Ankle cups, crush, puncture or decoration?

Rabbit

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Hey guys, looking at other forums talking about boots and I was wondering what the point of those little molded ankle pucks in most boots are for? Do they actually work for crush resistance? Are they for additional abrasion resistance, puncture proof or are they there to convince you to upgrade to a more expensive boot? I’ve read a little bit of all of the above and was wondering what the experience here is. Thanks.
 

melensdad

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The good ones are crush protection, typically a CE certified material, so they are actual armor for your feet. Crushes from having a motorcycle tip over on your foot are a fairly common injury. Those pucks tend to disperse the impact and protect your ankles from being crushed.

Typical touring boots would have those on the inside and outside. Also toe and heel protection. Heel protection ranges from a simple heel cup to some seriously rigid plastic that will hold up a full dress HD.

Offroad adventure boots, dual sport, and many Adventure/Touring boots will add rigid shin protection (the #1 bone break in non-fatal crashes) and some form of ankle hinge or addition semi-rigid ankle protection beyond the “pucks” often running up the sides of the leg several inches.

Compare any of the above to a pair of hiking boots and you can see that a typical hiking boot may have a light heel cup for stability and some light toe protection, but neither will likely protect a foot in a crash or even a simple tip over. They have padding for comfort that may also protect a bit from kicking a rock. Oddly the newer hiking boots and shoes are less protective and lighter than older models.

Compare any of the moto boots with a typical work boot and you may find most good work boots have some serious toe protection and an ankle cup for stability, they also won't protect an ankle from a crush in a crash, and most probably won't protect a heel very well either. Works boots typically have zero protection on the sides and most commonly focus on a "steel toe" as their protective feature.

Compare a typical motorcycle touring boot with a more serious off road, dual sport or an ADV-Touring boot and you'll see most lack any rigid shin protection.

My wife and I both use different models of Forma brand touring boots for 99% of our riding. I'm looking to upgrade to a boot that also offers serious shin protection and possibly some rigid above the ankle protection too as breaking the shin bone is all too common. My dream boot is the Rev'it Discovery but at $500/pair they seem out of reach, a Sidi Canyon or one of several Forma models seem more likely for me (Forma ADV-Touring, Forma Cape Horn, etc).
 
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Rabbit

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That makes a lot of sense. I don’t know if those ankle cups are CE rated or not. Basic CE testing only covers rigidity of the sole laterally. Good to know about the shin though. Makes me want to step up my boots sooner rather than later.
 

Fuzzy

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When I had just started riding I was leaving work in a gravel parking lot. Someone pulled out in front of me. I grabbed brake and went down at near zero speed. Going down I bumped my ankle. I was wearing slip on steel toe boots. The leather was not even scratched. Luckily nothing broken, but I could not walk for a week. I have not gotten on a bike since without boots with hard ankle protection.

February last year someone close to me riding an Indian Chieftain with side car was hit by a Harley crossing the line coming out of a curve. The hit crash bar to crash bar. With the sidecar he did not go down. His crash bar broke into his floor board, folding up floor board and crushing his foot. He had surgery and still limps with considerable pain. He has not been able to work as he cannot work an airplane brake with his left foot. He was wearing great hiking boots that gave no crush protection Other than bloodstained, the boots were in perfect condition. Good motorcycle boots might have reduced the severity of his injury.

I strongly recommend good boots with extra toe, heal and ankle protection.
 

Rabbit

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When I had just started riding I was leaving work in a gravel parking lot. Someone pulled out in front of me. I grabbed brake and went down at near zero speed. Going down I bumped my ankle. I was wearing slip on steel toe boots. The leather was not even scratched. Luckily nothing broken, but I could not walk for a week. I have not gotten on a bike since without boots with hard ankle protection.

February last year someone close to me riding an Indian Chieftain with side car was hit by a Harley crossing the line coming out of a curve. The hit crash bar to crash bar. With the sidecar he did not go down. His crash bar broke into his floor board, folding up floor board and crushing his foot. He had surgery and still limps with considerable pain. He has not been able to work as he cannot work an airplane brake with his left foot. He was wearing great hiking boots that gave no crush protection Other than bloodstained, the boots were in perfect condition. Good motorcycle boots might have reduced the severity of his injury.

