Riding gloves are sometimes overlooked when talking about motorcycle gear. While some may perceive them as inessential, that's actually far from the truth. A good pair of riding gloves can provide your hands some degree of protection in the event of a crash.
Having said that, you can't just buy the first pair of riding gloves you see. There are many different types out there, and they all have their own uses. So, let's explore the main types of riding gloves available today and how you can best maximize them.
Textile gloves are suitable for most weather conditions, although they don't offer the best protection and won't fit your hands as well as leather. Leather gloves, meanwhile, can be more durable and protect better against the summer heat. A hybrid pair can offer the best of both, but only if they're designed well and are from a reputable brand.
Whatever material they’re made of, most street gloves feature short cuffs and padding for impact protection. Some may also have touchscreen-friendly fingertips for checking your phone or navigation system on the go.
Gloves used by professional racers are typically made of pure leather for the best level of protection. Tailor-made for track use and high-speed riding on sportbikes, race gloves offer advanced rider protection with their full-gauntlet construction and reinforced knuckle guards.
For all the protection they offer, race gloves can get hot quickly due to the limited ventilation provided by the thick leather and armor material. Some race gloves are perforated for better ventilation, so if you're prone to heating up, this would be for you.
Due to their status as performance-oriented products, race gloves may be more expensive than other types of riding gloves. Even so, the level of safety they offer more than makes up for their higher price tag.
Off-road riding gloves buck the trend of protection we have going on here. Dirt gloves are best for, you guessed it, dirt bikes. These gloves offer little to no protection from impact. Why? Well, off-road riding is all about the tactile feel, so dirt gloves are typically composed of lightweight textile materials with minimal armoring. With thinner gloves, dirt bike riders feel more and get the added benefit of even more ventilation, which allows them to respond better to changing conditions.
The thin construction typical of dirt gloves gives this type a cheaper price point. However, their relatively flimsier form may not last as long under harsh riding conditions. If you use dirt gloves, don't get too attached. You may need to replace them more often than other types of riding gloves.
ADV gloves, adventure gloves, or dual-sport gloves are commonly made with textile material or a combination of textile and leather. Adventure gloves are versatile in that they can be used on the street or the trail.
For this reason, adventure gloves need to be light and thin for off-road use while being protective enough for street use. Using adventure gloves as part of your daily motorcycle gear can be a compromise or a healthy balance, depending on how you look at it.
If you're a long-distance rider on a touring bike, you'll need matching touring gloves. This type makes use of textile material or a mix of textile and leather. These gloves can protect against all sorts of elements with their rigid construction and advanced protective materials. Most touring gloves are of the full-gauntlet type and are waterproof and padded with reinforced materials.
For riding on the highway across vast distances, a pair of high-quality touring gloves would be your best bet. Not only can they protect you if you crash, but they also keep your hands warm and limber for the many kilometers you'd be putting on, or well ventilated depending on the type of touring you will be doing.
We've covered the five main types of riding gloves: Street, race, dirt, ADV, and touring. It's up to you to figure out which type is best for daily usage. If you own more than one kind of motorcycle, you'll likely need different types of riding gloves for each one. While there are some all-purpose gloves out there, it's better to pick a comfortable pair that's specific to your bike. Whatever you choose, make sure they give you an adequate amount of protection wherever you ride.