Are you a motorcycle novice or a returnee from long abstinence and are picking gear for that first trip? You may base the choice of footwear on its looks. Well, you may have even bought a bike based on that only… But let’s stick to boots.
Motocross boots are tough and tall, with no-nonsense protection. They ooze confidence when they thump on the pavement at a red light. They sure look great and are made to impress, but you wouldn’t want them on the road.
You’ll rarely see an experienced rider with motocross boots on the road. Probably not any more often than you’ll see anyone with skiing boots or climbing shoes. Motocross boots are stiff, designed to protect the lower leg. They are not comfortable and shouldn’t be used for walking or street riding.
The first thing you need to know is – motocross boots are stiff. Sure, you can break them in, but they’ll stay stiff. So, what kind of boots do you actually need for street riding vs dirt riding? In this article, we cover this topic and much more about motocross boots.
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MX Boots Are For Motocross, Nothing Else
Motocross or MX boots bulge with armor protecting your shins and feet against branches, flying stones, and crushing. Often in screaming colors, with adjustable straps for a tight fit, they are built for a sole purpose: hard and dangerous offroad riding. The designers of motocross or MX boots had only that in mind: protection in extreme riding.
So, you bought your first motorcycle or returned to one after years in a car only. With a strong current trend, the probability is it is an adventure bike. Large or small, it can manage some offroading, and that’s where you want to go. So, that first trip you’ve been dreaming about will include offroading. And, of course, let’s get the best for the adventure. Get MX boots.
No, let’s not, at least not before you think about it a bit. MX boots are designed without considerations other than to protect your lower legs. The other attributes of such a boot are probably focused on efficiency. It will support you while you stand on the footpegs and help you remain in control of the gear shifter and the rear brake.
Comfort, as a regular rider perceives it, was not considered. So, unless you intend to whip your bike across hard, dangerous terrain, you will stop loving your brand new motocross boots within minutes.
Not At All For Walking, Not Even For Normal Riding
MX boots are nearly as clumsy when you get off the bike. They definitely aren’t good for walking. So, if you are envisaging a tour where you won’t spend all your time zipping through ruts, better look elsewhere.
Motocross boots really aren’t intended for normal riding. They’re stiff, tall – reaching nearly to the knee in the front – and fit tightly. Whatever’s inside it isn’t supposed to move. And the ergonomy is suited to standing on the pegs.
The disregard of comfort doesn’t end with numb toes and pressure-irritated ankles. MX riders sit on their bikes, set off on a trail, and when they return, they are done. If it’s raining, so be it. The protection on most models doesn’t include waterproofing them. Your feet will be soaked.
Insulation against the cold is also not a huge concern: riding hard in the terrain is hard work. It will keep you and your feet warm. For icy weather, there are winter MX boots. Think football in freezing weather and players in short sleeves on the field.
It’s different if you’re just trundling along, with long miles between the stops. Wet feet are major discomfort, and feet freezing over long hours will turn your life into misery. It will bum your first ride out.
So, are you really planning rough and risky trail-blazing? Or maybe thinking more of getting off the asphalt for some sideways action on a gravel track? If that is actually what you had in mind, you should look for different footwear.
Enduro Boots May Be Better For You
You don’t have to look far. Go to an online motorcycle gear store, such as Louis in Europe or Revzilla in the United States. Under “boots,” you’ll find options for “motocross” or “dirt” and “enduro” or “adventure” boots.
An enduro boot is the motocross boot‘s closest relative. They look alike. After all, enduro boots are also designed to protect and serve you in the rough. It will also withstand the rough. The scuffs become them, in any case – each will tell a story.
But they do more than serving you on the trail because they are also lighter and more comfortable. They are less constraining than their motocross counterparts. Still tall, they are a few centimeters lower and more flexible at the ankle. During a long ride, at least you’ll be able to wiggle a little. And a little means exactly that because enduro boots are still far stiffer than what we’re used to.
They are also generally waterproof and will keep your feet dry even after hours of riding in the rain. Some are made for long rides in heat and drought and allow ventilation. But they will still protect your shin from the impact of a thick branch and the crushing weight of your bike. If you do plan some ambitious dirt-riding.
Far from least, for any walking, you’ll pick enduro over MX boots on any day. On tour, you’ll probably walk further than just from the bike to pay for the fuel and back. Even a short sightseeing stroll will turn into agony. If you envisage yourself jumping into sneakers for that walk, you’d better come up with a plan to stash the expensive footwear someplace safe. Otherwise, you’ll end up lugging the boots in your hands. You may also have to carry your helmet, gloves, possibly also the tank bag.
Touring Boot, The Great All-Rounder
So, maybe you can imagine a bit less and think a bit more. How much time will you spend on a trail and how much on the road? Will you really plunge your bike into mud axle-deep? What else will you do on your trip, and how long will it last?
MX and enduro boots are, after all, close cousins. They take no prisoners to protect you on the trail. But will you really need it, all that protection in that particular terrain? If you’re confident and determined to go rough-riding, your dilemma is reduced to the two types already named. But if you aren’t so sure, consider one of the myriad touring boots.
Obviously, touring boots are also specifically designed for motorcycle riders. They also protect the lower leg from most probable impact areas: toes, heels, shins. They are, however, another floor or two lower than the enduro boots and
Touring boots are comfortable even on long stints. They are softer outside the impact—and-pressure protection areas and significantly shorter than those for offroading. A typical touring boot reaches roughly halfway up your calf. Many models are available in three-quarter length, which sacrifices shin protection for more comfort in hot weather and walking.
Go Even Lower, With Shoes?
There are regular, ventilated summer and heavily-insulated cold weather touring boots. Leading makers offer all footwear, including all types of boots, for male and female riders and pillion occupants. Touring boots are unbiased toward any riding position. They’ll do on a big adventure bike, a cruiser, dirt and a race bike.
They’re lighter and softer than offroad counterparts and will store in smaller spaces when you decide to change to sneakers. If you decide to walk in them, the soles are normally flat, and they bend.
The touring boot is the most pragmatic choice for a rider who will stay on the asphalt most of the time. In any case, they won’t bust on the first outing off the road, but scuffs and scrapes don’t look as good on them as on the more rugged MX and enduro models.
In case you stick to paved surfaces, you may even consider motorcycle shoes. They’re by far the most comfortable on and off the bike. But though shoes, usually ankle-high, are armored to shield the toes and heels areas, the protection falls short compared to any boot.
Your trousers may also flap around your ankles. On a long ride, the flapping will start to hurt. And even if the maker promises a waterproof product – your feet will become soaked after an even short stint in the wet.
At the end of the day, you should always dress for the occasion. Before you set off, even before you visit a gear shop, stop dreaming and start thinking. Road vs. trail? Duration of the ride there and back? Weather forecast? Any walking and sightseeing in your plan? How much safe storage do you have on your bike? And so on.
The right choice of footwear will keep you more comfortable. Without comfort, you won’t enjoy your ride. Discomfort may even impact your safety.