Many motorcyclists usually don’t take safety as a serious consideration when it comes to buying a riding gear. Other than the helmet, one also needs to buy a jacket, a pair of riding pants, knee guards, shin guards, protective riding boots and gloves. All of these should be owned by a motorcyclist as they provide essential protection in case of a crash. They also protect you from harsh weather conditions, dust and little objects that might come flying at you while riding. Among the riding gear mentioned above, the one that is often disregarded is the gloves. Riders don’t realise that in most cases you land on your palms or hands in case of a fall, and that protection for hands is indispensable. In this article, we will talk about all the broad varieties of riding gloves, and which ones you should buy. Before we tell you about the types of gloves available in the market, let us explain what riding gloves are and how they enhance safety while riding.
What are riding gloves?
As the name suggests, riding gloves are the type of gloves that you use when you ride a motorcycle. These gloves are usually made of leather, fabric, mesh or a mixture of these materials and have protective pads or armour to protect various parts of the hands. They come in different shapes and sizes and have different compositions based on the riders’ use case.
Why should you wear riding gloves?
There are many ways to explain this, but this example should paint a reasonably descriptive picture for you. Suppose you are enjoying a Sunday morning ride and suddenly you come across a spill of oil on the road. Even your best efforts are unsuccessful in manoeuvring the motorcycle around the spillage and your motorcycle skids. As soon as the motorcycle tumbles down, you find yourself falling to the ground and as a reflex, you use your hands to break the fall. Now, as you would know, the skin on our hands, or any part of our body for that matter, isn’t too tough to handle abrasion against a rough surface like tarmac. Depending on your speed and the severity of the fall, having a part of your hand scrape against the tar is an eventuality, causing a severe abrasive injury, or even a bone fracture. Not only would that be extremely painful, but having the most usable ends of your upper limbs dysfunctional even temporarily is an extremely undesirable state to be in. Now, if you were wearing gloves, you would probably have gotten away with little to no cuts or bruises on your palm and fingers. Accidents are called accidents because you have no control over them. The best you can do is to prepare, and riding gloves are essential in protecting your hands in case of a mishap.
In short, your instincts will command you to use your hands to break a fall and stop yourself from skidding. In that regard, your hands need as much protection as your head. Therefore, wearing gloves while riding should always be non-negotiable for a responsible rider.
Once you have decided to get yourself a pair of gloves, it is important that you choose the one that meets your riding needs. There is no point buying something that is uncomfortable for you to use or won’t provide the needed protection. Often, you will end up not using them and they will lie unutilised in some corner of your garage. There are different gloves suited for different riding styles and use cases. In this article, we list out all the types of gloves and their uses. Go through them all and see which one would suit your needs.
Street or Commuter gloves
These are the most used gloves and used by generic, everyday motorcycle riders. If you own a commuter motorcycle or a street naked, choose these gloves for your daily usage. They are best suited for city riding and low mileage highway cruising. These are usually made up of mesh, or leather, or a mixture of the two. Fully mesh gloves would not offer as much protection as they are not as resistant to abrasion as the leather ones. A combination of the two materials is often the best solution, as it offers more advantages than only the individual materials. These gloves also have added padding or armour for the knuckles and on some parts of the fingers for extra protection. You will also find protective layers on parts that cover the palms to offer additional abrasion resistance in case of a mishap. Mesh gloves offer good ventilation, and are very cheap, but don’t provide much protection against abrasion. They also need to be replaced more frequently. Full leather gloves offer great protection, but they are expensive and also often lack ventilation. If you are on a budget, get a pair that has a combination of both, and you won’t regret your purchase.
India is seeing a surge in adventure riding and while adventure riding is fun, choosing the right gloves for this sort of riding is very important. What makes adventure or dual sport gloves special is the versatility they offer. Usually made of mesh, leather and rubber, these gloves are light and reinforced with protective material around the palm and the fingers. Most adventure gloves will also be waterproof as your adventure might take you through all sorts of weather. These gloves are more flexible than the street gloves as adventure riding requires a lot of movement while manoeuvring the motorcycle. They also have a good amount of grip that will assist if your handle is damp due to the rains or a splash through a puddle. The cuffs on these gloves are smaller and slide very easily under your adventure riding jacket. A good pair of adventure gloves will serve you well in street commuting as well. While superior in quality and function, these gloves can be a little more expensive than their street counterparts.
