Best urban motorcycle boots | City riding made comfortable and safe

urban motorcycle boots
urban motorcycle boots
7

It’s tempting to ditch your bike kit for something more comfortable when you’re pottering around town or nipping up the pub but you can have the best of both worlds with a pair of urban motorcycle boots.

We know that a set of racing-style leathers offers the best combination of abrasion resistance when we slide and impact protection when we hit the ground. Pair a set of leathers with a decent pair of boots and an airbag vest, for example and you are protected pretty much the best you can be on a motorcycle – that’s why racers use this system.

However, there are times when we want a more relaxed a casual look and feel. We want to wear a pair of jeans, for example and a more informal and less ‘bikey’ jacket, as we’re heading out to meet some friends, spending some time off the bike or just want a less full-on ride. And the same goes for boots.

Of course, a set of sporty boots with bracing and external armour will give our feet the best protection in the event of a high-speed tumble but for an urban ride or commuting, a lighter, more subtle boot might be what we’re looking for. Still protective, still either waterproof or vented for cooling airflow and still far, far better than a pair of trainers, these shorter, more casual boots will keep your feet dry and protected when you head off on your journey.

Like other footwear, if you want an idea of their protective ability, look for their CE rating and in particular, as many ‘2’s as possible; boots are rated in three or four key areas (depending on which standard they are rated to – there are two, one 2015 and one 2017) but the more ‘2’s, the better.

Tried and tested by Saffron Wilson for 10 months over 6,000 miles

After 6000 miles together, it’s safe to say I grew quite fond of these boots. They became my go-to footwear during the summer and are comfortable both on and off the bike. I was really impressed how waterproof they were, as they survived proper downpours without breaking a sweat, and aside from some wear on the sole and the sticker peeling off, they have been extremely durable too.
With CE Level 1 protection, including impact protection at the ankles, they feel like a pair of trainers with the added peace of mind of motorcycle protection including reinforced heels and toes, and D30 protectors.

But even though they are equipped for use both on and off the bike, equipped with grippy soles, Airmesh material and removable insole, they haven’t compromised on style. The shoes scream retro skater vibes making them stand out from the crowd, and appealing to those of us who wore something similar in our teen years.

Read Saffron's full review here

Pros

  • Comfy as can be

Cons

  • Don't let water get int he top!
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    3.0
  • Protection
    3.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    3.0
Construction High-tenacity polyester
Type Urban/casual sneaker
CE Rating 1-1-1-1
Armour Heel and ankle support, D3O ankle protector
  • Waterproof and breathable membrane
  • Anti-slip rubber coating
  • Reflective inserts
  • Gear shifter abrasion resistant material
  • Removable insole
  • 2 pairs of laces included

<strong>Tested by Mike Armitage for three months, 1,000 miles</strong>

Price: £189.99 (was £199.99)
Being grumpy and obstinate means that I have a natural leaning towards traditional clobber. With boots this means tall, enclosed and clumpy. Who’d want to wear trainers on a motorbike?

Er, I would. My son Ed started riding just over a year ago and being an image conscious teenager wanted kit that he could swan around college in without anyone spotting it was bike gear. When he ordered some lace-up TCX fashion boots I grumbled about how his socks would get wet, there wouldn’t be proper protection and they’d fall apart. Then they arrived and disproved everything I thought I knew. Quality and protection were high, they shrugged off winter weather, and though he’s literally worn them every day (even when not using his bike) they’ve been faultless.

And so I’ve got myself something similar. These are TCX’s Dartwood Gore-Tex, which obviously means a fancy membrane that beats the weather and allows breathability. Proper CE-approved protection includes full-grain leather, a shank in the sole to give torsional rigidity, and clever D30 armour – this has ‘free flow’ molecules that look together to absorb impacts but otherwise are soft and flexible, meaning comfort on and off the bike. You get posh-sounding insoles, lining and ‘Groundtrax’ soles too. I like the subtle reinforced areas for the gearshift and brake pedal, too.

