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SAFETY, PART 2: MOTORCYCLE BOOTS ... SAVING YOUR FEET AND LEGS!
The most common serious injuries in a motorbike accident are fractures and sprains to the lower leg (particularly the distal tibia) and ankle, and scaphoid fractures in the wrist (this tiny bone is a nasty fracture because it has just one tiny blood vessel supplying it!). Closely following these two are injuries to the collar bone and disruption of the rotator cuff (i.e. the complex array of muscles and ligaments that protect and move the shoulder) and shoulder joint. So, I’m going to start by talking about BOOTS.
The technology and range in modern boots is astounding. But, does anyone remember the original Alpinestars Hi-Points of the 70s? They were considered the absolute best boot to have. And they STILL look cool! I still have a pair (see mine in photo 1) and they attained immortal fame as being the boots ‘Goose’ wore in the original Mad Max film (see the amazing photo of how they shot Goose’s race through the countryside just before his rear end locked up, throwing him from the bike, photo 2). Talk about a brave camera man! We know now that solid steel plates (like the steel shin guard of the Hi-Points) are actually a disaster because they don’t absorb impact, they just keep on moving THROUGH you! VERY cool looking boots though.
Modern boots have an array of armoured sections and the best brands use plastics and synthetic materials which are hard (but not RIGID) and disperse the energy of an impact by being able to flex within acceptable and anatomical limits. For me, the Sidi Vortice boot (photos 3-6) is the pinnacle product for the sports rider, even if it is slightly fiddly to get on and off (you get used to it quickly). Nearly every component of the boot UNSCREWS AND IS REPLACEABLE PART BY PART. All the critical anatomical considerations are integrated in to it for maximum protection of your foot, heel, ankle and lower leg. In addition, mine are perforated for summer (more on this later, but I had to import these from the UK because the perforated versions ARE NOT AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIA!!). So, what are the critical components in a boot for sports riding:
Boots that have some, but not all of the above, are perfectly appropriate for certain applications like touring, and Motocross boots are NOT the focus this discussion as they are a whole other story again!! The Alpinestars SMX PLUS (photo 7) is a FINE boot, easier to walk in & less fiddly to put on. The newer Dainese “Torque Goretex” boot is outstanding for touring and all weather use (photo 8). The ABSOLUTE BARE MINIMUM that a boot should have is a decent shin plate. If it doesn’t have that I don’t even consider it a motorcycle boot at all!
There is so much to say, but I hope this gets people thinking about what all those bits of your boot are for, and maybe what to look for in a boot. Just remember, your foot and legs are very exposed and are often the first to take impact. Your brain and spine are more important (more on that later), but it’s rather nice being able to walk as well, don’t you think??
(the boots worn by the late Steve Jobs, riding his gorgeous 1966 R60/2 BMW do NOT count as acceptable boots!)