Tips on Buying Leather Motorcycle Boots

April 9, 2009 by: MCg

Xray Biker-Boots Feet


To state the obvious. Our motorcycle boots protect our feet.  When bad circumstances happen to bikers, if our feet don’t need to be Xrayed, our boots did their job. And to put things in perspective, even if you don’t ever plan on crashing your bike just for the sheer thrill of it (I’ve survived a few motorcycles crashes), our feet are what routinely come in contact with the ground. Which means they are more likely to acquaint themselves with pavement grime, spilled oil, curbs, branches, rocks, sand, gravel, water, mud and/or other debris that on- and off-road riders may encounter. Stated differently, our feet need their own respective protection: good quality, motorcycle-specific boots.

Now all those aforementioned words were for the biker who doesn’t necessarily engage in the more spirited type of riding entertainment that results in very low bike leans, and their attendant scrapes of motorcycle parts, and/or the sides of your boots.

When you’ve had the sides of your boots scrape some very fast pavement shooting underneath you, not too far from your shoulder, your REALLY appreciate that your feet have adequate boot protection.

And just in case any of you DO plan on crashing, well then, that will be the day you will be the most respectful of your boots and all your other protective gear.

NOTE: of course NOBODY plans on crashing. Just ask anyone that does.


Now, all that protection stuff is vital to the purpose of our boots. But if they ain’t comfortable, we may be apt to leave them at home.

Hence, the #1 point regarding motorcycle boots is getting a pair that is COMFORTABLE.

Of course, let’s not get things all reversed around here: Sneaker may be comfortable but they do not fulfill that protective role.

There are LOTS and LOTS of different motorcycle boots. If you have any doubts, just click on the link at the bottom.

Let’s take a look at some of the more popular types of motorcycle boots.


The boot that most folks would associate with motorcycles, including non-bikers, is the classic engineer style, which has been around forever, and could even be considered the prototypical “Biker Boot.”

Engineer boots are black and a tell-tale feature is their adjustable leather straps across the ankles, and at the top of the shaft.

“Harness Boots” are another classic boot style and are sort of similar to engineer boots. Actually, they are different enough from each other to readily tell them apart, however, it’s not unusual to hear someone incorrectly identify to a harness boot as an engineer boot.

Harness boots are usually about the same height as engineer boots, so they share that in common. Harness boots are are available in black, so that’s another similarity. But brown harness boots are readily available, as well.

The differences between the boots are that harness boots usually feature a square toe and engineer boots featured rounded toes.

Finally, a defining feature of harness boots is their non-adjustable leather straps that attach to metal rings on both sides of the boots near the ankle region. (Those circular rings giveaway that cowboy heritage).

Regardless, if you prefer a classic biker boot, one of these two will serve you well and in either case, the better ones are made of heavy duty leather, have strong soles, and may have a steel toe. They are usually a “slip on” style, as well (as opposed to a zipper, buckle or lace variety.)

“Steel Toe” NOTE: Steel toes offer more protection around the toes. It seems like a good idea for bikers, and steel toes are a common item. But, just because they have been common for many decades does not make them the best choice. An alternative would be a “safety toe,” or what may sometimes be referred to as a “composite toe” and other manufacturers may have additional names. The point is that these are protective toes that are NOT metal. They are lighter, which is an advantage for riders who also walk in their boots. But a more pertinent advantage is that in some motorcycle wrecks, a steel toe may actually be crushed into a biker’s toes and may need to be cut away by emergency workers. I’m sure you can picture a variety of unfriendly scenes. The point here is to not just presume that your motorcycle boots should have steel toes, even if many boots feature them.


High quality motorcycle boots for sport bikers typically offer better protective qualities than classic boots, since sport bikes, by their very nature, go faster, and are often by riders who are more performance demanding than any other motorbike category.

More specifically, boots for sport riders are often purpose-built to offer better ankle and shin protection than classic boots, in the event of a crash. Some even have ceramic or metal external tabs (not steel toes) to endure the pavement scraping that aggressive, high-performance riders may subject their feet to. Furthermore, good sport bike boots offer very durable soles, and typically have some type of reinforced toe (usually “not” steel).


If only ALL motorcycle boots were waterproof. But they’re not. And if only all motorcycle boots that “said” they were waterproof, truly were! Alas, some boot makers may embellish their waterproof characteristics. Water “resistant” boots can handle a little wetness and keep your feet dry, whether that be a light drizzle, or a short ride home after the rain starts.

Also, such boots typically require routine maintenance, such as waterproof sprays or other leather applications, to keep out as much water as possible.

But if you are a long-distance rider who may spend all day riding in the rain, or someone who has a long commute, you could truly benefit from a real “waterproof” boot.

Another option for you to consider are RAIN BOOTS COVERS. These are lightweight, foldable, nylon-like boots that you wear over your existing boots. They are like a rain coast for your feet. They won’t win you any fashion contests, but they do a pretty good job of keeping your feet dry.


Good motorcycle boots protect your feet, ankle and shins. Which means that cover a chunk of the bottom of your legs. Which also means they may not be the easiest things to get on and off.

Enter the style of motorcycle boots with zippers that manufacturers provide to make the task of getting boots on and off your feet as easy as possible.

Interestingly enough, you can’t even always tell by looking at a boot that is being worn whether it uses a vertical zipper, or not. For some boot styles, the zipper is cleverly hidden so a biker may not even let on to others that he’s living on easy street when it comes to wearing boots.

In fact, just because a boot does have a zipper opening, does not necessarily mean that it cannot also be a waterproof boot, as well.

For those zipper boots that are waterproof, the manufacturing trick is that they have included a leather pleat that unfolds when you unzip the boot. In effect, the leather pleat creates a waterproof seal, regardless of whether the zipper is open or closed. But you will still want to ensure that the zipper boots you are looking at do state they are waterproof, since that’s not a universal feature.


Motorbike boots with laces deserve a special mention. Some riders like the fact that laces provide a real snug, secure fit, which can be an important part of that above-noted #1 point on “comfort.”

However, those laces “can” present a safety hazard in the event they come untied while riding. Loose laces, or loose ends of any kind (such as a long scarf, or even some very frayed jeans), can translate into bad news on a motorcycle. Imagine the consequences of a boot lace getting caught in a chain while riding on the highway, or heck, even getting caught on a footpeg, brake pedal or gear shifter while dismounting a bike. The first example could end in tragedy and the second may end up in simply getting tripped and dropping the bike.

A workable solution is to always DOUBLE TIE your laces if this is the kind of boot you prefer.


MX boots, or off-road boots in general, offer very heavy-duty feet/ankle protection. Given that MX riders are constantly mixing their feet up with the elements, these boots are TOUGH.

They are usually taller and stiffer than regular motorcycle boots or even asphalt racing boots. (On the other hand, as a point of comparison, MX boots are not as stiff as downhill skiing boots).

Motocross boots are constructed from leather, metal, plastic and/or other man-made composite materials to completely wrap our feet, ankles and shins in their own cocoon of durable protection.

Unlike street boots, which can include some give and take around the ankles and shins, MX boots are usually worn with a tight fit. They are securely fastened up and down the shaft with a set of locking buckles that allow the rider to quickly adjust his/her comfort preferences and to ensure optimum fit. Additionally, good MX boots offer a padded interior, including even the tongue and collar, just to make sure these boots can be made as comfortable as possible. Off-road riders need VERY GOOD protection for their feet!



Filed under: Motorcycle Boots
Tags: ,

Leave a Reply