Stiff when new, the Dartwood have broken in a treat and have become my go-to riding treads. This is partly because they look cool with riding jeans and a leather jacket (as if I know what ‘cool’ looks like), and partly because they feel like I can genuine trust them should I run out of riding talent. But the main reason is that the laces, side zips and short rise make them a doddle to sling on and off, and they’re comfortable to wear all day – so there’s no need to clamber out of riding gear when you reach the office, and you don’t feel conspicuous paddling around the beer garden.

Two hundred quid isn’t peanuts, of course. But don’t forget that value and cheap are not the same thing.

Pros

  • Really easy to put on
  • Good quality
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0
Construction Full grain leather and Gore-Tex
Type Casual urban boot
Armour D3O heel and ankle
  • Lateral zip closure with laces
  • Ortholite footbed with long term cushioning and high breathability
  • Wear-resistant rubber Groudtrax outsole, designed to offer superior stability
  • Gore-Tex waterproof membrane
  • Toe and heel reinforcement zones

<strong>Tested by Ben Clarke for 2 months, 1,000 miles</strong>

I’m a big fan of urban motorbike boots like these from Forma. They’re ideal for bumbling around on a summer’s day or nipping out to the shops and you can wear them off the bike without clomping and squeaking around and drawing attention to yourself. The first job of an urban boot for me is to be practical. If I need to lace them up every time I put them on, I probably won’t bother and so the zip on the Hyper Dry is a welcome feature (and one not all urban boots have).

Worn with a pair of riding jeans, it would take a very keen eye to spot that these weren’t a normal pair of high-tops and they feel comfy and airy, too. In terms of safety, they score a CE rating of 1, which is about all you can expect from casual style boots. In fact, some far more expensive boots aren’t CE rated at all. There are subtle reinforcements in all the right places that are reassuring without being obtrusive.

Would I want to have a heavy accident in them? No, but I also don’t feel particularly exposed or vulnerable in them. The waterproofing works well but once they’re wet they get cold very quickly so this is more of a convenience in quick showers – I wouldn’t plan to use them on wet days. They’ve also started to mark on the left toe as there’s no pad – which is annoying.

Pros

  • Easy to put on with the side zip

Cons

  • Not fully waterproof
  • No gear shift pad
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
Construction Leather and Drytex lining
Type Urban casual
Armour Heel and ankle
  • Anti-bacterial replaceable insole
  • TPU Dual Flex with anti-shock EVA mid-sole
  • Internal ankle protection
  • Anti-slip Rubber sole
  • Drytex® waterproof and breathable lining

<strong>Tested by Emma Franklin for three months, 1,500 miles</strong>

Price: 170.99 (was £179.99)
Unique looks, design and great spec, the Ikasu have made an impression on me. They’re without doubt the most comfortable short boots I’ve ever worn, and here’s why: Firstly, the OrthoLite foam insole provides soft, spongy support for feet meaning that they feel more like trainers than rigid bike boots when you’re walking around. The plushness continues further up with soft D30 armour inserts at the ankle bones, padding around the collar of the boot, and a fat padded tongue which is accommodated by an elasticated panel and the central zip closure that runs along the top of the foot.

Meanwhile, down below, the chunky Groundtrax outsole gives great grip, stability and vibration reduction. The overall effect is one of close-fitting, cocooning security without compromising comfort. I’ve worn them for 12-hour days, in some stinking hot temperatures, and not once felt irked by them. There’s a T-Dry waterproof membrane to provide rain resistance which I’ve not yet tried out, but from the looks of it unless you’re wearing trousers that completely cover the ankle area, water will find a way in at the top of the boot.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
Construction Mesh and microfibre with T-Dry waterproof membrane
Type Casual urban
Armour ankle and heel
  • Ortholite footbed with long term cushioning and high breathability
  • Midsole with Z-plate shank
  • Malleolus impact resistant D3O insert
  • Toe and heel reinforcement zones
  • Rubber shift pad for added durability
  • Front closure with elastic zip
  • Wear-resistant rubber Groudtrax outsole, designed to offer superior stability

Tried and tested by Michael Neeves for seven months and 8,000 miles

Price: £175.74 ( was £184.99)
It’s the first time I’ve tried lace-up trainer boot riding boots and they’ve been impressive so far. I wear them with riding jeans and chose the all-black versions, so they don’t show up the dirt. I’ve only been wearing them since the summer, but they’ve seen the equivalent of a few years’ worth of action already. They’ve circled our MCN250 test route, visited overseas bike launches, shuffled through airports and squeezed between budget airline seats. Most of all, they’ve done two 3000-mile-plus road trips down to southern Italy and Sicily, where they’ve been subjected to thousands of gear changes and pounded miles of pavements around historic cities.

