If you ride a scooter or commute in urban areas on a motorbike, you might not want to wear a pair of proper motorcycle boots. They’re not as comfortable as trainers and they look a bit clunky.
You might reason that you’re only going a touch faster than someone on a push-bike and so you don’t need protection but (as obvious as it sounds) your hands and feet are the most likely areas to be injured in an accident, followed by your shoulders, forearms and elbows.
You don’t need to wear full-length motorcycle boots but you can do a lot better than trainers or your snazzy work brogues. That’s where urban motorcycle boots, sometimes referred to as scooter boots, come in.
There are three main types of urban motorcycle boots which are perfect for scooter riders or motorcycle commuters. There are short boots, which look like a racing boot but they are only ankle high. There are casual chukka-style boots, which look a little like trainers and there are leather boots which look more like a Caterpillar or work boot.
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Different types of urban motorcycle boots
Short motorcycle boot
These are styled like a proper racing or summer motorcycle boot. They feature high levels of protection and are ideal for urban motorcyclists who want to slip jeans over the top. They might be a bit too motorbikey for scooter riders.
Casual motorcycle boot
The closest you’ll get to a trainer, these boots are all-day comfortable but are made from tough materials, often with a reinforced sole and ankle support, to offer decent protection. A great choice for scooter riders.
Chukka-style motorcycle boot
Designed for motorcycling, they usually feature additional protection in the form of tough materials, strong plastic or Nylon inserts and reinforced soles to offer a great blend of protection and style. A great urban rider choice but you could just opt for a pair of sturdy boots.
CE Approval for Scooter Boots
Any motorcycle boots or shoes need to be tested to the CE Standard if they’re to be sold in the UK (or Europe).
This standard is now EN13634:2017. The following factors are tested in order for a standard to be granted: Height, Abrasion and Cut Resistance and Transverse Rigidity (what happens when it’s squashed).
Each area is given a Level 1 or Level 2 grade. As you can see in the image above, this is shown on the CE label. The three number twos denote the boot reached the highest score. A short boot can only score a 1 in the height test but it can score 2 in the other tests.
The label may also show other features that the boot offers, including:
- WR – Water resistance
- FO – soles resistance to fuel or oil
- IPA – Ankle impact protection
- IPS – Shin impact protection
- SRC – Anti-slip sole
It’s worth looking for this label in the boots you’re interested in, to get a better understanding of it’s level of protection and properties.
All day or just the commute?
If you want a shoe that looks good and is comfortable to wear then go for a traditional boot or casual-style scooter shoe but if you're changing out of them when you get to your destination, a short motorcycle boot offers more protection.
Canvas motorcycle shoes won't be that water resistant. If you're riding a distance into town, you might be better off with a mid-length waterproof sports boot.
Wear and tear
Caterpillar or Chelsea-style motorcycle boots will have additional material on the toe to protect from wear and tear when changing gear. If you don't want to ruin your £500 Church's, buy a pair of biker boots instead.
Why trainers aren’t enough
This picture shows what happened to a rider’s footwear during a crash. It shows the force that footwear has to deal with in an accident. If a trainer comes loose during a crash, your foot will take a mauling. If you have a strong stomach, search Google for ‘motorcycle accident trainers’ to see some of the results, it’s not pretty. A supportive shoe or boot will not only withstand abrasion but it’ll reduce ankle flex and impact force. If you wear trainers you better hope they stay on during an accident.
What do you need to spend?
Prices for urban boots range from £50 to around £250.
Although the price has been a factor in our considerations, we’ve recommended the boots that we think are the best available right now – we haven’t just gone for the most expensive.
Think about what you want from a boot before you look at the different options. Do you want laces or buckles, waterproof or just shower proof, a cafe racer look or a modern design? Get this nailed down and it’ll be far easier to pick a great boot.
If you are prepared to spend £100, you’ll find lots of great options.
Comfortable and protective sports boot
Alpinestars make some of the best motorcycle clothing available. The SP-1 V2 boots are a great value option. With a full microfibre upper construction and a reinforced toe box for abrasion resistance, these boots are built to last. The TPU heel counter allows for better impact protection while there is further armour in the shin and ankle. Complete with speed lace MotoGP closure system for easy on and off and an additional hook and loop retention for safety.
While the SMX-1R takes our best pick, we also rate the RST TracTech Evo 3 Short boots which are slightly cheaper. If you’re on a tight budget, check out the DXR Santa Cruz Leather Boots – these casual looking boots are made from full-grain cowhide and contain a waterproof and breathable membrane. Complete with ankle armour, rubber sole for grip and lace-up design. For added durability, these short boots include double stitching and a leather gear-shift top pad.
Casual look disguises CE certification
Dainese are famous for kitting out the world’s top bikers like Valentino Rossi. We love the look of these casual boots. Made from a mix of suede and leather, they feature Nylon plastic inserts to offer ankle and heel protection while the thick rubber sole is grippy yet hard-wearing. The Street Biker features Dainese’s D-WP waterproof membrane to keep the rain out and your feet dry. Available in a range of colours.
Vintage styling, modern protection levels
TCX are motorcycle boot specialists. We love the vintage, aged look of these classic biker boots. They feature a waterproof lining, heel and toe protection, a highly wear resistant sole and a removable inner sole, meaning you should get years of wear from them. Also available in black.
Hot on the tail of the TCX boots above are the Stylmartin District WP Boots, they’re a stylish choice from a quality motorcycle brand. Or if you want a slightly more modern-looking motorcycle boot then take a look at the Alpinestars J-Cult Leather boot, boasting CE certification. These stylish full-grain leather motorcycle shoes are a modern brown shade that looks smart on and off your bike. With a traditional lace retention system, you get a better fit plus the ankle armour allows for better protection.
If money’s tight then check out the Spirit Motors Urban Pilgrim Boots, these low budget cowhide leather boots feature a lace-up design with double-stitched seams for added durability. The rubber treaded sole provides a stable grip while the reinforced gear shift pads allow for longer wear.
If you don't want to buy dedicated motorcycle boots, that's fine but please don't wear trainers.
You can beef-up the waterproofing of any boot by using Nikwax waterproof spray.
Most of the boots featured in this guide come in a range of colours, so if black's not your thing, you'll be able to find a different colourway.
Motorcycle boots FAQs
Will a set of Caterpillar boots do the job?
Yes. Any study boot will offer more protection than a casual shoe. Motorcycle-specific boots are designed to withstand the wear and tear and they also offer protective inserts to stop your ankle twisting or getting crushed in the event of an accident.
Are leather boots waterproof?
They will be water-resistant but they’ll only withstand a small shower. If you want to improve the waterproofing of any boots, use this Nikwax leather and fabric waterproofer spray which will add a layer of protection to your boots.
Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this review of the best scooter and urban motorcycle boots:
Distribution and type of crash damage to motorcyclists. US National Library of Medicine: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24678573
European Commission Report on Motorcycle Crashes 2018: ec.europa.eu/statistics/dacota/asr2018.pdf