Boots you can wear on and off the bike
Back to that eternal conundrum: how do we look good while we ride bikes? The vast majority of real riding gear is pretty good at keeping you safe, but was designed for Teletubbies, not 18-34 year old people that live in cities. The streetwear worn by our non-riding peers won't protect us in a crash. Enter these boots: the Dainese Anfibio Cafe and Corcoran Jump Boot.
What you need out of protective footwear
Your feet are made up of 26 delicate little bones. Break one and you can't walk so hot any more. Bust your ankle and you're looking at seriously limited mobility for a decent period of time. So you want to protect them. How?
Any old boot will do, right? I mean they are, by their very definition, tough. Right? Right? Here's a little test for you: go grab any item of footwear by the heel in one hand, toe in the other and twist it as hard as you can. Now imagine your foot inside there. That's what's going to happen in a crash. Scary, right?
To prevent that, you want strong soles, often ones reinforced with a steel shank. You also want solid, retentive heel and toe boxes. Just to make things confusing, you probably don't want a steel toe, crash forces can make them guillotine your toes.
You also want some impact protection to, well, protect against impacts and you want that around your toes, heel and ankles, if not elsewhere too.
And because most bikes weigh 400lbs+ and you have to support that weight on uneven, broken surfaces (before you add luggage and a girl and your own beer belly), you want good ankle support. That's also a good idea during all that crashing stuff.
So yeah, your typical pair of girlie work boots or hiking boots isn't going to pass muster. You're a smart guy and you wear real racing boots when you ride fast or real dirt bike boots when you go off-road, but you also have a life outside of bikes and need something to wear when you're just going to work or dinner or whatever. Enter boots like these.
Dainese Anfibio Cafe
At first glance, these appear to be fairly basic. Just a nice-looking boot with some shift guards and round ankle protectors. Then you put them on. Or, more accurately try to.
Getting your feet into the Daineses is genuinely difficult, even with the laces fully undone. It's clearing that lip under the tongue that does that.
That's no criticism thought. Being hard to put on, means they're also hard to take off. That's a good thing because these seriously hold your feet and ankles in place. Sized right, they are absolutely not flying off in a crash.
Lace them up and suddenly you feel more like you're wearing a pair of race boots than nice-looking set of footwear. Your feet and ankles are totally locked in, the degree of ankle flex is limited and those round plastic discs hug your ankles securely.
Those discs are literally just slices of plastic, with no real ability to absorb impact forces, but feel safer than they look and should redirect those forces away from your ankles. It's a decent solution given that the boots remain slim and easy to wear under even skinny jeans.
The motorcycle riding focus of the Anfibio Cafes is also evident in the soles, which are thick and soft. So soft that I wouldn't want to bet on them lasting a long time if you're walking distance in them every day, but the return on that is seriously good grip on footpegs and pavement, even in the wet. The tread on the bottoms is not very deep at all, again working great on the bike, but providing limited traction while walking up a dry dirt hill or similar.
These are serious motorcycle boots that will protect your feet and ankles in a crash that just happen to look stylish. And that makes the Dainese Anfibio Cafes serious winners in our book.
Corcoran Jump Boots
As you can see, I've had these for a while. These are what I was wearing when I crashed in the fall, busting my ass, tailbone, ribs, arm and knee. But not my feet or ankles.
Vietnam-era boots designed for paratroops, the Jump Boot is reinforced with a steel shank in the sole and strong heel and toe boxes made of multiple layers of leather. Internal canvas webbing provides additional ankle support, but there's no impact protection there. The 10-inch upper laces super tight, locking them to your feet and further supporting your ankles.
The rubber soles are smooth and hard. Good for making them last, not so great for gripping pegs or being quiet when you walk. You can hear me coming from a hundred yards away when I wear these.
At $120 to $150 (depending on size), they're about $100 cheaper than the Daineses, but don't offer the same impact protection or on-bike comfort and feel. These have actually created calloused ridges on the front of my ankles from pinching when I have to contort my 34-inch long legs onto a sportsbike.
But, they are a little more normal to walk to do normal things in. I can even dance in these. Go ahead and make fun of that, I'm taking one on the chin for purposes of a thorough review.
Because my feet are pretty big, an ex-girlfriend thought they looked like clown shoes, but they're pretty on-trend with the whole workwear thing and you'll find many more expensive options imitating their look. Make no mistake though: the Corcoran Jump Boot are the original and the toughest.