We put together detailed explanations of everything that goes into making a motorcycle glove, along with featured examples for every type of rider, in our Motorcycle Gloves Buyer's Guide. Read this before you make your next investment in gear!
You use your hands for almost everything you do, and even a mild motorcycle accident can maul them up badly. Protect those moneymakers!
There's little argument that the single most important piece of safety you can possible wear on a motorcycle is a helmet - you need your brain intact to stay alive, and it would probably be nice if your face wasn't scraped off in the event of an unscheduled meeting with the pavement. But that's obvious. What's a tougher question is: what's the second most important piece of safety gear you should use?
It's debatable, but many riders opt for motorcycle gloves, and with good reason. It is pure human instinct to put your hands down in the event of a fall, and in a motorcycle accident, your hands can easily have enough damage inflicted to render them useless. Think about how much you use your hands - whether you work at a construction site or at a desk, they're your moneymakers, and every daily task from eating lunch to going to the bathroom would be a nightmare without the use of your hands. You use them for just about everything, so protect them. This Buyers Guide is all about Motorcycle Gloves.
Going cheap on gloves usually doesn't have consequences...until it's way too late. Be smart and get the good stuff that will really save your bacon if you go down. It doesn't have to cost a fortune!
Table of Contents:
- What Makes a Motorcycle Glove
- Anatomy of Motorcycle Gloves
- Textile or Leather?
- The Importance of Fit
- Types of Motorcycle Glove
- How to Choose the Right Motorcycle Glove
What Makes A Motorcycle Glove a Motorcycle Glove?
Ok, lets assume you know you need gloves while riding your bike. The next question is, why spend $50-300 on a set of "motorcycle gloves" when you can get some deerskin gloves for $20 at Home Depot? Leather gloves are leather gloves, right?
Wrong! Motorcycle gloves have many specific features that are designed to do two things that are critical when on a motorcycle:
- Protecting your hands from the environment to retain comfort and fine motor control while operating your motorcycle, and
- Protecting your hands from injury and impact in the event of a crash.
Keep you comfortable while riding, and keep you safe when crashing; that's their only job. That's what motorcycle gloves are designed to do, and what your hardware store specials simply aren't capable of.
Oh man...I'd hate to be this guys palms if he happens to go down. Why risk it?
Sounds simple, but there are hundreds of different styles from different brands at different price points that will all accomplish the job differently, from short, single-layer leather gloves to exotic full-gauntlet race gloves made from kangaroo, titanium, and stingray (no seriously, those exist.) However, there are a few essential features you'll find in nearly every true motorcycle glove:
- Features to protect you from motorcycle-specific impact, such as hardened knuckles, palm sliders, double-layers in impact areas, etc.
- Precurved construction to allow comfortable grasping of grips
- Durable closure systems, to keep the glove on in case of a crash
- Ventilation or weather protection (depending on the season the glove is intended for)
Motorcycle glove manufacturers, using years of feedback from riders and extensive studies of injuries from motorcycle crashes, carefully engineer features like these into motorcycle gloves. Does that make them cost more than regular gloves? A little. It is worth the extra money? You betcha.
Purpose built motorcycle gloves are made specifically to take the kind of brutal beatings that motorcycle accidents dish out. Imagine what this photo would look like if he crashed in bare hands.
Anatomy of a Motorcycle Glove
Now that you know some of the features that differentiate a motorcycle glove from a regular leather glove or a work glove, lets get into the "anatomy" of a motorcycle glove. Here we'll dive into each part of a motorcycle glove, and show you the features that go into each one and why it is designed that way.
- The portion that covers the back or top of the hand
- Should be thick and tough, to protect not only from crashes, but from bugs and rocks that might impact the knuckles
- Often made of thick natural hides (like cowhides) or high-denier textile
- The strips of fabric that connect the upper to the palm, in between the fingers
- Often ventilated on motorcycle gloves
- Often thinner than the upper, for more comfort and to allow better feel on the throttle
- Thinner natural hides are often used, such as goatskin or kangaroo
- Enhances inner comfort on many multi-layered, technical gloves
- Will vary depending on the purpose of the glove (moisture wicking, comfort, warmth, waterproofing, etc.)
