Hands-on

By Sharon Naylor

April 3, 2017 5 min read

As children, we learn to brace ourselves with our hands when we take a tumble. Gloves are one of the most important pieces of gear for motorcyclists. Whether you're flying down the highway, cruising around the desert or on the daily commute, a fall at just about any speed can leave you with injuries. Protection and performance are the two key considerations with motorcycle gloves. Variables such as riding conditions, riding season, riding activity and personal style all play a role in determining which gloves are best-suited for you.

Contrary to car drivers, who have a myriad of features available to tailor their driving experience, motorcyclists are directly exposed to uncontrollable exterior variables like rain, wind, temperature, flying debris, insects and more. These elements certainly influence the rider's experience, but more importantly, they can influence their safety.

For example, in summer, the peak riding season, sunburn is a major cause for concern during long rides. Gloves can prevent painful burns as well as exposure to harmful UV rays. But Bud Miller, a blogger for RoadRUNNER Magazine and Zen Motorcyclist, notes the bigger picture: "During summer, perspiration can loosen your grip and hinder your ability to effectively control your motorcycle. ... On long rides, ill-fitting gloves can cause callouses and can be generally uncomfortable. And discomfort is distraction."

Take some time to find the right pairs for you -- yes, pairs. Miller says he has three different pairs of gloves: one for rain, one for summer and one for winter. Many motorcycle enthusiasts make the mistake of thinking that gloves are interchangeable, but considering that technology has vastly improved in recent years, using gloves specifically suited for different weather and temperature conditions is more available -- and more beneficial.

With so many on the market today, narrowing down your options can be an arduous task. Which gloves are tried and true, and which are packed with seemingly useful but unnecessary features? Keep these factors in mind when shopping for gloves.

*Fit

It is essential that your riding gloves fit correctly for optimal protection and comfort. Remember: Discomfort equals distraction. A glove that fits too tight can make it more difficult to reach the front brake or clutch, and a glove that's too loose can cause your grip to slip and irritation to occur. If your gloves are truly an annoyance, you may find your rides and your riding season short or, worse, your safety compromised.

Manufacturer sizing may vary, so try on gloves and test carefully to find the perfect fit.

*Quality

Gloves are made from a variety of materials, from leather to nylon to Kevlar. "The material you choose should be based upon the type of riding you do and your personal preference," Miller says. He prefers Revit or Alpinestars gloves. In his experience, they have the highest quality, and the companies "have given the most thought to the rider."

Because of poor stitching and low-quality material, cheaper gloves could wear out after just one riding season. Aside from being a nuisance -- and a somewhat pricey one at that -- sacrificing quality is a surefire way to sacrifice safety. Miller has personal experience with this notion, noting, "I have crashed at 45 miles per hour and was able to walk away with no damage to my hands or my gloves, given the high quality of the material."

*Specialty Gloves

The market is full of gloves made for a particular reason or season. Popular specialty gloves include:

--Gloves with ventilation for hot weather.

--Gloves that generate warmth from your body heat.

--Battery-heated gloves.

--Waterproof gloves.

--Sport-specific gloves for activities like motocross -- which has a higher probability of falls. These often feature plastic knuckle protectors and stiffer material.

Gear Patrol is a daily magazine that covers gear, travel, adventure and more. In one online article, "High Five: 5 Best Motorcycle Gloves," Matt Neundorf explains his top picks for various riding needs, which he landed on after 13 failed attempts at finding his own go-to gloves. The Held Air n Dry, with a perforated leather palm and a Gore-Tex waterproof chamber, won best for touring. The Dirt 2 glove, by Rev'It, won best for off-roading for its knuckle protection, wrist sliders and self-contouring temper foam. Other categories include best for foul weather riding, best for summer and best for the track.

The search for the perfect motorcycle gloves may cost you a little money, a little time and a little patience, but it's a small price to pay to be able to hit the road with confidence and reassurance.

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