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Old 08-20-2008, 01:10 PM   #1
Goodwill OP
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What is it with motorcycle boots?

Since I started riding, I have been using regular, non-moto boots for the last year or so. Your typical construction-zone leather boot, with toe-caps, laces up to the top, all the way over the ankle and whatnot.

Now, they're going to the bin, because, well, they were pretty damn near dead when I started to use them on my bike, so...

I find myself checking for moto boots and... WOW! That's expensive! By motorcycle standards, I'm pretty much on a tight budget... No BMWs for Lil' Will...

So I slowly start to think I'd be better buying other construction boots like the ones I was using, since they can be used both on the bike and in my yard, rooftop, shed, etc. Multifunction boots if you like.

My question: is there any reason why I should buy specific motorcycle boots? What does a motorcycle boot offers that a regular boot wouldn't?
I am aware of the fact that the boot must cover the ankle. I am simply NOT aware of any other safety-related stuff in regards to boots.

P.S. I only ride on street.

thanks in advance!
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Old 08-20-2008, 01:26 PM   #2
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Probably the biggest difference with decent moto boots lies in the molded protection covering the ankles, torsional stiffness to protect against twisting the ankles and the main part of the foot around or down past it's breaking point, and usually better shin protection.

I've seen people still get foot injuries with good boots in trackday get-offs. But I would hate to have seen their feet with lesser non-specialized boots.

I won't bore you with details, but the worst I've ever been injured on a bike was soft tissue damage to my left ankle when I endoed a dirt bike wearing pull-on style boots back in the 1970s (the old Dingo style boots with the three decorative straps connected with a ring on one side).

Once you know what size you wear in Euro sizing by actually trying on some boots, start shopping the Fleamarket on here, the IBMWR.com Marketplace, and I think you can get into the BMW MOA Classifieds without being a member. I just picked up some like new Sidi Champions for $100 just by shopping around the online ads. I've also had good luck twice getting really nice moto boots for my daughter on Ebay. And when she outgrew the first pair of Daytona Lady Stars, I sold them back on Ebay for almost what I paid.

A little diligence and patience can get you good protection at a reasonable price. How long can you afford to be out of work with an injury? I was on crutches and out of work with no insurance for 8 weeks in the accident I alluded to above. Boots available these days wouldn't have prevented injuries, but probably would have reduced the extent a fair amount.
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:09 PM   #3
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Some--not all--MC boots provide more crash protection than work boots, hiking boots, or military boots. That's the simple fact. They are also designed to help you operate the motorcycle--no strings to get caught, low heels, reinforced shift pads, soles that provide better traction on the street, etc. Some riding boots simply look like work boots that are dyed black with a H-D logo on them.

Having said that, I'm not one of those people who believe you're gonna for sure crash and you're gonna for sure get a crushed and mangled foot if you dare ride in anything but expensive motorcycle boots.

If you can afford separate pairs of work boots and motorcycle boots, then maybe you should buy both. However, there are plenty of people out there riding in Vietnam-era combat boots and hiking boots from Cabelas. They are certainly better equipped than a lot of other people I see riding around here. Do you have a decent riding jacket? What about your helmet? Maybe you invest in other gear if you already have sturdy workboots.

Bear in mind that I'm a gear whore if ever there was one. I have $1,000 invested in riding boots alone, but I don't think you'd be irresponsible by riding in your work boots.

Oh... a motocross or off-road boot will have a lot more protection because you will fall more often and your chances of injuring you feet increase manyfold. Of course, they are just about impossible to walk in, and you look like a Power Ranger in them. But if that's the look you're going for...

This is, of course, my opinion. Others will disagree. Screw them! Listen to ME!!!
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:17 PM   #4
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Oh man...is Mark right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark1305
Probably the biggest difference with decent moto boots lies in the molded protection covering the ankles, torsional stiffness to protect against twisting the ankles and the main part of the foot around or down past it's breaking point, and usually better shin protection.

I've seen people still get foot injuries with good boots in trackday get-offs. But I would hate to have seen their feet with lesser non-specialized boots.

I won't bore you with details, but the worst I've ever been injured on a bike was soft tissue damage to my left ankle when I endoed a dirt bike wearing pull-on style boots back in the 1970s (the old Dingo style boots with the three decorative straps connected with a ring on one side).

Once you know what size you wear in Euro sizing by actually trying on some boots, start shopping the Fleamarket on here, the IBMWR.com Marketplace, and I think you can get into the BMW MOA Classifieds without being a member. I just picked up some like new Sidi Champions for $100 just by shopping around the online ads. I've also had good luck twice getting really nice moto boots for my daughter on Ebay. And when she outgrew the first pair of Daytona Lady Stars, I sold them back on Ebay for almost what I paid.

