happy boot shopping and safe travels on the roads ahead!

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