Motorcycle boots are associated with motorcycle riders and range from above ankle to below knee boots. They have an outside of a typical boot but a low heel to control the motorcycle. To improve motorcycle safety, motorcycle boots are generally made from a thick, heavy leather and may include energy absorbing and load spreading padding, metal, plastic and/or composite materials to protect the motorcycle rider’s feet, ankles and legs in an accident. For use in wet weather, some boots have a waterproof membrane lining such as Gore-Tex or SympaTex.
Depending upon how form-fitting the boot is, to allow a rider to easily get the boot on or off, the shaft may be designed to open lengthwise. If so, Velcro or other hook-and-loop fasteners are typically used on the inner sides of the opening to allow the rider to close the boot over the foot, ankle and leg. This allows for some flexibility for the rider to control the boot’s tightness. Some manufacturers also include an internal quick-lacing system between a soft inner leg and the harder outer shell of the boot shaft to further ensure a tight, but comfortable fit. The heel of a racing boot is typically very low: not more than 1/2-inch, and sole of the heel and foot is typically rather smooth. A curved plastic or composite plate may be included to cover the shin of the boot to protect the rider’s shin.
CE certification of Motorcycle footwear
There is a European standard available for motorcycle riders which should be applied to all footwear for this end use. This standard EN13634 (latest version to date is EN13634:2010) is titled “Protective footwear for motorcycle riders — Requirements and test methods” and is a European harmonized standard published throughout Europe and in the UK by BSI.
The PPE directive (the law covering certification of Personal protective equipment) covers any device that is worn or held to protect the user. The Basic health and safety requirements of the directive include the risks or mechanical abrasions and impact and risk to the health and hygiene of the end user. It is clear therefore that motorcycle boots are PPE and should be CE marked and tested by a notified body laboratory. They are neither complex or simple design as defined in the directive and the harmonized standard EN13634 should be used to permit CE marking. The latest version of these standards has been written in such a manner as to apply to all motorcycle footwear (no longer just for professional use). It is therefore applicable by law, to all items of motorcycle footwear claiming or implying any form of protection to the user.
The standard EN13634 covers several important safety parameters including:
– The abrasion test, an impact abrasion and quite a harsh method of test.
– Design requirements for no forward facing seams to prevent the boots opening up during a slide.
– There are requirements for transverse rigidity to reduce the risk of crushing if the bike falls on you.
– Impact energy protection in the ankle and shin
– Impact cut risk
– Slip resistance of the outer soles
– Sole bond strength
– Minimum upper heights (to ensure the boot protects over a minimum area of the foot and lower leg)
– plus many materials tests and innocuousness tests to ensure a good wear life and basic levels of health and safety to the wearer
The results of some of the testing in the standard are recorded on the boot as levels which help the user determine a good boot for their risk. For example the requirements of a trials bike rider are quite different from those of a courier – impact protection vs abrasion.
It is important to note that most of the motorcycle footwear on the market is non CE marked and will not meet these standards. This includes many products that look like they offer protection against impacts and abrasions for example, most of these are illegally making claims of safety. The standards are put in place for your safety and buyers should look for CE marked product claiming compliance with EN13634:2010 with motorcycle pictogram clearly marked on the products.