Put your best foot forward: The guide to motorcycle road and race boots and what you really should be looking for
Whether you are riding on the track or the road, riding at speed requires more performance from your motorcycle boots. A good pair of motorcycle road and race boots need to keep you protected, without limiting your movements.
Why should you protect your feet?
Stats released by the NHS show that 19% of all hospital admissions for motorcycle related injuries involved broken bones in the lower leg. Making the lower leg the most likely part of the body to get injured in a motorcycle accident, ouch! Still think riding in your favourite pair of trainers is a good idea? Read on, we explain what you need to look for when you buy your next pair of motorcycle race and road boots.
Your feet and ankles are fragile, and need protection from the dangers involved in motorcycling. Your feet and legs support you and your motorcycle whilst riding. What makes a motorcycle boot designed for sports bike riders different from other types of motorcycle boots is the protection. The armour on a sports bike boot is far greater than that on a motorcycle touring boot. We’ve broken protection up into three easy sections: Primary – This protection is the obvious, easy to spot stuff. Secondary: This is the internal protection that isn’t as obvious to spot, but is essential. The safety features – the things that help keep you safe and prevent an accident from happening.
Primary protection: 6 things to look for to keep you protected
- Heel box: The protective area around the heel can come in different forms but typically is a shock-absorbing cup that protects the heel. These can sometimes be seen external or with just a gentle squeeze of the boot you will be able to check to see if the boot has this.
- Toe box: The protective ‘box’ around the toe function is to absorb shock from an impact but also to protect the outer layer from your foot. Without the toe box your toes would damage the end of the boot and over time allow your toe to poke through. Like the heel box with a gentle squeeze you should be able to feel this on the boot.
- Shin: Often over looked, shin protection is important! Our shin bones are not properly insulated by muscle and tissue and are very vulnerable. The shin plate is normally made of Polyurethane, a heavy and sturdy material, which offers almost complete protection from most impacts and abrasions. Again, feeling around the shin area on the boot it will be obvious whether the boot has shin protection or not.
- Ankle: The protection around the ankles often comes in different styles. At the very least you need some kind of impact protection. This can feel like a small disc in the ankle area. Its job is to absorb the shock from an impact and disperse it across a wider area. Your ankles also need support, which brings us to secondary protection.
- Toe: A Toe sliders job is to be impact resistant and allow you to slide without wearing away too quickly. As well as protecting you, the toe slider also gives your boot longevity. Most toe sliders are replaceable and easy to remove.
- Achilles: To protect the Achilles from damage the boot will normally have an outer shell protector than provides shock-absorption.
Any good motorcycle road and race boots in the event of a slide, will help your feet and ankles withstand a serious blow or force without twisting. This is the Torsion control system (T.C.S). The torsion control system reduces the risk of ankle injury by restricting excessive torsion of foot whilst still allowing movement when riding.
Metatarsal control system
Normally connected to the T.C.S, the metatarsal control system (M.C.S) allows the natural foot flexion either up and down whilst protecting the metatarsal area from possible injuries. The system has been designed to control metatarsal flexion upwards and downwards with two stopping points designed to prevent damage to the joints. The M.C.S is often connected to an external polyurethane structure (the toe slider) which cover the side of the foot, offering maximum protection in case of impact.
Safety: Prevent an accident from happening
One often over looked safety feature on a pair of motorcycle road and race boots is the sole. Motorcycle boots should have a sole that gives you good grip on the road. Roads tend to collect oil/diesel and can become as slick as ice when wet. A slippery road could become your downfall if you aren’t wearing the right boots. The sole should give you good grip in muddy, wet and oily situations. Another thing to consider is the stiffness of the sole. A softer sole will wear down a lot faster but provide you with a better feel of the grips. A harder sole will have better durability but less feel. GetGeared tip: Check how the sole is fixed onto the motorcycle road and race boots. Soles that are only single stitched on could easily be ripped off during an accident. A sole that is glued, double or triple stitched will offer better protection during an accident.
Comfort: These boots are made for riding
An important thing to consider with your motorcycle boots is how they fit. A motorcycle road and race boot needs to fit tigher than other types of motorcycle boots. This is why often motorcycle road and race boots come up smaller than others from the same brand. There are a few factors to consider when thinking about comfort. The boot must fit well yes, but do you need a boot that’s going to keep you dry, or would you be better suited to a boot that keeps your feet ventilated?
