Without the added benefit and security afforded by a steel cage with airbags, seatbelts, and crumple zones, motorcycle riders are exposed to markedly more hazards than the drivers of the four-wheeled machines with which they share the roads. And while riding on two-wheels is objectively more dangerous than driving, motorcyclists can massively mitigate their likelihood of an injury by arming themselves with a quality set of protective riding gear.
Riding jackets, gloves, and helmets admittedly do tend to receive most of the attention when discussing safety gear, though moto boots play an equally important role in shielding riders from danger and injuries. While there’s absolutely no shortage of stellar riding shoes and boots to pick from, there are a number of models that stand above the rest, representing the finest moto-specific footwear currently on the market. And it’s this crop of items that we’ll be exploring today in this guide to the best motorcycle riding boots and shoes you can buy.
Foot Fortification 101
The 10 Main Factors To Consider When Buying Motorcycle Footwear
Today’s moto-specific footwear market encompasses an enormous array of offerings, ranging from casual sneaker-style moto shoes to wildly robust full-length adventure riding boots. However, regardless of what style you’re shopping for, there are a few handy tips that will help you hone in on the pair that’s best for you and your particular riding style. Below, we’ll briefly touch on ten of the most crucial areas to think about before pulling the trigger on your purchase.
Intended Use: How you plan on using your riding boots or shoes should serve as a jumping-off point for your purchase, as your intended riding application(s) should hugely narrow down your list. The trick here is to review the main genres that comprise this space, and then select from one that’s most conducive to the main type of riding you plan on doing.
Style: Ultimately, the main guiding factor in your decision should very much be intended use, though there’s also nothing wrong with allowing your aesthetic tastes to at least partially influence your purchase. Luckily, today’s moto footwear market boasts an enormous array of different styles of items, practically guaranteeing the fact you can find a pair that aligns with your personal tastes while still representing a sensible choice in relation to your riding style and/or intended use.
Range Of Motion: Full-length boots undeniably afford the highest levels of protection, though they can sometimes do so at the cost of agility and dexterity, greatly limiting one’s range of motion. When shopping for full-length moto footwear it’s important to look into this area, as certain pairs do a much better job at not restricting one’s movement. Short-length boots can also be a great option, as their range of motion is pretty much entirely unencumbered.
Armor: In addition to providing protection against slides and abrasions, many of today’s best riding boots also feature built-in armor — typically of the D30 variety — which adds another degree of protection in the form of cutting-edge impact resistance. Considering that one’s feet are fairly prone to taking blunt force impacts in the event of a crash, armor is another wildly crucial area to explore when shopping for riding boots or shoes.
Materials: It’s hard to overstate the importance of the type of construction used to create a pair of riding boots, as this, more than any other factor, plays an enormous role in determining a pair’s overall quality. Leather, proprietary textiles, and high-denier nylons are fairly common, though it’s also worth exploring the materials used to craft smaller elements on a pair of boots such as the toe sliders (and toe pads), outsoles, and adjustment points or buckles. And almost as important as the materials used in a pair of boots is the construction technique(s) used to piece them together, as this latter area will have a tremendous impact on longevity and durability.
Fitment: In order to perform their job properly, motorcycle boots need to fit precisely and snugly. Being produced in a wide array of sizes and coming equipped with lacing systems obviously help with this area, though many of today’s best pieces of moto-specific footwear also sport a myriad of adjustment points to further fine-tune the fitment of particular areas. This aspect is even more crucial when dealing with full-length boots, whether they be of the adventure or track-focused variety.
Comfort: Comfort is of extreme importance when buying any pair of boots, and moto footwear is no different. These items need to pull off a somewhat delicate balancing act, affording ample protection from injuries and the elements while still being comfortable enough to use on a daily basis — a trait that’s typically achieved through the use of padding, plush insoles, and soft liners.
