Guide to Motorcycle Footwear

Guide to Motorcycle Footwear

by Chris Rutter December 03, 2020

Investing in proper motorcycle footwear is essential to your safety and comfort while on the bike. Your standard footwear options aren't going to be appropriate for a motorcycle, so it's crucial to know what kinds of footwear will keep your feet and ankles safe in an accident.

As you look for the right motorcycle footwear, learn more about what is and what isn't safe to wear. You may also want to know more about what you should look for when purchasing motorcycle boots.

What Not to Wear

As you look for motorcycle footwear, your top priority should be protecting your ankles and feet. That's why you should never ride your motorcycle while wearing flip-flops or similar types of footwear. If you were to get in a crash while wearing flip-flops, there'd be nothing standing between your feet and ankles and the pavement, likely resulting in a major injury.

You'll also want to avoid getting on a bike wearing athletic shoes. While they do give more protection than flip-flops, their materials aren't thick enough, and they don't provide adequate coverage to protect you in an accident.

What to Wear: Motorcycle Boots or Motorcycle Riding Shoes

While looking for appropriate motorcycle footwear, you're likely to find specialty boots and shoes. Both these options are much better than casual footwear, but there are some variations between them. As you shop, you should know these differences.

Motorcycle Boots

Motorcycle boots are the most popular option among riders for a reason. They're specifically for motorcycle riding, with many features to keep feet and ankles safe. The boots cover well past your ankles to protect them from accidents, crushing and pipe burns. You can find these boots in several sizes, and you can even choose some that go up to just below the knee to provide more protection to the calves.

Motorcycle boots cover well past your ankles.

In addition to covering ankles, motorcycle boots are durable and hold up in accidents. The thick material is crucial, since it keeps your skin protected from the pavement and other dangerous hazards in an accident.

These boots usually feature a snug fit that still allows enough movement to ensure bikers can comfortably shift gears and stay protected, even on a long ride. When shopping for motorcycle boots, consider optional features, such as waterproof capabilities, the ability to replace soles and buckles, extra shin protection and toe sliders.

Motorcycle Riding Shoes

Motorcycle riding shoes are another standard choice among motorcycle riders due to their protection and stylish appearance. While they don't offer as much ankle protection as motorcycle boots, they still offer superior support compared to more casual footwear types. Many fashion-conscious riders prefer motorcycle shoes for their look, alongside their protective features. 

Motorcycle shoes usually come with shift pads to provide extra protection from damage. Their construction helps you shift gears painlessly, and their ergonomic design fits a motorcycle rider's needs. Though they aren't as tall as boots, the shoes will at least cover part of the ankle to protect it in case of an accident.

One significant difference between motorcycle shoes and standard street shoes is the material used to construct them. They'll have a much thicker, noticeably more substantial sole than regular shoes to provide more protection in harsh environments. Alongside the sole's extra toughness, the toe box has reinforcements to strengthen the shoe. Motorcycle shoes also feature steel rank braces for added durability.  

As a result of these features, a motorcycle shoe protects your ankle bone from impacts and abrasions. The shoes guard your heels against getting crushed in a crash. This extra protection is crucial, as your feet can suffer severe injuries in an accident, especially if you're not wearing the proper protection.

Which Type Should You Choose?

While either option is better than casual footwear, the go-to choice for maximum protection is motorcycle boots. If you're planning to drive your motorcycle at high speeds, whether on the highway or the racetrack, motorcycle boots will provide more security than motorcycle shoes.

Motorcycle boots will provide more security than motorcycle shoes.

Tips for Buying the Best Motorcycle Boots

You may want to consider a few factors as you search for a pair of motorcycle boots to meet your needs. Since most motorcycle enthusiasts trust their footwear to keep them safe and comfortable while they ride, it's worth taking the time to learn about what goes into high-quality boots. When buying the best Harley-Davidson motorcycle riding boots, look for these qualities.

  • Height: The height of the boot will determine how much protection it provides to your ankle and the rest of your leg. Ensuring the boot is high enough is essential, as taller boots can help prevent sprains and breaks. Those who don't own durable riding pants may want to select a boot that goes up to the knee. 
  • Material: Your material needs to hold up against asphalt and other environmental hazards. The best motorcycle boots are thick leather or specialty textiles. You may even want to look for boots that have extra reinforcements in areas most likely to bear the brunt of the force in a crash, with plastic sliders and double layers of leather or cloth.
  • Construction: Any boot you purchase should have double- or triple-stitching to ensure they hold up in an accident. The boot also shouldn't have the sole glued on, since soles secured with glue can quickly detach from the rest of the boot. Instead, check whether the manufacturer has sewn the soles into the boots to hold the footwear together in an accident.
  • Soles: The soles you purchase should be oil-resistant, as oil can be present on roads. If it gets on the sole, it could lead to your feet slipping off the bike. You may also want a thicker sole if you don't need as much grip, but want more durability. Softer-soled boots may be your choice if you want more grip on your footpegs, but don't mind a boot that will wear down faster. 
  • Closures: Whatever you secure your boots with — whether it be Velcro, laces or buckles — needs to give you a secure fit, as you don't want your footwear to fly off in a crash. Laces are popular, but they can get caught and tangled in your bike's moving parts. Velcro and buckles won't have that problem, and are usually adjustable to give you a tighter fit.
  • Fit: As you choose a boot, it's also crucial to take the time to ensure it fits correctly. The boots should fit your feet more snugly than your standard athletic shoes, without being so tight that they're nearly impossible to put on. Even if it takes a little longer to get in and out of your boots, it can be worth it, as a snugger-fitting boot will be more likely to stay on your feet.

Choose Fat Head Cycles for Your Harley Needs 

As you look for motorcycle parts and apparel, Fat Head Cycles is an excellent choice. We carry a wide range of Harley products that can improve your bike, such as performance packages and custom lightingBrowse our online store to find exceptional Harley products. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us today!

Choose Fat Head Cycles for Your Harley Needs.

Chris Rutter
Chris Rutter


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