Motorcycle gloves might seem inconsequential, but ask any rider who has taken a spill or been out riding in the fall or winter, and the importance and necessity of gloves become apparent. Gloves at their most basic level protect your hands from injury. However, if designed well and used for their intended purpose, gloves may even prevent or inhibit hand strain. Although, the conversation about the right gloves for you and your riding style goes far beyond the argument for leather vs. textile gloves.
Finding the right pair of gloves is about your needs as a rider, meaning that you must consider your riding style. However, the material also plays a role as we bikers are finicky creatures, and some of us prefer the breathability of textiles while others like the durability of leather. Essentially, the choice of glove that’s right for you might not be right for everyone. Therefore, this guide aims to explain the differences in glove types and materials, and in the end, provide you with the tools necessary to choose the option that works best for you.
What style of rider are you? Do you prefer the adventures of Motocross or the hills and valleys of Touring? Determining your rider style is the first step toward finding the best pair of gloves for you. See, different disciplines—street, racing, dirt, ADV and touring—require different accommodations as far as comfort, padding and protections go.
Do you own a street bike? Are you more of a commuter than a sportsman? Street riders are typically more versatile riders, and it is evident in their glove options. While these gloves offer the comfort of shorter cuffs and the luxuries of touchscreen fingertips, they still provide impact protection. Also, these gloves are often made from all three material choices: textile, leather and hybrid.
Race gloves are high-performance gloves, and they are designed for aggressive riding. These are what they call full gauntlet style gloves, meaning that the cuff extends past the wrist, offering superior protection. Also, these gloves are often made from leather with a few other materials embedded in the design, like carbon fiber guards to protect your knuckles and reinforcements around the pinkie. These gloves are often the most expensive for motorcyclists because of the specific requirements of track racing.
While dirt riders also race, they forego the standard protections of racers and street riders in favor of mobility and control. Therefore, dirt gloves are often made from thin, breathable textiles with no impact protection or abrasion resistance. While this means that dirt gloves will not last more than a season or two, it also means that these gloves are among the cheapest options for motorcycle owners.
ADV gloves are designed for dual-sport and adventure riders. Therefore, these gloves need to be versatile and comfortable. They need to stand up to both street and trail riding conditions without inhibiting control and mobility. Therefore, these gloves are often a hybrid material construction with shorter cuffs for comfort and flexibility. However, unlike dirt gloves, these come with a fair bit of protection since they need to transition from the trail to the street.
Touring riders, while often more casual, ride through varying weather conditions. Therefore, it is necessary for touring gloves to be water and weatherproof while providing enough cushion and protection to avoid hand fatigue. These gloves are typically a gauntlet style but with less protection than racing gloves. The necessity of touring gloves is to protect your hands from the elements. However, these gloves can get expensive, depending on the number of technical features included.
Once you determine the style of rider you are, it is time to discuss the material selections available for motorcycle gloves. The materials used for such construction can be narrowed down to three choices: textile, leather and hybrid; each has its benefits and drawbacks.
Textiles are among the most versatile options for motorcycle glove construction. They can typically be used for any riding and weather condition. Waterproofing technology allows most fabrics to be protected in foul weather, and textiles can be bulked up with padding for winter riding. However, in the summer and heat, these gloves offer the most breathable options available. Although, you might sacrifice a form fit and some mobility in colder months.
Leather and motorcycles go hand-in-hand, so why wouldn’t you want to own a pair of genuine leather gloves. This material is durable and is an excellent option for seasonal riding. However, these gloves are not typically suited for cold weather or inclement weather conditions. Although, they are incredibly durable and offer a form fit after being broken in. Unfortunately, leather gloves are among the most expensive options for riders.
Hybrid leather-textile gloves attempt to combine the best aspects of both materials. Therefore, leather is used for slide protection to increase durability, and textiles are used to increase versatility, like waterproofing and lining. These gloves are priced in between full textile and leather gloves and combine the benefits of each, making them a viable option for most riders.
Now that you are familiar with the specifics of the styles of gloves and the materials used in their design, it is time to discuss the overall glove fit. Glove fit can be broken down into two categories: American fit and European fit. American gloves typically have shorter fingers with more room around the palm and the digits. European gloves are essentially the opposite with longer fingers and less room provided. As far as selection goes, a glove should feel snug without excessive material around the palm or fingers.
Most manufacturers post a sizing guide that is either described in width or circumference. If using width, you can measure your size by place a measuring tape on a table and measuring the largest part of your palm. However, measure both palms and go with the larger number. If the manufacturer is using circumference, then wrap the tape measure around your knuckles and palm. Again, take the larger number.
You now understand there are gloves for different types of riding and how to measure for size. Don’t waste another minute; buy a pair of motorcycle gloves online and ride.