Weatherproofing: When riding a motorcycle, your feet are largely exposed to the elements, so if you’re a rider that lives in a particularly high-precipitation area or commutes rain or shine, weatherproofing is of extreme importance. Fortunately, there’s a slew of top-notch riding shoes and boots that come equipped with robust levels of weather protection in the form of waterproof primary constructions that are often backed by the use of advanced membranes. Some pieces of moto footwear are also outfitted with insulation to help ward off the cold.
Additional Features: Primary materials, armor, and construction technique are some of the most important areas to be considering when shopping in this space, however, there are undoubtedly other supplementary amenities on modern moto boots that are well-worth exploring. This includes elements such as proprietary closure systems and name-brand and/or antimicrobial footbeds, just to name a few.
Brand: Though there are occasional outliers, most brands tend to exhibit a similar level of quality and craftsmanship across the board for all of their respective offerings. Armed with this information, you can typically get a decent sense of a pair of boots’ overall quality by examining other products made under the same label.
Adventure Riding Boots
Riding out on the open road exposes riders to certain hazards, though off-road exploration opens bikers up to an even greater set of dangers and variables. As such, moto gear brands have specifically engineered boots from the ground up to lend themselves to hardcore off-road adventure riding — three of the best of which we’ve highlighted below.
Touratech DESTINO Adventure Boots
Though they’ve now been on the market for roughly half a decade, the DESTINO Adventure boots from Touratech — which is unequivocally one of the most respected names in the off-road and adventure riding gear realm — still represent some of the finest ADV style boots that money can buy. Available in black or brown color options, these boots feature a leather and CORDURA construction, steel toe caps, an antibacterial footbed, plastic shin guards, an OutDry membrane, a robust triple buckle fastening system, and an included removable inner pair of boots for wearing around camp.
Main Construction: Waxed Full-Grain Leather & CORDURA
Closure System: Three-Buckle
Outsole: Oil-Resistant Rubber
Born out of more than two years of research and development, Fuel Motorcycles’ Paratroops are a retro-inspired pair of off-road-ready full-length moto footwear that are modeled after US WWII M43 Combat Boots. Combining unmistakably vintage aesthetics with modern, high-end materials, the Paratroops are comprised of vegetable-tanned full-grain calf leather uppers paired with a bovine leather interior, insole, and a lock-stitched outsole. In addition to sporting waxed laces and heavy-duty buckles, these artisan-made boots also feature polyurethane reinforcements at key areas like the toe, ankle, and heel.
Main Construction: Vegetable tanned Full-Grain Calf Leather
Closure System: Lace & Buckle
Outsole: Wear-Resistant, Antislip Rubber
Klim Adventure GTX Boots
Another stellar pair of modern ADV boots made by an immensely reputable off-road brand, Klim’s Adventure GTX Boots are constructed atop an ultra-grippy Michelin winter compound outsole and feature a full GORE-TEX membrane, 5mm XRD impact-absorbing foam padding, a rugged polycarbonate midsole, a reinforced shin plate, a moisture-wicking liner, and an antimicrobial gel-stable insole (plus an included spare Ortholite conventional insole). An ultra-precise fit is afforded through the use of a BOA Fit system that’s helped along by a shielded lace system and an ankle cam buckle adjuster.
Main Construction: Full-Grain Leather
Armor: XRD Foam
Closure System: BOA Fit
Outsole: Michelin Winter Compound
Vintage-Inspired Moto Footwear
Over the last decade, the motorcycling public has massively embraced all-things retro, ushering in an ever-growing selection of vintage-inspired production motorcycles as well as an equally expansive array of retro-influenced riding gear — very much including the footwear sector. Below we’ve rounded up three of our favorite old-school-style cafe riding boots to complement any retro-style load out.
