Riding Boots are generally the last piece of protective kit one buys, but they are equally important as riding jackets, gloves and pants in terms of safety. Riding boots provide protection to your toe, heel, shin and most importantly, to your ankle. Let us see how this works:
- One of the most common form of injury in a motorcycle accident is an ankle fracture. What happens is: on impact with the road, the ankle bends with such force and speed that it simply snaps and breaks. One of the most important safety feature of riding boots is to prevent this. This is how it works: Most riding boots are stiff around the ankle to prevent the ankle from bending beyond a certain limit. They also have armor around the ankle area for added impact protection.
- Most riding boots come with toe protection in the form of a hardened toe section. They also provide heel and shin protection by employing steel plates and/or by using hardened materials and/or extra armor.
- Some boots also provide Achilles tendon protection with the inclusion of reinforcements.
- Riding boots also provide abrasion resistance during a fall, as they are mostly made up of leather and other abrasion resistant materials like Kevlar.
Types of Riding Boots:
- Touring/Commuting: Riding boots aimed for tourers or for short commutes are made of leather, which is highly abrasion resistant. These type of boots ensure good protection to the toes, heels, shin and ankle, and are comfortable too. They are manageable to walk with off the bike. These type of boots are again classified into two types: Ankle length or full-length. Ankle length ones will provide reduced protection to the ankle, so I would recommend going in for full-length ones, as ankle protection is one of the prime benefits of riding boots.
- These boots generally do not have a completely flat sole which helps to have good grip on the road, and also makes it easier to walk with them on.
- Racing: These type of boots have maximum safety features. They are generally made up of leather, along with a lot of extra protective armor and reinforcements at the impact points. These boots are highly crush resistant as well.
- These type of boots mostly come with flat soles, to help you move around your feet on the pegs while cornering. The downside to this is, they are relatively uncomfortable to walk with off the motorbike, and they are less grippy especially on a wet surface. This can cause problems while maneuvering your motorbike in say, a parking lot.
- The racing style boots also contain replaceable components like toe sliders, which wear out during cornering (Of course only when the toe slider scrapes along the tarmac).
- Military style: These are generally full-length boots but do not provide protection to the ankle, because that portion is not stiff, which will cause your ankle to bend in case of a fall. These boots will however provide some basic protection to the toes and the heel. These boots are the most comfortable and practical ones though, as you can wear them to office (if your office mandates the use of formal shoes that is), you can walk comfortably and use them as trekking shoes too.
- I recommend using these type of boots only for short low speed city commutes.
Click here for a detailed review of the full-length Aspida (Spartan Progear) Zeus Riding Boots.
- Use of velcro closures and zippers: Almost all riding boots have velcro closures and zippers to do up your boots. This gives a customized fit depending on whether you decide to have your pants tucked inside the shoe or outside. No laces are used, which eliminates the possibility of them getting caught up in the foot pegs or gear shifter.
- Weather Proof: Depending on the conditions you will be riding in, different boot types are available. For hot weather riding, boots with perforations are your best bet. For riding in the rain, you may go for waterproof boots. (Note: You must preferably go for ones which have a breathable membrane like Goretex, else the lack of breathability will cause excessive sweating in hot weather and result in foul odour)
- Extra material or a shifter pad: Most riding boots come equipped with an extra layer of material or a shifter pad at the point where the shoe is most likely to come in contact with the gear shifter. This prevents the leather from wearing out at the rubbing point.
- Riding boots are often the most ignored piece of protective gear. People generally believe a pair of trekking or military styled boots are good enough, but come to think of it, they provide absolutely no ankle protection and very little toe, heel and shin protection.
- When purchasing riding boots, ensure that you try them on and sit on your motorbike, ensuring you are comfortable and can easily operate the gear shifter and the rear brake lever. Also ensure that the boots are snug-fit, without being overly tight. Do note that a bit of break-in will occur, so a slightly tight boot initially will loosen up after a few rides.
- Also make sure the sole flexes along its length to facilitate walking, but make sure it does not flex along its width.
- In any case, the boots should be stiff at the ankle and not bend too much. To check this, wear the boots on, and try bending your foot as you can see in the pic below.
- The price of riding boots can be as low as INR 4000 ($65) and as high as INR 50000 ($850) or more.
To know about the importance of a helmet, click here.
To know about the importance of a riding jacket, click here.
To know about the importance of riding gloves, click here.
To know about the importance of riding pants, click here.
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