While riding their motorcycle, people may wear all kinds of different clothing. Although the rules about what you should wear while on a motorcycle are not very strict, there are some do’s and don’ts regardless of what the law says.
One common thing that you may see a motorcycle rider wearing during the summer is flip-flops.
Can you wear flip flops on a motorcycle? You can wear flip-flops on a motorcycle. However, this is not recommended as flip-flops do not offer any protection to your feet whatsoever. Motorcycle riders are more likely to injure their legs, and flip-flops cannot substitute wearing proper motorcycle footwear. In certain areas wearing flip-flops on a motorcycle can also be illegal.
Below you will find more information about wearing flip-flops on a motorcycle. If you are interested in learning more about the dangers of flip-flops and any potential benefits of wearing them continue reading.
Table of Contents:
Why you shouldn’t wear flip-flops on a motorcycle
During the summer, you may notice that, in fact, a lot of people do wear flip-flops while riding their motorcycle.
This is also sometimes considered normal in very hot and humid areas—however, this does not make it safe. The asphalt is asphalt, and it does not care.
Lack of ankle stabilization
One of the must-haves is a good ankle and overall foot stabilization. If you were to crash and be thrown off your motorcycle, your legs would twist as you slide and tumble on the ground.
Footwear that will stabilize your ankles is mandatory, as it can be the difference between walking away with a few bruises and seriously injuring your feet.
Flip-flops, do not offer any ankle stabilization, so your ankles will be completely exposed to the asphalt.
Lack of impact protection
Your feet are the closest to the ground and will be first to feel the impact of falling. Even low-speed impacts can be very tough. A large majority of shoes may simply split upon impact, exposing your feet.
That being said, motorcycle accidents are not always involving the rider falling with the motorcycle. In certain cases, a car may hit them from the side, in which case their legs and feet will be among the first to be hit by the car’s bumper.
This can result in the leg being crushed or even severed if no proper protection is worn at the moment of impact.
Lack of abrasion protection
After your footwear has protected you from the impact, then there is another problem that needs to be tackled. Some of the most common motorcycles crashes involve sliding, where one of your feet may get caught under the motorcycle.
One one side, you may have a heavy motorcycle pushing your leg and, on the other side, a very rough and unforgiving asphalt. As a result, the asphalt can grind through even some of the best motorcycle shoes and boots.
And flip-flops do not offer any protection against both the impact and abrasion. It is like riding barefoot. Your leg and skin will be immediately exposed to the asphalt.
The resulting injuries are not pretty. Shredded skin, mangled bones, muscles, ligaments, and other kinds of horrific injuries may be the result.
Some people may even lose their foot, and for the ones that don’t, recovery can be very slow, oftentimes taking months or even years, and not guaranteed.
Flip-flops may allow your feet to breathe, which is an undeniable advantage during the summer. Nobody likes having sweaty (and smelly) feet.
However, flip-flops are made from thin rubber, and as a result, you will be feeling the pegs a lot more while shifting and braking. This can result in your feet tiring out faster and overall feeling sorer.
Proper motorcycle footwear usually stabilizes your feet and provides a much firmer sole. This provides for smoother and seamless shifting, breaking, and a better grip on the pegs.
Flip-flops vs. motorcycle shoes and motorcycle boots
Nowadays, good gear is so available and comfortable that there is no excuse for going with flip-flops. Usually, you can choose between motorcycle-specific shoes and boots.
Flip-flops can quite easily be the worst choice of footwear for riding a motorcycle. They do not offer any protection at all and, in fact, may even be more dangerous than riding a motorcycle barefoot.
For example, while making a u-turn, your flip-flops may get caught on the asphalt, which can destabilize you, causing you to crash.
Flip-flops are made from soft rubber that does not provide any stabilization, cushioning, or other types of protection. And seeing how flip-flops are a lot looser this makes them a potential latent hazard if they get caught in something.
Motorcycle shoes try to take the best of both worlds. They try to be both comfortable to walk in and provide decent levels of protection to your feet while riding a motorcycle.
Motorcycle riding shoes are not as tough and protective as boots but are a good alternative.