Alpinestars Oscar Monty V2 Boots
Alpinestars’ Oscar lineup infuses old-school designs with contemporary materials to yield retro-style pieces of riding gear backed by modern levels of protection. Case in point, Astars’ second-generation Oscar Monty boots — a timeless-looking pair of riding boots that look great whether on or off the bike. Crafted around a set of 1.4mm – 1.6mm full-grain bovine leather uppers, the Oscar Monty V2 conceals protective ankle discs as well as dual density ankle medial and external cups, plus a reinforced heel counter. Now sporting a newly added welt to achieve a more genuine retro appearance, the boots also feature an external lace system that’s supplemented via a hidden side zipper.
Main Construction: 1.6mm Bovine Leather
Closure System: Lace & Hidden Side Zipper
RSD x White’s Foreman Boots
Created through a collaboration between custom motorcycle and lifestyle brand Roland Sands Design and famed heritage footwear brand White’s Boots, this limited-edition version of the Foreman model takes what is already one of the finest American-made work boots on the market and bestows it with Roland Sands’ signature design flourish, treating the boots to 6″ full-grain water-resistant chrome-excel leather uppers supplemented via toe-shift pads, an Ortholite padded insole, leather laces, and a Vibram Cristy Crepe outsole. Made entirely by hand, these boots — which are available in two color choices — also sport a stitched-down mid-sole and are built on White’s legendary 610 last.
Main Construction: Water-Resistant Full-Grain Chrome-Excel Leather
Closure System: Lace
Outsole: Vibram Cristy Crepe
AETHER Moto Boot
The plainly-named AETHER Moto Boot is the result of the company setting out to engineer the ultimate spare-no-expense pair of retro-style riding boots, meticulously piecing them together using some of the finest modern materials that money can buy. Handmade in Portugal, AETHER’s Moto Boot boasts vegetable-tanned Italian leather uppers equipped with a riveted speed lacing system, a reinforced toe shift pad, leather liners and footbed, and built-in cutting-edge D30 ankle armor. Built atop a Vibram Commando-style outsole, this model — which is offered in black or tan colorways and is sold with an included extra pair of different color laces — also sports a full leather welt and blake-stitch accenting with blue waxed-nylon threading.
Main Construction: Vegetable-Tanned Italian Leather
Closure System: Lace
Outsole: Vibram Commando
Everyday Commuter Riding Options
Commuting on two-wheels on a daily basis comes with its own unique challenges, needing to provide solid protection without being bogged down by unnecessary features that will get little use when riding to and from the office. What’s more, these items need to do a better job of blending in and not standing out as pieces of riding gear, leading to some surprisingly sleek models that still afford high levels of protection. Below, we’ve scoured the moto footwear sector to shine a light on a trio of the best casual daily-wear boots currently available.
MotoBailey ElBulli Boots
A thoroughly dapper take on a pair of casual riding boots, the MotoBailey ElBulli is an attractive example of regular-looking moto-specific footwear that conceals a host of modern safety features. The ElBulli’s French leather uppers hide a full Kevlar liner under a stylish plaid interior, as well as built-in polyurethane ankle armor. In fact, a reinforced toe pad is the only element on these boots that readily announce themselves as being of the moto variety. Based in Texas, the boutique brand behind these boots also produces all of its wares entirely by hand, the ElBulli very much included.
Main Construction: Full-Grain French Leather
Membrane: Kevlar Lining
Closure System: Lace
Alpinestars Speedforce Shoes
Engineered to perform at high levels both on and off the bike, Alpinestars’ Speedforce model is a hybrid-style pair of moto footwear modeled after contemporary running shoes. Built around the company’s Transversal Protection Frame, the Speedforce features Softprene slip sock-style uppers made from Chamatex’s proprietary MATRYX material — an advanced textile crafted from high tenacity polyamide (or polyester). Alongside a running-focused 8mm drop, other noteworthy elements include a hidden set of dual-density medial and lateral TPU disks, internal shift pads, a PU midsole, reinforced toe and heel counters, and an ergonomic Ortholite “insock.”
