There are many factors that influence our decisions on what riding gear to wear. When it comes to motorcycle footwear, your destination and day’s activities are key factors. If you’re off to hang with your mates, a pair of trainers might suffice. Commuting to the office? You’ll probably want something that looks smart.
In the past, this would have meant wearing regular footwear as opposed to dedicated riding gear, but these days, we’re spoiled with options. Whether you’re chasing a set of classic boots, smart-looking work shoes or casual trainers, there’s a manufacturer out there making a riding shoe in that style. Here are 10 of the Best Cafe Racer Boots available in early 2022.
Gasolina Classic Boots
These tall leather Classic Boots from Gasolina are the archetypal footwear of 1950s cafe racers. Similar to the boots that influenced their creation, the Gasolina Classic Boots are painstakingly made by hand. The order process involves submitting accurate measurements to ensure a perfect fit, and production takes around 3 weeks to complete—but they’re well worth the wait.
The Gasolina Classic Boots are made up of a premium top grain 1.8–2mm leather outer and a supple glove-soft leather liner. A special dying process ensures the colour seeps all the way through the leather, which reduces the chances of visible scuff marks. The Classic Boots measure 15 inches (38cm) from the ground up and can be worn under or over your riding pants.
Removing the boots is also easy, thanks to a sturdy zipper down the length of the back, which Gasolina has lined to keep the elements out. A natural rubber sole offers a durable, solid grip and all-day comfort on or off the bike. Thanks to the boots’ double Goodyear welt construction, the sole can also be replaced (if you ever manage to wear it out).
Anyone who used to skate will appreciate the styling of the Cortech Slayer Riding Shoe. These classic mid-height trainers are an ideal addition to your casual riding garb, offering the perfect balance of style and performance.
The Cortech Slayer Riding Shoes feature a slick leather lightning bolt motif across each suede sidewall. High impact zones such as the toe and heel are made from 1.0–1.2mm drum dyed leather and are backed by thermoplastic cups to take the brunt of any hard knocks. Additional protection comes in the form of dual-density contoured ankle protectors and a reinforced anti-twist midsole.
To keep your feet firmly planted, the skate-style sole uses an anti-slip design, and the shoes come with both white and black laces to suit whatever look you’re going for. Available in both all black and black/gum colourways, you’ll find yourself reaching for these shoes even when you aren’t planning to ride. SLAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYEEEEERRRRR!
Features: classic skate shoe style / toe and heel armour
There’s no hiding the fact we’re big fans of the Icon 1000 range. In our humble opinion, it’s some of the best looking, best priced and feature-packed gear available. These Icon 1000 Brigand Boots are the perfect example.
Like most of their gear, the Icon 1000 Brigand Boots include D30 ankle armor, which is more streamlined and comfortable than hard TPU-style inserts. The padded mid-height upper is made from neoprene for improved comfort, while the rest of the boot is constructed from durable, hard-wearing leather.
The two colourways of either tan brown or black differ slightly in style—mainly due to the sole colour—but either option will look right at home on your cafe racer or custom ride. “Shifter ribs” on each toe add to the boot’s unique look and low profile laces help prevent any dangerous tangles while you ride.
Riders who live and breathe Moto GP are sure to recognize the Spidi brand. Along with their extensive range of technical riding gear, Spidi also offers a wide range of motorcycle boots under the XPD name. Amongst the power ranger-esque racing boots in the XPD catalogue, you’ll find a collection of classic, urban-style footwear that includes the X-Village Boots.
These stylish mid-height boots are as appropriate for the office as they are for the bike. Available in either dark brown or black colorways, they feature a contrasting white vulcanized rubber sole. The outer chassis uses oiled, water-repellent 1.4mm cow leather with 0.8mm thick panels at the rear for unrestricted ease of movement.
The boot’s oiled laces offer additional water resistance, and polyurethane malleolus protectors keep your ankles safe. Reinforced toes and heels round out these solid safety features, while side access zips allow you to slip them on and off without the need to struggle with laces.
Features: side access zipper / contrasting sole / water-repellant
If you’re planning on doing any riding in the rain, a good pair of waterproof boots is a must. The Belstaff Resolve Waterproof Boots were released in late 2020, but they remain some of the best boots you can buy if you want to keep your feet dry while riding in the café racer style.
Built to Belstaff’s high standards (for fashion and quality), the Resolve Waterproof Boots are constructed from premium full-grain leather. Leather is naturally waterproof—but to prevent moisture from seeping through seams, these boots are also lined with a waterproof, breathable liner.