They offer reinforced toe boxes, stronger heel counters, additional ankle protection, support, and more. They are usually made from various materials like thermoplastic polyurethane, durable microfiber, vulcanized rubber, heavy-duty textiles, heavy-duty plastic, and more.
Motorcycle shoes are made to withstand impact, abrasions, and splitting. All of these are extremely dangerous, and sliding on the asphalt can eat away normal shoes and boots in seconds.
Some of the motorcycle shoes may be more suitable for wearing during the summer as they can be made from breathable materials.
Motorcycle boots are considered to offer the best protection to your feet, ankles, and legs if an accident were to happen.
Usually, motorcycle boots are more form-fitting and will restrict your normal movement when not on the motorcycle, which makes them a little uncomfortable.
Motorcycle boots are made from heavyweight and extremely durable leather. Some will have composite materials like metal and hard plastic and impact-absorbing and energy-dissipating padding. Motorcycle boots are higher than motorcycle shoes—they are usually between 10 to 38 inches in height.
There are different types of motorcycle boots, each with their own differences.
- Racing boots: Those are designed for riding a motorcycle at high speeds on hard pavement race tracks. The reason for this is simple—racing on the track and falling with a sports bike is more dangerous.
- Touring boots: Considered to be the most comfortable ones, even for daily tasks. They offer good levels of protection, although not as much as racing boots do—after all, they are intended for riding a motorcycle on city streets and highways.
- Motocross boots: Those are very stiff and durable. Usually, they are knee-high because they need to provide excellent levels of protection. Falling off your dirt bike is not a fun experience, and the proper gear is mandatory.
Flip-flops vs. other types of shoes
Regular leather shoes and leather boots, work boots, and dress shoes will provide very little protection.
The high top shoes and lace-up leather boots may offer slightly more protection, but even they are lacking in that department.
Trainers should also not be worn on a motorcycle because they do not offer acceptable levels of protection. Even other types of footwear, like hiking boots, cowboy boots, and even steel toe boots, all of which offer significantly more protection than regular flip-flops, are not as good as motorcycle-specific footwear.
And Flip-flops offer as little protection as possible out of all types of shoes. In fact, it will not be an understatement to say that they offer practically no protection whatsoever, even compared to other regular shoes.
Flip-flops should never even be considered an option when riding a motorcycle.
What you should wear on a motorcycle instead of flip-flops
Flip-flops will not offer any protection to your feet or ankles. It will be like riding barefoot. This is why it is well worth your while to invest in a good pair of motorcycle shoes or boots.
And if you just need to wear your flip-flops, the best thing you can do is still to use properly designed shoes or boots intended for motorcyclists.
If, for some reason, you absolutely need to wear your flip-flops later, then you can bring them with you or keep them, if possible, at the place where you will be wearing them. That way, you can change and wear your flip-flops but still have your motorcycle shoes or boots protecting you during the ride.
Why is wearing flip-flops on a motorcycle frowned upon?
Riding a motorcycle does not mean that you are guaranteed to crash. The odds of crashing with a car are significantly bigger than crashing with a motorcycle.
However, motorcycle riders do have one big disadvantage—motorcycle crashes are usually a lot more severe and result in a lot more severe injuries and even fatalities compared to car crashes.
In other words, motorcycle crashes are less likely to happen, but the consequences are more severe.
Depending on where you live, you will be subjected to different laws in terms of what motorcycle gear you should be wearing. In many places, the only gear that will be required by law is head and eye protection. And little to nothing may be mentioning about the rest of your gear.
However, in other places, there could be some requirements for the rest of your gear, including your footwear. In most cases, the footwear that you will be required by law to wear should be closed-toe and cover your ankles. In other words, wearing flip-flops may be illegal in some areas.
When it comes to motorcycle safety, flip-flops do not offer any significant protection, and even worse, they may get in your way while riding your motorcycle.
Not wearing proper motorcycle gear is just asking for trouble. The most common motorcycle injuries are lower limb injuries (about 55.5%), which is just another reason why you need to wear proper gear.
Crashing with a motorcycle while wearing flip-flops (even at very low speeds) will most certainly result in severe foot injuries that could take months to years to recover in the best-case scenario.
Wearing flip-flops on a motorcycle will always be frowned upon by motorcycle riders because this is just a health hazard.