- May use materials such as Gore-Tex, Thinsulate, etc.
- Gives wrists a barrier for protection against cold and moisture
- Often includes protective elements for wrists, such as padding or armor
- Must be strong enough to keep gloves secure on long rides, and even more so in the event of a crash
- May use buttons, D-ring straps, or hook-and-loop (AKA Velcro)
- Used to provide protection from impact and scraping
- Padding (EVA foam)
- Thermo-plastic urethane (TPU)
- Carbon fiber
- Steel or titanium
- Exotic materials such as stingray
- One of the most underrated parts of a glove, this is what holds the entire thing together
- Often made of ultra durable fabrics such as Kevlar
- Often double stitching in critical areas
- Look for external stitching on fingers and palms for comfort
- Motorcycle specific features that make riders lives easier
- Things such as palm sliders, finger bridges, knuckle vents, and touchscreen capability
Textile or Leather?
One of the questions we get asked all the time here at BikeBandit.com is whether textile or leather gear is best. The truth is, there is no definite answer to that question. It depends entirely on what you want out of your gear, and the purpose for which you'll be using it.
Generally speaking, leather has much better abrasion resistance and will fit more comfortably because it molds to your hands, but textile tends to stand up to extreme weather a lot better. If you're a big adventure or touring rider, and you expect to be dealing with a lot of moisture and variations in climate, we'd probably steer you toward textile gloves. Otherwise, leather gloves are typically the go-to choice.
Also, style and appearance is a factor. Again, if you're an adventure/touring rider or a dirt rider, most of your gear is likely textile, and you'll probably want your gloves to match. Cruiser riders and sport bike riders on the other hand will almost always opt for leather gloves.
The Importance of Fit
It is crucial for all motorcycle gear, from helmets to boots to jackets, to fit properly. Gloves are no exception. Proper fit is so important for gear because it has to stay put in a crash. If you go flying off your bike and get tossed down the road, your gear wont do it's job if the armor is allowed to shift around, or worse, if they are loose enough to come off completely.
Another reason gloves need to fit properly is feel of the controls. If your gloves are too tight, they can interfere with you manipulating the controls, but if they're too loose, they can bunch up and become annoying. Gloves, like boots, have to fit just right.
They should be snug around the entire hand, and have fingers that do not leave excess material at the tips. If they are leather, they should start out a little tight, as they will loosen with time to the perfect fit. Textile gloves should fit perfectly right out of the package.
So how do you measure gloves? This, unfortunately, is the hard part. Every manufacturer sizes gloves differently, and differences in sizing even occur between models of the same brand. Generally, European brands tend to have a smaller, narrower fit than American brands, however, so it is often a good idea to go a size up when ordering from a Euro brand such as Alpinestars or REV'IT!
When selecting a size while buying online, first check the manufacturers sizing guide, which is typically found on the product page. Look also at reviews to see what other people say about the fit (if it's unusually off, other reviewers will mention it.) If you still have questions, contact our sales staff, we're always here to help, and if we don't have the answer for you on hand, we'll find it for you!
Types of Motorcycle Gloves
Race: Manufacturers put a lot of effort into race gloves, because of the demands put on these gloves along with the exposure they get. Race gloves are always full gauntlets, and have serious armor and protection for high-speed crashes. They usually have thin palms for good throttle control, and lots of ventilation.
The Alpinestars GP Pro R2 motorcycle glove combines high performance protection, comfort and flexibility into a sleek, ergonomic and lightweight design, tested to the limit in Alpinestars' MotoGP and WSB race programs.
Gauntlets: This is just a term for gloves that extend to cover the entire wrist. Race gloves are gauntlets for crash protection, but many winter or rain gloves are gauntlets to prevent moisture or cold from getting to the hands. Gauntlets provide the most protection from both weather and impact from crashes.
