Motorcycle boots are specifically designed to help add support to the ankles and protect the foot in the event of a motorcycle accident. Regular shoes do not provide sufficient protection and result in an increased risk of serious injury and broken foot bones.
Your Feet and Ankles Are Important – and Vulnerable to Injury
Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of badly spraining an ankle knows what a pain in the ass it is to have to hobble around on crutches for a week or two. Someone who has had an injury like this will also know how long a damaged ankle takes to heal. And even something as seemingly insignificant as a broken toe can cause a great loss of mobility and chronic pain for an extended period.
Our feet and ankles perform tasks that are crucial to our mobility – they not only support our weight, they serve as instruments of balance, propulsion and motion, and act as shock absorbers every time we take a step. They are also extraordinarily complex, with twenty-six bones, thirty-three joints, and over a hundred tendons and ligaments. Such complex structures can easily get damaged from heavy, jarring impacts – which is just the kind of impact they’re likely to suffer if they’re the first point of contact when your body hits the street, even in a relatively slow speed crash.
Because our feet and ankles are so very important to maintaining mobility, it should be obvious that when we ride our motorcycles it’s just as important to protect them as it is our heads, torsos and hands – but what kind of boots are up to the task of providing secure protection for our ankles and feet? Check out this guide on what makes motorcycle shoes special and different.
The Differences Between Motorcycle Boots and Other Types of Boots
It should be pretty obvious by now that whenever you get on your motorcycle, you need to protect your ankles and feet – and your average pair of sneakers certainly isn’t up to that kind of task. And considering that the majority of non-lethal motorcycle accident injuries affect one’s lower legs and feet, the need for quality protection in that area is paramount. As with other items of gear you put on every time you ride, the best kind of boots to protect this vulnerable part of your body are boots specifically designed for motorcycle riding, and as with other types of riding gear, it’s always wise to budget for the best pair of riding boots you can afford; rather spend a couple of dollars now instead of spending a couple of thousand dollars on medical bills later.
It’s also worth mentioning that you really should go for a pair of boots that are specifically designed for motorcycle riding. Hiking boots or work boots are a lot cheaper, yes, and they do provide a measure of ankle support and protection for one’s toes, but it’s important to note that they are designed to protect you only from twisting your ankle when taking a poorly-judged step (hiking boots) or dropping something heavy onto your foot (work boots), and are not engineered to provide any kind of resistance to the type of extreme forces that speed and momentum will wreak upon your ankle and foot in a motorcycle accident.
There is a rather expansive array of motorcycle boots on offer to any rider who’s in the market for a pair, and the sheer variety of choice can be a little overwhelming. As with other items of motorcycling gear, the type of motorcycle you ride and the kind of riding you do can help to narrow your options down. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of riding boots that are out there.
Many riders who use their bikes for commuting or cruising need protection for their feet, but don’t necessarily want to go through the hassle of putting on a pair of huge, heavy boots that go almost up to their knees and are nearly impossible to walk in. Thankfully, there are many boots that provide adequate ankle protection, but are cut off just above the ankle and are almost as light and comfortable as any regular pair of shoes.
These shoes come in all manner of styles, for men and motorcycle boots for women. The Alpinestars’ SMX 1-R street boots, for example, are a great example of a high quality, versatile street boot that looks more like you’re wearing a regular shoe and less like you just stepped off a motocross track. Check out this review for some ideas for the best casual motorcycle shoes.
If you ride a high-powered sportbike and are a fan of track riding or high-speed canyon carving, you’re going to need something that provides more protection than your average street boot. If this is the kind of riding you do, you need to look for a boot that provides protection not only for your ankle and foot, but the whole of your lower leg as well. Alpinestars also make a great boot for spirited riding, which provides excellent armor and protection for one’s shins, calves, ankles, feet and toes: the SMX-6 model.
The footwear needs of those riders who ride dirt bikes, whether for single track forest trails, adventure touring on gravel roads, or full-out motocross racing, are different to the needs of riders
who stay on the asphalt. For one thing, there are a lot more obstacles involved, like rocks or branches, both of which can cause severe damage to one’s lower extremities, and for another, falling off the bike, particularly at low speeds, and landing on uneven terrain (maximising the risk of twisting one’s ankle) is far more common.
Thus, motorcycle boots designed for off-road riding tend to be heavier and taller than street-oriented boots, and if you ride off-road you need to look for the sturdiest pair of off-road boots you can afford. O’Neal’s Logo Rider boots provide fantastic protection and great versatility at a very reasonable price. If you are looking for the best out there, Alpinestars and Sidi make some of the strongest boots on the market.
Work boots can be used for short motorcycle commutes although they are not always optimal. The ideal multi-purpose work boots should have a reinforced toe cap, anti-slip rubber soles, and sufficient ankle protection.
Next time you’re walking up or down a long flight of stairs, ask yourself if it’s difficult enough already, or whether you’d like to turn it up a notch and hop up or down the stairs in crutches. If you’d rather not do that (and I’m sure most of us wouldn’t), then make sure that every time you climb onto your motorcycle and fire it up, you’ve remembered to give your feet and ankles the protection they deserve with the best, most suitable pair of motorcycle boots you can afford. So, why should I wear motorcycle boots? Because you’d be stupid not to.