The best motorcycle gloves
In this buying guide we’ll be covering the best motorcycle gloves on the market, and more importantly the best motorcycle gloves for you, because every rider is different and will be riding in a variety of difficult situations and the gloves they’ll need will vary greatly.
That’s why we’ve split this buying guide into two sections, one covering top considerations when purchasing motorcycle gloves and secondly what we believe to be the best gloves. We highly recommend you have a read of our considerations section because key points will steer you in the right direction when purchasing the best motorcycle gloves.
Considerations when choosing the best motorcycle gloves
Your gloves and the weather
Factoring in your climate and the weather you’ll be riding in is the first step in choosing the best motorcycle gloves for you. Choosing gloves specifically designed for a season usually matters only when you live in extremes of either hot or cold weather. Most climates have one extreme but some will have both.
For example a climate like Australia, where it doesn’t get very cold in the winter but extremely hot in the summer, means you’ll definitely need a pair of summer gloves but those same gloves will also perform adequately in the winter because the temperature never drops too low where your hands will begin to freeze. In the end It’s up to you and you’ll have to decide if you want two pairs of gloves for each part of the year.
For those unfortunate enough to ride in cold climates, winter gloves are a must. Your choice of cold weather gloves will depend on your climate, obviously some places are colder than others and your standard pair might keep your hands warm enough throughout the winter. It just depends on what you’re comfortable with.
Winter gloves possess a lot more padding and insulation because obviously they need to keep you warm. They generally will provide more protection than gloves designed for the summer, but at the cost of movability and dexterity. Winter gloves are nearly always waterproof and if not they’ll usually contain some type of waterproof lining. If by any chance they aren’t, it still requires a lot of rain to get through all the padding and insulation.
If you live in seriously cold climates or you just enjoy a bit of comfort, you might want to consider heated motorcycle gloves. Personally I’ve never tried these due to living in a warmer climate, although I’ve heard many good things about heated gloves from riders in colder parts of the world.
Gloves designed for warmer weather are generally cheaper than their cold weather counterparts because they need reduced padding and insulation, not to mention they’re usually thinner to keep the rider’s hands properly cooled and ventilated.
You’ll also notice a lot more warm weather gloves are made of synthetic materials or mesh rather than a standard leather. This is because these artificial materials are more effective at dissipating heat, although their cool ventilation comes at the cost of hand protection.
Another added plus to summer gloves is that they’re going to be more flexible and you’re going to have a lot more mobility in your hand. My first pair of gloves were a summer pair, mostly because they just felt so comfortable and mobile when I tried them on.
If you do want a slick pair of leather gloves but you live in a warm climate, choose perforated leather instead, this should help with your hands’ breathability and airflow.
Which Glove type is best for me?
You’ve probably realised by now that there are a few different types of motorcycle gloves, it can be tricky for a new rider to distinguish which type will be best for them. Here’s a brief summary of each type of motorcycle glove and what they’re best for.
You’ll soon realise in the motorcycle world multiple names might be used for the same thing, at Bikes Future we refer to these types of gloves as street gloves but others refer to them as short cuffs.
Their overall formula is the same, they’re more comfortable and bring more mobility than gauntlets, but at the cost of protection past the wrists and forearms. They’re popular amongst inner city riders, so they usually come with touch screen fingertips which are convenient.
Street gloves usually use a hybrid of materials of mesh, leather and synthetics, they provide great protection and I personally use street gloves and never have had a problem.
Short cuff / Summer gloves
Short cuff gloves share a lot of similarities with street gloves although I’ve decided to put them in their own category for the sake of not confusing any new riders. Short cuff gloves provide a lot of dexterity and are definitely the most comfortable motorcycle glove to wear.
They’re ideal in hot climates and it is advised to avoid wearing them in places that get cold. Now obviously they provide a lot less protection than other gloves but that’s mostly around the wrist and forearm. You absolutely can find short cuff gloves that provide quality protection for your hands. Short cuff gloves come in a range of materials although the leather versions are arguably the best looking.
