The MXstore Boots Buying Guide
Motocross boots are without doubt the second most important piece of safety equipment in your gear bag (the first being your helmet of course). Choosing the right or wrong boots can have a big impact on your riding and injury prevention.
We recommend that quite a large chunk of your gear budget be spent on a decent set of dirt bike boots, as the equipping yourself with the best motocross boots possible will keep you as safe as possible on the track.
Designed to protect a riders’ lower extremities from a range of injuries, MX boots achieve this by implementing the following features:
- The thick leather construction and plastic shielding guards against simple cuts, abrasions and foreign objects from entering the lower leg.
- Plastic panelling, a thick rubber sole and a sturdy toe protector (either external steel cap or internal injection moulding) protect against blunt force trauma and possible amputations.
- Panel design, adjustable buckles, plastic supports and sometimes internal booties (high-end models) are used to support the ankle joint and protect it from injury.
I'm only a beginner, do I really need MX boots?
Of course you do! Whether you're a beginner or an expert, motocross boots are an absolutely essential piece of safety equipment and even on the strictest of budgets, the cheapest pair of boots is leaps and bounds more protective than any pair of shoes or work boots.
5 reasons your shoes won't cut it:
This should be a no brainer, but unfortunately there are weekend warriors Australia wide still burning around in their work boots.
- Shoelaces and front sprockets do not mix: When your front sprocket and chain decides to snack on your shoelaces you are going to hit the dirt.
- Shoes come off: The 3-4 sturdy buckles you see on almost every pair of motocross boots are to keep them firmly attached to your body. If I can’t kick an empty coke bottle without sending my shoe into outer-space, you can be guaranteed it’s not staying attached during a decent bike cartwheel.
- No toe protection: Crushing injuries are quite common on dirt bikes. Rocks, logs, and tree stumps, they’re all foot-peg magnets. If your foot happens to get between them and your shoes are going to do a whole lot of nothing.
- Leather is not enough: Motorbike boots use injection moulded plastic re-enforcing to help stop sharp objects from piercing your lower extremities. The thin leather and soft flexible sole on most shoes is quite easily penetrable by even a small flying stick.
- Zero Ankle Support: Shoes were built to protect the foot, not to support the ankle. With almost zero ankle stabilisation a pair of shoes leaves your ankle joint vulnerable to serious injury including sprains, dislocations, and fractures - or all three at once, we have seen it done!
Are motocross boots hard to get used and ride in?
If you have never worn a pair before, they will feel a little odd when you first put them on. Remember they are not designed to fit like a shoe - you don’t go shopping for a helmet and expect it to fit like a hat! Dirt bike boots have a very specific job to do, designed by professionals with years of research and development. They will probably feel tight, some-what restrictive and not super easy to walk-in.
Boots are tight for a reason, as they're designed to protect your ankle joint from damage the boots need to encase your leg like a cast. Boots are also hard to walk in for a reason - humans walk with, among other things, flexion and extension of the ankle. Extreme movements (hyperflexion and hyperextension) in either of these directions can be very damaging to the ankle and even micro-tears in the joint ligaments can be very painful and take weeks to repair.
Boots protect you from this kind of damage by limiting the range of movement available to your ankle joint. This can make boots hard to walk in. But remember, once on the bike, you’re not walking anywhere! Most new riders will get used to the feeling of boots in one decent ride, some may take a little longer. All will agree though that they become something you cannot ride without.
High-end models make use of clever hinge systems to protect the ankle from these sorts of hyper-flexion and hyper-extension injuries while still allowing enough movement for easier walking and gear-changes, and rear brake control. Check out the video below where we caught up with Alpinestars and Aussie favourite Todd Waters and discussed the Alpinestars boot range, and why Todd chooses to ride with Alpinestars boots.
Motocross, enduro, trials, pit bike: Which boots are right for me?
Dirt bikes are used in a range of different disciplines and there are different boot designs to suit.
Motocross Boots – The term ‘motocross’ gets thrown around a lot, but we are referring to the ‘sport’ of motocross which involves racing around a marked track, usually with jumps. As ankle injuries are very common in motocross you won’t see many racers hitting the track in a low-end boot. Look for something with extra ankle support. Your foot needn’t even touch the ground to endure an ankle fracture. Often times over-jumping or falling-short on a jump is all it takes to fracture one or both ankles.
