When you wreck, there’s no doubt that your hands are going to take a beating. And no one wants bleeding palms. Protecting against that outcome alone makes motorcycle gloves an essential part of your riding kit. But they also provide reliable grip at the controls and can help keep you cozy in bad weather.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help. We’ve got the information on fit, construction and materials you need to get a set you’ll love in our Motorcycle Glove Guide.
Size is generally determined in one of two ways. Either by measuring the width of the hand at its widest point, on the inside of the hand just below the knuckles. Or by measuring the circumference of the hand in the same area.
If you’re measuring width, take a soft measuring tape and lay it out flat. Put your hand palm down on the tape and get the measurement. Reference the manufacturer’s sizing chart and see where you land.
For the circumference, wrap the measuring tape around your hand at its widest point, and again reference the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer to determine your size.
You want a glove to be snug, but not restrictive to maintain your ability to manipulate the controls comfortably. That’s the key thing. Know that leather had a tendency to break in a bit, so even if it’s a little tight at first they will stretch somewhat after initial use. Textile don’t wear-in in the same fashion as leather, so if a glove feels too tight, or if you’re on the cusp between sizes, we’d recommend going a size up. Gloves that are too tight can restrict blood flow and cause cramps and discomfort.
Men’s and women’s hand sizes vary too, and many manufacturers will make options specific for male and female riders.
Motorcycle gloves come in either leather, textile or some combination of both.
Leather provides superior abrasion resistance, but can deteriorate in wet conditions. Leather gloves also tend to keep your hands warmer.
Textile ranges the gamut from breathable mesh to full on Gore-Tex. You lose some abrasion resistance when compared to leather, but can get better weather protection.
Both types range in complexity. Leather race-ready gloves often utilize high-tech materials throughout while casual leather cruising gloves can be little more than a single layer of cowhide. Textile options span the gamut from thin and breathable to blends of advanced materials made to perform in a broad variety of conditions.
When choosing a pair of gloves some things to consider are the materials, the retention system, the protection offered, airflow available and any creature comforts you might want, like touchscreen compatibility, additional grip material on the palms, or weather protection.
As for design, motorcycle gloves largely come in either short, mid, or full-gauntlet cuff design.
Short Cuff gloves go to the bend of the wrist. Increasingly there’s also options that fall into a more mid-cuff range, offering more wrist protection but falling short of being considered a full gauntlet.
Pros of short and mid-cuff gloves include flexibility, lightness, affordability and more casual design. Cons include less protection if a sleeve rolls up during a crash and typically they’re less effective in defending against the elements.
Gauntlet style gloves extend past the wrist and up the forearm and are worn over the cuff of the jacket.
This design style includes everything from MotoGP level race-ready gloves, advanced touring kit as well as simpler, less technical options.
Pros of gauntlet style gloves include enhanced impact and weather protection as well as a selection of more advanced features. Cons are typically higher price and a bit more restricted movement.
Gloves will often come with some added bonuses. Some gauntlet-style touring gloves, for instance, have a visor squeegee to make clearing the visor of rain easier. Race-style gauntlets will often have special stretch material in certain areas, palm sliders, hard-shell knuckle protectors and additional padding to protect your hands in the case of a high-speed crash.
Many in gauntlet and short cuff will be touchscreen compatible. Ventilation design varies too, some featuring generous perforations throughout. Others will feature insulation for use in colder conditions.
Short and mid-cuff gloves can also come equipped with loads of impact protection, if you’re looking for a more flexible option without sacrificing safety.
As with any fresh motorcycle kit, take stock of your ride style and needs. Know what size you are according to each manufacturer’s recommendation and don’t settle for fit that’s anything less than perfect.
And with many options out there, don’t forget to check out the variety of color options that may be available as well, since many companies will offer a range of options.