It's imperative that high quality motorcycle boots are worn anytime you're riding or even kick starting a dirt bike, as there are a multitude of small bones in your foot and lower leg which a purpose built motocross boot does a very good job of protecting, while also helping to only allow the foot to move fore and aft, while limiting lateral movement, which in turn greatly helps to prevent twisted and sprained ankles or other injuries when planting a foot, yet still allows natural range of movement of the foot through use of strategically placed leather, metal, polyurethane's, high impact plastics and synthetic composites.
Riding a motorcycle off-road often exposes a riders foot and lower leg to rather harsh conditions, so to prevent crushing, abrasions, burns or other injuries, it's important that a riders feet and lower legs are well protected, which is simply NOT possible with a standard work boot, or tennis shoe, as motocross boots have been developed through rigorous testing to provide maximum protection to a riders vulnerable lower leg, foot and ankle.
It's a given that all motocross boots are designed to protect a riders lower leg and foot from the hazards of riding a motorcycle in an off-road environment (Motocross and FMX Included), and to provide this type of protection motorcycle boots are constructed in a rigid fashion. However that's generally where the similarity ends as all motocross boots are not created equal, and in short time the lesser quality boots will deteriorate and no longer provide adequate protection, or ankle support, but have no worries because we'll steer you clear of these below.
When shopping for a pair of riding boots you'll find they vary greatly in price and although all of the full sized boots are designed to protect a riders foot, ankle and lower leg, it's important to pay attention to the durability, construction and protective qualities which vary greatly between boots.
Although designed to be stiff and restrictive in movement to prevent injuries, a motocross boot needs to allow a certain level of flexibility while retaining their supportive nature, as this flexibility is what allows the necessary movement of a riders ankle to facilitate precise operation of the shifter or brake pedal.
However, speaking of flexibility, although the lesser expensive boots may appear to be supportive when new, the lesser expensive boots quickly deteriorate and become way too flexible, way too soon and generally don't provide quality ankle or footing support through harsh landings and G-Outs, so are generally only recommended for recreational, non - competitive applications.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the shorty half boots don't offer much in the way of lower leg protection since they are primarily intended for pitbike use, casual riding, or possibly kick starting a bike ahead of a race for a rider.
The recommended full size motocross boots are generally between 14 - 15 inches in height from the insole to the top of the gaiter, and these allow the rider to grip the bike with their lower leg, as well as a full size boot provides excellent protection against lower leg burns, or tendon damage when (not if) your foot slips off the kickstarter on the way down, or you find the bike's exhaust against your lower leg.
Lastly, With the preceding points in mind, before purchasing a new pair of motocross boots, be sure to assess, and consider the following points of any particular boot's construction:
With consideration of this article not being written to promote any boot in particular, and considering the boot selection criteria discussed above, the Alpinestars Tech 3 boot provides unbeatable protection and styling at a very affordable, entry level price, while sporting many of the features found in Alpinestars higher end boots which include the Tech 8's and Tech 10's.
As discussed above, any motocross boot will provide better protection than a standard boot, or worse, a tennis shoe, but boots without polyurethane or plastic supports are best avoided since these style of boots do not provide much support or protection of a riders lower leg and ankle, which becomes obvious after break in when the boots begin sagging, and falling over just above the ankle area.
Most motocross boots are sized very similarly to how a men's size tennis shoe would fit, although unless you're already familiar with a particular boot, you may want to consider going to a local dealer beforehand and trying on a pair of boots similar to what you'll be buying. This way you can get a feel for the toe box area, how heavy the boot is on your leg, how comfortable the footbed is, or how sensitive the feel for a shifter or brake lever may appear to be.
New motocross boots are usually so stiff right out of the box they may initially cause you to miss shifts, and not have precise control of the rear brake, but this stiffness subsides as your boots get broken in, and fortunately there are a few things you can do to a new pair of riding boots to make them not so stiff and more comfortable right away. However, if you find that wearing motocross boots are causing missed shifts or lack of ability to shift, or if you have problems getting your foot under the shifter, it may be necessary to adjust the height of the shifter.
If you have an old, worn out pair of motorcycle boots that are sagging, or worse, folded over above the ankle area, these should be replaced, as the soles, structure and integrity of a well used, low quality boot, even though designed for off highway motorcycling, will deteriorate to the point where they no longer provide adequate protection, or support as evidenced by their collapse, and riding with these leaves your foot and lower leg more vulnerable to injury during harsh landings, or when stabbing a foot in a turn to maintain balance.
If you wear a boot that still offers good support but the sole is chewed up, the manufacturer may offer a replacement sole, or sole insert which some high end boot manufacturers use to facilitate "Do it Yourself" sole replacement, and boots with a sole replacement option are generally worth replacing the sole, or sole insert, as they are constructed with better materials than the lesser quality boots which will start drooping above the ankle, and often don't provide adequate protection or support to warrant sole replacement.
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