Trail/Enduro Boots – Look for something with a little more toe protection. As trail riders have more natural obstacles to manoeuvre, crushing injuries seem quite common - steel capped boots aren’t enough. Some boots sport extra toe protection with re-enforcements around the toe area - usually the more expensive ones. As a trail rider you’ll also want extra waterproofing for those creek crossings. Unfortunately, the more affordable options just aren’t very waterproof either, so you might have to up the budget a little.
Tip - Keep your boots waterproof by not blasting the waterproofing out with a pressure washer. Don’t let the leather dry out and treat it regularly with a waterproofing leather treatment. Available at most supermarkets or shoe stores.***
Moto Trials Boots – Look for something with a moulded sole that’s both light and flexible. You’ll be spending a fair bit of time walking the sections so make sure they are comfortable.
Pit bike Boots - Smaller boots for a smaller bike? Well… yes and no. There are short-cut boots on the market which are essentially a twin buckled, smaller brother of the full-sized items we are used too. But, we always recommend a full-length boot if you can manage it. The longer upper will keep your shins better protected and keep your skin away from that burning exhaust pipe.
Some bikes are simply too small to accommodate a full-length boot in which case a ‘short boot’ is still a ginormous upgrade from a pair of shoes. If you aren’t sure, bring your bike in with you, try them on and find what works best for you. Remember you have to be comfortable when wearing them. An uncomfortable pair of boots is a huge distraction and a distracted rider is a dangerous rider.
Entry-level, mid-range, or top of the line: What's the difference?
With boot prices ranging from the low $100s to up around the $1,000 mark, it’s not hard to feel a little overwhelmed. The secret to choosing a pair of boots is no secret at all - you get what you pay for! It’s the same old story and it’s really that simple. Generally speaking, you pay more for a finer grade of leather - there is a massive difference between the full-grain leather used on high-end boots and a cheap split cut on cheaper boots - more impact protection, better buckles, stainless rivets, increased durability and longevity, a larger range of replacement parts and superior ankle support.
Let’s look at each range in detail…
The boots we consider to be on the lower end of the scale (protection wise), tend to lie in this price range.
Generally constructed of a lower grade leather, they tend to lack ankle support. They also lack external shielding and can at times look like a long leather shoe. On the plus sid,e a thinner cut of leather and a lack of ankle stiffness make these boots easy to walk around in and give decent control of the rear-brake and gear-levers. Some lower-priced boots can suffer a little from a high toe-box (simply the toe section of the boot) which can make it difficult to fit under the gear lever.
Who are they suited to? These boots weren’t designed for beginners. They were designed for people with strict budgets. A beginner rider has the exact same ankles as any experienced rider so why should they protect their feet and ankles any less? If you have the budget for it, at least consider a boot in the mid-range. If it's not viable, see below for help on picking a decent low-end model.
What to look for:
- Lateral ankle protection. Hold the boot in your hands and try to bend it at the ankle. Not up and down like you would if you were changing gears. But side-to-side like when you roll your ankle on an uneven ground. The most common ankle injury is the lateral inversion which is simply ‘rolling’ the ankle. Generally speaking, the harder it is to bend the boot at the ankle the more lateral support it should offer. If you are shopping online then feel free to contact us and we can point you in the right direction.
- Alloy buckles - Quite a lot of cheap boots use plastic buckles. Avoid them and spend a little extra if the budget allows or you will forever be replacing them.
- Moulded Soles - An emerging trend is the use of ‘moulded sole’ technology which does away with the old steel cap and stitched flat sole by directly moulding the sole to the boot-upper. The removal of the steel cap and a more shoe-like outer sole makes the boots easier to get around in. The perfect choice for boot newbies as it softens the transition from shoes to boots.
- A slim-line toe box - The toe section of your right boot will spend most of its life jammed under your gear lever. A bulky toe box can make it difficult to slide your foot in and out from under the shifter and can hinder your riding style.
Tip - If you are suffering from a bulky toe box consider moving your shifter a few notches on the spline to accommodate it.
Usually constructed of a full-grain leather, they are often clad in a heap of plastic shielding, with superior ankle protection. They usually make use of stiff ankle reinforcements to provide ankle stability but because of this they can be stiff to ride in. What they make up for in lateral ankle support they lose in ankle extension and flexion movement. While this can slightly hinder gear changes and rear brake control most riders get used to this very quickly and accommodate by using more of a ‘leg movement’ for gear and brake control rather than an ‘ankle flex’.