A little diligence and patience can get you good protection at a reasonable price. How long can you afford to be out of work with an injury? I was on crutches and out of work with no insurance for 8 weeks in the accident I alluded to above. Boots available these days wouldn't have prevented injuries, but probably would have reduced the extent a fair amount.
I just got back from Westfest...a little early...because of a leg injury. Mark mentions his ankle injury. All I had was a stupid tip-over in off camber terrain while I was getting off the bike to take a leak...engine stopped and bike in gear. My KLR handlebar nailed my left calf just off the centerline of the front of my shin...no broken bones or other serious injury...just a deep tissue bruise. Here's a pic of what it looks like now...and no...my leg is not normally that fat. I cannot imagine what this would have looked like or how bad a bone break I would have had without a true MX-style boot being worn at the time. I was wearing a very middle-of-the-road priced MSR MX boot, but it's way better than the alternative. Can you imagine how many pairs of MX boots I could have bought when compared to the ER trip and doctor bills that I'm sure this would have generated? Not to mention that this happened out in a decently remote area...Stony Pass area...in the Silverton, CO area. Protective gear of the appropriate quality is always more than worth the money.

Mark's other comments are all spot-on, and I only wanted to point out a current and personal perspective on the results of actually wearing decent protective gear generally and MX boots specifically.

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Old 08-20-2008, 02:34 PM   #5
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As far as street boots, you'll find a greater difference in the way the details of good motorcycle boots make it easier to control the motorcycle. You're more in control with good street riding boots (leaving aside the cruiser/Hardley crap).

With MX boots, the opposite is probably true -- it'd probably be easier to ride in work boots, but you gladly give that up to get greater protection, especially from the so-common crushing, twisting, and bending injuries off-road.


As far as protection for street riding (where you don't generally fall off nine times a day), good leather work boots are not all that far removed from good touring boots. Touring boots usually add ankle bone protection, a stiffer sole, and possibly a sturdier toe box. Sportier boots add more protection features, but become less useful for wearing at work and such.

On the street, I think good LEATHER work boots are a perfectly reasonable compromise. I crashed at about 35mph while wearing a pair of Wolverines last year, and my feet were fine, and I still wear the boots. (Broke my femur on the curb, but that wasn't the boots' fault...)

In the dirt, I'd definitely pony up for MX boots -- they'll save your hooves several times a day.

On the track, I'd likewise pay up for good protective sporty boots.

On tour, I think good waterproof touring boots are well worth the money, but work or hiking boots are fine with with me.

For everyday use and commuting, work boots work for me. I tend to switch off between my touring boots and work boots, depending on which pair is less stinky that day.
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:49 PM   #6
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One other thing people forget about with motorcycle boots is the lack of exposed laces. Most work boots have laces that can abrade in a crash, break, and allow the boot to come off. Leather covered zippers and velcro won't allow that.

As for pull-on boots. If you can pull them on, the road can pull them off in a crash. Then you end up with hamburgers for feet.
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Old 08-20-2008, 04:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bayou Boy
One other thing people forget about with motorcycle boots is the lack of exposed laces. Most work boots have laces that can abrade in a crash, break, and allow the boot to come off. Leather covered zippers and velcro won't allow that.
Also, laces can get caught on foot pegs as you're trying to drop your foot to the ground resulting in a dropped bike. Laced work boots often have hooks instead of eyes for the top couple of inches. Those hooks have been known to catch and rip saddles when sliding your foot across the seat to mount.

Not that either of those things have ever happened to me.

// marc
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Old 08-20-2008, 04:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodwill
Since I started riding, I have been using regular, non-moto boots for the last year or so. Your typical construction-zone leather boot, with toe-caps, laces up to the top, all the way over the ankle and whatnot.

Now, they're going to the bin, because, well, they were pretty damn near dead when I started to use them on my bike, so...

I find myself checking for moto boots and... WOW! That's expensive! By motorcycle standards, I'm pretty much on a tight budget... No BMWs for Lil' Will...

So I slowly start to think I'd be better buying other construction boots like the ones I was using, since they can be used both on the bike and in my yard, rooftop, shed, etc. Multifunction boots if you like.

My question: is there any reason why I should buy specific motorcycle boots? What does a motorcycle boot offers that a regular boot wouldn't?
I am aware of the fact that the boot must cover the ankle. I am simply NOT aware of any other safety-related stuff in regards to boots.

P.S. I only ride on street.

thanks in advance!
Best answer is example -

Smack your shins with a hammer, first wearing the MX boots then the work boots... Think of that as a limb or a rock on some trail.

Then borrow a light ATV and run over one or both feet, first with the MX boots on , then with the work boots on.
There may be a time lead necessary between tests, since you'll need healing time after each test when wearing the work boots.

Now you have your answer!


I've not smacked my shins with a hammer, but plenty of limbs and other stuff like the footpeg or a rock when wearing the old Lineman Boots back in the early 70s and then with the HiPoints in the late 70s. I do REALLY prefer the HiPoints. I have, however, run over both feet simultaneously when riding an old Honda ATC200S, when I put my feet down like I would have on a bike. Cleaned the mud off the back of the boots and shocked me a bit. No injuries though.
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Old 08-20-2008, 05:37 PM   #9
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I've been wondering the same thing--are motorcycle boots worth the extra money? Are they that different?

