Motorcycle Boot Buyer's Guide

Motorcycle Boot Buyer's Guide

Motorcyclists today want boots that are stylish, high-quality, and are versatile enough for everyday use.  It’s easy to find a great looking pair of boots that promise to withstand daily use long term, but the truth is, they don’t all hold up. It’s important to take your time when looking for the right motorcycle boots so that you can find one that best suits your needs.


When shopping around for motorcycle boots you should keep in mind that there’s no one boot that is right for everyone. Motorcycle boots vary depending on what the rider needs, prefers, and the type of motorcycle they ride. Below we will discuss some of the basic boot features you’ll find when shopping around for motorcycle boots. Before you begin searching for motorcycle boots, ask yourself, “What will I be using these boots for?” Are you only wearing them while riding your motorcycle or do you need them to be multi-functional?


Styles of Motorcycle Boots

Motorcycle boots come in various designs, the most coming being engineer or harness boots, “shorty” boots, tall boots, police-issued motorcycle patrol boots, and motocross boots. There are also a few cowboy boots made for motorcycle riders, but they aren’t very popular.


Engineer or Harness Boots – These are the most commonly worn style of motorcycle boots in America. The 10” to 12” high ones are the most popular, but they can be found in various heights. This style has been around for quite some time, yet it still remains one of the most popular around. The harness boots use a strap that wraps around the foot, goes across the back of the heel and attached with a ring at each side. They normally come with a square toe. Engineer boots use a single strap across the instep and normally come in a round toe. Some of these boots come with Vibram soles, which offer greater traction. There are various brands that offer harness and engineer boots.


“Shorty” Boots – Shorty boots earned that name because they are 10” or shorter. Most shorty boots come 6” to 8” tall and they’re sometimes called tactical boots because firefighters and police officers have been known to wear them. These boots are great for both riding and everyday wear.


Tall Boots – Tall boots are named that because they are anywhere from 14” to 20” tall. Many bikers prefer wearing taller boots because they provide added protection to the legs. They are also popular during the cold winter months because they are warmer. Some bikers like these boots because of the way they look when worn with jeans or pants (tucked in).


Motorcycle Patrol Boots – These type of motorcycle boots are normally 17” to 18” tall, but are sometimes ordered with a custom height. These boots almost always come in black and are considered a part of the uniform worn by motorcycle officers. Motorcycle patrol boots come in two designs, one with laces all the way up and another that uses no laces at all. 


Motocross Boots – These boots are designed for motocross racers. They are not meant to be worn while “walking around”.


What to Consider

Your motorcycle boots should have a shaft height tall enough to at least cover your ankles. This ensures that your ankles are protected in case the motorcycle tips over or you get too close to the hot pipes. Leather-lined boots last longer and are comfortable enough to wear all day. The shaft should come below the back of the knee so that motorcyclists can operate all of the motorcycle controls safety and effectively. Boots that come up above the back of the knees may cause cuts and discomfort.


Calf circumference (or calf width) is also important when choosing the right pair of motorcycle boots. Your motorcycle boots should be wide enough to accommodate your legs as well as your pants. Accidents are always a real possibility, which is why you should avoid wearing shorts while riding a motorcycle. Standard 12” or lower motorcycle boots can usually accommodate most legs. Motorcycle boots taller than that may not come standard as a one size fits all. If you want to know what your circumference is use a tape measure to measure the widest part of your calf muscle. Remember to do this while wearing the same pants that you would normally wear while riding. Most standard tall motorcycle boots come with a 16.5” circumference. If your calf is larger than that in circumference you may need to order custom boots.


When shopping around for motorcycle boots you should choose one that has a good sole design. Your motorcycle boots should have a heel so that you can easily rest it on the foot peg and it should give you the grip and traction you need on mud, sand, water, and oil. A high-quality motorcycle boot will have an oil resistant sole and will provide good traction regardless of where you’re walking. Do not buy motorcycle boots that aren’t oil resistant because oil will end up destroying them. With proper care, the uppers are going to outlast your soles, so it’s better to invest in boots that have the soles stitched on instead of glued, so that they can be replaced.


The construction of the motorcycle boots are as important as the sole design. Most motorcycle boots are made of leather, often reinforced in certain places. For example, manufacturers may use leather along with Gore-Tex, a waterproofing material, which helps increase breathability making boots more comfortable for long bike rides. Boots built with Goodyear Welted construction are popular among motorcyclists because they are so durable.


Ventilation is a factor that should definitely have a big impact on your final decision when choosing motorcycle boots. Your boots should be waterproof, but they should still allow your feet to comfortably breathe. This is often achieved by using special interior linings and exterior surfaces. Liners may vary depending on their material, which is why most motorcyclists have multiple pairs of motorcycle boots. They choose which boots to wear based on the weather and temperature.


If you plan on walking through rain or shine you may want to purchase a pair of water-resistant or waterproof motorcycle boots. Many leather motorcycle boots come water resistant already if treated with a good conditioner and water repellent.


What Boots To Avoid

Not all boots are the same. In fact, cowboy boots may be very stylish, but they often have smooth leather soles, making them a poor choice to wear while riding motorcycle.  The soles used on cowboy boots can cause a rider to slip or even lose control of his or her bike.


Boots with long laces are also a bad choice for riding motorcycles. Long laces can get caught in moving motorcycle parts, the brake pedal, or the gear shifter.


Avoid hi-top sneakers at all costs. Some manufacturers promote their shoes as the perfect alternative to motorcycle boots, but the truth is, they are not constructed to the same standards as motorcycle boots and therefore, they do not offer the same level of protection.


We hope these tips will help you find the perfect motorcycle boots for you!



We at Coastal Boot have a wide selection of high-quality, affordable motorcycle boots. Give us a call today at 1 (800) 972-7627 to place an order over the phone or go to our website, and place your order online.  

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