During an accident, the first thing that most people instinctively do is put their hands out. Without any protection, the asphalt will tear up your hands incredibly fast. We use our hands for so many things so why would you jeopardize them by not protecting them with motorcycle gloves? You must have come to that same conclusion if you are reading this guide.
With so many brands and styles of motorcycle gloves available, it can be hard to decide which gloves are right for you. Before you make your decision, learn about the different styles and how to properly fit the gloves so you can ride as comfortable and protected as you need to be when you hit the road on your bike.
Cruiser/Touring- This is the broadest range of gloves out of any of the styles. This is largely because this style of riding is the most diverse. Many cruiser gloves are a plain leather glove with very little or even no added padding or armor. They may be perforated for ventilation or insulated for colder weather. The goal of this style of glove is to provide the most comfortable glove, while still providing good abrasion protection. To aid in comfort, some cruiser gloves have gel padding in the palm to reduce the amount of vibration that is absorbed by the hands. The length of the glove ranges from short cuff to mid length ato gauntlet.
Touring gloves resemble race gloves with the addition of armor and padding along with the use of textiles. They are, however, not as heavily armored as racing gloves. The knuckle armor is often built in compared to the large patches of armor on race gloves. Many touring gloves are waterproof and designed to handle a wide range of conditions. A growing number of manufacturers are going to all textile constructions for more versatility. The lengths of touring gloves range from short cuff to gauntlet.
Sport/Racing- Sport bike racing gloves are the most technically constructed motorcycle glove. They need to be able to handle high speed impacts and abrasions, yet also need to have a fair amount of dexterity. They are constructed with thick leather, textiles, and either plastic, metal or carbon fiver armor. Sport gloves generally have large knuckle armor patches with other high impact areas reinforced with TPU armor or extra padding. They are offered in either a gauntlet style for the most protection or in a short cuff style for more dexterity. These gloves are usually well ventilated and perforated and some may even be waterproof.
MX- Because of the hand dexterity that is required in dirt bike and more specifically motocross riding, MX gloves need to be very flexible, while still protective. The main chassis of the glove is usually made with a tough leather with a somewhat stretchy textile used in the moving areas. Most MX gloves have a short cuff to provide the rider with full wrist movement. The palms are reinforced with a heavy leather and some are even padded. Most are either vented or perforated to keep the hands cool and dry. Some even have knuckle armor built in. Many Dual-Sport riders will wear MX gloves because of the dexterity and level of protection they provide.
Cold Weather/Heated- When the cold weather rolls around, you will need a glove that can keep your hands warm. Cold hands can become less sensitive and can lead to you making mistakes. You may be inclined to wear normal winter gloves on your bike, but they just are not built to handle impacts and abrasions that can happen in an accident. Cold weather motorcycle gloves have all of the armor and padding that they need for protection, plus insulation to keep your hands warm. They are also usually waterproof and are long in length.
If you ride in extremely cold conditions or would just like your hands to be warmer, there are heated motorcycle gloves available. These gloves have electrical heating elements that run through the glove. They are either powered by a battery back or they can be wired directly into your motorcycle's electrical system. The downside to heated motorcycle gloves is that you will have to deal with some wires (some more than others) and they can be heavier and bulkier than normal motorcycle gloves.
Warm Weather- Since most motorcycle riding is done in warm weather, most brands offer motorcycle gloves with excellent ventilation, including perforated leather. Keeping your hands dry and cool will allow you to ride longer and more comfortably. When looking for perforated gloves, make sure that the stitching does not go through the perforated areas, as this is a weak point. The perforation should also NOT be in any high impact zones, like the palms and the sides. Many sport gloves will have vents built into the knuckle armor.
Fingerless- Fingerless motorcycle gloves are a very popular option for cruiser riders. They are almost always made with leather. The finger is generally cut off right below the first knuckle of each finger. Many riders enjoy these because they are comfortable and convenient. The exposed fingers give the rider the most feel on the levers and also allow them to use electronics without removing their gloves. The downside of fingerless gloves is that the fingers go unprotected, obviously. Most also do not have any added armor or padding included.
The fitment of your new motorcycle gloves is crucial not only for comfort, but for protection as well. If the glove is too large, the armor can be pushed off of the areas that it is supposed to protect or the glove could even come right off during a slide. A glove that is too large can also make for clunky lever controls from fighting the excess material. It will become incredibly annoying if you need to continually adjust the gloves back into place. Conversely, a glove that is too small will become uncomfortable very quick. Your hands will become fatigued faster than normal as you fight against the excess tension of a glove that is too tight. The circulation could even be cut off to your hands, which can cause loss of feeling (not ideal while piloting a motorcycle). A proper fitting glove should be almost unnoticeable during normal riding. While trying on new gloves, remember that most of them (especially leather) will break in over time. This is why a glove that matches your hand size might feel too tight at first.
Check out the video below to see how to properly measure your hand. You can use those measurements to find your glove size in the particular brand that you are interested in.
Stitching- The stitching plays a role in both the comfort and the durability of your motorcycle gloves. Stitching on the inside of the glove can irritate your fingers and hand if they are not placed well. Many companies have turned to having the stitching on the outside of the glove to avoid this. The quality of the stitching needs to be high for the glove to do its job. Poorly stitched gloves can come apart during a slide, which does not do your hands any good. Look for gloves that are double or even triple stitched. Also, gloves that use high-tensile strength threads like KevlarÂ® will hold up to more abrasion and abuse.
Seasons- If you live in a part of the world with changing seasons, you will have to determine if just one pair of gloves will work for you all year long. If you ride mostly during the warm weather times of the year, one pair of gloves should work for you. But if you happen to ride in cold or wet weather, you may want to consider an additional pair or one that will accommodate all seasons. Waterproof gloves have come a long ways since the introduction of materials like Gore-Tex®, which are waterproof and breathable, making it tolerable to wear in warm weather.
Length- This should come to no surprise, but longer is better when it comes to the length of your motorcycle gloves. Long-cuffed or gauntlet gloves will extend the protection past your hands and over your wrists. In a slide, the sleeves of your jacket can ride up, leaving your wrist area exposed. The longer glove will ensure that that area will be protected. If you are confident in your jacket sleeves staying in place or if you cannot stand the extra coverage, a short cuff glove is still better than no glove at all. They will also allow you to have more mobility and flexibility in the wrist area.
Smart Touch- More and more motorcycle gadgets with touchscreens are being introduced every year. If you ride with these electronics, you may want to consider purchasing motorcycle gloves with smart touch fingers. These allow you to control the touchscreen without removing your gloves. This could save a lot of time and hassle out on the road. Many riders opt for fingerless gloves, but they are sacrificing protection for doing so.