You’ve probably heard the mantra “All The Gear All The Time,” a wise saying that stresses the importance of donning the appropriate attire when cruising on your motorcycle. And don’t forget about your feet; being the closest to the ground, they deserve as much protection as your head and body. When you take an unexpected spill, proper footwear can make all the difference between keeping your toes intact or turning them into ground beef.
Sandals and sneakers simply won’t cut it — they lack the grip and durability of motorcycle boots. Not to mention the lack of waterproofing, heat protection, and sturdy construction — a recipe for a disastrous ride, right? But fear not, you may be wondering, can I wear regular boots on a motorcycle?
Absolutely, you can wear work boots when riding your motorcycle on public roads or streets, but despite their convenience, they don’t provide the same level of protection as purpose-built riding boots. Unless you’re participating in highly specialized road racing or off-road riding, the differences between street motorcycle boots and high-quality work boots are pretty slim. Sport and off-road boots may be necessary for optimal safety and performance in race track (like MotoGP), drag racing, as well as motocross, hill climb riding, ice racing, enduro, desert racing, flat track, and trials riding. For everyday street or road riding, the main advantages of motorcycle boots would be:
6 Reasons You Should Always Wear Proper Motorcycle Boots
A torn high-top converse shoe, the result of a rider low-siding during a rainy day. He was only going 12-15 mph at the time. Take a look at the damage. Now, imagine if they had been traveling at a more common road speed of 35-50 mph. Aw snap!
Similarly, I learned this the hard way when I had a gnarly accident while wearing my trusty high-top tennis shoes. As a result, I ended up with severe bruises, as well as soft tissue and ligament damage that still hurts to date, over a year later. And let’s be real, nobody wants to hobble around on crutches for weeks. Although it’s still possible to ride in a cast with a broken wrist, hand, ankle, or leg, given the pain and inconvenience caused by my injuries, it would have been worthwhile to invest in proper motorcycle boots that offer adequate protection, comfort, and durability.
Here are the key benefits you can experience by wearing motorcycle boots:
1. Ride in Style and Experience Superior Durability
See me riding in a cast — a painful reminder that ignorance can lead to injury. Don’t make the same mistake. Prioritize safety and make informed decisions while riding your motorcycle.
The variety of styles, ranging from classic leather designs with buckles and straps to more modern and sleek options with zippers, allow you to choose a boot that suits your personal style and complements your outfit, whether you’re cruising on a Harley or commuting to work on a scooter. And in case of an accident, you have the confidence knowing that they can hold out against a substantial amount of abrasion and impact. In fact, proper motorcycle boots can reduce the risk of open wounds by up to 90%, whereas riding without them increases the risk of foot injuries by six times compared to the 37% of riders who already wear them.
2. Get Extreme Protection Against Heat and Sharp Objects
The rigid outer shell, made of treated tough full- or top-grain leather or micro-fiber materials like Lorica and sometimes double-layered with double or triple stitching, provides excellent protection against flying debris kicked up by the front wheel. Kevlar and Aramid fibers protect you against friction heat in a slide and direct contact from the bike’s hot components, including the exhaust system, as well as sharp and protruding parts. That, and armor plating over the toe, heel, and ankle bone minimizes the risk of injury.
3. Count on Maximum Grip and Waterproofing in All Weather Conditions
The oil-resistant, thick soles sewn onto these shoes, and the waterproof lining in premium boots provide you with excellent grip and stability in wet conditions while also keeping your feet dry. Unlike glued-on soles, the sewn-on soles will last longer and protect you against sharp objects on the road, as well as the bottom of your feet from the center stand lift. Besides, they have a good balance between grip and slip, depending on what you need at the time.
4. Enjoy Convenient Slip-On and Secure Fit Technology
The TCX Dartwood WP Boot with round rope laces for a casual style and an inner zipper for easy entry, while the TCX Terrain 3 WP and REV’IT! Ginza 3 boots have buckles and a hook-and-loop closure, respectively, for a secure fit.
Motorcycle boots are lightweight and offer convenience and ease of use, with removable inner linings, making it easier for you to slip them on and off. High tops, short laces, velcro straps, zips, or clips, or ankle buckles keep them in place by providing a secure fit with no loose bits that could catch on anything. The idea is to stay on your feet throughout, even during a crash.
5. Heavy-Duty Heel Guards for Ultimate Safety and Flexible Pedal Operation
Durable rubber heel guards protect your heels/toes in case of an accident and also prevent the boots from slipping off. They offer additional support to your feet, minimizing fatigue and discomfort as well. Motorcycle boots are also more flexible to work the gear shift and brake pedal, especially the gear shift though, which could be difficult with very stiff work boots.
