It’s instinct. When we take a tumble, we automatically try to break our fall with our hands. So it stands to reason that we should make sure a quality pair of gloves is part of the essential kit we wear on every ride.
Riding gloves have come a long way from the days when motorcyclists repurposed sturdy leather work gloves when they hit the road. Today, dozens of specialist manufacturers focus exhaustive research on making gloves that provide protection from the elements, impact and abrasion while still providing comfort and feel. There are styles to suit every ride and every rider.
TYPES OF MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
Here we will cover three main styles of motorcycle gloves. Getting to know the basics is the first step towards choosing the gloves that are right for you.
Short Cuff Gloves
The cuff of any glove is that portion you’ll find at your wrist when you pull the glove onto your hand - logically, where the cuff of a long sleeved shirt might fit. Most motorcycle gloves also fasten at the cuff, using a strap and buckle or hook and loop fastening. Short cuff motorcycle gloves are designed to meet, rather than cover, this cuff area. Short cuff gloves have several advantages over long cuff models. These come down to freedom, control and comfort.
Some riders who’ve tried long cuff gloves feel that the extended cuff coverage restricts their hand and wrist movement. Throttle, clutch, brake…hands are kept very busy on a bike, so their movement must be light and natural. Short cuff gloves leave the wrist free to move in every direction. Depending on how you ride, you might find this easy movement vital to your control of the bike.
The comfort advantage of short cuff gloves can relate to ease of movement and also temperature. Many riders turn to short cuff gloves in summer because this style can help free the flow of air into jacket sleeves. This can be just the cool change a rider needs when the weather heats up.
Finally, short cuff gloves are lighter than long cuff designs. Light weight is always welcome, as every item of protective gear adds to what a rider has to deal with while on the bike.
Best suited for:
- Riders who want unrestricted movement of wrists and hands
- Those who are looking for protection without paying a weight penalty
- Summer rides when airflow and comfort are important
Our top Short Cuff Glove picks:
Long Cuff Gloves
Long cuff gloves, sometimes known as full-length or ‘gauntlet’ style gloves, feature protection beyond the wrist and some way up the forearm. While most long cuff gloves usually fasten at the wrist, there is often extra fastening built into the extended cuff area. This extra fastening, together with the extended cuff, means that full cuff gloves offer extra protection, and are less likely to be torn off in a crash. For these reasons, full cuff gloves are the preferred choice of racers. Some manufacturers pass on their learnings from racing in the materials and features of the long cuff gloves they create.
Full cuff gloves represent the ultimate in crash protection, and are available in styles beyond pure many race-focused designs. There are full cuff gloves offered in commuter and touring styles, gloves for adventure riders, cold weather and waterproof designs as well as lightweight, ventilated summer designs.
Many riders prefer the feeling of extra crash protection that full cuff gloves provide, but weather protection can be another benefit. Full cuff gloves designed for winter offer superior rain protection and warmth. The extra cuff length creates an air seal at the junction of the jacket sleeve and glove. This helps keep rain, drafts and cold air out, and body warmth in.
Although full cuff gloves are offered in summer designs, the extra cuff length restricts air flow when compared to short cuff designs. Some riders also feel that a longer cuff restricts movement. Full cuff gloves tend to be heavier than short gloves, and the extra cuff fastening can mean that they take longer to put on and take off.
Best suited for:
- Track and race riders
- Road riders who seek maximum crash protection
- Winter rides
Our top Full Cuff Glove choices:
There’s a lot more to creating a motorcycle glove for women than simply downsizing a style originally designed for men. Today, all of the world’s great motorcycle glove manufacturers offer specific designs for women, covering a broad range of women’s fit, functionality and style.
Women’s gloves are offered in short cuff and long cuff styles - but that is just the start. There are race gloves and touring gloves, designs for comfort across all seasons. There are those that focus on ultimate safety and others that blend safety with added comfort and day-to-day practicality.
Like men’s gloves, women’s designs are fastened by various combinations of elastic, straps, buckles and hook and loop material. There’s a world of choice in the materials the gloves are created from. Traditional leather remains a favourite, but many women’s gloves feature a combination of high tech, performance synthetics. These can be employed to help a design flow air with maximum efficiency on hot days, or to repel rain and keep out the cold on the nastiest winter rides.
