One of the most important pieces of equipment that we as bikers can purchase, is our boots. Boots are what keep our feet dry. Boots are what keep our ankles from rolling while moving too slow for balance, or being stopped. Boots are what hold our feet on our highway pegs and protect us from slipping in oil at stops. Boots are what make our outfits just that much more attractive. Without our boots, our feet would be cold, wet, sore, we would accidentally fall over a lot more often, and our ankles would get burned on a more regular basis. Ever have to ride your bike in tennis? Shifting isn't comfortable and your toes freeze.
As with everything in our lives, there are things to know that we've never been told. Sometimes these things are just interesting, and sometimes they're educational. We have a few things that you may or may not have known about our beloved biker boots.
Our first tip is to purchase your boots in the afternoon. Most people make the mistake of going first thing in the morning to purchase their boots. Maybe it is a fear of subjecting the rest of the world to an unbearable foot odor, or maybe it is just coincidence. In the afternoon your feet are the most swollen from the day. When you choose a boot you're going to be in for literally hours on end, you're going to want them to be comfortable. If your boots are too tight your feet could fall asleep, causing discomfort and worst case tissue damage or a fall/wreck. We've all at some point fallen asleep in our favorite spot at home in an awkward position and woken up to an almost unbearable tingle in our feet. Sometimes we've been silly enough to try and walk on it. Being unable to properly feel our feet and how we are moving them can cause a break, or prevent us from using our foot controls. Being impaired in any way on a motorcycle is dangerous not only to ourselves, but also others around us. If your feet are at their thickest when you shop for some boots, then you are less likely to to purchase a boot that is too tight.
When trying on boots, or putting them on for the first time you should zip them before lacing. If you lace your boots before zipping them up you create a tighter-than-should-be situation, falling back into our previous paragraph conversation.
How do you pick a good boot? Look for traction, water-resistance, thickness of material, and ankle support. One thing most of us aren't aware of is that most of Harley-Davidson's riding boots are made with Goodyear rubber soles giving you optimum comfort and traction. Yes, that's right. Your boot rubber is made with the same quality as your tires.
I can honestly say that my boots are probably the most neglected piece of equipment in my safety gear. Once you've found that perfect pair of boots, you want them to last you as long as possible, right? I mean, it took what seemed like forever to break these babies in to be comfortable for that 12 hour day. We recommend to not wear your boots every day. Our feet sweat; it may not be slip-and-slide in your boots sweat, but they sweat. Your boots need time to rest and dry. They should be dried at room temperature to prevent drying out the leather any more than necessary. We want the inside dry, but the leather to not dry out. “But....but I ride every day!” If you are a daily rider you should have two pairs of boots so that one pair can dry while you wear the other. Under dry riding conditions your boots should be good to go in 24 hours. If you've gone through a rain storm they should be dry in 2 to 3 days without moving air blowing on them.
Clean and oil your boots regularly. You want to clean the leather really well to make sure you're not rubbing any chemicals you possibly picked up into the leather. Leather is skin, it should be treated as such. I know I don't go put lotion on right after getting all greased up before washing. You should never use a silicone leather moisturizer. Silicone will clog the pores in the leather and wear it out faster. Eventually your boots will no longer be receptive to moisturizer.
Lastly, don't drag your feet coming to or leaving a stop. It is the fastest way to a re-sole or new boot purchase. Once the traction is gone from the bottom of your boot, you might as well switch to roller blades. Ever wear a smooth bottom boot in the rain?
Harley-Davidson does what they can to ensure their products are up to the standard Harley-Davidson customers expect. Harley's boots are made by Wolverine, which is a U.S. company. Some things Harley knows is better left to the experts, so the Motor Company can focus on other important things, like chrome.
Take care of your boots. Pick them carefully and treat them like the important things they are, and they should give you miles of comfortable riding.