Waterproofing vs breathability: Can you have both?
If you are riding in the United Kingdom the chances are you will need waterproofing. Waterproofing doesn’t have to mean hot, sweaty feet. Membranes like Gore-Tex allow your body’s moisture to evaporate without letting in any rain. Brands like Sidi and Alpinestars have Gore-Tex in some of their motorcycle road and race boots. Don’t need waterproofing? Great, look for vented boots. Perforated boots offer great ventilation to your foot while riding.
Previously we spoke about the T.C.S which stops you from twisting your ankle during an accident. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to move your foot at all. The T.C.S still allows you to move your foot forward and backwards to change gear and walk around. Other features that can make movement more comfortable include flex panels at the front and back of the boot. They will allow you to move your foot easily without stretching the leather ( or micro fiber) on your boot.
Leather – is there anything better for a sports bike boot?
Motorcycle road and race boots are often made from full grain cow hide leather. This is because it offers excellent abrasion resistance as well as being highly breathable, making it great for boots.
If you would prefer a more vegan-friendly boot there are a couple of man-made alternatives. One option is Lorica. Lorica offers excellent abrasion resistance but is not nearly as breathable as leather. Its look and feel is the same as leather so it may be hard to tell if your boot is made from Lorica or leather.
Size really does matter
Consider your riding position when looking at a new pair of motorcycle road and raceboots. While we all know a higher boot offers more protection, this could be uncomfortable while you’re on the bike. Does the opening make it easy for you to get your boots on and off?
Each manufacturer uses different lasts so Brands tend to differ in size. Not sure which boots will fit you best? Make an appointment with the GetGeared team to try out boots. We are happy to help you find the best boot for you.
CONCLUSION: “DRESS FOR THE SLIDE NOT THE THE RIDE”
It is tempting to make do with a pair or walking boots or cheap boots when you’ve just spent thousands on a new motorcycle. As we’ve just seen motorcycle road and race boots are constructed differently from other protective foot wear. They are designed to protect you in a spill and function as footwear when riding a bike. Something a walking boot won’t do. We understand that not everyone can afford the protection they really need. We are here to help! At GetGeared we offer finance on orders over £250. You can see what finance options are available here.
Which boot should you go for? Here are our pick of 3 of the best motorcycle road and race boots available in 2017
TOP OF THE RANGE ROAD AND RACE BOOTS
The Supertech R boot is one of Alpinestars most iconic motorcycle racing boots. It is worn on the track by a roster of champions. The Super Tech R has a newly redesigned compound rubber sole, for great grip. An inner ankle boot and brace system works with the outer structure of the boots to offer protection, whilst allowing full movement. There is also a TPU shin protector, aluminium toe slider that is easy to replace and a replaceable nylon heel plate slider all offering further protection. All of these features and more make this a podium winning boot!
The Sidi Vortice is their top of the range sports boot. It is packed full of great protective features. The advanced Tecno VR and Techno II wrap system allows accurate adjustment of the calf area for a perfect fit and to ensure the boot remains in place at all critical points. The Tecno-II wrap around system on the bridge of the foot with the added Tecno instep tensioner prevents the foot from moving in the boot; no more foot slippage. What else? Shock absorbing heel cups, perforated Lorica for additional ventilation, ceramic inserts in the toe slider to reduce wear, a replaceable nylon shin plate and a replaceable insert in the arch to combat premature wear from pegs.
MID-RANGE ROAD AND RACE BOOTS
The SMX plus boots offer plenty of protection. The contoured shin plate is injected with high modulus TPU and underlaid with gel impact-absorbing cushions. Improved toe slider construction. The new multi-link brace is designed to shield the calf and heel areas, progressively absorbing impact and avoiding shock transfer from foot to knee and hips. Additional protection is provided by the top recessed buckle structure and a new feature is the DuPont Kevlar inner instep in these boots. The main difference between this and the top of the range model is that the SMx plus doesn’t have an inner ankle brace.
By now you should know which features really add value to your boots. If you’re still undecided or there’s something you think we haven’t covered, tell us! Comment below and one of the team will be happy to help you.