6. Experience Maximum Comfort for Long Rides
You can use the boots to walk during your ride breaks, and those made with textile materials let in a lot of air (many boots offer a combination of leather and textile materials to get the best of both worlds), making them breathable and comfortable while also feeling secure. Insulation and ventilation keeps your feet warm in winter and cooler in summer. But pay attention to how the boots fit with your socks on to ensure maximum protection. Sizing can be tricky, and’s often best to opt for the smaller size if you fall between sizes. Remember that manufacturers have varying sizing information, and a perfect fit isn’t guaranteed.
Handy Conversion Chart for Boot Sizes Across Different Regions
US Size (Men) 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
US Size (Women) 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
UK Size 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Euro Size 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
JPN Size 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Pro Tip: Any boot with a CE or EN136634 rating is an added bonus. It shows that it has been approved by certification bodies. But don’t rely solely on these ratings as a measure of safety. In Canada and the USA, motorcycle boots may remain uncertified despite providing ample protection. For my money, it’s better to have an understanding of the necessary safety features rather than blindly following European ratings.
A label on an Alpinestars boot that displays the EN136634 rating along with the boot’s US size (9.5), Japanese size (28.5), and Euro size (44).
Are you convinced yet? Now, just like motorcycle pants and jackets, you should buy the right pair of boots based on your intended purpose, needs, and riding style. After all, why settle for anything less than the perfect fit?
Find the Right Motorcycle Shoes for You With These 4 Different Types
I’ve put together a list of 4 different types to consider. Each pair is made with a specific purpose in mind, so depending on your lifestyle and preferences, it’s crucial to find one that will meet your unique needs and demands.
1. Street Motorcycle Boots – Best Casual/Commuter ( Workers/Students)
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Street motorcycle boots combine style, comfort, and safety, making them a versatile option for riding, working, or walking. With moisture-wicking linings, reinforced toes and heels, ankle guards, anti-slip soles, and durable materials like leather, synthetic fabrics, and Gore-Tex, they provide ample protection and support. These features hold up well against daily wear and tear, eliminating the need for extra shoes or frequent changes. A casual observer wouldn’t even notice that these are motorcycle-specific boots, but without the extra key features, they’re not much different from normal work or construction boots.
I recommend street boots as your best option if you’re not into dirt biking, tracking, or racing since they don’t have the required level of torsional and lateral protection for extreme rides. A majority of them also come with laces, which can pose a risk of getting tangled in moving motorcycle parts. Despite this, they’re a more affordable alternative to other types of motorcycle boots.
Top Picks: Best Urban/Street Motorcycle Boots
Best Street Boots Size Average Rating Availability
Alpinestars CR-X Drystar 8-14 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Dainese Street Rocker D-WP 6-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Harley-Davidson Holtman 8-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
TCX Street 3 6-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Revzilla ➤
Harley-Davidson Beau 7-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Alpinestars J-6 WP 7-14 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
2. Sport Motorcycle Boots – Best Race and Track Days
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Unlike their street counterparts, sports motorcycle boots offer torsional and lateral protection, thanks to a hinge system, which prevents injuries, while allowing plenty of ankle articulation to manipulate the controls. You’ll also appreciate the “low-profile” feel that makes it easier to slip your toe under the shifter without feeling clunky. The shock absorbing armor at critical spots, especially in the ankle and shin, is an advantage that sport boots have over regular work or construction boots, which is crucial as you tend to go low when cornering.
For racing or sport riding on paved surfaces, choose sport boots over street or motocross boots. They’re shorter, thinner, and lighter, offering better protection despite the higher cost. You can slide on the road at speeds of up to 300 km/h without causing burns.
Top Picks: Best Sport/Racing Motorcycle Boots
Best Racing Boots Size Average Rating Availability
Alpinestars SMX 6 V2 Vented 3-14 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Dainese Dyno Pro D1 5-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Revzilla ➤
RST TracTech Evo III 7-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Alpinestars SuperTech R 5-14 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Forma Ice Pro Flow 6-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Revzilla ➤
TCX RT-Race 5-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Revzilla ➤
3. Touring Motorcycle Boots – Best Adventure
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Touring boots will suit your needs if you spend a lot of time on the road. With their ergonomic design tailored for long rides on naturally-stanced saddles, they offer superior protection and sturdy construction that surpasses what street boots can provide. These boots come in a mid-to-full height rise that reaches your calves and are intended for foot controls in a more neutral and comfortable posture.
They’re also are thicker than street boots but do not provide as much torsional support as racing or dirt boots. Touring boots can, however, withstand the variety of extreme conditions that riders face on long-distance touring trips. A perfect type for weekend warriors who enjoy the twisties and turns on air-cooled engines.
Top Picks: Best Touring/ADV Motorcycle Boots
Best Touring Boots Size Average Rating Availability
TCX Fuel WP 6-12 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Klim Outlander GTX 7-12 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Alpinestars Ridge v2 7-12 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Kronox PU Leather 8-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Richa Adventure Leather 6-11 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Alpinestars Corozal 7-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
4. Off-Road Motorcycle Boots – Best Motocross/Enduro
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From enduro races and hare scrambles to dual-sport rides and motocross tracks, off-road motorcycle boots prevent ankle and leg twisting with their full-height, rigid construction, and strong soles. This is particularly important as you’ll need to put your feet down for balance on challenging terrain. Normal work or street boots could break a leg.
