ALL ABOUT MOTORCYCLE GLOVES, INCLUDING RIDER SAFETY
When I consider an Xray of the human hand, I’m somewhat amazed at the fragility and complexity of those things I take for granted that control the throttle, front brake, and clutch. It just makes me appreciate even more how much our motorbike hands merit proper protection.
All right, even though YOU’RE smart enough to realize you shouldn’t ride a motorcycle without gloves, not every rider out there has gained that realization. You either innately know, or have experienced first hand, that the slightest error in motorbike control, even under the least dangerous circumstances, can result in injury to your hands.
Let’s say you’ve arrived at a stop light at a busy intersection and are putting your foot down onto the pavement. However, unknown to you, the hot summer day has heated the oil and grime on the pavement and made it more slippery than usual. Instantly, you lose your footing, and drop the bike, while you are at a complete stop. One hand gets cut by the mirror slashing across it as you lose control of the bike. Your other hands gets scraped and bruised as it instinctively reaches out to stop your fall as the bike pushes you down.
Some drivers get out of their cars to help you up and to right your bike and push it over to the curb. One mirror and a turn signal are damaged and the bike has a bunch of surface scratches. Fortunately, other than your hands, you are unhurt and mostly just embarrassed.
However, had you been wearing motorcycle gloves, there may not have been any injury.
Now, had this been a real motorcycle accident, while moving, the results would likely have been worse, not only for your hands, but for other body parts. (I have been in two significant motorcycle accidents and high-quality gloves saved my hands from any injury on one of those adventures).
Bottom line: BIKER SHOULD WEAR GLOVES and the following are some motorcycle tips on selecting which are the best for you.
THE TWO PURPOSES OF MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
In addition to protecting your hands, as noted above, motorcycle gloves offer the rider greater comfort. And that increased comfort results in better motorcycle control, especially when riding for extended periods of time.
Hence, the two purposes of motorcycle gloves, protection and comfort, both result in greater rider safety.
Part of increasing rider comfort is achieved in making warm gloves for cooler weather, and cool gloves for warmer weather. For example, vented gloves for summer riding allow air to circulate through the gloves to keep hands cooler during hot weather. And of course, longer gloves with more insulating material are better for colder temperatures. (Also, see “heated gloves” below for even better cold-riding comfort).
LEATHER MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
The traditional protective gear for bikers is leather. Nowadays there are gloves (and other motorcycle gear) made out of man-made materials, too, but leather is still a mainstay in the world of motorbike gear.
Leather offers great abrasion resistance, which means that with good leather protecting your hands, should they scrape along the pavement or across other undesirable hard things, the leather won’t rip or shred. To state the obvious, the leather is taking the brunt of the scraping instead of your hands.
TEXTILE MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
Biker gloves are also made of nylon, cordura, kevlar, other man-made materials and/or a combination of several. In fact, it’s also common to have leather gloves that include some man made textiles. Man made materials can be better quality or lower quality than leather gloves (although leather quality varies substantially, as well).
In some cases, man made materials, such as kevlar, offer much greater abrasion resistance, with less weight, and typically will last longer than leather.
Carbon fiber is another material that may be used as glove armor, particular as knuckle protection. Although there are types of added padding and knuckle protection on gloves that are not carbon fiber.
FEATURES OF MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
Motorcycling gloves may feature gauntlets which extend over the biker’s wrists to offer protection and warmth beyond the hands. (Short gloves are fine for warm-weather riding, but long ones are better for cooler temperatures).
Biker gloves have reinforced palms to offer greater comfort, safety and protection for the rider in the event of a fall.
Waterproofing is a vital feature for long distance riders, commuting bikers or anyone who rides in the rain.
Waterproof gloves may also feature insulating materials and/or special fabrics that breathe, which means they allow perspiration to leave the gloves, while keeping larger water droplets from entering the gloves.
Precurved finger sections were designed for racers, to maximize the tactile feel and fit with the bike’s controls, and that feature is generally available on many other gloves, as well.
Vented gloves are another feature, specifically for bikers looking for better comfort in hot weather riding.
It’s worth restating that armor, or special padding, is available for the knuckles and other parts of the gloves, to offer better protection.
FINGERLESS MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
Although fingerless gloves ofter the greatest comfort for hot-weather riding, they fall short of completely fulfilling the “protective” aspect of the two purposes of motorcycle gloves noted above.
Although they are often padded in the palm area, which does offer needed hand protection there, the exposed fingers would be completely unprotected in the event of a mishap.
I wore fingerless gloves for a number of years, so I can attest to their warm-weather comfort. But, having become more safety conscious as a result of a few motorbike crashes over the years, I’ve become more respectful of maintaining as much safety protection as possible. Fingerless gloves to not fulfill that requirement.
HEATED MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
After avoiding heated motorcycle gear for many years, I’ve finally become a big fan of this kind of apparel in the 21 Century. Not only does heated motorbike apparel make riding in cold weather possible, but it’s a lighweight way to extend rider comfort, even in the summer, while riding at high altitudes where temperatures may go down much lower than expected, or when riding for hundreds of miles in a damp evening.
Motorcycle gloves with insulation are designed to keep biker hands warm by trapping body heat. But if the gloves are not waterproof and one’s hands gets wet from in the rain, the insulation won’t be enough. And no amount of insulation will be sufficient as some point as the temperature continues to lower.
Heated gloves (and vests, jackets, etc) keep a rider warm simply by producing heat, even if the rider is damp or wet. And boy can that heat be welcome when you are cold and/or wet!
Heated gloves are usually attached directly to the battery of the bike, either by a cigarette lighter plug, or another type of connector. Also, an important option to consider with heated gloves is a heat controller, so you can dial the heat up or down, just like the thermostat in your home. Without the heat controller, the gloves can only be turned on or off to vary the heat output.
Heated gloves typically use a standard, 12-volt, motorcycle electrical current and a bike’s battery can usually handle this quite readily. However, for riders who wear multiple items of heated apparel, and also carry a passenger with the same, their battery may not be able to handle the load (especially if other optional accessories have been added to the bike, such as a GPS). Larger modern bikes are designed to maintain a number of additional electrical accessories, so the concern is minimized. But if you have a smaller and/or older bike and if you aren’t knowledgeable about how to determine if your electrical system can handle all of your gadgets, just check with the service guys at your local motorcycle shop.
Once you’ve become acquainted with heated gear and heated gloves in particular, you will likely become a lifelong fan of their use and wonder how you ever survived without such comfort!