Despite their stylish appearance, the Resolve Waterproof Boots are still an example of high-quality riding gear and feature everything we’d look for in a motorcycle boot. The toe, heel and ankles all include inbuilt protectors to keep these areas safe. A Vibram sole offers ample grip in all conditions, and there’s a leather overlay on each boot to slow down wear-and-tear from gear shifts.
On top of all this, Belstaff has been careful to create a boot that’s comfortable enough to wear day in and day out, on or off the bike.
Features: waterproof / no-slip sole / comfort focused design
They look like Doc Martens, but don’t be fooled. These are some of the best all-around motorcycle boots you can buy, and they’ll look great under your jeans when you’re strutting your stuff off the bike as well.
The TCX X-Blend WP Boots are made from full-grain vintage leather, and feature reinforced ankles and heels to offer protection for riders. As the name implies, they’re also waterproof—thanks to a liner beneath the outer layer that will keep your feet dry no matter how many puddles you ride through.
These boots were made for riding, and that’s just what they’ll do. That’s how the old song goes, right?
Features: waterproof liner / full-grain leather construction / reinforced heel and ankle
UK riding gear manufacturer Merlin is quickly becoming one of the country’s top riding gear brands. Their catalogue features items for even the most fashion-conscious rider, and the Ether Boots are no exception.
The Merlin Ether Boots are a full-grain leather, round toe boot that could easily be defined as all-purpose. With styling suited to just about any occasion, you’ll find yourself wearing them even when riding isn’t on your radar. Symmetrical shifter pads tie in nicely with the boot’s double stitched seams, and the inclusion of side entry zippers means fitting them is a cinch.
On top of looking great, the Merlin Ether Boots are packing CE approved protection. D30 armor guards the side of each ankle and the footbed itself is a CE rated item. Being a UK-based brand, Merlin also recognizes the importance of keeping water out. So to keep your feet dry, the entire boot is lined with a Hipora triple breathable liner.
Riding in inclement weather can be risking business. On top of having to deal with slippery surfaces, your visibility is often obscured—worse still, it can be difficult for other motorists to see you. In cases such as this, increasing your visual presence is good practice.
Stylmartin are big supporters of this approach, and it’s one they’ve applied to their Matt WP Riding Shoes. These purposeful waterproof boots may look stealthy during the day, but thanks to a series of reflective details, they’ll stand out when you need others to see them.
Featuring a stylish mix of matte and polished leather, the Stylmartin Matt WP Riding Shoes are the epitome of modern streetwear style. However, a quick scan over the boots feature list confirms their true purpose. Safety is offered in the form of malleolus protectors and a hardwearing, oil-resistant, anti-slip sole.
Comprehensive waterproofing is provided by hydro-grain leather and an internal breathable waterproof membrane. As for low light visibility, Stylmartin have integrated reflective panels into the rear of each boot, and they’ve even threaded reflective strands into the laces.
Equally at home on the bike or at work, these low-profile boots look just as good with a suit as they do with jeans and a t-shirt. Style isn’t the only area where these boots excel, though—they also offer impact protection via reinforced ankles, heels, and toes. The main upper is made from full-grain leather, too—which looks great and offers fantastic slide protection.
There’s more, too—padding around the shifting areas means you won’t make your feet sore or wear out your boots prematurely by gearing up or down. Plus, a Drystar membrane between the upper and the lining offers weatherproofing not found in many other boots of this kind.
It’s not everyday you find a pair of boots this understated that also offer CE Level 2 protection. Alpinestars has earned a bit of a reputation for making flashy sport-oriented gear in the past, but a few more products in this vein and we might have to reconsider.
Features: main upper made from full-grain leather / weather-resistant Drystar membrane / CE Level 2 rated
These tall, shin height moc toe boots are classy enough to hit the town in, but make no mistake—they still mean business. Designed to fit snugly around your feet while still giving you room to move your toes, the comfort these boots provide is matched only by their durability and safety features.
The Rev’It! Mohawk 3 Boots deliver rider protection in the form of a reinforced heel and toe design, armoured ankles, and an anatomically shaped footbed for both comfort and safety. To prevent the ingress of dirt, wind, and water, the tongue of each boot is gusseted and stitched, and riding comfort is improved thanks to a padded ankle zone.
Rev’it! improved on their previous Mohawk 2 Boots in a few ways as well. These newer versions come in a wider range of colors, and their OrthoLite® insole means walking in them will be just as easy as riding.
Features: high cut / smart style / OrthoLite® insole for extra comfort