Almost always more waterproof than their low-end brother they also offer much more protection in the toe area which makes them a good starting point for trail/enduro riders. Some have replaceable soles and all offer a decent range of spares for boot maintenance and increased lifespan.
Who are they suited to? Suited for all riders looking for superior protection without breaking the bank. Every rider from novice to expert should at least consider a boot in the mid-range.
What to look for:
- Comfort: Because a mid-range boot tends to be more ‘fitted,’ you want to find one that fits you. The boot your mate might rave about could feel awful if you have different width feet. Our experienced staff can help you make the right choice by asking about your foot shape over the phone and recommending models to suit.
- Plastic motocross boots or leather: This topic is probably large enough for its own article. In summary though, plastic stays fairly static through-out the boots lifespan. It doesn’t stretch, it doesn’t dry out and you can blast it with a pressure washer all day long. But it makes for a heavy boot, is quite often less comfortable and also doesn’t transfer feeling nearly as well as leather does.
Most are constructed of full-grain leather, and some are made entirely of high-tech plastic composites. They offer a higher level of durability and will always outlast their cheaper alternatives. All offer a larger catalogue of replacement parts and are therefore more easily maintained to again increase lifespan. They tend to offer similar intrusion protection as mid-range boots, and much more R&D goes into the production high end motocross boot and almost all boast the following features:
- Improved comfort.
- Ankle hinge systems which allow increased freedom of movement while also increasing hyperextension protection.
- Advanced sole design for increased durability, grip and feeling while still boasting structural rigidity for protection.
- Super-slim toe box design for quicker and easier use of the gear lever.
- Some boots boast inner booties which can greatly increase ankle protection against lateral inversions (rolling the ankle).
- All will boast a mixture of stainless steel and aluminium hardware for weight reduction and corrosion resistance.
- All have replaceable soles.
Who are they suited to? While you won’t catch a professional without a pair, you don’t have to be a ‘racer’ to wear a high-end moto boot. Many beginners who are looking for maximum protection, comfort and durability also use high-end motocross boots. For a look at some of our more premium boot ranges check out the Alpinestars Tech 10 Boots, Fox Instinct Boots and Gaerne Boots.
What size dirt bike boots to buy, and how should they fit?
Different boot brands are labelled with different sizing. Either US, UK or EUR. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules and as every foot differs in size and shape there is no definitive sizing chart.
- Check your shoe sizing - The inside of most shoe tongues are labelled with one or more sizes. It may even be printed on the inner sole or the underside of the shoe. Be sure to take note of the sizing scale (AU, UK or EUR).
- Convert if necessary - All boots listed on MXstore are listed with the sizing scale. If the listed boot uses a different sizing scale to the size on your shoe you can use this motocross boot sizing chart to make the conversion.
- Choose your size – We have consistently found it to be more comfortable to buy a pair of boots one size larger than your shoe sizing. Having said that, if you are on the smaller side of your sizing, or even swing between shoe sizes dependant on the shoe brand, then always buy a boot that is the size of the largest shoe you wear. For example – If you swing between 9US and 10US then a 10US boot should fit nicely. If you are always a 10US then an 11US boot might be a more comfortable fit.
- Larger is safer – Remember there is next to nothing you can do for a boot that is too small. Your feet will also swell when you are riding so remember those small boots are only going to get smaller. If your boots are a little large, you at least have buckles for adjustment.
Boots should fit as tight as possible/comfortable. Large boots should be filled with some thick socks and the buckles should be tightened accordingly. Those motocross boot buckles play an extremely important role in providing stability to the ankle joint by helping to prevent excessive lateral movement. To keep your ankle protected they need to be tight. A loose boot is not serving its purpose so please keep those buckles tight.
New motocross boots will stretch so bear that in mind when choosing your size but please note they will only stretch width-wise. They cannot get longer toe-wise. Please don’t think that a slightly short boot will be more comfortable over time; it won’t. As your boots age and the leather stretches your boots will get looser so your boot buckles need to be tightened regularly. If you can easily snap your buckles closed they are not tight enough. The buckles should at least require some force to fold closed and you should feel your boot squeeze your ankle (comfortably of-course). Remember to replace busted buckles ASAP. They are cheap to buy and easily replaced.
