As you ride more you start to identify needs, and then you start to look beyond your snow jacket and beyond your sneakers, because now they’re not cutting it anymore.”
My experience has been absolutely the same. For years, I got by on short rides with my Bell Vortex helmet and non-motorcycle boots. But when I took my trip to Canada last year, I knew it was time to upgrade.
I bought a new helmet right away, stepping up to a sleek and lightweight Shoei RF-1200. Motorcycle boots were a new world to me, though, so I dragged my feet a bit (ha!).
Until then, the only moto-specific shoes I had were my TCX X-Streets. These CE-rated sneakers gave me an extra boost of protection over regular shoes, but weren’t all that comfortable. Most days, I got by with my casual lace-up boots.
But with my FZ-07, 150+ mile days were becoming second nature, and I needed boots that did more than just protect my feet. I needed performance.
Why do we need motorcycle-specific footwear?
Obviously, motorcycle boots are made to protect our feet — and they do need it.
While riding, our feet and legs are perfectly positioned to get pinned underneath a vehicle or crushed in a side impact. In fact, lower extremity injuries are the most common kind of non-fatal motorcycle crash injury.
Like other types of motorcycle gear, motorcycle boots are designed to withstand abrasion and impact. But because of the risk of crushing or twisting, they are also designed to hold their shape, known as transverse rigidity.
Footwear, though, is an interesting category. A pair of thick leather work boots with hefty soles could provide protection in a crash — not as much as race boots, but definitely more than sneakers.
But, as I’ve learned, motorcycle footwear isn’t just designed for protection — it’s designed for riding.
What I wanted in a motorcycle boot
One of my biggest issues on my Canada trip was heel and arch strain. My casual boots didn’t give my heels near enough support in the riding position, so by the end of the trip my heels and arches were screaming.
True motorcycle footwear, on the other hand, is shaped to keep your feet comfortable and supported while on the footpegs. It’s why motorcycle boots generally aren’t very comfortable to walk in.
Also, I learned from Joanne Donn that boots can be a powerful tool for shorter riders. Joanne (who is only five foot two) says good motorcycle boots are one of the key reasons she’s able to ride tall liter bikes with confidence.
I can’t flat-foot my FZ, which isn’t a problem for me, but I knew grippier soles would increase my confidence. Plus, my husband recently bought a tall DRZ, and I wanted boots that would help me rip around on it from time to time 🙂
Finally, I wanted boots that would be appropriate for year-round riding in the PNW, which meant I needed a good combination of waterproofing and breathability.
My choice: TCX Women’s Explorer EVO
Armed with some research, I started shopping. I found a few pairs I liked, but was hesitant to commit… and then the TCX Women’s Explorer EVO boots went on closeout.
Immediately, I liked their clean lines, slim profile, and reflective detailing. And they had all the features on my list: designed for touring, grippy soles, breathable Gore-Tex waterproofing, and CE Level 2 certification.
At the $200 list price, the TCX Women’s Explorer EVO boots were already a solid buy. On closeout, they were a steal. When the boots arrived, I fell in love. They were perfect. Lightweight yet protective, with exactly the features I needed.
But when I put them on, I couldn’t quite tell… were they too loose? I wore the boots around the house for hours, tried on different socks, shifted my foot this way and that.
They felt comfortably snug in the ankle, but my foot seemed to have a bit too much wiggle room. The smaller size in these boots was already sold out, so I got nervous. Would I have to find another pair?
I messaged Joanne with my problem, and she came to the rescue with a stellar solution: try a thicker insole. In fifteen minutes I was at Target comparing Dr. Scholl’s. I got the thickest I could find, rushed home to put them in my boots… and they fit perfectly.
Interestingly, the same thing (in reverse) happened when I bought my Shoei: I thought the helmet was too small, but the fit expert at Beaverton Motorcycles swapped out the liner for a perfect fit.
Moral of the story? Don’t settle for a poor fit, because sometimes all it takes is a minor adjustment. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to a fit expert — their advice can keep you safe and save you money 😉
Is it time for your first pair of “real” motorcycle boots?
I’m about a month and 600 miles into these boots, and I am thrilled. I feel more stable putting my feet down on the FZ now, and after four hours of riding I didn’t have any heel or arch strain.
Before buying these boots, I thought motorcycle boots would be too heavy or stiff, and would feel like overkill for my non-track riding. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The TCX Explorer EVOs are wonderfully lightweight, and they even fit in with my casual-leaning motorcycle gear. Whether I’m on the FZ or KZ, they don’t look out of place in the slightest.
I also like how easy they are to get on and off, which makes them a perfect complement to my Stellar Moto jumpsuit.
Regardless, if you’re a casual-boot rider like I was, I hope I’ve gotten you thinking about the benefits of motorcycle boots.
Now that I know what it’s like to wear true riding boot, I know I’m never going back.
For more information on motorcycle boots, I highly recommend Joanne’s intro guide.