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Risk Hierarchy: Information - Rider Ed - Driver Ed - Conspicuity - Bike Defect - Ultra-Defensive Riding - Crash Avoidance - Injury Mitigation - Crash Scene

Helmet  Motorcycle Boots

Wikipedia on boots.

Our feet are very vulnerable. They are often injured from contact with roadside furniture like crash barriers, and can also be crushed by the bike itself when going down. We also hear of foot and lower leg injuries from projected road debris like 'alligators'. They need to have good grip so we can maintain our footing when stopped.

Boots

Maids found that 47% of riders in crashes had footwear that prevented or reduced foot injuries, while only 38% of riders had no contact in the foot area. Feet are vulnerable, over-the-ankle boots are effective in protecting the feet and lower leg against injury.

These are the type of boots we like for general touring and street use. Other styles of boots are discussed in the Wiki article, including racing, engineer and motocross boots.

As an economy alternative, work boots and police-style boots, available from discount stores, give a lot of protection for not much cash. We've found that the lace opening lets in a lot of wind chill in colder weather in boots like this. For winter use, basic engineer boots from on-line discount leather sites, lacking a lace opening, might be a better budget alternative. They don't have as much protection as the boot style pictured, but might be a reasonable economy/comfort tradeoff for cold weather if combined with thick or multiple pairs of socks. We don't find engineer boots to be comfortable for walking around at a destination event.

dork alert

There are not many dork alert issues with boots. You can always wear your pants over your boots if you think what you have on is a bit dorky.

Maintenance

We note an increasing number of boots come with a one-piece bonded sole that is something like a sneaker sole. We find that these boots, while they can be quite expensive - over $300 - are not resoleable.

Lee Parks, in his book 'Total Control' discussed this issue and recommends, if you want a high-end boot, ordering from a domestic manufacturer, where you can still get a standard, maintainable sole and often custom sizing for the same or less than throwaway, bonded sole boots.

We'll be ordering from one of these suppliers when our famous-brand, expensive European bonded-sole boots wear out (soon).

Z Custom      Bates Custom Leathers      Cruiserworks

We don't expect to spend any more than we did for our Euro boots. In fact, we think we'll pay less for custom-fitted boots.

Comfort:

It's important to get a good fit, and a gore-tex lining ensures good rain protection. We get better results trying them on in the store. Use mink oil or another treatment recommended by the manufacturer every so often to maintain the waterproofing in the boot. A low heel and high-grip sole is important for bike stability when stopped. If you have pegs rather than floorboards, you really need a steel or fiberglass shank to avoid pain and fatigue in the instep area. A gel-filled insert is nice for those long rides.

A well-fitted leather boot with a zipper closure, because it fits better, can be quite comfortable if you have to walk around when you get to your destination.

Conspicuity:

Boots, unless you buy some exotic racing style, don't generally help with conspicuity, but the ones with an autoreflective insert at the back of the heel are very conspicuous from the rear at night.

Protection:

We look for standards-approved armor in shin and ankle, plus shank and toe protection. We like the CE protection standards for boot armor which ensures the boots are built and armored to a standard. It is an EU standard but is being widely adopted by US manufacturers.