So You Want To Ride Your Motorcycle Without Wrecking Your Good Shoes…

Some days you want to ride your bike somewhere while wearing your smart shoes.

However, you don’t want scuffs to permeate the leather uppers, which is what the shifter of your motorcycle is going to do to your shoe when you kick upwards to shift gears.
A normal motorcycle shift pattern will have one down kick and four to five up kicks, which can scuff your shoe up pronto. Now, most people will say just wear motorcycle specific footwear and carry your good shoes on you, but for the sake of argument here, let’s say that isn’t possible for some reason.
Maybe your car is broken down, you have a job interview, and you can’t wear a backpack over your tailored jacket without wrecking it so carrying your office shoes on you is out of the question.
You need to wear your dress shoes, but they’ll get scuffed on the shifter unless you protect them.
Yes, most surface marks can polish out with good shoe care, but you’re going to an interview. Not the time to shine your shoes upon arrival.

This doesn’t have to be a case of wanting to protect the uppers of your dress shoes, either.
Any shoe you want to keep in good condition is applicable here.
Though, I will start off by saying this:

If your chosen shoes have leather soles, with no grippy oversoles of any sort, do not ride your motorcycle with them.

Now, here’s two possible solutions.

Solution 1: Wearable Shoe Protector

I’ve seen a number of these on eBay, and they’re probably the easier (and cheaper) solution.
However, I just plain don’t like the look of them. They’re a practical and grippy rubber, but I could never reconcile myself with the appearance.

I looked around for ages for one of these with a leather upper, because I think that’d look quite good.
But I never found it. And I didn’t feel the inclination to make one myself, since I use Solution 2 below.
If any leather craftspeople read this, and have made a product like this, let me know. I’ll give you a spotlight.

Step 2: Heel-Toe Shifter

Where the first solution is wearable, this solution is one that you fit to your bike.
It’s something that came pre-fitted when I purchased my current Triumph, and it’s been a game changer.

Where a motorcycle usually requires upward kicks to shift up a gear, this setup allows you to put downward pressure on the heel shifter to upshift instead.
Rather than one down five up (or four up), it becomes one down at the toe to shift into first gear, then the rest of the upshifts are done by kicking down at the heel.
I love it, because I can wear whatever shoe I like with that setup.
But I still make sure to wear grippy soles of some sort, otherwise a slip and fall is going to be imminent.
I had Topy soles fitted to my new Thomas George Collection boots for this reason.

The only possible caveat I’ve seen with this method is that it may require the presence of footboards in order to work comfortably. Though, I’m sure there would be a way to make it work without footboards.
It’d require a change in the angle and distance between the two parts of the shifter, but it’d probably be workable.

A Parting Word

I’m not suggesting you move towards wearing normal shoes for every ride. Where possible, at least wear boots, if not motorcycle specific ones. I usually wear my old Red Wings to putt around town or go on the highways, as they’re certainly sturdy enough.
If I’m doing something more technical or throwing a bike through corners, though, it’s much wiser to put on some proper purpose-made motorcycle boots.

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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