I strongly recommend good boots with extra toe, heal and ankle protection.
I’m definitely looking at solid footwear and I thought I’d settled on the Forma Terra Evo X, but given their incredible stiffness I’m afraid they wouldn’t work for me. So I’m looking at the Boulder boots instead. These have a super stiff sole, good heel cockpit and solid toe protection, but because they’re Trials style they only have leather and padding around the ankle (stiff awesome leather though). Just trying to decide how useful those little ankle pucks actually are. Your experiences are really helpful. I’ve decided on every other piece of gear but boots are giving me fits.
 

Fuzzy

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I’m definitely looking at solid footwear and I thought I’d settled on the Forma Terra Evo X, but given their incredible stiffness I’m afraid they wouldn’t work for me. So I’m looking at the Boulder boots instead. These have a super stiff sole, good heel cockpit and solid toe protection, but because they’re Trials style they only have leather and padding around the ankle (stiff awesome leather though). Just trying to decide how useful those little ankle pucks actually are. Your experiences are really helpful. I’ve decided on every other piece of gear but boots are giving me fits.
Full disclosure. My work boots were high quality but the leather over my ankle was thin and soft. I was blown away that close inspection could find a scratch on leather.
 

Rabbit

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Full disclosure. My work boots were high quality but the leather over my ankle was thin and soft. I was blown away that close inspection could find a scratch on leather.
That thin flexible leather was why I ditched my steel toed work boots.
 

melensdad

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... but because they’re Trials style they only have leather and padding around the ankle
JMO but that is why I stay away from Trials boots. Sidi makes one that is awesome but I won’t buy it. I just don’t want to walk the rest of my days with a limp if I can prevent it.

The more protective boots use a CE rated material in the ankle cups. Several higher tier brands make that claim on various boot models. Using a CE rated material is not saying the whole boot is CE rated. It’s simply saying they use seesoft, D30 or another rated armor for those cups.

FWIW I’m also not looking at super stiff soles, they are miserable for walking and uncomfortable off the bike. Give me a boot with enough flex that I can walk around in while doing daily riding. I don’t stand on my pegs very often so I don’t need a super rigid sole.

My wife and I have a 280 mile backpacking trip planned through north central Italy (after Covid) and I’d like to actually hike it. It’s mostly mountains and hills, a crushed ankle would ruin that hike.
 
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Rabbit

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JMO but that is why I stay away from Trials boots. Sidi makes one that is awesome but I won’t buy it. I just don’t want to walk the rest of my days with a limp if I can prevent it.

The more protective boots use a CE rated material in the ankle cups. Several higher tier brands make that claim on various boot models. Using a CE rated material is not saying the whole boot is CE rated. It’s simply saying they use seesoft, D30 or another rated armor for those cups.

FWIW I’m also not looking at super stiff soles, they are miserable for walking and uncomfortable off the bike. Give me a boot with enough flex that I can walk around in while doing daily riding. I don’t stand on my pegs very often so I don’t need a super rigid sole.
My current moto boot (icon varial) has d3o in the ankles but it absolutely doesn’t feel like there is anything there. Not real confident it would help much. The boot guy i talked to also said that a very stiff sole is a good safety feature for preventing metatarsal fractures. I was comparing the Forma boulder vs the adventure and he said he’d go with the boulder because he felt the stiff sole was more important than the ankle cups if you had to choose. But if I could find both that would be awesome.
 

melensdad

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My current moto boot (icon varial) has d3o in the ankles but it absolutely doesn’t feel like there is anything there. Not real confident it would help much. The boot guy i talked to also said that a very stiff sole is a good safety feature for preventing metatarsal fractures. I was comparing the Forma boulder vs the adventure and he said he’d go with the boulder because he felt the stiff sole was more important than the ankle cups if you had to choose. But if I could find both that would be awesome.
If you want a more rigid sole and better ankle protection go with a dual sport or off-road boot. But they are sort of like trying to walk in a ski boot. A Trials boot, to my logic, is not particularly suitable for safety on the street. Given the incidents of ankle and shin injuries I’d think I’d favor a boot with more safety features on the shin and ankle than one with a super rigid sole (at least based on the way I read accident data)

I’m not sure why touring boots don’t have rigid shin protection. Seems like it’s the protection most needed. many of the lighter touring boots actually seem to offer very little protection at all, some look/feel like a slightly heavier fashion boot.

