Dirt bike riding is probably one of the most exhilarating sports out there; But as we all know, it can be a little hazardous, especially on the weaker parts of the body like ankles. The biggest thing you can do to protect your ankles is to get yourself a good, supportive pair of official dirt bike boots. I, myself, was wondering, "What are the best dirt bike boots for ankle support?" This is what I found:
The best dirt bike boots for awesome ankle support and protection are the Alpinestars Tech 10, Gaerne SG-12, Fox Racing Instinct, Alpinestars Tech 8, and TCX Pro 1.1. Although a little pricey, cheaper boots can't beat the overall quality and support.
Alpinestars Tech 10
We'll start by talking about the Alpinestars Tech 10 boots. Alpinestars is a super popular brand of dirt bike equipment because of their gears' quality, so I honestly wasn't surprised that this brand popped up for having great boot ankle support.
Inner Ankle Brace System
When I started looking into these boots, I was super impressed by Alpinestars' Inner Ankle Brace System. This system offers many features that are specifically designed for maximum ankle support.
These boots have a redesigned biomechanical inner ankle brace that is actually built into the boot. The brace provides superior medial and lateral C torsion bars that will aid in keeping your ankle protected and in place.
Braces are a crucial aspect for ankle support as they aid in keeping your foot from moving or twisting farther than it's supposed to while still allowing your legs the freedom you desire while riding. All in all, this part of the Alpinestars' system aids in decreasing the harmful effects of a hard ride and allows you to still have a fun time on the trail or track.
Double Pivot System:
Double pivot systems are an awesome addition to the ankle support of any dirt bike boot, so I was really excited to see this system in place with the Alpinestars Tech 10 boots.
A lot of ankle injuries come from the strained twisting and turning of your feet while you're riding or during a crash. That's where the dual-pivot system comes into play.
This system has a whole bunch to do with controlling the boot's (and, therefore, your foot's) movements. How does this technology offer so much control? The dual pivot system of these boots provides the crucial progressive resistance for the vertical and rotational forces that would otherwise make a mess of your ankles.
The flexion inserts on these boots are an awesome addition to the overall ankle and leg support. The whole idea with the flexion inserts is to limit the amount of stretch that your ankle can do; thus decreasing the chances of hyper-extension in your ankle.
You will find the insert on the back of the boot. When you stretch the boot as you would while riding, the inserts will come to a stopping point that prevents you from extending or flexing your leg farther than is safe to do.
The TPU padding is an excellent feature in these boots. TPU stands for Thermoplastic Polyurethane, which goes throughout most of the sole areas of the boot, specifically around the heel where high impact occurs.
The TPU padding effectively absorbs the shock from impact and, therefore, decreases the shock that would otherwise impact your heel and ankle in a harmful way.
Other Awesome Features
The Alpinestars Tech 10 boots also feature a dynamic heel compression protector. This safety feature consists of an integrated collapsible heel made of poly-foam. The concept of this aspect is that in the event of a crash, the heel will collapse in on itself, absorbing the heavy impact energy so that it doesn't transfer to and damage your heel, ankle, and leg.
Gaerne is by far one of the most highly praised dirt bike boot brands that I have seen in the market. These Italian-made boots have superior quality and craftsmanship, and they are known for their extreme levels of protection while rider's are on the bike or under the bike, if you know what I mean... Point is, this is an awesome brand of dirt bike boot, and the SG-12 version comes highly rated.
Dual-Pivoting Glide Plate Design
The dual-pivoting glide plate design of these boots is a large portion of what makes this boot incredibly protective around your legs and especially your ankles. One of the major features that make this design work so effectively is the "Razorback" strut.
The razorback strut has been described as being the major backbone of these boots, but I would call it more of a support rod. For further clarity, picture this with me:
You plant a new tree--that's barely a sapling--but the wind is crazy harsh and nearly pushes this tree over. Surely that can't be good for the tree. So, you decided to shove a support rod firmly into the ground and attach the tree's slender trunk to the strong pole. Therefore, the tree can't be bent so easily anymore because it has proper support.
This simple analogy is the epitome of what the SG-12's razorback strut does for your ankle, but with a few helpful tweaks. In this case, the razorback (or support pole) moves with your feet as you ride. This allows your feet great flexibility while you're dealing with the rigors of riding, but the razor back will also stop your ankles and feet from moving into unnatural positions that would cause damage.
Dual Stage Pivot System:
The Dual Stage Pivot system is an awesome feature of this boot that really knocks it off the shelves. Exclusive to Gaerne boots, the two pivots are specially designed to bring lots of support as well as great feel to your riding experience.
The first pivot is attached to the "wishbone" of the boot and creates a rigidness that provides great lateral support. Along with this pivot, a glide-plate keeps the top part of the boot in an upright position for further support. Nothing like good ankle posture, right?
The second pivot is focused mainly on flexibility while you're actually out riding on the trails. Attached to a sliding glide plate, this pivot gives you a more natural, smooth feeling on your feet when shifting or braking.