Style is an important factor for every rider. Women’s motorcycle gloves are available in understated, basic black, or with a myriad of coloured panels and highlights. Naturally, pink features strongly here! Certainly, every taste is catered for, whether as a female rider you wish to keep the look basic, or stand out from the crowd.
Best suited for:
- Women who recognise the importance of correct fit for machine control and safety
- Female riders seeking hand protection with style factored into the design
- Women who seek comfortable protection on every ride
Our top Women’s Glove picks:
KEY FEATURES OF MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
A serious hand injury can render an otherwise uninjured rider almost helpless. Needless to say then that many of the key features of motorcycle gloves are created with protection in mind. Some other features are built-in simply to make your gloves more practical and useful. Let’s look at some of each.
Look at many motorcycle gloves today and you’ll immediately notice a tough, moulded area across the knuckles. This can be formed from leather, high-impact plastic, composite materials such as carbon fibre, or even metal. Human knuckles are complex and relatively fragile joints that can be exposed to impact and abrasion in a motorcycle crash. Glove manufacturers have recognised this and developed special areas of ‘armour’ to give riders’ knuckles a fighting chance.
Originally developed for racing, knuckle protection tends to be moulded in a rigid material that is bonded into the glove, and lined for comfort. The fit should feel natural, and not at all intrusive, when you try on the glove. And in a crash, knuckle protection will help protect your knuckles from abrasion (imagine sliding along with your hand caught between your bike and the road) as well as impacts.
Finally, this protection can deliver a comfort benefit in warm weather - some manufacturers build air intakes into the knuckle protection of their summer gloves, helping channel cooling air around the hand.
Finger bridges or ‘pinkie bridges’ are another trickle-down innovation from road racing. The grim fact is that when a rider is leaning through a turn, one of the first things to touch tarmac in a crash is the little finger. The result is that the little finger can be twisted and broken or worse, removed. It’s a common racing injury.
A finger bridge effectively joins the ring finger and little fingers of the glove together. The idea is that this approach gives the little finger less chance of pulling away and suffering injury in a crash.
Finger bridges are a safety feature increasingly found on race style gloves. Most riders adapt quickly to wearing gloves featuring this innovation.
The reaction of most riders in a spill is to break their fall with their hands. Often it’s the palms of the hand that touch down first. At speed, even reinforced leather or composite materials can wear through quickly, or even tear out, exposing the hands to abrasion.
Another problem is grip. When leather meets tarmac it tends to grip, rather than slide. This sudden grip can hyper-extend the wrist - bend it past its limit - and break bones in the wrist and hand.
Palm sliders are hard plastic or composite ‘pucks’ located on the lower palms of some gloves. Placed properly, they don’t interfere with riding comfort. What they can do is slide on impact, instead of gripping, lowering the likelihood of broken wrist bones. They also stand up to abrasion far better than leather or textiles, giving hands a better chance of surviving a palms-down slide without road rash.
While heated motorcycle gloves are not a new idea, the innovation that has vastly increased their popularity is the freedom of going wireless. Whereas old-fashioned heated gloves needed to be plugged into the battery of the bike, modern designs carry their own tiny rechargeable batteries - usually in a pocket built into the cuff of the glove.
Despite their small size, these batteries are capable of serving up hours of warmth. Most heated gloves offer a choice of low-to-high warmth settings, adjustable using a button built into the glove. For long rides, spare batteries can be carried.
Heated gloves are a game-changer for motorcyclists who regularly face winter rides in extreme cold. They are currently offered by at least four brands in the Bikebiz range.
Touch Screen Compatibility
Whether the touch screen in question is our phone or the dash of the bike, having to remove gloves in order to use the screen is a pain that every rider can do without. It stands to reason that all major manufacturers of motorcycle gloves today offer touch screen compatibility in many of their glove designs.
Touch screen compatibility is achieved by building a conductive material into the tip of one or more of a glove’s fingers. The most useful designs are perhaps those that feature touch screen compatible tips on the pointer finger and thumb. This means that ‘gesture based’ functions can be performed without the need to remove gloves.
MATERIALS USED IN MOTORCYCLE GLOVES
Motorcycle gloves must deliver protection while also offering comfort and enough feel to make use of the bike’s controls natural and easy. Leather originally led the way in glove materials because of its inherent toughness combined with flexibility. Yet today’s gloves are very often a mix of materials - we-ll look at some of them here.
