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Common Tread

How to size and buy motorcycle boots

Sep 07, 2019

Picking out a pair of motorcycle boots isn’t like choosing a new pair of dress shoes or sneakers. Moto boots are packed with specialized features, and they can be tricky to size on top of that. 

This is why lots of riders struggle to find a good pair of boots. 

With this guide, you’ll get a grasp of the different kinds of boots available and how they should fit. You’ll also be able to find your boot size. That’s the information you’ll need to order your next pair of motorcycle boots.

Types of boots

The world of motorcycle boots is vast. It can be confusing to search through all the different styles, materials, and intended uses out there. Let’s cover the types of boots you’ll encounter, then we’ll get into sizing.

Motorcycle street boots
Regular shoes, or moto protection? Hard to tell at a glance. RevZilla photo.

Street boots

Many riders are just looking for a pair of street boots, since a large portion of riders are out on the road. Street boots come in a wide variety of styles to suit all kinds of bikes and riders. They’ll usually blend comfort and safety. In fact, some street boots can pass for casual streetwear. Slip on a pair of riding shoes or traditionally styled boots, and nobody but you (or a passing RevZilla Gear Geek) will know that you’re actually wearing motorcycle protection. Waterproof street boots are easy to find, perfect for commuting or year-round riding. In exchange for their versatile styling, street boots don’t offer as much protection as full-on race boots. They might also feature laces, which are not the greatest choice around moving parts of your motorcycle.

Motorcycle sport track boots
Check out the metal sliders and reinforcements at the ankle. RevZilla photo.

Sport/track boots

For the ultimate in on-road protection, you’ll want a sport/track boot. These look just like the boots you’ll see riders wearing in MotoGP. Sport/track boots offer maximum protection from slides, twists, and hyperextension. These boots also feature great tactile feedback as you work the controls. Another bonus: They usually offer replaceable hard parts. When you’ve worn down a slider, just get a new one and bolt it on. What they aren’t: casual, comfy, or wearable for days at a time. For something a little toned down, yet still protective, you’ll want a pair of touring boots.

Motorcycle touring boots
Touring boots combine comfort and protection for long rides in any weather. RevZilla photo.

Touring boots

If you’re putting big miles on your bike, you’ll want to consider a pair of touring boots. They’re all-day comfortable, they’re usually waterproof (or at least water-resistant), and they come in a range of heights. A touring boot strikes a balance between protection and overall wearability. They usually do not feature the advanced torsional protection of a sport/track boot, and they aren’t usually the most fashion-forward options out there. But for the touring rider, it’s all about the journey, anyway.

Motorcycle dirt bike boots
Heading off-road? Boots like these are what you'll need. RevZilla photo.

Dirt boots

Heading off-road? You’ll want to protect your feet, ankles, and shins from the trail with a good pair of dirt boots. They offer maximum protection against common off-road injuries. Virtually all dirt boots are full height, as a result. And just like dirt pants, helmets, gloves, and jerseys, dirt boots come in the craziest colors. Or just black, if that’s more your speed. They just all get covered in dirt, anyway. Dirt boots are not comfortable to walk around in, and they aren’t usually waterproof, but that’s because they are focused on one thing: keeping your feet safe while riding dirt bikes. If you like to mix your off-road and on-road riding, however, check out some adventure boots.

Motorcycle adventure boots
Adventure riding might take you from highways to back roads to trails. Enter the versatile ADV boot. RevZilla photo.

Adventure boots

ADV boots split the difference between dirt boots and touring boots, since that’s how many adventure riders use their motorcycles. Some dirt protection elements are incorporated, but with some of the comfort of a touring boot baked in, as well. ADV boots are usually waterproof, and style-wise, they favor the rugged looks of the dirt world. Like any other compromise product, an ADV boot isn’t as safe as a dirt boot, or as plush as a touring boot, and it’s up to the rider to determine if that balance is right for their needs. 

Motorcycle boot sizing
Check your shoe size, then compare to the size chart on a boot's product page. That should at least get you close. RevZilla photo.

Boot sizing

If you want to find your shoe size, there’s always a Brannock device. (That’s the silver sliding measurer at the shoe store.) Odds are, you don’t own one personally. Your local store can get you measured up. Once you know your size in one pair of motorcycle boots, that should stay roughly the same across all brands. If we spot any inconsistencies in sizing for a particular pair of boots, we’ll let you know in either the product description or the breakdown video. Be sure to check them out for any boots you’re interested in.

Trying on motorcycle boots
Lace up those fresh boots, and see how they feel. RevZilla photo.

Trying on a pair of motorcycle boots

You’ve learned the different types of motorcycle boots, you’ve got your feet sized, and a new pair of motorcycle boots has finally arrived. Try on the boots and walk around with them, and keep the boots’ construction and purpose in mind as you check for any discomfort. A dirt boot, for example, will not be very nice to walk around in. You’re looking for any pinching, crushing, or other discomfort that can’t be solved with some manipulation of the boots’ adjustments (if equipped). In particular, pay attention to the toes, the sides of the foot, and the back of the heel. Could you complete your next ride in these boots without sore feet at the end? Alternatively, does your foot have too much wiggle room? A boot that’s too big will not do you any favors.

Motorcycle boot sizing
Your boots might need some time to break in, but you should feel comfortable on the bike while wearing them. If the boots hinder your ability to operate the controls, try a different pair. RevZilla photo.

 If the boots feel good, congratulations, you’ve got yourself a new pair of motorcycle boots. Make sure you’re totally sold on the boots before riding in them. (RevZilla can’t accept returns on gear that you’ve taken for a ride.) 

Common issues with boot sizing

I took a few minutes to talk to RevZilla’s showroom staff about common boot sizing problems. They help thousands of customers each year, so they’ve seen it all. Foot width is a frequent issue for riders. A boot may fit nicely from heel to toe, but foot width is just as crucial a measurement. Riders with wide feet are going to struggle with many sport boots, especially ones from Europe. Seek out a known pair of wide-foot-friendly boots if this is something you struggle with in your regular shoe sizing. 

Another problem is too much space at the heel. A boot might feel great all the way around, but a gap remains at the back of the heel. Before exchanging those boots, take a look at your socks. Seriously, your thin pair of cotton socks probably isn’t the best choice for your moto boots. Moto socks are available for all styles of riding. They are thicker than regular socks, and a good moto sock will help wick moisture away from your foot. This keeps your feet (and boots) fresh.

Finally, riders with larger calves can have a hard time finding boots that fit. Look for boots with more adjustability from the ankle to the top of the boot. If the boots are not adjustable, there's not much you can do to make them fit. Save the headache and look for adjustability up front.

That should be all you need to get riding with a new pair of moto boots. Happy riding!