Gloves are probably the 2nd piece of protective motorcycle kit you should buy after a helmet. The likelihood is your hands will be the first or second thing to hit the ground when you come off your bike and the last thing you want is your hands hitting the road!
If you think about it you automatically put your hands out to protect yourself so it makes sense to protect your hands. To put this in context think how difficult it would be to do the simplest everyday tasks like eating, washing or going to the toilet with damaged fingers and hands.
Motorcycle gloves are designed and purpose built to withstand the kind of brutal damage that motorbike accidents can cause.
There are three areas that you should look at when buying gloves and one big question you should ask yourself.
- Construction: what type of material is the glove made from? leather, textile or specialist leathers such as Kangaroo.
- Style: does the gloves style suit your riding? Are the gloves long or short, do they have protection, vents, or are they waterproof?
- Fit: how do the gloves fit?
The Construction of a Motorcycle Glove
Motorcycle gloves are designed to do two jobs;
- Keep you comfortable while riding and
- keep your hands safe when crashing.
Here is a little guide into each part of a motorcycle glove, what features go into each section and why they are designed that way.
The Upper: This is the section which covers the back of the hand. It should be tough and thick enough to protect your hands not only from crashes, but from any flying debris that you encounter when riding. This is often made of thick leather or high-density textiles and is ultra-durable.
Fourchettes: These are the strips of fabric that connect the upper to the palm, in between the fingers and are often ventilated for comfort. These are usually double or treble stitched for added durability.
The Palm: This is usually made of the same material as the upper but thinner to allow a better feel of the throttle and for comfort. There is often heavier protection on the heel of the palm as this is usually the part that impacts first.
The Liners: Depending on the glove this include thermal, moisture wicking, waterproof and will vary depending on the style and purpose of the glove.
The Cuff: Often includes armour protection for wrists and draft proofing.
The Closure: This must be strong enough to keep gloves on in the event of a crash, usually includes Velcro straps.
The Armour: Obviously to protect from impact and abrasion. Usually made from ultra-lightweight thermo-plastic urethane or carbon fibre plastic composites.
Stitching: is what holds the glove together so is very important! Look for double or even treble stitching in critical areas. (In a lot of premium gloves Kevlar is used for the stitching for added durability)
Often gloves will feature those little extras for additional safety such as palm sliders or finger bridges (where the fingers are connected by an extra piece of upper, as the image on the left) and those which make your life easier such as fingers with touchscreen capability and visor wipes.
Textile or Leather?
As I said previously in my blog about leather v textile clothing there is no definitive answer as to which is best as it depends entirely on what you want out of your gear, and how you’ll be using it. There is a school of thought that as all professional riders use leather this would be the best, but then they aren’t sat in queues on the A50 whilst its teeming it down with rain.
Rukka Mars Leather Gloves
IXS Adventure Textile Gloves
The general styles of different motorcycle gloves are as follows: (although there are some that are hybrids)
Racing gloves – constructed from premium leather, Goatskin, Kangaroo or more recently lightweight Lorica. Racing gloves have added protection throughout for maximum impact protection and generally have perforation for added air circulation. A good example is the Alpinestars GP Pro R2 Glove.
Touring gloves – These can either be leather or textile but are usually waterproof for all seasons. They are usually protective but mostly they are built for comfort for greater miles. The BKS 03 Cat 2 gloves are a very popular seller for us.
Winter gloves – Warm, warm, warm! Again, these can be leather or textile and are usually waterproof (but not necessarily) with a thermal liner and comfortable inner. A great example are the Richa Cold Protect Goretex Gloves.
Summer Gloves– made for warmer weather usually with ventilation, mesh panelling or without a liner for a more comfortable ride in the summer. These can also come in a shorter cuff. The Dainese Air Hero motorcycle gloves are the perfect example of a summer glove.
Retro gloves – a new style (ironically) becoming more prominent in motorcycle gloves is retro styled gloves – mostly for cruiser styling but now also racing and touring. While this style nods to the past it has modern technology and protection. The BKS Classic Y-01 gloves are a prime example.
Waterproof – These vary in price because of membranes or treatments to the materials used as referenced in my blog about membranes. An important tip with waterproof gloves is to put the cuff inside your jacket, otherwise it acts like a bucket! A best seller for J&S is the IXS Wodan Goretex Gloves.
Motocross – designed specifically for motocross riding. These are usually lightweight, flexible, ventilated and bright. Alpinestars Racer Braap Gloves come in a few different bright colourways.
The phrase “fits like a glove” says it all really.
As with helmets and clothing fit is vitally important; gloves that fit right are more comfortable, you can control your bike easier and if they don’t could actually cause more damage in an accident.
You don’t want a glove that is too tight as this puts too much pressure on the seams in the event of an accident, they are more likely to burst open – which you definitely don’t want! Similarly a glove that is too big is likely to not give you the best protection you need. Armour etc is on the outer of the glove in the most vulnerable places – if the glove isn’t a snug fit this armour is most likely in the wrong place for you.
The only way to be sure a glove fits properly is to try it on and then grip a motorcycle grip (we have some in our stores for this purpose. When gripping the handlebars, the glove should be snug without feeling too restrictive and there shouldn’t be a lot of bunched material in your palm. New leather gloves will over time give a little like new shoes so bear this in mind when choosing leather gloves. Luckily we have 30 stores nationwide for you to go in and try on! (plus a very good online returns policy).
And as for the big question you should ask yourself? What type of bike do you ride and when do you ride it? Answer that question and then make sure that the pair of gloves you choose fit you and your needs.
Until next time, stay safe