Unlacing the anatomy of the most desired riding boots

Unlaced black colored adventure riding boots near parked adventure motorcycle

Having a good pair of riding boots is always a good decision because feet will contact the pavement first in the event of an accident or a crash. Also, rider has to put a foot down and drag it along the pavement to steady the motorcycle in a fishtail.

But many riders have a false belief that any boots or footwear are good enough to wear while riding a motorcycle. This is because of over-confidence that their work boots are tough enough or they feel that they won’t ever go down and so never require the added protection.

Riding boots are the one piece of riding gears that riders usually wear all day while riding. Therefore, these boots must protect us in case of unfortunate events, but still be comfortable enough to walk around. Purpose built riding boots will always have an advantage over standard casual shoes in terms of safety and performance without compromising the comfort due to specific features such as extra rigidity, molded ankle protection, increased stiffness to prevent flexing, and reinforced shifting pads, oil-resistant soles to prevent a slip.

Basic Functions

  1. Protection against conduction burn and contact burn from hot exhaust pipes
  2. Impact protection against the loose gravels or other similar objects
  3. Abrasion protection of skin and muscles
  4. Hyper-extension prevention of the ankle joint.

Structure

There are different types of riding boots with different structure based on their purpose. Therefore, it is important to understand basic anatomy of any riding boots for proper selection according to rider requirements and their rides.

(A) Sole

A high-quality riding boots will have minimum one-inch thick, oil resistant sole with threaded pattern for good traction. Also, they should have a heel not only for better grip on the foot-peg but also for good traction on mud, sand, water, and oil.

Sole is attached to upper by welting or cementing. The sole is stitched to the upper in welting method, but a strip of leather or other material sewn in-between for reinforcement. This technique makes riding boots stiffer, more stable and more durable, at the cost of flexibility. Cemented construction is more flexible but is less durable than welting.

A shank is metal plate inside the sole to prevent internal or external rotation of ankle joint by restriction the independent rotation of front and the rear vamp.

(B) Insole

It is a layer of material which sits at floor of boots, between the sole and the foot, not only for extra comfort but also prevents friction between foot sole and the joints between the upper and sole.

(C) Inner lining

It enhances comfort on multi-layered, complex riding boots. It differs depending on the purpose of riding boots (moisture wicking, warmth, waterproofing, etc.). Advances in synthetics give waterproofing or sweat dissipating options like Gortex or Sympatex even in boot’s inner lining.

Black colored motocross boots with labels
Upper
(D) Vamp

Vamp is the forepart of the riding boots’ upper and holds the foot and is attached to the insole.

The external heel cup protects prominent malleolus of ankle joint from crushing forces and also allows the boots to slide along in a crash.

Sliders are placed at critical places where the boots might make contact with the road and they protect the foot from abrasion. Some boots have a metal toe slider which is resistant to abrasion as well as crushing force.

Shaft

Shaft is part of riding boots that rises from above the vamp. It consists of various protection features.

(E) Anterior protection (Shin protector / Collar)

A shin/tibia plate (Big logo on top of shaft) protect lower third tibia bones from impacts. It made of foam padding (most touring boots) or plastic plates (off-road boots).

(F) Posterior protection (Hyper-extension prevention system)

It is a plastic plate which runs from heel to the top of the boots along the back to prevent side-to-side and backward movement (hyper-extension) of the ankle joint. But this protection system compromise the comfort while walking.

(G) Closures system

Velcro, YKK zippers or buckles are very common options for closure system depending on types of boots.

Although laces offer adjustment according to the fitment and tightness of riding boots, but they are prone to loosen up while riding. Therefore, laces are not an ideal closure system for riding boots.

(H) Stitching

The best riding boots will be put together with double- or triple-stitching to make sure that they stay together in case of an accident or a crash.

Boot measurement

Riding boots should fit snugly such that riders can feel like an extension of their feet on the motorcycle. Riding boots flex and stretch less because of armors. Also, the armored areas like the toe-box and heel cup don’t really loosen up over the period of time. Therefore, getting the fit right from the start is more important for riding boots in contrast to riding gloves.

Always see how easy it is to walk around, by walking around, bending down and stepping up onto a stair after wearing the desired boots. Also wearing thick or thin socks can change the way the boot feels by fractions of a centimeter. Therefore, pay careful attention to the advertised sizes of any boots because sizing may vary among the manufacturers. An extra pair of socks can guard against blisters when the boots are new.

Prefer to order riding boots after trying them when feet are their maximum size i.e. at evening time of a day.

Never buy riding boots first thing in the morning

Certainly, they will fit poorly when worn later in the day.

Because, riding boots from European brands have a tendency to have a narrower fit (similar to riding gloves), always go one size up when ordering from a European brand. Always keep in mind the socks that will be worn while riding, while trying on desired riding boots.

Bare foot placed near measuring tape for measurement

Place both feet (in normal riding socks) on a piece of paper and carefully draw the outline of each foot and  make sure that pen must be pointed straight down to get a true outline. Now, measure the lengths from the top edge of big toes to the back edge of heel for both outlines. If measurements for both feet are different then, take the longer of the two measurements.

Below mentioned table is example of typical boots sizes in Europe and the US among various measurement charting from different manufacturers.

Sole measurement (cm) Euro size US Size
up to 25.5 38 4
25.5 – 26.0 39 5
26.0 – 26.5 40 6
26.5 – 27.0 41 7
27.0 – 28.0 42 8
28.0 – 28.5 43 9
28.5 – 29.0 44 10
29.0 – 30.0 45 11
30.0 – 30.5 46 12
30.5 – 31.0 47 13
31.0 – 31.5 48 14
31.5 – 32.0 49 15
32.0 – 32.5 50 16

What to look for buying boots

Comfort

Riding boots should feel comfortable the moment  they are pulled up.

Starting out comfortably is a good indicator that rider will wear boots more often and for longer stretches of time. Ultimately, it will determine how often you end up wearing them.

Always consider the amount of walking during rides before buying the riding boots.

Most riding boots will be tougher to get on and off than normal shoes. This may be a pain, but it’s less likely to fly off the boots in a crash and leave rider’s feet exposed.

Prefer the boots with insole materials that lets stinky feet to breathe.

Boot height

Riding boots come in various heights which range from 6″ to 17″ tall. Minimum height is at least 6″ (“over the ankle”). Riding boots at least up over the ankle with stable construction at the top give the right amount of support because the ankle always become the fulcrum point of stress in a low-speed incident. In addition, prominent malleolus of ankle joints are easily scraped into the ground during a slide. Therefore, full height boot is the best.

Of course, taller boots are the best in term of protection but they are heavier and less comfortable for walking.

Function

Riding boots should give a firm, non-slip grip on foot pegs. They let the rider feel and operate motorcycle’s rear brake and gear shifter easily for safe driving.

They must give solid traction when driving in extreme weather conditions or while putting the feet down.

Price

 You get what you pay for is pretty accurate for pricing of riding boots

Still, there are plenty of less expensive options that can offer awesome protection according to the riding style.

Quality pair of boots can ultimately save tens of thousands of dollars in costly medical bills.


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