Written By Robert Bacon
Published Aug. 13, 2021

Everyone focuses on the jacket and helmet when they think about riding gear, but that’s forgetting about one crucial part of your body. You need the right shoes to protect both your feet and ankles. There was a time when your only option was a pair of large and clunky black leather boots. While these have their place and purpose, they aren’t great for a casual ride to lunch or commuting to the office. 

Thankfully, gear manufacturers have upped their game and are now making protective footwear that’s also stylish. These motorcycle shoes look like a stylish pair of kicks that are right at home with jeans or slacks. However, hidden in the construction are ankle support, durable soles, and plenty of other innovative safety features. This guide will help you choose a stylish pair of motorcycle shoes.

The Best Motorcycle Shoes

It’s hard to fault the Alpinestars Men’s Motorcycle Shoe, as it excels in practically every area. The first, and most important thing, to note about these shoes is that they offer excellent protection. They meet CE Level-2 EU safety standards, so they’ll have you covered if the worst happens. All this protection doesn’t weigh the shoes down though, thanks to a lightweight microfiber upper section that’s both durable and abrasion-resistant. The rubber sole is also lightweight, even though it features an integrated support shank that keeps the shoe quite rigid. Although the soles are stiff, you can still walk around comfortably, as there are flex areas on the heel and instep.

This model is designed with sport riding in mind. Strategically positioned perforations and a metallic mesh vent keep your feet cool while you’re on the move. There’s 3D ankle protection, which improves fit and ankle protection. The speed lace system allows you to quickly slip in and out of these shoes without compromising safety and this model stands up to regular motorcycle wear and tear thanks to an internal protective toe box and heel counter under the chassis. The only drawback to these shoes is that they’re not totally waterproof.

Specs
  • Brand Alpinestars
  • Model 25156181085
  • Weight 5 pounds
PROS

CE Level 2

Flexible

Lightweight

Well-ventilated

CONS

Not waterproof

Not as stylish as other models

You could find cheaper models than Iron Jia’s Motorcycle Shoes, but you won’t find ones that are better value. A thickened pad over the inner toe area keeps this product from suffering shifting-related wear and tear. Riding at night is that bit safer when wearing these shoes, thanks to a reflective strip on the heel. On the inside of both shoes is a zipper, which makes it quick and easy to put them on and take them off. A Velcro cover hides the zipper, giving the shoes a clean, streamlined look.

Style is subjective, but owners often comment on how much they love the look of these shoes. In particular, users like how well they look with jeans. One negative aspect owners pointed out was that this model wasn’t waterproof. However, there’s recently been a waterproofing upgrade, so these shoes should be suitable for wet-weather riding. One upgrade we would like to see is a grippier sole, as some owners claim there’s almost no grip on wet surfaces. If the manufacturer fitted some armor to these shoes, it’d take them to the next level, but their price would probably follow suit.

Specs
  • Brand Iron Jia’s
  • Model MT016-44(10)
  • Weight 2.64 pounds
PROS

Great value

Reinforced toe and heel

Waterproof exterior

CONS

Sole not grippy in wet conditions

Not enough general protection

The Dainese Men’s Motorcycle Shoes are arguably the best-looking shoes on this list, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all form over function, as these are legitimate motorcycle shoes. Each shoe is handmade from cowhide leather and fitted with Dainese’s D-WP liner, making them waterproof and an excellent year-round option. The downside of using this liner is that it reduces breathability. They’re CE-rated too so they’ll protect you should they ever need to. Rigid inserts and a nylon heel keep your ankle secured, helping to prevent any twisted or even broken ankles.

Like most Dainese shoes, this model has a narrow fit, so mightn’t be suitable for people who have broad feet. It would be nice to see a gear-shifter guard because, without one, this shoe is sure to show signs of wear pretty quickly. However, it’s possible Dainese left the guard out to keep this model looking sleek and stylish.

Specs
  • Brand Dainese
  • Model 201775174001010
  • Weight 2.2 pounds
PROS

Great style

CE rated

Waterproof

Comfortable to walk in

CONS

High price point

No gear-shifter guard

When it comes to sport riding, the Alpinestars Women’s Stella Faster-3 is a great option. They’re CE-rated, so you’ll have extra reinforcement at the toe, heel, and sides of the shoes. TPU sliders run along the outside of the front of these shoes, making them perfect for anyone who likes to scratch on a Sunday. There’s integrated support in the rubber sole, which enhances this shoe’s rigidity. Thankfully, the dual-density ankle protectors between the upper and lower padding provide a good amount of flexibility when walking.

Shifting in these shoes should feel good, thanks to the TPR slider detail on the lateral toe box. An asymmetric toe design protects the entire shift area so you won’t wear out the material. The upper part of this model is made from a lightweight but durable abrasion-resistant microfiber. This microfiber material, coupled with air vents and a 3D mesh lining, make this a breathable well-ventilated shoe. The only real downside to all this ventilation is that water gets in on rainy days.