The casual motorcyclist won’t require racing gloves, they’re specially designed for track use and high speed racing, we’re talking speeds of 200MPH and more. Out of all the gloves they provide the highest level of protection and not surprisingly are the most expensive.
They nearly always use a durable leather construction and their design will nearly always be full of gauntlets. Since race gloves are specifically designed for high speed crashes they bring along features that the average glove would not include, you can expect knuckle protection, double or even triple stitching, double layer impact protection especially around the palms, added wrist protection and of course palm sliders.
The downsides to race gloves is that they are the most expensive glove type and all their added protection reduces the amount of feeling and dexterity you have when wearing the glove. For beginner riders, race gloves just aren’t necessary unless you’re a stickler for protection.
While the term ‘gauntlet’s have become an actual glove type, what they actually are is a glove that ends at the middle of your forearm. Although this glove is associated with the best protection and not just because it ends at your forearm.
Gauntlets are usually bulkier than street or short cuff gloves, they generally provide less dexterity and feeling when wearing the glove but they will provide more protection. Usually they have reinforcements around the knuckles and the fingers.
Gauntlets will also come with two straps so you can have extra confidence they won’t move around in a crash, one strap around the wrist and one strap around the forearm. Lastly since gauntlets usually come with extra padding and thicker material they’ll perform better in the cold or rain so if you live in cooler or wet environments gauntlets are a good choice.
If you’re just a casual rider who rides around on weekends, touring gloves aren’t something that’s probably necessary for your riding style. They’re designed for riding over long periods of time, as their name suggests, for a motorcycle tour.
They’re generally more expensive than your standard street or gauntlet styles. They shouldn’t feel uncomfortable if you’re riding for five or six hours at a time, and they’ll also adapt when it comes to the weather. Manufacturers understand on a cross country tour it will rain in hot environments, so touring gloves are known for quality ventilation and breathability while still being waterproof.
Touring gloves are known for the bells and whistles, because on a long distance tour, small discrepancies are compounded over several hours of riding. Generally you’ll want to avoid leather on a motorcycle tour, for the most part they’re composed of textile or a hybrid version mixing textile, leather and even some mesh at times.
For the average or beginner rider touring gloves aren’t a bad option but they come with a heftier price tag.
What are the best glove materials?
Something that is a little confusing is the differences between material types and which is the best option for you? At the end of the day a glove is meant to protect your hands in a crash, and quite honestly any material used by reputable manufacturers will do just that.
But there are different features that will make your riding experience a lot more enjoyable depending on the material and there’s pros and cons to both leather and textile which is useful to know.
Leather gloves have always been the popular choice amongst motorcyclists, nothing compares to the style of a leather glove. They’re cool, iconic and there’s no denying they look a lot better than textile.
Leather will last longer than textile and what makes it the popular choice is that it molds to your hand, in the very beginning a leather will feel a little uncomfortable, but just like a pair of boots you’ll break them in with use.
In terms of abrasion resistance and impact protection, leather is superior to textile, but unfortunately leather performs poorly in various weather conditions. It’s got poor water resistance, and if it regularly gets wet it can severely damage the quality. It also will perform worse in the heat compared to textile although modern gloves nearly always have some form of ventilation.
The last con to leather gloves is they’re significantly more expensive than textile, especially if you want to purchase high quality leather you can expect a high price to pay.
Textile is relatively new to the scene in comparison to leather, where leather falls short textile shines through, not to mention how much cheaper textile gloves let alone textile motorcycle gear is. When anyone uses the word textile gloves they’re referring to the umbrella term that incorporates a variety of different textile types such as gore tex, mesh or polyester to name a few.
The beauty about textile gloves is they’re cheaper but more importantly manufacturers are free to produce them for any riding condition necessary. They excel at extreme weather conditions, either in the bitter cold, pouring rain or scorching heat, you’re going to need a textile glove.
Another benefit to textile is they’re far more adaptable so you can actually wear them all year round. A lot of the time they’ll use a mix of different material types, providing the best protection and dexterity possible.
With all these benefits of textile, what’s the drawback? Unfortunately the draw back is protection in a crash. There’s a reason no race gloves are made of textile, at high speeds leather will always perform better for abrasion resistance and impact protection.
