Riding Boots - Feet First - Buyer's Guide

Here's A Look At The Latest Crop Of Road-Ready Riding Boots

Some boots may be made for walking, but motorcycle riders demand more than just a fancy tread pattern from their footwear. To pass muster, good riding gear should be designed to protect the fragile bones (all 26 of 'em) in your foot from impact and abrasion, and also shelter them from rain, wind, heat and cold.

So what, specifically, should you look for? The prerequisites are few but important. The sole should be thick to dampen vibration, resilient to resist hard or sharp objects, and should feature a grippy tread pattern to provide traction on irregular or slick road surfaces. The boot's outer construction should be rugged enough to protect your feet and ankles from the external assaults of the road. Look for flexible, internal heel and toe cups. Extra shin protection also rates high on the desired-features list, but you'll find this bonus mainly on sport or touring boots. Boots should also securely attach to your foot to prevent slippage in the event of a crash. That means tailored boots with zippers or laces are best for staying on your feet in the event of a get-off. While certainly popular with cruiser riders, slip-on engineer-style boots are more likely to come off before they've finished doing their job.

A boot must satisfy day-to-day considerations, too. Any self-respecting rider will tell you comfort and style are the factors that'll determine whether or not you'll really wear the things. The lining, for instance, can make a huge difference in how loudly your dogs will bark at the end of a ride, and any kind of moisture-wicking membrane will certainly help boost the internal comfort level (just remember not to wear cotton socks because they will absorb water, making vapor transfer more difficult). And let's face it-not everyone fancies themselves Iron Butt competitors or Grand Prix racers. We know you won't wear the safest boot in the world if it's overengineered for your particular riding style.

With that in mind, we rounded up a cross section of new boots that encompass a wide variety of riding styles. Some are waterproof, some are flashy, but all are solidly built and protective. They feature either synthetic or real leather construction, are at least ankle-high and offer tough nonskid soles with good traction.