Buying Motorcycle Gloves - A Beginners Guide
Getting the right pair of gloves is more than just a question of protection. They are a key contact point when riding a motorcycle and the better the gloves, the more comfortable and therefore the safer you will be. Never underestimate how much a pair of gloves can affect your enjoyment on the road, and considerations around warmth, fit, protection and comfort are all equally important.
Let's start with protection. As you have hopefully read in some of our other Beginners Guides there are specific safety requirements for protective motorcycle gear, and gloves are no different. They are covered by the European Commission EN13594:2015 standard. All gloves that pass the stringent tests can display a CE Rated label. Either Level 1 which is the lowest, or level 2 which is the highest possible. Level 1 gloves tend to be lighter and offer more dexterity, whereas Level 2 gloves tend to be heavier and stiffer. However, there are often exceptions to these rules.
By far and away the most common injury to hands after a crash is abrasion injury, or ‘Road Rash’ Although it may sound minor, the risk of infection from aggravated contact with the road can lead to complications and long term problems. There is also a high risk of impact injuries leading to broken bones, which is no fun at all. So the key purpose of a glove is to protect against this as much as possible.
During CE testing, all materials used in the construction of the glove undergo impact abrasion testing. But this is not the whole story as although a particular material may be very strong if the seams fall apart upon impact, the gloves are next to useless. This is why the CE certification is also dependent on the strength and resilience of the stitching.
Further tests cover ergonomics to ensure the glove allows the rider to operate controls properly, as well as ensuring the glove stays on the hand. Again if the fastening isn't sufficient and the glove is pulled off, you may as well not be wearing them!
Cut resistance is also tested and for a glove to meet CE Level 2 it must have suitable armour to pass further impact tests.
What gloves are made of tends to dictate how well they perform in certain circumstances. Essentially the choice is between leather and textile, or a combination of both.
Leather gloves offer great abrasion resistance and as it’s a natural product they tend to mould to the shape of your hands over time, making for a very comfortable fit. Leather obviously doesn't perform quite so well in wet weather, without the help of hydrophobic coatings or waterproof linings. It doesn’t really possess any thermal qualities either, so needs further linings to keep the cold at bay. By contrast though, leather is a fantastic material for summer gloves and any good quality leather glove looks better as it ages and gains some patina.
Textile gloves are a more practical solution for all year round use, particularly in colder temperatures. Water and windproofing are often a little easier to achieve at a lower cost, as is adding insulation for warmth on cold days. They can of course also make good lightweight summer gloves, but it is harder to match leather’s abrasion resistance with a thin lightweight unlined textile glove
When looking at the range of gloves in our store, you’ll notice a whole host of other materials used in the construction. So to help you we’ve highlighted the most common ones you’ll find;
Is a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane that can repel liquid whilst allowing water vapour to pass through it in the opposite direction. It can be used in anything from gloves and jackets to trousers and boots. Often seen as a brand leader in waterproof, breathable materials.
Uses unique patented technologies to make rate-sensitive, soft, flexible materials with high shock-absorbing properties. Based on non-newtonian principles, in its raw form, the material’s molecules flow freely, allowing it to be soft and flexible, but on impact, lock together to dissipate impact energy and reduce transmitted force.
is a waterproof and breathable fabric that consists of a three-layer microporous silicon-coated structure. It’s a very similar material in principle to Goretex, but with a different structure.
Getting The Right Size
Thankfully not as hard as you may imagine as there is a standard sizing profile for gloves. Some brands will vary very slightly, but if you follow our guide on how to measure your hands, you should get it relatively spot on at the first attempt.
Another consideration will undoubtedly be the style of the glove. You may not want to turn up to a bike meet on your Cafe Racer wearing a pair of touring style textile gloves! But whatever style you end up choosing, the safety and comfort features apply equally regardless of the material they are made of.
With this and the above points in mind, the RideTo staff have compiled a list of their Top 3 gloves in each material, with a mix of styles and uses.
Entry Level - RST Urban Air II - £39.99
They may be entry-level, but the Urban II’s are a great looking short cuff glove perfect for urban riding. This full-leather glove features vented mesh panels which make them a great summer choice. There's a double layer of leather on the palm and a reinforced PU protector on the knuckles means these CE rated gloves are very protective too. These are a lot of glove for the money
Mid Level - RST IOM TT Hillberry - £49.99
A premium looking glove with a nice retro style, the Isle Of Man TT Hillberry offers a little more in the way of protection. The 100% leather construction features a PU armour panel for the knuckles. The double-layer leather palm and out stitched fingers offer both protection and comfort. A perfect all-around glove for riders looking for a retro aesthetic.
High Level - Richa Street Touring gloves - £129.99
These full leather gloves are made from a combination of Goatskin and Cowhide but also feature a Goretex liner that makes them both waterproof and breathable. A hard knuckle panel offers great protection and 3M Reflective material adds some nighttime visibility. A nice long cuff with a double closure wrist strap ensures the elements are kept at bay and give a nice snug fit. An excellent quality glove for touring or commuting.
Entry Level - Oxford Brisbane Air - £29.99
An incredibly good value pair of gloves, the Brisbane offers a full leather palm as well as a ventilated back making them an ideal summer glove. They also have armour in the knuckle, a suede visor wipe and a low profile velcro wrist closure. These make for an excellent entry-level summer glove and how Oxford squeeze all this in at such a price is amazing.
Mid-Level - RST Adventure X - £49.99
A great choice if you want to venture off-road, or maybe just look like you do! Made from a synthetic leather material called Amara, the Adventure X offer a tough hard-wearing solution in a lightweight package. A TPU insert protects your knuckles and an aramid fibre lining ensures excellent abrasion resistance. This two or maybe three-season glove offers good looks and performance at a very affordable price.
High-Level - Richa Arctic - £99.99
As the name suggests the Arctic is primarily a winter glove. The Hipora membrane is 100% waterproof and windproof, yet breathable to allow moisture to escape, stopping your hands from getting sweaty. The tri-fleece lining offers a fantastic level of warmth, meaning these gloves will keep you going on the coldest and wettest days. A long, snug cuff with a hook & loop closure and additional impact protection round off these superb gloves. A wise investment for commuters and tourers alike.
As you can see, gloves are an incredibly important piece of motorcycling equipment and one that needs to be chosen with a lot of consideration for where and how they are worn. Both leather and textile gloves can offer excellent protection and performance, and once you find a pair of gloves that do what you need and fit perfectly, the comfort and enjoyment of your riding will be transformed.
So armed with the information in this article, you can now browse the RideTo Store with confidence and ensure you purchase the best gloves to match your needs.