There are 27 bones in the human hand, 54 total if you count up both of ‘em. It makes riding a lot nicer if you’re able to keep them in good working order. That’s why a quality pair of motorcycle gloves is so important. A rider’s hands are likely to make contact with the ground at some point if a crash occurs, so take advantage of the impact protection provided and the abrasion resistance that’s available. Even if you don’t go down, a solid pair of gloves will keep your mitts warm in cold conditions, protect them against the elements or any wayward piece of road debris that happens to come shooting up off the ground.
And in the grand gear scheme, gloves are one of the most affordable pieces of protective kit you’re going to find. Sure, there’s full gauntlet, race-ready options that will set you back a few hundred bucks, but there’s also lots of well-built options available in the double digit range as well.
There’s a few broad categories that gloves will fall into. Most gloves will be either full gauntlet, with material and closures extending beyond the wrist up the forearm or short cuff, where closures are at the wrist. Leather, textile, hard plastics and a variety of other materials are used across the spectrum creating a selection to satisfy riders of all types, for all possible conditions out on the road.
Gauntlet-style gloves include everything from race-ready options down to waterproof, insulated choices for all-season riders. Gloves in this category range the spectrum from technologically advanced, like the Alpinestars GP Tech Leather Gloves, down to the relatively simple, like the Biltwell Gauntlet Gloves.
The GP Tech Gloves, for example, are derived from MotoGP gloves and make use of Kangaroo leather in the chassis and palm. They have leather accordion stretch panels for comfort, intake and exhaust venting ports, lots of hard plastic in high-impact areas and internal Kevlar lining among numerous other features.
The Biltwells, on the other hand, are cowhide leather throughout, have a fleece liner inside and anatomically contoured palm for a comfortable fit at the bars. These might be ideal for the commuter or daytrip rider that keeps the pace more mellow, while the GP Tech Gloves are more appropriate for the track rider or canyon shredder who is looking to push the limits a bit more. Plus, riders are going to pay a premium for something like the GP Tech Gloves while the Biltwells are definitely in a more affordable range.
For a more casual feel and appealing price point, short cuff gloves are a good option. While most short cuff pieces won’t match the level of impact or weather protection of a top-shelf gauntlet, there’s still lots of feature-rich choices available. The AGV Sport Valiant Gloves (pictured at the top of the article), for instance, have a leather exterior with hard plastic on the knuckles, extra padding on the palm and fingers, reflective piping and double stitching in high impact areas.
The Klim Adventure Short Gloves come with lots of intriguing design elements as well, with Gore-Tex for water resistance, 3D silicone knuckle pads, a visor wiper, additional protective foam on the palm and fingers and all-leather construction.
The Tourmaster Select Summer Gloves fit the bill if you’re looking for a clean look and straight-forward design. Soft goatskin leather is used throughout, the palm and finger areas are pre-curved for comfort and it has a slip-on cuff.
Materials and More
Like jackets and pants, motorcycle gloves make use of leather and/or textile materials. Hard plastics and foam are implemented for impact protection and many choices will incorporate some type of weather/waterproofing like Gore-Tex to keep your hands dry and warm. As in other circumstances, leather provides the best level of abrasion resistance but can be hot in warmer climates.
Luckily, there are a wealth of perforated leather options available. Textile gloves are often more breathable, but unless they come with some additional lining or weather treatment, they can fall short in adverse weather conditions. This is where it’s important to take stock of the type of riding you plan to do and the type of conditions you expect to encounter when choosing a glove to meet your needs.
Closure systems are another thing to consider, with many gloves using Velcro at the cuffs to keep everything secure. Some however come with a slip-on design, others use buttons, still others make use of combinations of a few different types of cuff closure.
There are also many choices these days that come with smartphone capability, allowing you to navigate your touchscreen without having to remove the glove.
Sizing is generally determined by measuring either the width of the open palm just above the thumb socket or the length of the hand from the tip of the middle finger down to the wrist. Get these numbers and compare them against the sizing charts provided by each manufacturer, since sizing can differ slightly from one company to the next. A well-fit glove will be snug but not restrictive. An excess of material in the fingers can be cumbersome and a glove that’s too tight can be uncomfortable.
Motorcycle gloves are an element of the gear kit that should not be overlooked. They can save your bacon in a pinch and will do wonders keeping your digits from turning to popsicles when the temperatures cool.