A nice protective feature along with this, however, is that the pivot has a limit in its movement to prevent hyperextension in case of over-jumping a hill or placing a lot of pressure on your ankles and feet.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is an awesome shock-absorbing material that comes in the best ankle supporting dirt bike boots. Here's the deal:
In the Gaerne SG-12 boots, TPU is found throughout the boots and connects with the Razorback strut. The TPU in these boots mainly comes into effect in the case of hard landings and impacts. Upon impact, this material will help absorb the energy by compressing itself; otherwise, most of the energy from those hard impacts would go directly to your heels and ankles.
TPU can really be a lifesaver--at least in protecting the tender but important bones and joints in your lower legs.
Memory Cell Foam Lining:
The memory cell foam lining in these boots is really something special. The main idea with this lining is that it will mold to your specific and unique foot and ankle structure; thus, it offers a snug, comfortable fit that keeps your feet and ankles firmly in place. Just another awesome supportive aspect of these boots.
Other Support Features:
The Gaerne SG-12 has a slimmer toe box that allows for greater feel for the pegs and brakes while you're out riding. Many riders like this aspect for the greater control it offers when you're more in tune with your bike, but it's also a great support in limiting the bulkiness of that can make operating the bike a little more difficult.
Fox Racing Instinct
Fox is definitely one of the leading dirt bike gear brands out there. They tend to be a little bit of an expensive choice, but their quality is superb. They are constantly coming out with new and improved products that beat a lot of other gear brands.
One of the most popular boots that this brand produces are the Fox Racing Instinct Boots. These boots come in both offroad and racing soles, which is a nice option for the different kind of dirt bikers out there. You can find an awesome offroad version here. Besides having different sole options, these boots come with high-end ankle support to help keep any rider safe and comfortable while riding.
Hinge & Buckle System:
The hinge and buckle system on these boots offer awesome support and comfort to the rider who wears them, even right out of the box. The hinge gives the lateral support that we often look for in dirt bike boots while also preventing harm by locking before hyperextension and hyperflexion is possible.
The hinges also provide the rider wearing the boots with protection against rotational injuries that can occur in the event of an impact. Good dirt bike boots will keep your legs in place and prevent them from moving to unnatural degrees while still offering you the mobility that any dirt biker is looking for while out riding.
The buckle system is all about providing comfortable movement. It smoothly flexes with the boot, giving you the ultimate comfort and cooperation that you're looking for in your boots while riding.
The pivoting four buckle design also allows for adjustments in order to make them fit the way that you as the rider particularly prefer.
TPU Heel Cup & Panels:
The TPU in the heel cup and the panels is an awesome addition to help prevent injuries in the event of impacts.
A lot of injuries can occur during hard landings that channel energy through the bike, into your shoe, and then into your heel. This can not only damage your heel, but it can also damage your ankle joints that control so much mobility and flexibility.
The TPU in the heel cup, along with all the other fortifications for your feet, makes an amazing buffer that absorbs much of the potentially damaging energy before it fully impacts your heels and ankles.
The Fox Racing Instinct boots also have large TPU panels along the shin and the back of the boot. Lots of rough impacts from crashing or wayward obstacles can cause serious damage to your lower legs; thus the TPU panels are a great addition to absorbing much of the energy and providing some protection for your legs while you're out on the trails.
Other Support Features:
These boots have the Fox exclusive Duratac rubber compound that provides excellent durability and grip to these boots. The awesome grip that this material provides impressed me because I want to make sure that my feet stay on the pegs no matter the treacherous terrain around me. This is just another way to ensure that your feet don't get torn off the pegs by rocks and roots around you as you ride.
Alpinestars Tech 8 RS
Here's another Alpinestars boot, which have awesome quality and are particularly popular for the support that they offer compared to their counterpart, the Tech 10. The Alpinestars Tech 8 RS is built to provide a lot of protection throughout the boot, as well as in the bootie provided with the boots.
Shock Absorbing Gel Inserts:
The shock-absorbing gel inserts in these boots are a brilliant addition for ankle protection in these boots. The inserts surround the ankles and ensure that they are protected from all the impact energy and stress the joints are put under while out on a rough ride.
These inserts are literally a little cushion that contributes to the overall ankle protection of these boots while still maintaining comfort. The gel pads are also adjustable for how you as a unique rider need them, and they are replaceable when they get squished down after various impacts.
Reinforced Lateral Flex Zone:
The reinforced lateral flex zone that resides above the ankles on the outside helps protect against torsion (aka, a twisted ankle).
Lateral support is crucial for ankle support in dirt bike boots because it prevents your foot from moving in unnatural angles in the event of a crash or getting your foot hit by a rogue tree branch or boulder.
The reinforced lateral flex zone provides awesome protection and stability against the forces that try to twist your ankles around when you're out in rough territory.
Internal Protection Plates:
The Alpinestars Tech 8 RS also sport sturdy, extended, internal protection plates for ankles and foot protection. These plates are injected with polymer, a shock-resistant, that provides extra protection for your ankles upon impact.
These plates also add protection for the lower foot and the toe box area, which are both crucial areas that affect dirt bike riding performance.
