Motorcycle boots make up a small portion of most riders’ PPE (personal protective equipment), and compared to the sexy jackets, gloves and helmets that are worn proudly while carving canyons and combating congestion, footwear often ends up forgotten. To keep you safe on two wheels and still looking good on both legs, we’ve torture-tested five of the best motorcycle boots. Regardless of whether you drag a knee or seek forward control, there’s an option for you — and you’ll no longer relegate your feet to the status of “least important body part” when you ride.
Additional Contribution by Amos Kwon
Icon 1000 Elsinore
Best for Max Rockatansky: The Icon 1000 Elsinore was designed with dystopia in mind. Show up at the local coffee shop in these bad boys, and you’ll get napkin drawn directions to the Thunderdome. Constructed with an internal steel shank, a heat-pressed leather shin plates and shifter guards ensure their rough and ruggedness is far from skin deep. Slipping them on is easy thanks to the full-length zipper running down the inside leg, and the fit is adjustable. A floating ankle protector hovers between the unzipped uppers and is a great touch for providing tailored protection.
The Elsinores are comfortable and supportive — they kept the vibrations and harshness that sneak through pegs at highway speeds well under the radar. During my first few miles, however, I was surprised by a couple blown upshifts: the toe-cap sits taller than my usual boots, so the shifter wouldn’t always fall back into its ready position. Despite some minor embarrassment, two or three stoplights worth of practice was all it took to look (and sound) like I actually knew how to ride. The same issue also didn’t appear when I hopped on my other bike, so don’t let my ergonomic inefficiencies dissuade you from choosing the Elsinores on your pursuit of the Zed Runners.
Alpinestars New Land Gore-Tex
Best for Office-Bound Speed Freaks: Don’t let the office dress code keep you from safely lane-splitting through commuter hell: Alpinestars’ all-black New Land Gore-Tex boots are a sleek and stealthy way for cubically contained riders to tackle TPS reports from nine-to-five and carve corners to and fro.
Their mid-length design and accordion flex zones combine with a proprietary sole compound and breathable Gore-Tex membrane to be comfortable on and off the bike. Velcro straps make for an easily adjustable fit, while a full-length gusset and that same Gore-Tex membrane keep water out during wet rides. Alpinestars’ experience at the track shines through with their integration of CE certified protection in the New Land boots: embedded shank reinforcement, counter molded hull protection, double-density ankle shields and rubberized shift pads are all standard. The New Lands felt as comfy as sneakers, making them an easy choice for proper protection. The EVA foam footbed worked wonders in “buzzy” rev ranges and the rear cutaways gave them a natural feel at all lean angles. In the wet, the sole was pleasingly grippy when stopped at oily intersections and the uppers did a great job keeping my feet cool and dry.
Tourmaster Solution 2.0 WP Road Boots
Best for the Biker on a Budget: Just because you’re saving for a rainy day shouldn’t mean you can’t get out and play in the wet. Tourmaster Solution 2.0 WP Road Boots offer professional levels of protection — both physical and meteorological — in an understated and attractive package.
Waterproofing and breathability come in the form of a HiPora membrane stitched in beneath the (water-resistant) leather and PU uppers and do a good job of keeping your dogs from being soaked and/or steamed, even during extended trips. Molded nylon guards abound with the addition of shock absorbing backings for added comfort. The Tourmasters are light and unobtrusive and took care of most of the vibrations coming through the pegs — not something you usually get with all full-length boots in this price range. In my first outing, the pull-tab on the rear of the left boot let go, but honestly it didn’t matter; the full-length medial zipper makes suiting up an easy affair, pull-tab or not. A velcro flap running the gamut of the uppers seals the deal and locks the zipper from creeping down and opening up. If you’re normally a fair-weather rider and only consider impermeables a few times per year, the Solution 2.0 WP’s are the perfect piece of kit to get your ass off of the couch on those grey days when you’d normally take a pass.
Dainese Carroarmato Gore-Tex
Best for Boorman or McGregor: Dainese’s protective products have earned their stripes on the backs, hands and feet of some of the most reputable names in MotoGP. As such, the technical tips they’ve picked up from the likes of Roberts, Rossi and Spencer trickle down to keep us mere mortals protected. The Dainese Carroarmato Gore-Tex boot is the latest offering from the Italian marque, and it’s the perfect companion for those of us who like to take the long way ‘round.
Built to meet EN safety certification, the Carroarmatos boast thermoformed tibia shields, nylon ankle and heel protection and an abrasion-resistant leather and suede upper. The fit is easily adjustable thanks to the use of ratcheting buckles at the leg and forefoot, and the boot can be sealed with a beefy velcro flap. On a recent rain-plagued pilgrimage, the Carroarmato’s proved to formidable. The Gore-Tex membrane kept the elements at bay, ensuring I could focus on the rooster tails in front of me instead of worrying about the onset of trench foot. Walking up to my steed, I did find that the sole was noticeably stiffer than the other boots featured here (these were designed with upright adventure riders in mind, not cafe racers) but they were easily adaptable once on my pegs. The softer rubberized area found at the arch is a well-thought-out feature for its added NVH insulation at highway speeds and its ideal “comfort zone” location. When the clouds finally broke and chasing rainbows became the order of the day, staying out on the road to log a few more miles was a no-brainer. If it weren’t for empty tanks — both mine and the bike’s — I’d probably still be going strong.
TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex
Best for the Dakar Dreamer: Considering enlisting for next year’s Dakar Rally? If you normally log sixty sand dunes before most of us scrape the crud from our eyes, the TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex are the boots for you. Enduro soles, aluminum buckles and PU reinforcement all but guarantee lower leg protection should you wash out in an unexpected pile of the soft-stuff. TCX also employs their Comfort Fit System (CFS), which manually molds the boots to replicate foot anatomy and means discomfort won’t be what slows you down (especially for those with a wider foot).
On and off road the, X-Desert take a beating and keep on giving back. They fit true to size, and getting them on is a cinch with the easy-to-use buckles. The X-Deserts handled muck and rain like a champ and still allowed us to shift and brake easily. Despite the sole stiffness (which decreases fatigue during adventure riding) they were remarkably comfy throughout our ride. That new high-grip sole comes in handy when you’ve got to get off the bike to overcome nastier situations. What’s more, the TCX X-Desert Gore Tex provides decent walking comfort, so you won’t kill yourself when you’re off the bike. Overall, we were impressed by their fit, foot protection and build quality.
METHODOLOGY The best part about testing motorcycle gear is having yet another excuse to ride. Over the course of 2.5 months we suited up and simply rode. Wet, dry, cold and steamy conditions couldn’t keep us from corner-carving to come up with our conclusions. The mileage logged with each pair is indicated.