Did You Know | 05 Jul 2022

All About Riding Boots: Types And Their Respective Uses

What’s the purpose of shoes? To protect the feet. Simple, right? Well, had that question been so simple to answer, we wouldn't have had so many different styles, brands and price points for footwear around us. Riding boots are no different. While one might want to think that riding boots serve the simple purpose of protecting the feet while riding a motorcycle, the requirements of riders vary vastly for a one-size-fit-all solution. Just like your regular boots, riding boots are also built for a ariety of specific requirements. In this article, we will explain the broad classification of riding boots and their respective uses, to help you zero in on the ones that suit your requirement the best.

How Are Riding Boots Different?

Riding boots are very different from your everyday boots. To start off, they are much sturdier, designed and built to protect feet and legs from impacts resulting from a crash, fall or slide while riding. The materials used in the construction of riding boots are much stronger. They also have reinforcement in many areas to protect various parts of the legs and feet. To suit different rider requirements, these boots are available in a multitude of shapes, heights and with differing levels of reinforcement. Also, you will not find serious riding boots with a lace-up enclosure, as an untied lace can end up getting tangled in the wheels and lead to injury. These shoes are also designed in line with the foot controls of a motorcycle, where a rider has to constantly apply brakes or shift gears using the toe. Therefore, riding boots are never too big or round at the toe area to allow the front part of the feet to slide under the shifter with ease.

The easiest way to classify riding boots is with their height. There are short riding boots, and then there are full length, or tall riding boots. Let us talk about the types of boots that fall within the shorter variety first.

Short Riding Boots, Or Shorties

Short riding boots, or shorties, can either be had in a casual style, which blends with your everyday wear or as street riding boots which are a more serious design. Here’s how the two varieties are different.

Casual Biding Boots

Casual riding boots are somewhat like your everyday sneakers or boots and might often be mistaken for non-riding boots. They are, however, different in the sense that there is protection in the form of a cap on the toe, and there is some reinforcement around the heel area as well. The ankle area also gets some padding for protection against minor strikes, however, in terms of reinforcement and protection, casual riding boots don’t quite match up with proper riding boots. These shoes are essentially meant for casual or office wear with some qualities of riding boots built into them for day long use, eliminating the need to change them when you are not riding. They are quite affordable, have a breathable, lightweight upper and are convenient to use. Like the name suggests, they are meant only for casual use, and don’t offer enough protection if the impact is too severe.

It’s important to note here that while casual riding boots don’t offer complete protection, they are better than their non-riding counterparts. They can be used on occasions where you have to look presentable, and where proper riding boots may appear a bit out of place. They look cool, and offer reasonable comfort, flexibility, and versatility. They are also generally more affordable than proper riding boots.

Street Riding Boots

Street riding boots are short boots which cover the feet up to the ankle area. These are easy to put on and aren’t as cumbersome or restrictive for movement as their taller, full-length counterparts. Unlike casual riding boots, street riding boots are proper riding boots with reinforcement in all the vital areas up to the ankle. They are made of sturdy materials and offer protection for all the critical areas such as toe, heel, and ankle. Their enclosure is also through zippers, Velcro, or buckles, unlike some casual lace-up riding shoes. These boots offer good impact protection and cover the foot area reasonably well, but don’t offer protection against impact upwards of the ankle. For example, shin and calf area are still exposed while riding street boots. These shoes can be used within the city, and even for short out of city rides. They are comfortable, convenient and look smart. They are more expensive than their casual counterparts, and don’t offer complete protection in hardcore riding scenarios, like on a racetrack or off the road.

Let’s now move on to the second broad classification of riding boots, which is full length, or tall riding boots. The boots within this category are purpose built for serious riders who would use them for more challenging riding conditions. Let’s have a look at all the varieties available within this category.

Track Riding Boots

As the name suggests, track riding boots are meant to be used on performance bikes, around a racing track. These shoes cover the foot and leg all the way up to the shins and offer protection against falls, slides, and impacts at high speeds. While these shoes score high on protection, they are also lightweight. Manufacturers use hi-tech materials on these varieties to bring the weight down drastically to provide that slight advantage to riders while racing. These boots are well ventilated, offer grip, and facilitate a good amount of feel on the pegs for the rider. They also come equipped with replaceable toe sliders which protect their sides from abrasion against the tar when the bike is leaned over.

While very lightweight and high-tech, these shoes are not the most comfortable to wear. They restrict foot movement to a fair degree, are rather difficult to walk in and are meant strictly for the time you are riding around the track. Moreover, since they are lightweight and purpose-built, they won’t last too long.

Touring Boots

These are not as high tech as their racing counterparts, but they are more practical and can be used over relatively longer durations. The soles on these shoes are also meatier, hence they don’t wear out easily, and while they are not as easy to live in as shorties, they are relatively comfortable. Touring boots also offer more flexibility and usability than their track-oriented counterparts. Since these boots are meant for prolonged, long-distance, touring use, they are not as cumbersome or restrictive as other varieties of full-length boots. Having said that, in isolation, they are still rather difficult to put on and take off. As one would expect, these boots also offer protection in all the critical areas, all the way up to the shin. Touring boots are generally heavier than racing boots, but still offer good comfort and feel. While the average touring boots aren’t too expensive, the waterproof variety is expensive. One can use these boots for long distance touring as well ad for the daily commute.

Adventure riding boots

These shoes are even sturdier and offer protection from whatever the terrain can throw at you while riding off the road - think stones, protruding tree branches, shrubbery and everything in between. Meant to take on dry, as well as wet weather, these shoes are mostly waterproof, and are quite bulky in size. While they are quite big and tall, they also have relatively more space for foot movement inside, which means they are not as restrictive as race riding boots, and you can move around in these with relative ease. While these boots are meant to be used primarily with ADV bikes, they are quite versatile and can be used for touring among other thing if you don’t wish to invest in another exclusive pair.

Dirt Riding Or MX Boots

Dirt riding boots offer the maximum protection for a rider’s feet and legs, they are also the bulkiest and the most restrictive of all the varieties of riding boots. These boots are meant to take all the punishment that the adversities of rugged terrain, dirt or MX riding can throw at them, and that too in a competitive environment. These are made with thick, sturdy material with extra protection around the shin, ankle, and toe area. Dirt riding boots restrict foot movement to an extremity, almost forming a solid cast around the feet and legs to prevent twisting. Competitive off-road riders use their feet as pivot for direction changes, and frequently hang them out for balance as well. Dirt bike boots provide a solid structure around the feet, enabling the riders to stick them out without any fear of injury. These boots employ multiple buckles for enclosure to ensure that they always hold the leg and foot tightly in place. Their heft, weight and tight enclosure also means that they are very difficult to walk with.

While they offer the best protection, dirt riding boots are very bulky, uncomfortable, inflexible and lack feel. These boots are generally meant for professionals who go off roading on trails or race on MX trails. These shoes are used by MX bike stunt riders as well, who take their machines to their absolute limits and need the ultimate protection for their feet.

All the different riding boot types mentioned above are meant for specific rider needs, terrain types and motorcycle classes. One should carefully evaluate their requirement and choose a type. Even when you have settled on a specific boot type, make sure you buy it only after wearing it and ensuring that it’s comfortable, and has the right fit and feel. Buy your riding boots from a reputed manufacturer, and always look for advice on motoring forums, as the most expensive shoes aren’t necessarily the best. If you are on a tight budget, buy a shoe that matches your requirement, while also being versatile enough to fit in many roles.

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