Long distance touring can be daunting, and the rider has to endure all sorts of weather along with dust, winds, pollution, etc. To help the rider face these challenges well, a good pair of touring gloves becomes essential. Forged with protective material and a combination of fabric and leather, these gloves can probably take on anything that you throw at them. The amount of padding on these gloves is more than other gloves to prevent injuries in case of a high-speed crash. Touring gloves are usually styled like a gauntlet and cover an extending portion of the hand. Unlike adventure gloves, they fit snug on top of the riding jacket. They are also all-weather resistant and will protect the rider’s hand from rain, cold and direct sun rays. The added amount of protective material and use of extra leather make these gloves more expensive but also safer and durable. If you love touring, investing in one of these will work wonders for your touring experience.
These are used while riding sports bikes, most commonly on a racetrack. The chance of skidding at higher speeds is the highest while on the racetrack. Hence, a pair of gloves that are abrasion proof will keep the rider’s hands safe. These gloves are made of pure leather and are pro-grade gloves. Racing gloves are expensive than the other conventional gloves. These gloves are reinforced with knuckle and palm guards for added protection. Like touring gloves these also have a full gauntlet design and sit on top of your riding suit preventing any abrasion on the wrist and extended protection in the wrist area in case of a fall. One downside with these gloves is, since they have a full leather construction, there is very little ventilation, hence, riding with them for longer durations can get uncomfortable. Despite providing complete protection, the focus is on keeping the weight light, thus, top grade materials are used in their construction, making them quite expensive.
Dirt riding gloves
Dirt riding gloves are the lightest among all the gloves mentioned here and probably the cheapest. It is because of the materials used in their construction. These are primarily made up of mesh and offer limited protection. To keep the weight light, they have less padding. Dirt motorcyclists need a good grip of the motorcycle and need to move their hands a lot. A lighter material makes riding easier for them. A full leather, heavier construction might hamper the rider’s performance which is why leather is relatively avoided. Since the durability of these gloves is the least, they are difficult to maintain and would need frequent replacement. Suited only for dirt bike riding, one should avoid using these gloves for commuter riding, and other forms of tar-oriented rides.
Other additions and customisations
While you can choose the material of the gloves based on the purpose it needs to serve, modern day gloves come with a lot of options, and you might want to consider these when choosing the right pair.
· Half cut gloves: These are mostly available with the street/commuter type of gloves. These gloves do not have the part that covers the top half of the fingers. Though these look cool, they do not offer protection to the tips of the fingers and nails which are prone to an injury in case of a fall. One should avoid using these.
· Certified armour: While most gloves come with rubber padding for protection, there are some advanced gloves that come with additional certified armour. This armour (e.g. Knox) is made of stronger materials and provides a higher level of protection. If you are someone who rides a lot, you should have certified armour on your gloves.
· Touchscreen Compatibility: If you are someone who would buy the half-cut gloves just to be able to use your smartphone, you should buy a pair which has touchscreen compatibility. These gloves will have a screen friendly material on their fingertips which allows you to use your phone’s touch screen without any problem.
· Visor Wipe: A very important feature to have while riding in the rain is the ability to wipe the visor. Helmet visors do not have wipers and cleaning them with leather gloves doesn’t work very well. However, you can get yourself a pair of gloves that come with a wiping material on certain areas of the gloves. Using this, you can easily wipe off water hindering your visibility.
· Perforation: Full leather construction on the gloves gives little to no ventilation to the rider’s hands. To counter this problem, there are gloves available that come with perforated leather which provide a good airflow and ventilation to the hands.
Now that you have all the information you need for selecting the right gloves for your use, be sure to pick an apt and safe pair. Wish you happy and safe riding.