Textile gloves are a great option although they lack the same levels of protection as leather, if you’re a racer or someone who rides at very high speeds you may want to reconsider textile gloves.
Hybrid Gloves(Best of both worlds)
In all honesty, leather and textile both have their advantages, because of this we recommend you go with both. Hybrid gloves will emphasise leather in areas such as the palms, fingers and knuckles because they’re high impact areas. But then will also use mesh in low impact areas for added ventilation.
These hybrid gloves might utilise textile’s superior waterproofing as well. If you live in extreme weather conditions you can take advantage of a pair of gloves that protect you from the elements utilising textile and then superior abrasion resistance combining leather.
Unless you’re needing racing gear we recommend hybrid options for the best motorcycle gloves
Best Glove Sizing and Fitment
Poorly fitted gloves will hamper your ride and even worse reduce your hand protection in the case of a crash. It’s vitally important you choose a pair of gloves that properly fit your hands and something you don’t want to get wrong.
You may not know but going into a physical store to fit gloves isn’t actually necessary, glove manufacturers are very specific with their sizing so continue below on how to choose gloves that will properly fit your hands, without even having to try them on.
Remember that leather gloves will take a couple weeks to properly break in and mould to your hand, make sure you’re the only person wearing them and give them time to break in. On the other hand, textile gloves are first day fit, if a textile glove poorly fits don’t expect it’s fit to change because it won’t.
American and European glove types
American and european gloves will fit slightly differently, it’s not too noticeable but for the sake of this guide we’ve decided to include it.
American gloves generally have short fingers and have slightly more room around the digits and the palm, generally they’re a more relaxed fit.
European gloves will have longer fingers and less room around the palm, they’re generally less relaxed and more tight. At Bikes Future we prefer them because their fitment is generally a little more snug, although this will come down to personal preference.
Motorcycle glove sizing
Finding out your hand sizing is super simple and something anyone can do. You can use a hard ruler by wrapping a piece of string around your then measuring it against the ruler. For this example we’re going to show a soft measuring tape for convenience.
Like in the photos below you’re going to want to measure your hands width, from the lower part of your pinky finger until the lower part of your index finger. Look at the photos below to get a better idea of what we mean.
Remember manufacturers will use different measurements depending if they’re from the United states or the rest of the world, something to keep in mind so that you mix up measurements. Once you’ve measured your hand you can see what sizing you are but check the manufacturer size chart just to be certain.
How to know if your gloves fit properly?
When describing how a glove should feel you’re going to see the world ‘snug’ used a lot. It perfectly describes how your gloves should be feeling, somewhat tight but still comfortable.
If you remove the strap does your glove immediately become loose and begin to dangle? Or does it stay firm on your hand? The strap is more of an extra safety precaution and even without it your gloves should stay snug and firm around your hands.
If the gloves are too tight it will be pbvious , if you feel uncomfortable riding and using your controls is a real effort, you’ve purchased gloves that are just too tight.
Glove Safety and Protection
The most critical part of choosing the best motorcycle gloves is going to be the level of protection they offer in a high speed crash. Quality materials and construction are important but there’s other protective features you’ll need to consider when choosing the best motorcycle gloves.
We’ve covered every feature that will provide significantly more protection when the unfortunate event of falling off your bike occurs.
If you didn’t know, impact protectors are basically armour you wear to soften the blow of a crash, while they’re more commonly used for motorcycle jackets, they’re included for areas such as your knuckles, wrist and the back of your hand. They’re usually made of a hard plastic and will absorb the impact if your hands are flung at the ground. This can prevent soft tissue injuries and reduce the damage of joint damage and fractures.
Poorly stitched gloves have two major problems, their longevity is poor and you can expect them to deteriorate more quickly, subsequently gloves that are falling apart will obviously perform worse in a crash and could actually come apart when you’re sliding down the road.
Poorly stitched gloves that use only exterior stitching can be a serious risk in high speed crashes. The road’s surface could wear through the external stitching and they could potentially come apart mid crash.