Specs
  • Brand Alpinestars
  • Model Alpinestars Women’s Stella Faster 3 Shoes
  • Weight 16 pounds
PROS

CE rated

Flex areas

Semi-rigid sole

Well-ventilated

CONS

Not waterproof

Not great for wearing causally

If you’re going to ride come rain or shine, check out the Harley-Davidson Women’s Makey Waterproof Boots. These shoes are made from 100 percent full-grain leather that work with Harley’s Hydro-Guard waterproof membrane lining to make them waterproof. What’s great about the Hydro-Guard is that it’s also breathable, so you won’t suffer from sweaty feet. Keeping you safe if you hit the deck is Poron ankle protection, this type of protection is flexible and lightweight but still absorbs up to 90 percent of energy when impacted at high strain rates.

Users report that these shoes are comfortable to walk around in, although a little on the heavy side due to their waterproofing. With that said, some owners stated that they even wear these boots in their free time since they look great. The laces and rubber outsoles are reflective, offering an extra element of protection at night. As with most boots, a few owners have reported that the ankle area can be tight but loosens once the leather is broken in.

Specs
  • Brand Harley-Davidson
  • Model D87165-05.0
  • Weight 3.1 pounds
PROS

Hydro-Gurard waterproof membrane

Breathable Lightweight

Poron protection

CONS

CE-rated protection would be better

Can be tight before the leather is broken in

The Harley-Davidson Women’s Tyler 6-Inch Boot is a great boot for anyone who’s vertically challenged, but don’t be fooled by this model’s name, it doesn’t sport a 6-inch heel. The added height comes courtesy of a 2-inch heel and 4-1/2-inch shaft (from the arch). So, if you’ve been thinking about getting a lowering kit, maybe you should try this shoe first. They’re made from 100 percent leather, and users consistently compliment their durability.

Although the soles are made from thick rubber, the boots are lightweight overall, and owners say they’re extremely comfortable. But there’s an unfortunate reason these shoes are so light – there’s essentially no real protection. There’s a padded ankle and tongue, but this probably won’t offer enough protection in the event of a crash.

Specs
  • Brand Harley-Davidson
  • Model D84280
  • Weight 5 pounds
PROS

2-inch heel

Durable thanks to 100 percent leather construction

Comfy enough for everyday use

CONS

Not nearly enough protection

Not a good shape for sport riding

How We Selected The Products

Our top contenders were selected after scouring through dozens of motorcycle shoes. We gave priority to well-known brands that have plenty of positive user feedback. The main features we took into consideration were protection, price, waterproofing, materials, durability, grip, style, comfort, and fit.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Best Motorcycle Shoes Buying Guide And FAQs

Motorcycle shoes exist on a spectrum. Some lean toward practical or sporty riding, while others are focused on style. You need to decide what trade-off is right for you. Urban commuters who walk around between rides will probably benefit most from a comfy, stylish pair of shoes. But anyone who wants to tackle twisties on a Sunday will need shoes with more protection and rigidity.

This guide will explain the most common types of motorcycle shoes, what to consider when buying, and FAQs.

The Most Common Types of Motorcycle Shoes

There are essentially two types of motorcycle shoes: textile and leather. Both materials offer different benefits, and the right one for you will depend on the type of riding you do. Check out the features of each material below.

Textile

These shoes are made from modern and traditional textiles. It’s common for these shoes to have a lace-up front, as you’d see on traditional shoes. They tend to be soft, flexible, and more lightweight than other options. You’ll also find them to be more breathable, which makes them great for warm-weather riding. 

Textile shoes come in a wide variety of colors, allowing you to better match them with the rest of your riding gear. For the most durability, look for a shoe that has protective treatments to repel water and dirt. These models will stay fresh for longer, as will your feet.

Leather

When buying leather shoes, the vast majority of your options are going to be either black or brown. Generally speaking, leather shoes are more stylish and comfortable. So you can meet your friends for lunch or wear them to work, without getting any strange looks. The downside is that these shoes don’t usually offer as much protection as their textile counterparts, and aren’t as good for sport riding.

Although textiles can offer better protection, leather naturally repels water and is abrasion resistant, so it’s a viable option. High-quality leather is durable so, when it’s properly looked after, can last for years.

What to Consider When Buying Motorcycle Shoes

When looking for the perfect pair of motorcycle shoes, you need to consider a few features and qualities. This will ensure you get the best pair of shoes for your needs, riding style, and budget. Start by making sure you buy the right size. Then consider the build quality to determine durability. Finally, look at the safety features that are built into the shoe. 

Protection and Armor  

Above all else, you need to consider what kind of protection is on offer. The highest you can hope for is CE Level 2, but Level 1 still provides plenty of protection. There are other forms of protection, such as Poron, and even leather has protective qualities. 