Fieldsheer Wind Tour Gloves, a highly featured pair of cold weather touring gauntlets for not a lot of dough.
Summer/Short: These are short gloves that end at the wrist instead of covering it. They are usually for use in warmer weather, where a full gauntlet will be hot, uncomfortable, or just look weird while riding in a T-shirt (not that you should do that.)
The Icon Pursuit gloves, a simple but high quality pair of short gloves for any kind of rider. I've used these personally for nearly three years and they are still going strong!
Cruiser/Urban: If you dress the part when you ride on a cruiser or urban-styled bike, you'll want the gloves to match. Check out brands like Roland Sands or Oscar by Alpinestars to get the style you want without sacrificing protection.
Awesome form and function are combined in great looking gloves like these, the Roland Sands Design Ace Gloves.
Adventure/Touring: These have a big job to do; they have to be able to protect you from extreme climates, moisture, and crashes. They are usually textile, and use a lot of modern materials. They usually don't come cheap (but then again, if you're an adventure rider, you know the deal with gear!)
The Inversion PRO Gloves from Klim are for serious ADV riders who are off the pavement as much as they are on. The gloves feature a WINDSTOPPER shell for ultimate wind protection, tons of leather paneling and impact foam for top-of-hand and knuckle protection all for under $100!
Rain/Waterproof: Simple - these are gloves with water-resistant membranes. Gore-Tex is the best, but there are other similar materials out there. If you have to deal with rain, but not extreme cold, check these out.
200 gram Thermolite® insulation, Hipora® waterproof-breathable lining and full leather construction make the Firstgear TPG Cold Riding Gloves perfect for the ADV/Touring rider that doesn't let cold weather stop them from getting on the road.
Heated: If you ride in intense cold, you're going to want to check out heated gear in general - but heated gloves with probably be one of your first investments, because of all the amount of wind chill your hands tend to take on. There are battery powered and plug-in models available.
The Firstgear Heated Rider Glove produces 15 watts of heat and has a grade-A, top-grain cowhide construction with reflective piping. It also features a waterproof membrane, pre-curved fingers, and a finger mounted, rubber faceshield wiper!
Off-Road: These tend to be thin and not have a whole lot of armor; off-road gloves are more to maintain grip on the bars than to protect you in a crash. They are a lot less expensive than street gloves because they have a lot less protection. Not recommended for street use.
The Thor Spectrum glove offers a combination of TPR Hook and Loop closure system and top of the hand protections without the palm pads, ideal for those who want to feel the handle bars and not the roost over their hands.
Fingerless: Used more for a tough guy image than for actual protection, these may offer some hand and knuckle protection, but leave your precious fingers unprotected. We don't recommend that you ride in them, but if that's your style, we'll sell them to you here.
Liners: When temperatures drop, you may want to just add a pair of glove liners to your normal gloves for warmth instead of buying a whole new pair. Check out our selection here.
Why buy all new winter gloves when you can just wear a liner under the ones you have? These thin, warm liners from Tour Master are the perfect solution, and can easily be kept in a pocket or saddlebag when not needed.
How to Choose the Right Motorcycle Glove For You
When choosing the motorcycle glove that is best for you, there are three important things to consider:
- What is your riding style/style of motorcycle? To a large extent, this will determine what kind of gloves suit you best. Cruiser gloves tend to have a simple, traditional look, sport/race gloves tend to have lots of armor and hot colors, ADV/touring gloves tend to have a lot of weather protection and features.
- What weather or climate will you be dealing with? If you will be in harsh weather or changing climates, you'll definitely want to lean toward all-weather or waterproof touring gloves, probably made of textile. If you ride in mostly dry weather, you can stick with leather.
- What is your budget? These days, you can actually get a lot of glove from reputable brands without breaking the bank. If you're on a budget, shop for the features you need instead of shopping for a specific brand; you may find that there is an $80 glove out there that has all the features you will normally find on gloves for $200 or more.
Got any more questions? Call our helpful Customer Service department at 888-339-3888 for more information on these or any other products we carry!