Off-road boots don’t prioritize abrasion resistance. Twisting, ramming, and jamming your leg is the main concern. MX involves speeds of 50-100 km/h on dirt, and abrasion is not the problem. But they’re bulky and heavy, which makes them uncomfortable for walking and unsuitable for wearing outside of your off-roading session. I recommend having another pair of shoes to switch into afterwards.
Top Picks: Best Motocross/MX Motorcycle Boots
Best Motocross Boots Size Average Rating Availability
O’Neal Rider Pro 7-15 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Fly Racing Dirt Maverik 7-14 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Alpinestars Tech 7 5-16 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Sidi Crossfire 3 SRS 8-10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Gaerne SG-12 7-13 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Thor Blitz XP 7-15 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Revzilla ➤
Café racers, another type of motorcycle boots, offer a range of options for riders seeking specific features and styles. You may consider the sleek and stylish Cortech Slayer Icon El Bajo2 CE, CX Hero WP, and REV’IT! Ginza 3, or the beginner-friendly Sedici Corsa Vented, Street & Steel Oakland, Kronox, APEX, and Tour Master Solution 2.0 WP Air.
And for those who prefer vegan motorcycle boots, don’t miss the chance to try out the Sidi Mag-1 CE, Richa Tracer Evo, RST TracTech Evo 3, TCX SP-Master or Alpinestars SMX-6 V2.
How Work Boots and Motorcycle Boots Compare: Materials, Costs, Pros, and Cons
Category Work Boots Motorcycle Boots
Materials Leather, synthetic materials, reinforced toe and heel areas Leather, synthetic materials, injection-molded armor, calf, and toe sliders
Design Laces Velcro, zippers, laces, buckles, hook and loop fastener
Sizes US men's 6-15, women's 4-12, some half sizes available US men's 7-15, women's 5-12, some half sizes available
Pros Sized for comfort, heat-resistant sole, breathable, different styles Sized for comfort, greater ankle protection, high grip on wet surfaces, decorative designs
Cons Heavy, may not have as much ankle protection or high grip on wet surfaces Expensive, may not be durable for everyday use, uncomfortable for extended periods
Price $50 - $200+ $100 - $500+
Although motorcycle boots may include additional decorative features like steel plates and side zippers, the basic difference between work boots and motorcycle boots is minimal. Both require similar features, including sturdy construction for durability, good traction, thick material for foot protection, footbed and heel structure for shock and vibration protection, comfortable fit, and heat-resistant soles for safety. So, investing in high-quality work boots can serve as an investment in quality motorcycle boots for riding purposes.
With the right work boots, you can confidently hit the road, whether cruising city streets or exploring the great outdoors, knowing your feet are well-protected and comfortable.
Recommended Work Boots Features for Motorcycle Riding
- Comfortable with wiggle room
- Reinforced toe boxes
- Slip-resistant soles with good traction
- Protective shanks and reinforcements
- High-impact resistant
- Thick material
How to Maximize the Lifespan of Your Motorcycle Boots
With all of these available varieties, each with its unique benefits, and the high price tag (motorcycle boots are not cheap), it’s important that you take care of your safety gear from time to time. Proper maintenance and care can make a leather boot last up to 20 years, while a textile one can last between 5 and 10 years.
Top Picks: Best Motorcycle Boot Cleaners and Conditioners
Best Boot Cleaners and Conditioners Size (Ounces) Average Rating Availability
Leather Honey Leather Conditioner 8 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Chemical Guys Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towels Pack of 12 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Bickmore Specially Formulated Leather Spray 8 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
WD-40 Specialist® Silicone Stuck Zipper Lubricant 11 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Doc Bailey's Original Leather Black Detail Kit 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Revivex Durable Spray Water Repellent 10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Leather Therapy Leather Wash 8 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Weiman Leather Cleaner Wipes 20 Wipes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Daytona Boots Leather Polish 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Revzilla ➤
DryGuy Travel Dry DX Shoe & Boot Dryer and Warmer 21.2 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazon ➤
Concluding Thoughts: Can I Wear Regular Boots on a Motorcycle?
Just like motorcycle helmets and leathers, proper footwear comes into its own when you unexpectedly come off the motorcycle at speed. Regular boots might do in a pinch, but why take the risk when you can ride in style and safety? So, can you wear regular boots on a motorcycle? Sure, you can. But why settle for “good enough” when you can have the best?
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, corporate, and non-profit organizations:
Efficacy of Shoes and Boots in Preventing Motorcycle-Related Ankle Inversion
Effectiveness of Protective Clothing for Motorized 2-Wheeler Riders
Motorcycle Protective Clothing