Biker boots vary widely in terms of style, materials, and purpose. Which type of biker boot is best for a particular buyer depends on the use to which the biker is going to put their biker boots. A committed motocross enthusiast will need different boots from a racer. And a racer will need different boots from a touring biker. Other factors which vary include colour and fastening mechanism. Here, personal preference plays an important part in the decision, although laces on biker boots are generally frowned upon.
This guide looks at the main types of biker boots available for men and how they are worn for different types of biking. There is information about the different materials available, and the guide also briefly touches on questions of style.
Biker boots are available in high street shops, although to see a good selection the prospective buyer may need to search around at specialist retailers. Alternatively, online marketplaces such as eBay have a very wide choice of men's biker boots, covering the full spectrum of styles, materials, and colours.
Types of Men's Biker Boots
There are some features which all biker boots have in common, to a greater or lesser extent. These include a shorter heel for better control and stability, an oil resistant, non-slip sole to prevent the foot losing contact with the bike, a raised shaft height to support and protect the ankles, and extra padding or other protection at vulnerable points. Unless the motorcycle being ridden has a heel-toe shift, biker boots should always have a shifter pad, to protect the instep when changing gear. And common to all biker boots is the need for a snug fit. This is to ensure they stay on in a crash.
Within this general scheme there are wide variations. Some biker boots are extremely stiff, while others are others are flexible. Some are heavily armoured, while others have minimal protection, and are almost indistinguishable from ordinary boots. Whichever type of boot the prospective buyer is interested in, it is worth checking that they comply with the European Safety Standard EN 13634, which governs the construction of motorcycle boots.
Bike racing is a popular sport, and some of its popularity inevitably derives from the threat of a spill. Accidents happen to all bikers at some point, even the most skillful and careful. It is therefore essential to be prepared for them when they strike.
A proper motorcycle racing boot is designed not only to reduce the risk of accidents happening in the first place, but also to protect against injury when they do occur. Racing boots should have a smooth soled heel of not more than 1.25 cm. This allows the rider good control. The boot should also have an armoured shin guard included, and plenty of padding or protection at vulnerable points to minimise the risk of crush injuries in a high speed impact. That said, to maximise control, racing boots need to be flexible, not stiff.
Motorcycle racing boots do not generally use laces, as laces can becomes caught in a bike. That said, an internal lacing system is used by some racing boots. This system minimises the potential risk.
Motocross or Sports Boots
Motocross is another exciting but potentially dangerous sport, and bikers who take part need to be properly equipped. One characteristic which motocross boots share with racing boots is the requirement for plenty of padding to protect against impacts at high speed. Unlike racing boots, motocross boots need to be very stiff, to provide the stability required to cope with riding across rough terrain. Motocross boots should reach almost to the knee, to give maximum protection. Because motocross riders adopt an unusual sitting stance, the uppers are set at a special angle. This design feature makes the boots rather impractical for general use.
Other adaptations for motocross boots include a metal plate incorporated into the sole, and a shin pad. Because it is important for motocross boots to be tight fitting, they tend to open down the full length of the shaft, and are closed by a series of straps. These straps can be adjusted independently.
As with racing boots, laces are not a good idea, due to the risk of them becoming trapped in the gear shift. It is also very important with motocross boots that they fit securely, to minimise the risk of them coming off in a crash.
As its name suggests, touring is a much more relaxed form of biking, which places more of an emphasis on comfort than on speed or danger. The equipment used for touring is therefore quite different from that used for racing or motocross.
Motorcycle touring boots still generally have low heels to improve control, but they are more likely to have a chunky tread on the sole than would boots for racing or motocross. They also have a fair amount of integral padding for protection against impacts, but they do not take this to the same extent as boots intended for the more dangerous types of biking.
Another difference with touring boots is that they are more variable in height. Although touring boots can be half or three-quarter length, generally they are shorter, rising only to the calves. As the risk of accidents is lower for touring than other types of biking, touring bikers require less protection. With touring boots there is an emphasis on comfort. These biker boots may be worn for many hours at a time.
Cruising bikes are built for smooth, comfortable riding rather than speed or high jinks. Therefore with cruiser boots there is an even greater emphasis on comfort than with touring boots. Cruiser boots tend to incorporate less padding and other protection, and often have a much chunkier tread on both heel and sole. They also tend to have a higher heel than other biker boots, though they still need to follow the basic design rule of giving the biker good control over the bike's foot controls. In general they are closer in style to conventional boots than are any of the other types of biker boots.
Biker Boot Materials
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the three most common materials used to make biker boots.
Leather is more expensive than the other materials, but also offers the best comfort and protection. Obviously, the degree of both depends on the quality of the leather used, which can vary greatly, and on the thickness of the leather. Ideally, look for leather that is at least 2.5 mm thick to offer good protection against abrasion.
One advantage of leather is its ability to breathe. Good airflow prevents a biker's feet becoming too hot and sweaty. On the other hand, an associated disadvantage of leather is that it is not completely waterproof. Leather biker boots that are well cared for will stand up to normal everyday splashes. However, a biker should expect soaked feet should the bike ploughs through a puddle, or if the biker is exposed to prolonged, heavy rain.
Unlike leather, rubber is easy to waterproof. However, in hot weather, rubber traps heat and sweat. Wearing boots made from rubber on hot days can prove very uncomfortable. Rubber is cheaper than leather, but less durable.
The disadvantages of rubber apply equally to plastic, which is the least durable, but cheapest of the three materials. For serious protection, extra plates of metal or some other material such as kevlar may be required. A cost effective option is a boot with leather uppers, where the need for protection is greatest, and plastic on the shaft.
A final consideration, which applies to all three materials, is that uppers should be stitched to the soles rather than glued. This not only allows easier replacement, it also proves more durable in the long run.
Finding Biker Boots on eBay
With such a wide range of designs and materials on offer, it is hardly surprising that many people who are looking for biker boots find the prospect of making a choice rather daunting. The buyer's predicament is not helped by the fact that few shops carry a wide enough range to make a proper selection. From the point of view of the high street store, carrying stocks of all the different types, in a wide range of sizes, is not economically feasible.
This problem can make shopping for biker boots a frustrating experience. The growth in Internet shopping has provided a solution to this predicament, in that you can now find a wide selection of biker boots in a range of sizes, at online marketplaces like eBay.
If you are considering buying a pair of biker boots, a good place to start your search is on the eBay homepage. From there, try entering a simple search term such as 'motorcycle boots', and you will find a good selection of styles, materials and sizes. You can easily narrow down the choice further by entering a more detailed search, such as ' motorcycle touring boots,' or ' motorcycle racing boots, ' or 'cruiser boots.'
On eBay you can also find brand named boots, both new and used, as well as a very good choice of styles, colours and materials.
Choosing the right pair of men's biker boots depends on what sort of biking the wearer engages in. Although all motorcycle boots share the need for a snug fit and a certain level of protection, each type of riding has its own special requirements. The stiffness required of a sports boot, for example, might hamper a bike racer. While the relaxed, comfortable style of a cruiser boot would offer insufficient protection to both stripes of bikers.
Leather is probably the best all round material for biker boots, as it offers the best protection and comfort. But considerations of price and to a lesser extent waterproofing mean that rubber and plastic options are also popular. These materials will need more protection in the form of padding or plating incorporated into the boot, to ensure adequate safety. Regardless of the style of boot or material, buyers will find a wide selection of biker boots on eBay.