Leather continues to be a popular choice for glove designers. In recent times one of the key advances in the use of leather has been the popularisation of different types. Where once only cowhide was commonly used, today some designers make use of kangaroo or goatskin for its light weight and toughness, and even stingray leather for its extreme abrasion resistance. Leather can call for special treatment if it is to last through very wet or very dry conditions. Most manufacturers offer advice on which products work best for the leather in their own designs.
Textiles - man made cloth - are very popular in glove design today due to their flexibility and light weight. Some textile types are also very water resistant, and most outperform untreated leather in wet weather. In fact a textile shell backed with a waterproof membrane is an ideal warm, waterproof combination. This is why it’s common to see gloves created with a textile upper and a leather palm. The result is a lightweight glove that gives good feel and toughness, yet performs well on cold, wet days.
Mesh gloves can be created using any number of synthetic materials. Synthetic mesh is light, flexible and breathable, which is why it continues to be a popular choice in Australia, particularly during summer. Mesh materials mould easily to the shape of the hand and are often the nearest thing in ‘feel’ to wearing no gloves at all. While mesh can be a good choice for glove uppers, it is outperformed by leather and heavier synthetics in abrasion resistance, so is seldom used on the palms of gloves. Mesh tends to be the choice when warm weather comfort is the number one priority of the rider.
Synthetic materials are at the core of modern motorcycle gloves, variously offering advantages in protection, comfort, durability and water resistance. Polyester and nylon have long been favourites for their ability to easily fold (comfort), to dry quickly and offer a choice of protection depending on the denier (thickness of the fibre) used. Polyester mesh can also offer breathability in a fabric that is tough and abrasion resistant.
Various ‘synthetic leathers’ are also used in many gloves. These are cost-efficient, vegan alternatives to leather that offer similar toughness, abrasion resistance and suppleness. They also generally require less maintenance and care than genuine leather. Some glove manufacturers have their own proprietary types of synthetic leather.
Synthetic materials used in gloves also include waterproof and water resistant membranes such as Gore-Tex. Alpinestars make use of their own Drystar membrane while Spidi incorporates its proprietary H2Out. In common is their claim to provide a waterproof yet breathable barrier.
What our Customers Say
What our Customers Say
High-quality motorcycle gloves from Bikebiz
Quality gloves are essential for road riding, even on a short ride. Bikebiz offers a huge range of motorcycle gloves designed to meet the demands of all types of riders. Our selection has all the top brands covered including Alpinestars, Dririder, Dainese, Five, Ixon, Merlin, Bering, Macna, RST and more! Consider different brands, try on multiple pairs, and feel assured that the comfort and features meet your needs on the bike.
Loaded with features for ultimate riding protection
Riding gloves have come a long way and offer a plethora of features for today's rider. From durable Cordura and Kevlar to stylish stingray skin, gloves are now waterproof and can even come with electric heating. With reinforced armour for scaphoid areas, knuckle protection, visor wipers, wrist closure systems and touch screen finger treatments, there’s dozens of materials and features to choose from. Discover the right pair for your riding style.
What types of motorcycle gloves are available?
We offer a variety of motorcycle gloves to suit different riding styles and preferences throughout the whole year. Some popular types include:
- Short cuff gloves: These gloves cover the wrist bone and are typically used during warm weather riding or short trips.
- Long cuff gloves: These gloves extend past the wrist and offer more protection and coverage.
- Women's riding gloves: We also offer a range of gloves designed specifically for women, with a fit and style that suits their needs.
What materials are commonly used for road bike gloves?
Our range of motorbike gloves are made from a variety of materials, including leather, textile fabrics, Kevlar, Cordura, Gore-tex, and other modern synthetic materials. Leather gloves are a popular choice for their durability and abrasion resistance, while textile gloves can offer better ventilation and waterproofing. Kevlar and Cordura are often used in combination with other materials for added strength and protection. Our range of Gore-tex gloves provide waterproof protection, especially useful for winter road riding. When it comes to choosing, this is dependent on the rider's preference, riding style, and the level of protection and comfort they require.
Do motorcycle gloves have safety ratings?
CE certification is used as a safety standard for motorcycle gear across Europe, which is also commonly followed in Australia. All of our gloves on offer are CE certified, ensuring they meet the minimum standards of protection against impacts and abrasions. These gloves can have a range of protective qualities attributed to them, which can vary depending on the brand and type of glove.