Not too many months ago, a friend of mine went into a corner carrying far too much speed on his 796 Monster. He hit a square kerb toes-forward, while wearing nothing but a pair of running shoes. It wasn’t pretty. He snapped four of his toes and left them pointing backwards with only his pinky toe escaping relatively unscathed. We’d all warned him countless times to get some proper motorcycle boots, but as with many things in life, some people have to hit the kerb to learn the lesson.
So here’s a list of classic motorcycle boots that will protect your toes from kerbs and your ankles from asphalt. You’ll also be able to wear them into the pub at the end of the day—without looking like you fell off the set of J.J. Abrahms’ latest cinematic effort.
Lewis Leathers Westway No.W10 Lewis Leathers is recognised as the oldest still-operating motorcycle gear manufacturer in the world. The company started out in 1892 and it’s still going strong today, 121 years later. We’ve chosen the £385 ($580) Westway boot, based on the Motorway boot but a little more suitable for wearing both on and off the bike. The vintage-styled Westway is constructed from premium heavy cowhide; it also has heel and ankle straps to ensure a good fit, and a replaceable Goodyear welt sole to ensure longevity. [Buy]
Dainese Cafe These classic motorcycle boots from the Vicenza-based company, est. 1972, look like they just popped out of the 1960s. Costing €189 ($250), they have polyurethane armour inserts in the heel and toebox, nylon ankle guards and are made from thick cowhide leather with a rubber sole. From personal experience, Dainese gear tends to be bulletproof—so you can reasonably expect these boots to easily outlast the popularity of Justin Bieber. And if you don’t know who he is, I envy you. [Buy]
Icon 1000 Elsinore This is the most hardcore of the current Icon 1000 motorcycle boots line-up: Its inner zipper is inspired by paratrooper boots and the side is fastened with five alloy straps and buckles. The Elsinore has a steel shank in the Goodyear rubber sole, a stamped heel plate, a thick leather upper and a design that harks back to the classic motocross boots of yesteryear. Available in ‘Oiled Brown’ or ‘Johnny Black,’ a pair is yours for $245. [Buy]
Alpinestars Alpha Touring Alpinestars is renowned for making solid yet lightweight gear that’s prized by serious motorcycle racers, both on the tarmac and off. Most Alpinestars gear is a little heavy on the flashy graphics, but the Italian-based multinational also caters for those of us who wear slightly more classic gear—with products like this, the Alpha Touring Boot. For $170 you get an internally molded shin, toe and heel counters for impact resistance, and an accordion flex panel in front of the ankle. Plus a waterproof liner for those days when the weather refuses to play nice. [Buy]
Stylmartin Legend R Another Italian with classic good looks: Stylmartin is a moto-centric footwear manufacturer that’s seen a surge of popularity in recent years. The $275 Legend R motorcycle boot comes in dark brown and has a thick leather upper with two straps, a zipper, an anti-slip oilproof sole, and internal protection on both sides of the ankle. And this is another motorcycle boot with a waterproof internal lining, making it extra-practical as well as stylish. [Buy]