I tried on a couple boots at lunch time (see my BMW Street Sneakers thread in this section) and I stopped at a couple shoe stores after work. The Street Sneakers, while not very protective (they aren't MX, and are designed for....the Street) they do go over the ankle and have some extra ankle protection molded in. They lace up, but have a leather flap that velcros over the laces. They have a tapered toe and the left boot has a shifter wear pad. They were quite comfortable, too.

I was thinking that I could get something as protective (again, the Street Sneakers don't seem to offer much protection) for cheaper at the shoe store. I looked at Columbia, Timberland, Nevados, Wolverine, Doc Martins, Catepiller, etc. I came to the same conclusion each time--if the shoe was tall enough to go over the ankle, then the toe cap was extremely tall. All of them laced up and didn't offer anything to cover the laces.

I personally have 2 reasons for looking for appropriate boots: 1) Safety for commuting--I'm not off-roading, but I am traveling at 50MPH (and when I-64 opens back up, I'll likely be on it going 70 MPH) and 2) I don't want my regular shoes ruined by road grime, shifter wear, or if my old Nighthawk decides to sputter some oil at some point.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marchyman
Also, laces can get caught on foot pegs as you're trying to drop your foot to the ground resulting in a dropped bike. Laced work boots often have hooks instead of eyes for the top couple of inches. Those hooks have been known to catch and rip saddles when sliding your foot across the seat to mount.

Not that either of those things have ever happened to me.

// marc
I've seen it happen right in front of me to a friend. Broke his mirror, it was an expensive lesson.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:50 PM   #11
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I think one of the things to keep in mind is that he specified that he only rides on the street. I'm looking at boot right now, and was planning on getting a pair of military combat boots, as I dislike having to reshine the boots every time I use them. Especially the left boot.

But I was just reading the idea of pavement grinding laces off, then pulling the boot off, and I thought of tanker boots

What are your thoughts, they seem to be all leather, keeping in mind that they are only for street use.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:24 PM   #12
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I hear what is being said about off road vs on road.

I have bashed and smashed my feet and shins an incredible amount off road. I'm positive that I would have wasted much of this riding season (MI) with a broken foot if it was not for my MX boots. And there were multiple events that would have caused injury.

However, my street machine is north of 550#. If I have a spill, impact, or slide where my feet take the weight of the motorcycle I need more than hiking boots. Granted the frequency of events is tremendously lower with a street machine, but the possible injuries that could result are astounding once the event starts to unfold.

IMHO there are a significant number of perfectly crappy motorcycle specific street boots out there. The things need a stiff enough sole that your foot won't physically get crushed when the machine falls on it during an event. They need thick enough sides to prevent wear through during a reasonable slide. Then also need to be tall enough to prevent injury as high as your footpeg is likely to stab and maul you.

Oddly many hiking boots cover this ground better than the nasty motorcycle boots I found on the shelf at several MC shops. Some boots that are cheap seemed to suck, but a few expensive models seemed poor too. Floppy soles was one repeated offense. If I can fold and deform the sole with my thumbs, there is no way it will hold up in a crash. My foot would be smashed.

I'm satisfied with the compromise of my Fly Stinger shorty boots. I ride my ZRX in them and think they fit the niche between MX boots and simple leather boots.
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:08 PM   #13
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I also know two riders that started wearing motorcycle specific footwear after they broke their ankles while riding with work boots.
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:40 PM   #14
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Been in four on road crashes never had a foot problem with regular boots. Known people who have been in at least 30 crashes combined on the street without any feet issues including one that is in a wheel chair for life. It can happen but I don't think it is very likely. I also don't think most motorcyle road boots will offer a great amount of protection over regular work boots but that is personal opinion. To my knowledge no 3rd party tests these motorcycle boots and their designs to actually figure out what is better so you are likely just going on what someone thinks is better. In these instances usually putting a bigger price tag on an item causes a consumer to think it is better. Often it is, but keep in mind you are buying the rep of a company often more-so than a proven product. I can remember when hard plastic/metal armor in jackets was best until someone tested the stuff and found out soft cell armor was better for most crashes.

Off road... wear MX boots. Your chances of something jumping up and wacking your foot or leg is pretty high most places people ride dirt bikes.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:16 PM   #15
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Laces can split open on in a crash,
Steel toes and chop off your toes and make it hard to shift.
Workboots don't last as long under the shifter (no shift pad)

and most of them don't have ankle padding of any sort.

My last three pairs of high quality road boots
(all of them made by SIDI) have lasted me many year
on pair is now old enough to drive (16 years old) and still a totally functional motorcycle boot.

I used to ride in Docs (dr. marten brand work boots)
Until I had a sit down with an old guy who busted up his foot while wearing the old lace logger boots that flat track racers would wear in the early 70's

I've been happy with motorcycle boots ever since.
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