What Does a Motorcycle Boot Offer That a Regular Boot Would Not?

rp_Roadking18.jpgSomeone wrote to me recently to ask, “What does a motorcycle boot offer that a regular boot would not?” He said that he read comments and posts on various on-line forums and thought that he would ask for my opinion. So what do I think?

To most people, a boot is a boot. Anything that gives over-the-ankle coverage is okay, right?

Well, not so fast.

Chipfire205Boots designed for use when operating a motorcycle provide more crash protection than other types and styles of boots — work boots, hiking boots, military boots, or worst — cowboy boots with smooth leather soles. Now you aren’t going to crash, right? So why worry about that?

Motorcycle boots also designed to help you operate the motorcycle–no laces to get caught in moving parts; they have low heels so you don’t catch a heel when mounting or dismounting the bike; and most of all, motorcycle boots have soles that provide better traction.

I have commented frequently on this blog about the importance of traction provided by quality boot soles. This feature alone makes all the difference in motorcycle boots vs. any other boot.

You may say, “my work boots have lug soles,” and if they do, that’s terrific. Are those soles oil-resistant? If so, great! If not, then you could have a situation occur to you that happened to me twice — embarrassing and painful, both — that as I was parking my heavy Harley, I planted my left boot on the pavement, then slowly leaned the bike toward the sidestand, and my foot slipped sideways and I almost (almost!) dropped the bike. If it weren’t for a very sturdy sidestand, then I’d be flat on my side with broken bones most likely.

Chippitstop06Oil-resistant boot soles give better (not perfect, but better) traction when encountering the oiliest part of your entire motorcycle experience: that dreaded black asphalt parking lot. You can’t see the oil left from other vehicles that parked there before you. You say to yourself, “I don’t park in the middle — I park on the right track of the space to avoid that oil!” Yep, good on you — and then where do you plant your foot when dismounting? Right in the middle of the space where all the oil collects. ‘nuf said — oil resistant lug soles on motorcycle boots are a must. Every time. And is why sneakers are NOT a good choice whatsoever — their soles are not oil resistant.

Chipharness99So, back to the motorcycle boot question. If you can only afford a pair of boots you wear for work, why not them? Well, work boots are better than sneakers, that’s for sure! Seldom-considered, though, is that most work boots have a rather round and larger toe box, which can be a problem for some guys to get the boot under the shifter of a motorcycle when moving the shift lever upwards (usually this is to engage first gear.) Boots made for motorcycle wear have a less bulky toe box, better designed to work with a shifting lever on a motorcycle.

Further, most work boots have laces that can come loose and get tangled in moving parts on a bike and let cold air in around the laces. (That can make a huge difference when riding in even moderately cool weather.)

Also, as I was researching information for this post, I read something interesting: laced work boots often have hooks instead of eyes at the top 3 or 4 lace connections. Those hooks can catch and rip motorcycle saddles when sliding your foot across the seat to mount or dismount. Also, laces can abrade in a crash, break, and allow the boot to come off.

Non-laced motorcycle boots like a decent pair of harness or engineer boots won’t do that. Save up some bucks and get yourself a pair of Chippewa motorcycle boots which are affordable and USA-made.

rp_Chipnonsteel08.jpgI cannot let a post about motorcycle boots go by without commenting on how most guys approach boots — “whatever” is the common mantra, and “cheap” is the common focus. The latter first — cheap boots made in China will fall apart, will not offer much protection in a crash, and usually have crappy non-oil-resistant soles. Don’t fall for marketing hype or the cheap price. “You get what you pay for.” Why look like you don’t care and that you’re cheap? Pony up the bucks for a decent pair of USA-made Chippewas and you will have a far superior boot that other guys will admire (and not think of you as a cheapo.)

Now, “whatever?” Sure, “whatever” is okay to say when the spouse yammers with the next nag, but not about choosing the right boot for the right application. Now that you are better informed, you know what to do.

Life is short: wear motorcycle boots when riding a motorcycle. Every time. Period. No question.

1 thought on “What Does a Motorcycle Boot Offer That a Regular Boot Would Not?

  1. As much as old school motorcycle boots look cool, they don’t provide any real crush or lateral protection, especially at the ankles. Modern mc boots help reduce or eliminate that potential for damage. I was in a crash where my ankle got twisted around under the bike and because of the boot (tcx infinity), I escaped with just a sore ankle.

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