PHOTOS | KATE DISHER-QUILL
Suffering for our shoes might sometimes be what we do as women, but have you ever considered that when it comes to motorcycle riding, your shoes are suffering for you? Research from the US shows that a whopping 30% of non-fatal motorcycle injuries happen to the legs and feet*. That means your shoe selection plays a key role in your decision making when it comes to wearing protective gear.
The idea is to find a boot that will be sturdy, not inhibit your riding, last a long time (given the price) and most importantly, stay on if ever you were to come off your steed. Laces add an insurance to this and give you some more control over the fit than some of the velcro alternatives, however we advise to tuck in the loose ends to prevent them snagging on pegs or kick stands.
With riding boots you can go vintage or new, and like with Vintage Jackets, sturdy cow's leather is ideal for your “second skin”. Leather boots are also more towards the function meets form spectrum. They wear really well, the more they are used the better for giving that “what these old things” feel that Kate Moss would be proud of, and they are pretty good in the rain once you have given them a bit of protection.
That said, any gear we wear that is not specifically made for riding is a compromise to safety, and boots are not exempt from this. When we consider that a quarter of the body’s bones are in our feet and (along with our hands) are the first to be crushed on impact, our boots have got to do a lot of work to protect us.
A quick scan of things to expect from riding boots.
Firstly from our research manufacturers produce boots for the following styles of riding:
- Casual Commuting
- Roadracing and Track Days
- Sportbike Street Riding
- Wet Weather Riding
- MotoCross and off-road conditions
While the styles of riding are different (and our experience is mostly within the Casual commuting), overall boots all feature the same principles of protection.
Motorcycle boots are designed to stay on in any event, that's why they're usually boots with ankle protection… just make sure you do those laces up!
Riding long distances without solid support leads to foot cramps and tired feet. Ensuring the soles have good grip also means your feet won’t slip off the pegs, or the road when you put your foot down.
OUTER FOOT SUPPORT
At the extreme, racing boots are fully braced to protect from twisting and impact in the ankle, shin, toe and heel. A good leather boot with solid stitching will protect from abrasion but may not support your foot from twisting if the event arises.
Getting caught in wet weather is not only a test of your comfort threshold, soggy boots can be really distracting to a rider, not to mention that your mum will be furious with you for potentially catching a cold with those wet feet. There are many wet weather specific boots on the market, but in our experience, a good cowhide can withstand most of the gentler wet conditions as long as you have previously scotch-guarded and are not travelling long distances.
Boot care is pretty damn easy. As soon as you get them, spray on boot protector. Wait 24 hours, and then spray again. These will help with keeping them water resistant. If your boots are wet from the rain, give them a towel dry once you get home. And a quick polish every few months will keep them looking brand new.
On any boot, the gear change foot will wear in regardless of how much care you give them. Many riding boots come with a built in boot protector however you can accessorise with these or equivalent for added protection.
* research citation:
The Center for Disease Control studied the 1,222,000 people who were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for non-fatal, motorcycle-related injuries between 2001 and 2008, then recorded their injuries by location on the body.
Erica is everyone’s support crew and personal cheerleading squad. A lover of all things moto and vintage, she is a red-lipped founder of the Throttle Dolls, splitting her time between her custom Sportster and her convertible BMW ‘Brenda’. As a regular IVV contributor, Erica shines a light on Petrolette road style, and standing on your own two feet when it comes to selecting vehicles, mechanics and gear.