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The Beginners Guide to Motorcycle Gloves

A good pair of motorcycle gloves is one of the most important riding gear you can own (next to a helmet). What happens if you were to fall or get into a crash? You would probably, without thinking, put your hand out to help break your fall. And now imagine that you were speeding down a road at 45 mph.

Yep, without the proper pair of gloves, I'm sure it doesn't take a strong imagination to envision what kind of damage that would do to your hands.

But aside from just protecting your precious skin in a fall (which we hope is a rare case), motorcycle gloves also help make your entire riding experience more comfortable by protecting your hands against the elements and road debris. We bet you probably didn't think that even insects impact could do damage to your hands at high speeds!

There's a very wide variety of motorcycle gloves out there and it may be overwhelming to pick the right one for your needs, but that's why we're here to give you a hand in the selection process. (Yes, pun fully intended.)

Functionality of Motorcycle Gloves

First, let's take a look at what makes motorcycle gloves.... well, motorcycle gloves.

Just like with motorcycle jackets, any ol' leather or work gloves won't do the trick. Please don't be stingy here!

Here are the common protection features in motorcycle gloves:

- Impact protection such as palm sliders, padding in impact areas, hardened knuckles
- Precurved construction for a comfortable natural grip
- Dexterity to allow use of the brake and clutch levers and gain better control of the bike
- Sturdy closures so the gloves doesn't fly off in a crash
- Long cuffs (called gauntlets) that overlap with the jacket to seal out wind
- Ventilation, insulation, and/or waterproofing for weather protection

These Alpinestars WR-3 Gore-Tex Gloves are super durable all-weather touring gloves. They are both 100% waterproof and highly breathable. 

To put it simply, motorcycle gloves are designed to protect in case of a crash and provide comfort while riding. Your hands are such an important part of your body that it is absolutely worth it to shell out the dough to make sure they're properly protected! 

Gloves for different riding styles

There is such a huge variety of gloves out on the market. The right pair for you will depend on your most typical riding style. Here we break down the differences and what features to look for in each: 

Race and aggressive sport: As this is the most intense kind of riding, gloves designed for this are the most highly technically constructed. Racing gloves typically have a lot of armor (knuckle patches and extra padding in high impact areas) and ventilation to keep you comfortable. Leather is always the best material in this case as it provides the most abrasion resistance. These gloves are always with a full gauntlet for maximum protection. In fact, this is even an requirement to ride on the race track!

No brand does race gear as well as Alpine Stars. Their GP Pro Leather Gloves are tested in their GPMoto program and offer supreme performance protection and comfort.

Street/Touring: This riding style is the most diverse, and so the gloves built for it are diverse too. In general, touring motorcycle gloves provide a great balance between crash protection, weather protection, and riding comfort (for your everyday commute or those long rides!). They are not as heavily padded/armored as racing gloves but still get the job done. 

Looks wise, touring gloves have simple and elegant styling without the loud race inspired design. They come in a range of cuff lengths from short to 3/4 to full gauntlet. Both leather or textile make good options. Leather is always a reliable classic choice, but more and more manufacturers are going with all textile construction on these because of the versatility and ability for weatherproofing.

We love the sleek classic look of Icon 1000 Beltway Gloves

Dual Sport and Off-Road: These gloves are designed for dexterity, weather, and impact protection. Regardless of the blazing heat, freezing wind, or relentless downpours, today's off-road gloves are constructed to accommodate the most extreme conditions and protect your hands while offering a comfortable grip. These gloves have the least amount of armor as they are designed to be very flexible in order to maintain control of the bike. 

Textile is the more common choice for dual sport gloves, as it offers more flexibility and a wide range of weather protection. Most of these gloves have a short cuff for full wrist movement.

The Thor Deflector Gloves are one of our best sellers in the dual-sport category. It provides a nice balance of ventilation, durability, and protection

Here is a quick run-down of some other types of gloves you may see :

Summer gloves: Usually thin leather (sometimes perforated) gloves that end at the wrist. Only ideal for riding in warm weather as they offer no elements protection at all.

Winter gloves: Cold hands may stiffen up and you may not be able to control your bike as well. Cold weather gloves usually come with thermal lining and climate control membrane and are with long cuffs to keep the wind out.

Waterproof gloves: These have a waterproof membrane to keep the water out. They can be ventilated and are ideal for when it's wet but not cold.

Fingerless gloves: No. Just no.

Textile or Leather?

This will most likely come down to personal preference and what features you're looking for. But in general, gloves follow the same recommendation as jackets. A good pair of leather gloves is always the safest bet for racers as it offers the highest abrasion resistance. Commuters, tourers, or adventure riders will more likely deal with more weather conditions, so textile gloves that provide more protection against water and weather could be a great choice.

The Alpinestars Jet Road Gore-Tex Gloves have an innovation leather + textile construction that offers 100% waterproofing & breathability and excellent abrasion resistance.

Picking a glove / Fitment

Gloves fitment is crucial because well, you use your hands to control the bike. Ill-fitting gloves can have a huge impact on how well you're able to handle your bike. Gloves must be snug enough to protect you in case of a fall (and also you know, to not fly off), but also allow enough movement to use the brake and clutch levers.

Ideally, here is how a glove should fit:

- Snug, but not so tight that you feel like you're cutting off circulation
- There should not be additional material in the palm area.
- There should be some additional room at the finger tips, but at the same time, the finger should not be too long or too loose.
- When clenching and opening your fist, armor should not rub and should feel flexible enough to get the full range of movement.
- In a normal motorcycle grip, gloves should be comfortable enough that you don't really feel like you're wearing gloves.

If you're buying gloves online, pay special attention to the size chart and reviews. In general, European brands tend to run smaller, so you may need to get a size up. Be sure to measure both of your hands and use the hand with the wider measurement. 

Be aware that leather will stretch with use, so when picking a leather glove, make sure it's very snug in the beginning. Once they break in, they'll be the proper fit. On the other hand, textile will not stretch, but will get softer with time. So don't write a textile glove completely off if it seems just a bit stiff in the beginning.

As a general rule of thumb: if you're in between sizes, go one size down if buying leather, and one size up if buying textile. 


The kind of glove you buy will probably mostly depend on what style of riding you do the most and what kind of weather condition you usually ride in. The gloves on our site are broken down pretty clearly in categories by riding style. Generally, racers and performance riders should always go for leather, while commuters, cruisers/tourers, and adventure riders may be better suited with textile gloves that offer a wide range of weather protection.

Remember, your hands are one of the most precious parts of your body, and it pays to be better safe than sorry. When it comes to splurging on your riding gear, you're always in better hands with a high quality pair of gloves!

If you're still feeling overwhelmed by all the choices and need help picking out the right glove for you, we're here to help! Feel free to ask below, call us, or hit us up on our Facebook page!

By Daniel Relich

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