Wearing the right gear and attire on a motorcycle is essential for protection. Anyone who has ever worn a new pair of leather boots knows they tend to be stiff. While leather is meant to keep feet and ankles covered and protected while on a bike, they should never be so uncomfortable that feet become sore and hurt. To ease stiff leather, explore some tried-and-true methods for effectively breaking in motorcycle boots.
Find the right fit
First and foremost, choose a pair of boots that fit properly. When looking for the right fit, toes should have some wiggle room. At most, toes should touch the front of the boot but never press up against the boot. When it comes to heel slip, no more than a quarter-inch is advised; a looser fit is better than a tight one, but within reason. When wearing the boots, you should have no points of pressure.
Motorcycle boots are meant to cover above the ankle at a minimum. Tall boots are a good choice, as they provide more protection over short boots, but they can be less comfortable and require more breaking in. Full-height boots give better ankle support and greatly reduce the risk of sprains and bone fractures.
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Use leather conditioner
Leather oil or conditioner will help speed up the break in time of new boots. Applying leather oil two to three times in the first week will help to soften the leather and allow it to stretch as it forms to the foot. Bear in mind not to use leather oil around the heel of the boot; the leather around the ankles should stay firm and not stretch.
Treat with rubbing alcohol
Another way to stretch boots is through the use of rubbing alcohol. Use a mixture of one-third rubbing alcohol with two-thirds water and spray on the inside of the boot so that the leather is moist but not saturated. Walk around in the boots for 20 minutes after spraying and reapply as needed every 20 minutes. Conversely, soak a pair of thick socks in rubbing alcohol, ring out any excess liquid, and wear them with the boots for 20 minutes at a time.
Another trick with rubbing alcohol is heat-treating. After soaking socks and ringing out excess liquid, strap on the boots and use a hair dryer to heat the parts of the boots that are too tight. After heating the leather, walk around and wiggle your feet and toes to put extra pressure on the leather to encourage it to stretch.
Use a shoe stretcher
Stretch boots overnight or when not in use with a shoe stretcher. Simply insert a shoe stretcher and expand as much as possible. You’ll find two types of shoe stretchers; a one-way stretcher targets the width of the boot, whereas a two-way stretcher can stretch both the width and the length of the boot.
See a professional cobbler
When in doubt, seek the help of a professional cobbler. They know exactly how to stretch leather to give you the perfect fit, and can make the right treatment recommendation for any type of boot. The cost is minimal cost and saves time on do-it-yourself methods so that boots are ride-ready in no time.