The topic about what one should wear while riding their motorcycle has ruffled a lot of feathers over the years. And why should it? After all, it is a question of personal safety and the safety of those around you.
A lot of motorcyclists have questions about what they can wear. One of those questions is about trainers.
Can you wear trainers on a motorcycle? You can wear trainers on a motorcycle, however, this is not recommended as they do not offer any significant abrasion or impact protection. Motorcycle riders are more likely to injure their legs, and trainers cannot substitute proper motorcycle footwear that has been designed to protect the rider’s legs.
To learn more about the do’s and don’ts of motorcycle footwear and everything you need to know about riding a motorcycle while wearing trainers, continue reading below.
Trainers vs. motorcycle boots and motorcycle shoes
Not all trainers are created equal. Some trainers are more like sneakers while some sneakers can also be called trainers.
However, trainers are usually more specialized towards a particular sport or activity. They can be designed for running, weight lifting, basketball, tennis, aerobics, and more.
The different types of trainers will vary in their design and purpose slightly.
For example, basketball shoes will be geared toward providing superior cushioning, ankle, and lateral stability. (Part of the reason why they are also a little bulkier compared to other trainers.)
Tennis shoes, on the other hand, emphasize more on the lateral stability and the protection of the ankles, and less on cushioning.
Boxing shoes are also designed to offer superior ankle support more than anything else.
Running shoes will have a thicker sole that will provide better cushioning and will often be more lightweight.
Weightlifting shoes, for example, will typically have a hard, stiff sole that will not squish under the heavy load as the athlete works out. This provides better stability. The sole is also slightly raised to allow for a deeper, full range of motion squats.
Cross-training shoes are like the jack of all trades in the trainers’ world. They offer decent levels of stability, cushioning, comfort, and durability. They may not exactly be suitable for running but can be used in a variety of different activities.
In general, trainers are made from various materials like synthetic rubber, nylon, plastic, and textile. They are usually designed to offer stability, protection, cushioning, and at the same time, allow for freedom of movement. Because of that, they are more flexible and not very stiff.
There is a good variety of motorcycle riding shoes. Riding shoes are made with the rider in mind. They aim to offer decent levels of protection and safety while at the same time, be comfortable to walk in.
They will have various features like stronger heel counters, reinforced toe boxes, ankle hook-and-loop closures, additional ankle protection, support, and more.
Motorcycle shoes are usually made of different materials like thermoplastic polyurethane, durable microfiber, vulcanized rubber, textiles, and more. The materials are usually very tough and designed to withstand abrasions, splitting, and are, in general, more durable.
You can see that motorcycle shoes are designed to take the best of both worlds. Motorcycle shoes are more comfortable to walk in, but, overall, you are sacrificing safety for looks and comfort. (Still much better than trainers, though.)
Motorcycle boots are built to provide the best protection to the motorcyclist’s ankles, feet, shins, insteps, heel, toes, and legs in the case of an accident.
They are usually a bit more limiting depending on how form-fitting they are and consequently, more difficult to walk in.
There are also different types of motorcycle boots that will vary in the levels of their armored protection and comfort.
Racing boots are usually the toughest of the bunch. There is an increased chance for injuries as the riders of sports motorcycles are riding at higher speeds on hard pavement race tracks.
Touring boots are not as tough as racing boots. They are also a lot more convenient and comfortable. Although they are intended for riding on hard pavement, they are usually used by rides that are riding on city streets and highways.
Motocross boots are stiffer and, in general, knee-high. They are designed to be very form-fitting and provide excellent levels of stability and protection.
Motorcycle boots are usually made from heavyweight leather which is very durable. Some motorcycle boots will also have energy-absorbing and dissipating padding. Other highly durable composite materials can be used in the making of motorcycle boots like metal and hard plastic. They also go significantly higher than motorcycle shoes. Motorcycle boots are typically between 10 inches to 38 inches in height.
Why you should not wear trainers on a motorcycle
If you crash and get thrown off the motorcycle, wearing the right footwear will protect your leg up to the ankle.