I have no illusion that all the gear we wear is a trade off of safety and comfort. Logically we should try to find gear that provides both, typically we err to the side of comfort or price discounts. Oddly we spend a bundle of our taxable income on farkeling our bikes but cheap-out on protecting our bodies.
A few years ago I started upgrading my gear, buying more protective gear that is also seasonally suitable so I’ve got several medium to high end moto jackets and pants, all upgraded with CE 2 armor. Even my gloves (3 pairs - heat/rain/cold) are now moto gloves with palm sliders, visor squeegees and armor. Palm sliders seem to be a particularly important safety bit as it’s hard to get a good skin graft on your palm. My goal with gear is to actually protect what I can.
 

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Verifying what is meant by “ankle pucks.”

If you refer to the often-disk-like circles of material that cover the malleolus (anklebones), those are for impact protection only, not to prevent crush.

***EDITED SECTION BELOW***
EN 13634:2017 has an optional test for impact protection for ankle bones and an optional one for shins (IPA and IPS, respectively). I haven’t seen many boots at all with those ratings except for full on motocross boots. Since it’s optional, many boot marketers may not pay for that optional cert. test. Or, maybe most boots won’t pass. IDK.
 
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Rabbit

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Verifying what is meant by “ankle pucks.”

If you refer to the often-disk-like circles of material that cover the malleolus (anklebones), those are for impact protection only, not to prevent crush.

EN 13634:2017 has an optional test for impact protection which as I understand it assess the finished boot (not the pieces of foam inside separate from the boot) for both ankle and shin impact protection. I haven’t seen many boots at all with that rating. Since it’s optional, many boot marketers may not pay for that optional cert. test. Where I have seen it on one or two boot certification tags is on motocross boots.
Yes, I was referring to the little discs in the ankle since those are the most common.
 
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MZ5

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I’d like to amend what I said. Ankle and shin can be tested separately in the 2017 standard. So, IPA for ankle impact and IPS for shin impact.
 

Rabbit

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So I talked to a knowledgeable boot guy and he explained that those pucks do 4 things. 1: they provide a small amount of impact protection. 2: they increase boot shaft rigidity which helps torsion resistance 3: they can provide abrasion resistance and 4: they look cool and help sell boots. He said that a boot with them is definitely better than without but they aren’t a deal breaker and the overall quality of the boot and especially the leather should drive my choice more than anything else.
 

MZ5

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Was that a or the guy at the big offroad boot vendor in Oregon?

I certainly agree with #4.
 

melensdad

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Regarding #4 ... one of the reasons I’m considering a hinged boot like the Sidi Armada as my next daily wear boot. That type of design has pads and rigid plastic for impact and crush protection. I’m not a fan of looking cool for the sake of looking cool. I prefer subtle looks but I really want functional protection ... and that goes directly to point #2
 

Rabbit

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Was that a or the guy at the big offroad boot vendor in Oregon?

I certainly agree with #4.
I talked with Atomic Moto and after a 30 min discussion I trust his opinion. They cater to gnarly off road stuff. He said for commuting he’d feel comfortable in either a Forma boulder or a Forma Cape Horn.
 
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Bulitt

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So I have to admit, these boot discussions have been pretty educational. They have lead me to do some investigation on my own boot inventory. The only boots I have with “armor” over the tibia area are my BMW gortex touring boots but it is a hard flexible plastic insert. All my others only have extra layers of leather over the ankle.

Was feeling pretty good about my ATGAT discipline until we waded off into this thorny topic....
 

Rabbit

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So I have to admit, these boot discussions have been pretty educational. They have lead me to do some investigation on my own boot inventory. The only boots I have with “armor” over the tibia area are my BMW gortex touring boots but it is a hard flexible plastic insert. All my others only have extra layers of leather over the ankle.

Was feeling pretty good about my ATGAT discipline until we waded off into this thorny topic....
Honestly I think I’ve come to the conclusion that a tall stiff leather boot with heel, toe and sole protection is enough for road riding. Taller boots clamped tightly help prevent rotation. Shin armor protects from frontal impact. Heel and toes protect from ground strikes. Stiff transverse sole protects from crush and stiff longitudinal sole protects from foot hyper extension and metatarsal damage. The ankle system is important but those little discs are only going to prevent very small impact damage I think. Which is perfect if you’re riding light off roads where you might get smacked. The issue I see with on road is that the impacts are typically minimal (topple over parking lot speed) or you’re getting hit by a car. Not a lot in between. So your leather boots if meeting the above criteria are good enough unless you want to step up to something with a hinged ankle. I’m also really glad so many people are chiming in on this. Thanks to all!
 
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