With their soft, padded interior and thick Alcantara-like ankle support, they are as comfortable to walk in as they are on the bike and feel sturdy without being restrictive or clumpy. I like their flat sole, which makes it easy to move your feet around on the pegs, but best of all they’ve proved to be as meaty as they look. The thick and grippy vulcanised rubber soles show little sign of wear, other than slightly around the big toe area, which makes them far more durable than the thinner-soled car racing-style riding boots I usually use. The leather uppers are just as hard wearing and although they’ve been splattered with flies and road debris, they’re still in perfect condition and don’t look over 8000 miles old. The leather that touches the gear lever is unscathed and the stitching still all perfectly in place. Designed for use all year round, they feature a waterproof membrane.

Pros

  • Comfy
  • Waterproof
  • Hard wearing

Cons

  • Pricey but great value
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
Construction Leather, suede and waterproof membrane
Type Casual trainer boot
Armour Heel and ankle
  • Dual-density ergonomic MX-derived ankle and heel protector
  • Advanced rubber compound cupsole is moulded to the upper
  • Reinforced midsole inserted between the upper and the
  • Anatomically profiled, removable and replaceable EVA and Lycra footbed
  • Internal toe box and heel counter reinforcement layered under the upper

<strong>Tested by Jim Moore for 3 months, 1,200 miles</strong>

Price: £227.99 ( was £239.99)
These retro-style boots from TCX are all-day comfortable, both on and off the bike. There’s a touch of Timberland about them, but being motorcycle kit they come with reinforced toes, heels and extra protection around the ankles. That said, I’d like to feel a bit more substance above the ankles to complete the feeling of safety.

Unlike most race boots, and many all-season offerings, the Blend 2 is made from leather and the slightly distressed charcoal finish really plays into the whole vintage look. Better still, they come with a breathable Goretex liner that prevents water ingress right up to the second from top eyelets.

So far I’ve worn them in conditions varying from a lowly 5°C to a positively tropical 30°C and they’ve kept my feet warm when needed yet allowed them to breathe in warmer conditions.

Grippy soles make light work of greasy petrol station forecourts and all manners of footrests, but I’ve found the gear change pad – a lightly ridged area covering the big toe – doesn’t go far back enough and the top of my left boot is already starting to mark just back from the area designed to connect with the lever. Overall, however, I’m impressed.

Pros

  • Versatile for cold and warm
  • Good grippy soles

Cons

  • Marks from the gear lever
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
Construction Leather and Gore-Tex
Type Casual boot
Armour Heel and ankle
  • Lace-up closure
  • Integrated gear section pad
  • Reinforcements at the ankle, toe and heel
  • Ortholite footbed with long-term cushioning and high levels of breathability
  • Groundtrax rubber outsole
  • Gore-Tex waterproof membrane

Tried and tested by Simon Brown for six months and 1,000 miles

The grippy sole ensures a cosy connection with the pegs and has decent flex for comfort when you are walking about – particularly handy in my case because I stash the bike in a rented lock-up about a quarter of a mile from the house. Some retro boots incorporate a zipped closure but I prefer standard laces like these because you can get a nice secure fastening every time and it’s hard to argue that doing up your laces is any sort of hassle. Double knot, naturally. Don’t want them coming undone.

Read Simon's full review here

Pros

  • Sensible price
  • Comfort
  • Look good

Cons

  • Scuffing on the gear change pad
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
Construction Lether with waterproof lining
Type Urban casual
Armour Ankle
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • Leather overlay for gear shifter
  • Non-slip sole

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