Motorcycle shoes come up over your ankle for added support. The best support comes in the form of shanks but, for casual commuting, padding is fine too but not as protective. Look for toe box support too, as it makes it easier for you to change gears and adds an extra element of safety.

Size and Fit 

Motorcycle shoes tend to run narrow in size, so you’ll want to consider this when choosing a pair. You may need to size up when ordering. Start with your standard shoe size, and then compare it to the size chart provided by the manufacturer. 

The shoe’s fit should be snug enough to stay securely on your foot and loose enough to not cut off circulation. It also needs to have some room for air circulation to keep your feet cool in warm weather. There should be enough space at the front for you to wiggle your toes, otherwise, you can count on getting blisters. 

Upper and Sole Material  

You have the option of leather, synthetic leather, or textile for the upper. The most protective upper material is leather. However, it’s also the least breathable. Look for a leather shoe that has perforation to help with this. Textile is nice because it makes the shoes look more casual. You don’t have to worry about textile scuffing as you do with leather. Some shoes use a combination of leather and textile. The best design uses leather to reinforce the impact points and textile fabric to make it breathable. 

The sole needs to be a grippy rubber to give you secure footing. A tread pattern that gives you plenty of edges is the best option. The edges of the tread grip the road and prevent your feet from sliding. A slightly sculpted sole is also good because it will prevent your foot from sliding on the peg.  

Waterproofing

No one likes riding with soggy socks, so if you’re likely to ride in wet weather conditions then you should opt for waterproof shoes. You can find shoes which have an exterior that’s been treated to be waterproof and others that use a waterproof membrane on the interior. Some will have both features. Motorcycle shoes that have a 100 percent leather exterior will also offer some water resistance.

If you choose well-ventilated mesh shoes, you’ll have to accept that water will creep in eventually. 

Style 

The style of the shoe should express your fashion taste and the style of motorcycle that you ride. Buying the right kind of shoe style will help you to be more comfortable while riding. For example, a sports bike shoe will flex more in the ankle. The shoe should also have a toe box that fits easily under your shifter without you having to contort your leg or adjust the shifter height. 

Some shoes have an urban and modern feel, while others look more like a classic high-top sneaker. Consider how casual or formal the shoe is and where you plan to wear it. Finally, consider the color of the shoe. The majority come in either black or brown, but you can find some models that have bold red, blue, or Hi-Viz accents. 

Closures  

The majority of motorcycle shoes have lacing on the front. Although laces are great for securing the shoe, they’re not ideal for riding as they can get caught on parts of the motorcycle. Some shoes have a Velcro flap at the top, which secures the laces. This isn’t the most stylish look, but it’s a great safety feature.

You’ll be able to put your shoes on and take them off quickly if you find ones with zippers that run along the inside. Usually, there’ll be a Velcro strap that hides the zip, which is a nice stylistic feature.

Best Motorcycle Shoes FAQs

If you have any questions that haven’t been answered in our buying guide, check out some of the most common motorcycle shoes FAQs.

Q: How do you take care of motorcycle shoes?

Warm water and a cloth are the main two things you’ll need to clean motorcycle shoes. Use a brush to remove dried mud or dirt before washing. If you want to add soap make sure that it’s neutral, as some soaps can strip shoes of their oil-resistant coating. If you have leather shoes and want to keep them looking fresh, then you should apply leather polish every so often. You can go the extra mile and pick up some cleaning products designed specifically for leather shoes.

Always let your shoes air dry and, if you want to speed up the process, you can stuff them with newspaper or tissue.

Q: Can you wear motorcycle shoes on a track day? 

Some tracks won’t allow motorcycle shoes and insist that riders wear boots. But the answer depends on the track in question, so you’ll need to check this beforehand. 

Q: How do I find the right fit?

Ideally, go to a local motorcycle gear shop and try on the shoes you have in mind. If this isn’t possible, check out user reviews to see if there are any issues with them fitting too snugly or loosely. If there aren’t any reports that the shoes are sized incorrectly, go for your normal size. With this said, motorcycle shoes can often run small so, if you’re between sizes, take the larger option to be safe.

Q: Can you wear motorcycle shoes casually?

In short, yes. Some motorcycle shoes will be better than others for wearing regularly, like leather ones with less rigid soles.

Our Top Pick

We’ve chosen the Alpinestars Men’s Motorcycle Shoe as our best overall product. These shoes offer some of the best protection in the niche and have CE Level 2 armor. Their microfiber construction keeps them light and breathable and makes them great for sporty riding. When you’re exploring on foot, flex areas mean these shoes feel more like sneakers than riding boots. The best part is that they’re very reasonably priced, considering what’s on offer.

Why Trust Us

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The primary objective of Car Bibles is to sift through the internet’s abyss of automotive knowledge to point out what’s good. Or at least help you avoid wandering into a thicket of factually questionable nonsense.

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