When people think about the image of a biker, one of the first things they think about besides the tattoos is the stereotypical black riding boots. In years past you would never see a biker out for a cruise without his boots. These days with the popularity of sport bikes and what we call "rice rockets" you see people riding them with tennis shoes on and you will see business people riding their motorcycle to work with dress loafers on. For hardcore bikers, this may seem to be sacrilegious but it is happening more and more.
So, are riding boots really a functional necessity or just for looks? If you have the nerve to walk up to a biker and ask him if his boots are functional or just for looks and whether they would ride their bike without them you will find that they would not get on their bike without their boots. Though you may be hard pressed to get an in depth explanation from them if you push a little they will tell you that while they like the look of their boots, the main reason they wear them is for protection. There are inherent risks that we take when participating in biking but wearing motorcycle boots eliminates many of them. One of the first injuries that many bikers get is a burned leg from their own exhaust. This is a horrible injury that can take several weeks to heal and will still result in a large scar.
By wearing the tall riding boots you are much less likely to be burned. Of course there are many other reasons for wearing protective footwear, leathers, and helmets not the least of which is the risk of injury from being involved in an accident. Wearing thick leather pants and jackets can save your skin if you lay your bike down in an accident and the boots will save your feet. A helmet should always be worn, even if you don't think it is cool. I have seen several people who have died in minor accidents because of head injuries that would have been avoided if they had worn a helmet.
Even though bikers will say that their reason for wearing the boots is mostly for protection, the classic biker look is a reason as well. I have friends who wear their biker gear even if they are driving their trucks. If you were to bring up the example of a sport bike rider wearing tennis shoes, they will tell you that observation makes their point that those people aren't real bikers. Let's face it some guy with a flashy windbreaker and tennis shoes riding a little rice rocket doesn't make you want to lock your doors when he rides by, now does he?.
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Beach, Florida. Find more about this as well as motorcycle boots at http://www.westernandworkboots.com