Synthetic Material Chassis in Bootie:
The bootie incorporated in these boots offer extra support for the ankles beyond the boot as a whole. With a synthetic material chassis, these booties are designed to keep your ankle firmly in place in a way similar to how an ankle brace would, but without a lot of the bulk.
This system keeps your feet and ankles snug inside of the boots. Without them, the main boots would feel way too big for comfort and adequate protection and support.
Other Support Features:
The Alpinestars Tech 8 RS boots also feature instep and Achilles flex zones. This provides plenty of comfort and support on those often very sensitive areas of the feet.
The bootie of the Alpinestars Tech 8 RS features a dual compound, removable anatomic footbed with EVA arch support to provide comfort to your feet so they aren't barking loudly at you later.
TCX Comp Evo
TCX is a brand of dirt bike boots that I was less familiar with but certainly impressed with. The TCX Comp Evo boots, one of their newer models, is especially impressive.
Double Flex Control System
The double flex control system of the TCX Comp Evo boots is what sets them apart from their predecessors like the TCX Pro 2.1. This control system allows for different ranges of movement from eighteen degrees in front and fifteen degrees in the back.
The two positions available vary in their mobility, so you as the rider are in control of the position that you prefer for your particular boots. Despite the varying mobility options with these boots, however, they also prevent you from moving your foot or ankle into hyperextension or hyperflexion.
The Polyurethane (PU) reinforcements in these boots are an excellent addition to the overall protection on your feet, ankles, and lower legs.
Polyurethane is a shock-resistant material that composes the padding inside these boots. The double compound PU padding is soft and specifically added around the ankles to absorb energy and offer protection and stability.
PU plates and reinforcements are used throughout the boots to protect your ankles and feet. These are present in the toe guard, they make up the adjustable shin plate, reinforce the ankle and malleolus (the major bone in the ankle that protrudes out), and reinforce the heel.
All of these PU fortifications work to absorb energy upon impact so your boots will take the brunt of the fall.
Other Support Features:
The plush interior of the TCX Comp Evo conforms to the rider's foot. This allows for great comfort as well as support. Riders with different foot sizes and shapes claim that the boots conformed to them well with both wide and narrow feet.
Other Methods for Ankle Support
Of course, there's no true substitute for good dirt bike boots with plenty of ankle support, there are a few things that you can do to improve the support that your ankles receive in the boots you already have.
Ankle braces are definitely one of the top ways that you can increase the support that your ankle receives while you're out riding. But you're not going to want to just stop by the local pharmacy for a regular, bulky ankle brace.
Okay, so maybe an ankle brace at the local pharmacy would work, but I would try finding an ankle brace that's specifically designed for dirt bike boots because they'll be slimmer. That's really the key with ankle braces for dirt biking: find one that's slimmer while still giving the support that you need.
The good news is that you can find a good quality ankle brace locally or online without breaking the bank.
Whatever kind of ankle brace you decided to try out, I definitely suggest bringing your boots with you to the store or pharmacy to try on while you have the brace on to see if it fits properly or how you need to adjust your boots to fit the brace.
An elastic therapeutic tape is also a good option for more temporary ankle support. The reason I say temporary is that, unless you like the particular support that the tape offers, you're probably going to want an official ankle brace if you need ankle support more often.
But it's important to understand that there's a method to the madness of taping, so you don't want to just tape away without instruction. For optimum ankle support through this method, you'll want to use the closed basket weave ankle taping.
Other Ways to Prevent Ankle & Foot Injuries While Riding
When it comes to your ankles and possible injuries, I apply the following bit of wisdom: "It's better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent." And there are a few super simple ways for you to prevent ankle injuries or further aggravation to your ankles.
Stretch Before Riding
Okay, this one applies to any sport and is a good method for healthy living, but it definitely applies to dirt bike riding. Dirt bike riding is vigorous and puts a lot of strain on your body.
Therefore, by stretching the major muscles you use (including legs, arms, ankles, and even your back) before dirt bike riding, you can prevent excess strain on your muscles.
What's going to be able to withstand a hard landing better--tense muscles and joints or limber ones? Well, to put it simply, the more limber and flexible your muscles are before riding, the better they will be able to bounce back during the rough ride of jumps and turns.
This one may seem like a no-brainer when you're out in the heat, but there's a little more to it than meets the eye.
Water is essential to keeping your muscles and joints limber and working properly. In an elasticity competition between a fresh play-doe and dry play-doe, which one do you think will stretch the farthest, and which one will crack and break?
When your body is dehydrated, you could compare your muscles and joints to dry play-doe. Dehydrated muscles will be more likely to sprain or tear when they are put under lots of pressure and tension.
Besides drinking water while you're out dirt biking, my suggestion is that you drink a little bit of water every hour throughout the day even if you're going dirt bike riding later in the day.
As I learned in cross country practice, it's not sufficient to drink a bunch of water before running (or dirt biking). If you prep your body throughout the day by staying hydrated, it will perform all the better for you when you're actually out on the trails.