When it comes to riding gear, safety comes first. A lot of riders may not consider steel toe (working) boots at first but are they good enough for motorcycle riding?
After all, who doesn’t want to make sure their feet and digits are well protected while riding your motorcycle?
Are steel toe boots good for motorcycle riding? Steel toe boots are not good for motorcycle riding. Steel toe boots will offer good abrasion protection. However, they can lack ankle protection and usually do not have reinforced sole to protect the foot from flexion or extension. This makes wearing steel toe boots less safe than proper motorcycle boots.
There is a lot of different footwear that you can use while riding a motorcycle. Of course, not all boots and shoes are created equal, so let’s take a more in-depth look at steel toe boots and what you should know about them.
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Are steel toe boots good for motorcycle riding?
Before continuing, first, let’s go over a few things about steel toe boots.
Still, tea boots will obviously offer decent levels of protection compared to regular shoes and boots. They can also be cheaper than motorcycle boots and shoes. But this does not mean they do not come with several downsides and inconveniences.
One of the downsides of steel toe boots is that they are heavier and often less comfortable than standard shoes and boots. However, in most cases, they are not heavier than motorcycle boots.
Steel toe boots may cause a lot of comfort problems in certain cases—especially if they are not a good fit and haven’t been properly broken in. Sometimes, the steel toe box can rub the toes raw.
Even though the steel toe boots produced today are different from what was manufactured years ago, steel toe boots are still relatively less comfortable than motorcycle boots and shoes.
Steel toe boots are also not waterproof, so if you ride in the rain and get them wet often, they can start rusting. In this case, you need to ensure you are getting waterproof boots that have stainless steel toe box.
Some people may be worried about wearing steel toe boots in the winter. If you are wearing good and warm socks, you should not normally experience any problems with steel toe boots in winter. With that being said, insulated steel toe boots will usually offer more protection against the cold. And steel toe boots that have not been insulated well will keep your feet colder.
It is also worth considering that you may run into some difficulties if you tend to catch the shifter peg with the back of the steel toe box. This can make shifting and finding the proper gear a little trickier.
Generally, steel toe boots can be good for motorcycle riding as they offer good levels of protection to the feet. Nonetheless, motorcycle boots are not as good as properly designed motorcycle boots that have been specifically designed to offer the best to provide optimal protection, comfort, and operation of the motorcycle pegs.
Are steel toe boots safe for motorcycle riding?
Steel toe boots are safe in situations where there is a risk of dropping something on your feet. However, they may not be safe for motorcycle riding. Steel toe boots do not offer as good protection to the ankle and shin or against bending of the sole as motorcycle boots do.
Steel toe boots are often required in many manual labor industries, especially in industries where workers are at higher risk of having objects fall, crush, or pierce their feet. Steel toe boots also offer protection against slips, falls, cuts, burns, and punctures.
In other words, steel toe boots are designed to provide safety, but how safe are they when riding a motorcycle?
When it comes to motorcycle footwear, it should provide protection against impacts, splitting, and abrasions. It should also protect the ankle of the rider.
Steel toe boots are designed to take a lot of pressure and withstand strong impacts as well. Usually, steel toe boots will have a label where those specifications will be listed.
Many steel toe boots will have between 50 to 75 of impact resistance and 50 to 75 pounds of compression rating. Both of these are very important and denote what levels of protection the boot can offer. For example, 75 pounds of compression resistance correlates to 2,500 pounds of compression. This is very close to what an average car weighs (a little over 2,800 pounds) and way over what most motorcycles weigh (between 300 to 700 pounds on average).
And some tests have shown that some steel toe boots can withstand up to 6,000 pounds of pressure.
Interestingly enough, there are specifically designed steel toe boots, which have been designed for workers who may need to ride a motorcycle at work and offer ankle protection. On top of that, some steel toe boots may also provide extra anti-slip resistance.
All that means that not only can steel toe boots can offer high levels of protection but there are also work boots that have been specifically designed for motorcycle use.
There is one caveat here, though, as these boots may not have been designed for riding a motorcycle at high speeds. Steel toe boots can also have laces, which are unsafe for motorcycle use as they can get caught in the pegs or the chain.
One thing that many people would worry about is that the steel toe might cut their toes. This is considered a myth that has been debunked.
However, there are a few important caveats here.
Steel toe boots are designed to protect in a vertical crush situation where something can be dropped on your feet from above. However, the forces and dynamics during a motorcycle accident can be very different. During a motorcycle crash, the impact and pressure are often not restricted to coming from the top. There often is twisting of the leg and ankle involved, too.
During a motorcycle accident, the shoe’s sole can also be bent so much that the rear end of the steel toe box can crush or even cut off the foot’s digits. And even during a low sliding, sometimes, the steel may bend and hurt your toes as well. Steel toe boots also do not offer any shin protection.