Tip: People talk of a ‘break in' period when talking about new motocross boots. This is period of time immediately after purchasing new boots which can be days or weeks in which boots can feel slightly tight and even difficult to ride in until they are ‘worn in.’ Part of the break-in period is simply a matter of your body becoming used to the new boots, while the other part is boot stretch as explained above.
Women's motocross boots & kids motocross boots:
While there are women's specific boots on the market, many girls find the men's boots just as comfortable. Womens MX boots are usually labelled with women's sizing and are physically shaped a little different to accommodate for a women's smaller (usually) and thinner foot.
Unfortunately, there is a much smaller range of boots available for women, so unless you are specifically chasing pink or purple colours, we recommend checking out the men's range. You should find a men's boot to be just as comfortable in the long run.
We also have Kids MX riding boots - If you're unable to try the boots on and are worried about how a boot is going to fit then give us a call for some friendly advice. Remember, if you order online and feel the boots just don’t quite fit, we are happy to exchange them providing they comply with our return policy.
The most obvious accessories are motorbike socks which are available in a range of styles, colours and sizes. Sock style is usually determined by personal preference but they can also be determined by boot fit. It’s a good idea to have a few pairs in your gear-bag as-well for different occasions. Some specific socks are listed below
- Thigh Length/Knee Brace socks – Are excellent for those wearing knee braces or knee guards. The sock keeps the brace/guard from rubbing on the skin and also keeps them clean by absorbing sweat. It’s easier to wash a sock than a knee brace/guard.
- Coolmax socks – Are made from the patented Coolmax fibre technology which helps to keep your feet cool and dry!
- Womens motocross socks – Come in a range of cool/bright colours and prints.
Tips on how to care and clean your motocross boots:
- Yes we have all done it at some point and those of you who are lucky enough to ride in ‘that red mud’ know how tempting it is to grab the Gerni and start blasting away. But did you realise that nothing destroys your boots faster than a pressure washer? We like to explain this by reminding customers that moto boots aren’t made of anything special - it’s just leather. Those of you who have felt a pressure washer tearing their skin off can appreciate just how much damage they do to soft tissue. Your boots, made largely of leather, are permeated with a leather treament during manufacturing which helps keep them soft (comfortable) and provides waterproofing. As soon as you blast your boots with a pressure washer you lift the grain of the leather and wash out all of that goodness. They then dry-out and you have successfully halved their lifespan. Dry boots also means dry stitching which makes for brittle stitching and premature boot failure. By all means give them a quick ‘blast’ after you’ve done the bike but hold the nozzle away. Wet the boots then use a scrubbing brush to make them sparkle.
- Check the screws – Most boot buckles are held on with screws and they come loose. The leading cause of buckle replacements is not breakage but screws falling out. Keep them tight and consider using some thread locker if they keep coming loose.
- Look after the leather by treating it regularly with a leather treatment. These are readily available from most supermarkets or shoe shops. This also helps to keep your boots waterproof.
- Some boot models have replaceable soles. It is a good idea to keep an eye on the sole wear and replace them before it wears through and your pegs start destroying the shank of the boot. Replacement soles should be attached professionally.
- Use a lubricant spray (some can be harm-full to leather and plastics so read the label) to spray the boot buckles after each ride to disperse water and help prevent corrosion.
- There is some ‘advice’ being thrown around the industry to soak your new boots in a warm bath to help loosen them up and decrease the ‘break-in’ period. MXstore does NOT advise you do this. Would you jump in the bath with your brand new leather shoes and expect them to last? Boots are treated with a water-resistant leather treatment and are designed to be exposed to water but certainly not to be soaked in it for extended periods. The best way to ‘break in’ your boots is just to wear them around. Put them on and do some walking around. Even mow the lawn. Or better yet, get on the bike and take it easy until you get comfortable in them.
- Ensure your boots dry properly after each ride to prevent mould and bacteria growth.
Popular best selling MX boots at MXstore:
- Fox MX boots,
- Oneal boots,
- Gaerne boots
- Sidi boots
- Thor boots
- Forma boots
- Shift MX boots
- TCX boots
- Leatt boots
Remember that our friendly staff are always on hand to answer any questions you may have. Checkout our contact page for all the details
Leave a comment
Let us find it for you… Find it for me!