Every rider is guilty of it. We grab our helmet and jacket and hop on our bike to head out for a quick ride without swapping our shoes. Reasoning being — we’re not going far, know the local roads and have covered the most important parts. Swapping sneakers for boots would take longer than the trip itself, we tell ourselves to quiet our conscience. Yet most accidents happen within five miles of your garage. Given just how good modern riding gear looks, fits and protects — jeans for every cut and style, jackets worth swooning over — there’s no excuse. Even if boots aren’t really your thing, today’s riding shoes have morphed from yesteryear’s mid-height Power Ranger’s kicks (adorned with more plastic cladding than a Pontiac Grand Am) to something you’ll actually want to wear, all of the time. Here’s a different pair for every day of the week.
Alpinestars Oscar Rayburn Riding Shoe
Best Cafe Racer Companion: The Rayburn Riding Shoe has the bespoke aesthetic of a hand-cobbled pair of heirloom chukkas. They look fantastic with anything shy of formal dress and transition seamlessly from slicing through slabtown traffic to Monday morning meetings or dinner and drinks after work. A gusseted tongue keeps the elements from ruining those new argyle socks while an integrated toe box, heel counter, shift pad and TPU ankle disc (on both sides) keep your feet CE protected. If there’s a vintage cafe racer in your garage, these should be on your feet.
Best for Hidden Protection: Subtle and stylish, the Fairfax sneaker from Rev’It offers incredible levels of rider protection in an under-the-radar package. A thermoformed heel cup and toe cap provide crush resistance in case of an off, while the injected ankle cup insulates your foot’s main hinge. There is also a reflective pull tab to amplify visibility in dark conditions. All that protection comes in a package that will compete and beat out your current favorite kicks for non-moto activities. Add to those great looks a flexible, anatomically shaped footbed and you’ve got one of the most comfortable pairs of sneakers with a mission, both in the saddle and on the streets.
Best Solid Sneaker: Based out of Italy, Stylmartin understands that ugly products simply won’t be worn, no matter how well they perform. The Chester is an all-leather high-top with a casual style that should quickly replace your ubiquitous Chucks when scraping pegs. The leather is full grain for abrasion resistance and is water repellent, and a waterproof and breathable lining lies beneath to make the Chester all-weather friendly.
Forma Urban Touch Dry Shoes
Best Athletic Look: If something a little more athletic-looking is what your wheelhouse demands, the Forma Urban Touch Dry Shoes are the kicks for you. Looking like an Air Jordan VI and XIV hybrid, the Urban Touch features an oil-treated full-grain leather and Cordura upper with double-density rubber sole. Reinforced ankle protection is injected into the upper while a plastic shifter pad is woven into the toe cap. All protection is CE rated and Forma backs their boots with a 12-month warranty. We don’t know if these will help you dunk, but we’re pretty sure you could catch some air, with the right amount of throttle.
Dainese Street Rocker D WP
Best for the Urban Rider: As a part of their 36060 line, the Dainese Street Rocker D-WP were penned to contend for the aesthetic eye of today’s urban rider. In the Testa Di Mora colorway, we’d say they succeeded. The full-grain leather is subjected to a unique finishing process that gives the shoes a patina right out of the box. Waterproof and breathable, the Street Rockers also feature a full complement of CE-compliant protective components. Whether you run mod, rocker or somewhere in between, these kicks should score you as much attention as your custom ride.
TCX X-Rap Gore Tex
Best Minimalist Design: The TCX X-Rap Gore-Tex Shoes are easily one of our favorites in this field. Combining a vintage look with the protection of a true high-top riding shoe, the X-Rap is an excellent choice for urban riders that spend as much time off their bikes as on them. A full GORE-TEX membrane lies beneath the full-grain leather uppers to keep feet cool and dry in foul conditions. A padded upper collar along with reinforcements at the toe, heel and ankle earn the X-Rap CE certification and an ingenious elastic compartment stows errant laces so theres no fear of getting caught up in your driveline should your shoes come untied.
Puma Enroute Mid Riding Shoes
Best in Ergonomics: The Enroute Mid Riding Shoe from Puma is an athletically styled shoe with rider ergonomics at the forefront of its design. All-round heel protection and a full wraparound shifter and peg supports are direct descendants from Puma’s experience on the track, while a removable sock liner, EVA midsole and integrated metal vents help keep you comfortable and cool. These wouldn’t be our first choice for the heel-toe express, but their protective components and rider-focused design earn our respect in the urban jungle.