On top of that, some steel toe boots may not offer proper protection at the back or sides of the foot.
Do such accidents happen every day? Of course not. However, there can always be that one unexpected accident. That beign said, personal safety is a personal choice, and I, personally, prefer to err on the side of caution.
Steel toe boots vs. motorcycle boots vs. motorcycle shoes
Steel toe boots
Steel toe boots are usually made from tough leather. There are various types of steel toe work boots. They can be lace-ups, shod with hobnails, and have heel and toe steel plates and caps.
Safety or work boots are made with toe caps of steel. (Variations with aluminum can also be found.)
Steel toe boots should not be confused with composite toe boots, as composite toe boots usually offer less protection. The toe caps of composite toe boots are usually made of non-metal materials like carbon fiber, Kevlar, plastic, or fiberglass.
And lastly just because steel toe boots are also called work boots does not mean they cannot look good and be very stylish.
Motorcycle shoes try to take the best of both worlds and combine comfort with safety. However, while motorcycle shoes remain fairly comfortable, they cannot offer as much protection as proper motorcycle boots.
Motorcycle shoes will normally have reinforced toe boxes, added ankle protection, with stronger heel counters. They are made from various heavy-duty materials that can protect against impact, abrasions, and splitting like thermoplastic polyurethane, durable microfiber, vulcanized rubber heavy-duty textiles, heavy-duty plastic, and more.
To a certain degree, motorcycle shoes can be similar to steel toe boots that have been designed for motorcycle use.
Motorcycle boots offer the best possible protection. They are between 10 to 38 inches in height and offer protection to the foot, ankle, and leg.
They are also form-fitting and will restrict your movement. They are usually made from heavyweight leather and composite materials like hard plastic, metal, and impact-absorbing and energy-dissipating padding.
Generally speaking, we can distinguish three different types of motorcycle boots.
- Racing boots: Racing boots are specially designed to offer plenty of protection to the foot, ankle, and leg of the motorcyclists that ride on hard paved roads at high speeds.
- Touring boots: Touring boots are viewed as the best of both worlds. On one side, they offer plenty of protection, while on the other side, they also offer good levels of comfort and less movement restriction.
- Motocross boots: Motocross boots offer high levels of protection and often are considered one of the safest motorcycle boots. They are knee-high and will protect the whole leg of the rider.
Steel toe boots vs. other types of shoes
It is hard to compare steel toe boots to every other kind of footwear one can wear on a motorcycle.
Still, it is worth noting that steel toe boots—especially the ones designed for motorcycle use—will provide plenty of protection compared to the majority of other types of standard footwear like hiking boots, trainers, cowboy boots, and flip-flops.
After all, steel toe boots are made to provide the feet of workers with protection in high-risk areas.
You already know that steel toe boots can be particularly unsafe in certain situations. In most cases, it can be said that if the accident is so serious that it bends the steel toe box so much that it cuts or crushes your toes, then wearing standard shoes or boots may not have been of any advantage whatsoever.
Can you and should you wear steel toe boots on a motorcycle?
You can wear steel toe boots on a motorcycle. In fact, many motorcyclists do. However, steel toe boots can’t offer the same comfort and safety proper motorcycle boots can. This can make riding a motorcycle with steel toe boots less safe, enjoyable, and comfortable.
Steel toe boots are definitely better than nothing or than wearing normal shoes. They are tough and designed to provide good levels of protection.
And since the majority of prevalent injuries among motorcyclists are lower limb injuries (about 55.5%), and this is why it is recommended that motorcyclists wear proper protection. Without a doubt, the best protection comes from footwear that has been designed for motorcycle use in particular.
So naturally, motorcycle boots are the best way to go. Nonetheless, steel toe boots that are meant for riding a motorcycle can provide very good levels of protection while riding at slow to normal speeds at your work place.
That being said, many riders do wear steel toe boots while riding their motorcycles.
Can you wear steel toe boots to an MSF courses?
I have been asked several times if it is allowed to wear steel toe boots to an MSF course. MSF courses are a great way to learn how to ride a motorcycle or brush up on your skills if you haven’t ridden a motorcycle lately.
See article: Are MSF courses worth it?
Usually, there are some regulations and requirements when it comes to what you can wear to an MSF course. In most cases, the rider will be required to wear suitable footwear that offers protection to the foot and ankle against twisting, impact, and abrasion.
For example, some MSF courses may allow riders to wear hiking boots, cowboy boots, and steel toe boots, as well as proper motorcycle shoes and boots.
However, newer riders will have more difficulty feeling the shifter peg and getting into neutral or second gear because of the steel toe cap.