Always look for gloves to be at least double stitched, ideally triple stitched, and that one layer of stitching is concealed inside the glove. Stitching within the glove means that in a crash, interior stitches will have far more protection than exterior stitches and the chances of the stitching unravelling is almost zero.
Knuckle protection does fall under the impact protection category. Although we felt it’s too important to not cover it in it’s own category. High speed crashes without knuckle protection is a grizzly affair, in more ways than one. Your knuckle’s won’t be worn down by the road and you’ll also not risk fracturing your knuckles and the top of your hand.
Remember the best gloves use knuckle protection that have a protective shell that covers the entirety of your knuckles, poorly made gloves will have a piece of protection for each knuckle which isn’t adequate and could cause more harm than good.
Double layer impact protection
Double layer protection is important because when you crash a lot of the damage to the glove happens in the initial impact. When there’s a second layer it reduces the chance of the first layer bursting open when your hands first touch the road.
In the unfortunate event that your gloves burst open you can expect the sliding to do the real damage. Double layers will simply help protect your hands in that initial impact.
Pre Curved Construction
To be frank, pre curved construction isn’t a top priority and it’s not a safety feature but falls more into the convenience side of things, nonetheless it’s worth considering. A manufacturer that pre curves the gloves features means riding will be more comfortable, but generally wearing of the glove won’t be as comfortable.
If you’re only wearing your gloves for riding and nothing else, a pre curved construction is convenient and will make your rides that little bit more comfortable.
Palm sliders otherwise known as scaphoid protection is going to be a prerequisite when choosing a motorcycle glove because the injuries you can sustain without them aren’t too pretty. There’s also a myriad of different ligaments and important arteries around your wrist and palm area which you definitely want to keep protected.
There are two major benefits to palm sliders, firstly when you come off your bike you’ll instinctively put your hands in front of you to break your fall. When your hands hit the ground you’ll want them to slide.
Unfortunately without palm sliders there’s a risk your hands will catch with the concrete and be entirely crumpled. If this happens at high speed you’ll probably break every bone in your hand. Palm soldiers will allow your hands to actually slide down the road while still providing protection.
Palm sliders will sustain more of the initial impact when your hands hit the ground at high speeds, while they don’t usually cover the entire hand they’ll still do a job of lessening the impact.
Needless to say your gloves must have palm sliders and ones that will do a proper job, some manufacturers provide sliders that are small in size and won’t perform properly if you’re sliding.
As we mentioned earlier you don’t want to be damaging your wrist, palm sliders are a great step to prevent wrist injuries but it’s not the only option you have. This will come down to personal preference but gauntlets provide by far the best wrist protection, better than street gloves and obviously better than short cuffs.
Street gloves do provide write protection but not on the level of gauntlets. Unless you drive in a very hot environment we always recommend gauntlets because their wrist and forearm protection is unmatched.
How much should you spend for the best motorcycle gloves?
How much to spend for gloves is a great question because you obviously want to properly protect yourself but does it mean you need all those extra bells and whistles? How much should I be spending?
It depends on your individual circumstances and what you value from a motorcycle glove. Prices can reach up to $500 but that’s only for premium racing gloves that a tiny fraction of riders will ever require.
Short cuff gloves will be the cheapest option, you can find good quality pairs for under $100. Although their protection isn’t the absolute best, but affordable and great for warm weather.
If you want quality protection you’ll need a street glove but ideally a gauntlet, between the $150 and $200 mark will get you a great quality gauntlet that will last many years.
How much you spend on street gloves will vary because there’s a lot of variation in terms of what it can offer, depending on it’s features and protection a decent street glove will cost between $100 and $200.
Touring gloves will be one of the more expensive options alongside racing gloves, if you’re actually going on a cross country tour expect to pay $200 – $300 for a good pair of touring gloves.
Racing gloves are the most expensive options and you won’t want to risk the bottom of the barrel when riding at high speeds. We recommend nothing less than $200 for racing gloves, ideally at least $300.
Most of the best motorcycle glove buying guides
Every rider is unique and faces a unique set of circumstances and conditions. We can’t cover it all in one article so we’ve written a wide variety of buying guides on motorcycle gloves. Take a look and see if there’s any glove articles that suit your individual circumstancees.