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Any boot is better than sneakers or flip-flops—no matter how hot it is. In the last newsletter we talked about two kinds of motorcycle boots: the classic cruiser, and the touring boot. But you have other choices.
Racing or track boots need added protection in response to the added danger. Boots often come in contact with pavement during a race, so track boots need a lot of reinforcement. They are usually made with heavy leather, plastics, metal, and composite materials to give a form-fitting boot without much flex. Track boots are armored at the ankle, heel and Achilles tendon-area, and the shin. Race boots add toe sliders—plastic or metal pieces on the outside of the boot that serve both as protection and aids in sliding at an extreme lean angle. The inside of the upper part of the boot (the part on the top of your foot) has to be heat resistant. You may find a shifter pad on the shifter side of the boot to prevent wear. Some track boots are worn with an inside “bootie” for better stability.
The soles are flat and smooth for quick movement on the foot pegs. Track boots usually come up to the bottom of the calf or even to mid-calf. Because of their stiffness, these boots are hard to walk in.
Motocross riding, any off-road riding, demands very stiff, durable, form-fitting boots to cope with the changing terrain. Motocross (MX) boots take a beating from the bike, the ground, sticks and stones, and other objects. They are made to last, of the same materials and with the same armor as track boots. They are taller than track boots to let you grip the bike with your legs and for heat protection. This height and a thick plastic armor protect the shine.
Because they are so form-fitting and come up over the calf, they open lengthwise. Straps and buckles adjust the fit and make sure the closure stays shut. Buckle-closures are preferred, since zippers can clog when riding in mud. A shift pad at the top of the boot helps prevent wear from aggressive shifting. MX boots really stiff. Plan to bring other shoes or boots to walk around in.
Adventure motorcycle boots are sort of a cross between MX boots and touring boots. They are a bit less stiff than MX boots but still have strap and buckle closures for riding in mud.
If you can’t abide boots, try motorcycle riding shoes. They come in many styles—some are even designed to look like tennis or athletic shoes. But, they have many of the safety features found in motorcycle boots. They come up over the ankle, for instance, and many have toe sliders and other armor. Some have laces, others have zip or buckle closures. They are useful for commuting and for other urban riding. For example, take a look at the ladies boot here compared with the high-fashion style here.