Motorcycle shoes and boots are made from tougher materials that will provide superior ankle protection. Those can often rock some pretty tough frames that will keep your ankle and leg in place as you twist, tumble, and slide on the ground.
And since trainers are also often no more than ankle-high, there is a good chance that they will just fling up flying off your feet in an accident. So your legs may be completely exposed to the gravel, dirt, or asphalt.
Oftentimes motorcycle crashes will result in lowsiding where one of your feet may get caught under the motorcycle.
Wearing the right protective gear is life-saving, and it can be the difference between a few bruises and scrapes, and crushed and mangled bones, shredded skin and all other kinds of horrific injuries. (You can even lose your foot.)
That being said, you do not have to be riding at high speeds. Even low-speed lowsiding can almost entirely grind through the ankle armoring of some motorcycle boots. So you can imagine what would happen to a pair of trainers.
The vast majority, even reputable branded working shoes, do not have the same levels of abrasion resistance like motorcycle shoes and boots. Crashing and falling even at low speeds can instantly compromise those shoes exposing your leg.
The shoes should also provide impact protection in combination with the abrasion resistance. And trainers are simply not designed for even low-speed impacts.
You need that impact protection as your legs are the first to hit the ground, but that is not all.
If you get hit from the side by a car or another vehicle, you will feel the bumper directly hitting your leg. If you have no protection, this could result in your leg being crushed or even severed.
Trainers also do not normally have stiff soles, which can be very uncomfortable while riding a motorcycle. You will be feeling the pegs a lot more when shifting and braking, which can tire you out faster, or at least your feet will feel a lot sorer.
The reinforced shifter pad also makes the whole experience a lot more smooth and comfortable. This results in a better grip on the pegs and control.
Trainers vs. Other Types of Shoes
In a way, trainers will offer more protection than certain other types of shoes. (Don’t even get me started on flip-flops.) So if you only have a pair of trainers and a pair of flip-flops, the choice is pretty obvious. However, you should always have motorcycle shoes or boots with yourself.
You should never have to come down to choosing between trainers and flip-flops—get yourself proper motorcycle gear.
Leather shoes, leather boots, work boots, and dress shoes, are all not going to provide any significant protection.
Even high top shoes and tall lace-up leather boots will not offer much in terms of protection. Arguably they may protect you more than a pair of standard trainers, but they are far from being considered safe.
What you should wear on a motorcycle instead of trainers
In terms of safety, trainers will just not help. I believe this is pretty obvious by now. So make sure to invest in a good pair of high-quality motorcycle shoes or boots.
But what should you do if you need your trainers?
In this case, it is still best to invest in high-quality motorcycle shoes or boots. Use them every time you ride your motorcycle. You cannot put a price on safety.
And if you need your trainers, just carry them with you, once you get to the office or wherever you are going just to change your shoes.
Some people will also just leave a pair of trainers at their office or gym. That way, they do not have to carry an extra pair of shoes with them.
Why is wearing trainers on a motorcycle frowned upon?
According to the majority of laws (and this will vary depending on where you live), wearing trainers on a motorcycle is considered okay.
Or at least it is not considered illegal.
In most areas, motorcycle riders are required to wear at least eye and head protection.
However, wearing clothing and footwear that does not offer any significant protection will always be frowned upon.
The human body is capable of recovering and healing after different types of injuries. However, even a sprained or irritated ligament can sometimes take years to heal properly.
And just think about it. The first thing that will usually hit the ground is going to be your foot and ankle. If that was not bad enough, then there is a motorcycle that weighs several hundred pounds that will come crashing down on your foot.
It is no surprise that one study found that the lower limb injuries (55.5%) are the most common type of injury among motorcyclists who have crashed.
Even though you are not guaranteed to crash just because you are riding a motorcycle, this does not mean you should skip on your motorcycle gear. Motorcycle crashes are usually really dangerous, and it is no coincidence that the injury rates and fatality rates are way higher for motorcyclists.
Thus wearing trainers on a motorcycle will never be considered okay by motorcycle riders as trainers are just a health hazard waiting to happen.