Main Construction: Matryx
Armor: Dual-Density TPU
Closure System: Lace
Outsole: Deep-Lug Rubber
REV’IT! Astro Shoes
Taking inspiration from old-school athletic kicks from the ’80s and ’90s, REV’IT!’s Astro Shoes resemble your average pair of sneakers while packing a host of impressive materials and safety features. Underneath an outer shell crafted from 3D Air Mesh and Nubuck leather, the shoes sport injected ankle cups and thermoformed heel and toe caps, high-visibility reflective hits, and a full leather lining. Produced in a trio of color options, the Astro shoes also feature a breathable perforated and padded tongue, leather shift pads, and OrthoLite X40 foam insoles.
Main Construction: 3D Air Mesh & Nubuck Leather
Armor: OrthoLite X40 & Thermoformed Armor
Closure System: Lace
Sport & Track Boots
Supersport and superbike models represent the absolute pinnacle of performance on two-wheels, aiming to exact the highest speeds and lowest lap times from these race-derived machines. Unsurprisingly, this type of riding requires an equally specific and high-performance selection of riding gear, including purpose-built footwear. Below are three of the finest sport and track-focused riding boots that money can buy.
Alpinestars Faster 3 Rideknit Shoes
Motorcycle gear offering high levels of protection can at times be seriously lacking in airflow and temperature regulation — a known problem that ultimately prompted Alpinestars to engineer its Faster 3 Rideknit Shoes. Available in a whopping eight different colorways, these CE-rated riding shoes are outfitted with uppers made from a combination of knitted mesh and seamless thermo-welded microfibers. A 3D mesh lining and a full suite of ventilation intake and exhaust ports further improve the model’s already excellent airflow. Additional highlights include a replaceable EVA footbed with a Lycra lining, TPR sliders and heel counters, TPU ankle guards, a traditional lace closure system supplemented via a lateral adjustable hook and loop closure setup, and medial dual density ankle protectors.
Main Construction: Thermo-Welded Microfiber & Knitted Mesh
Armor: TPR & TPU
Closure System: Lace
Outsole: Extremely Lightweight Textured Rubber Compound
SIDI Rex Boots
SIDI’s Rex model is an objectively pro-grade, competition-spec pair of track-focused riding boots that are brimming with noteworthy features. Secured via SIDI’s proprietary Tecno-3 Push closure system, the boot’s uppers are comprised of the brand’s exclusive Technomicro base material which has been paired with padded elastic panels to allow for a completely unrestricted range of motion. It doesn’t stop there, however, as this model also features a fiberglass-infused nylon ankle support brace, reinforced double-stitching in all key high-stress areas, a breathable liner made up of anti-abrasion Cambrelle and perforated Teflon-treated nylon, DuPont polymer toe shift pads, nylon-reinforced fiberglass toe sliders with intake ports and alloy inserts, and dual-compound outsoles.
Main Construction: Technomicro Composite Microfiber
Armor: DuPont Polymer & Padded Elastic
Closure System: Tecno-3 Push
Dainese Axial Gore-Tex Boots
An exact replica of the race-spec boots worn by a slew of top-level MotoGP and WSBK riders, the Dainese Axial GTX model affords unparalleled levels of protection thanks to the implementation of some incredibly advanced technologies and materials. Offering better feedback and feel than its already wildly-impressive predecessor — as well as now sporting a full GORE-TEX membrane — the latest iteration of this boot is equipped with Dainese’s aramid and carbon fiber D-Axial frame system — which protects its wearer’s ankle from twisting and impacts — as well as microfiber uppers backed by cowhide leather and ultra-hardwearing D-Stone fabric inserts. What’s more, this model also features a nylon heel, replaceable magnesium sliders, and a zipper-secure back paired with a front speed lacing system.
Main Construction: Microfiber, D-Stone Fabric, & Split Cowhide
Armor: D-Axial System
Closure System: Speed-Lacing System
The 15 Best Motorcycle Gloves
Now that you’ve figured out what you’ll be wearing on your feet while riding, why not check out our list of the best motorcycle gloves you can buy for more than a dozen of the finest moto mitts on the market.
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