Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for shopping guide for best motorcycle gloves

A good pair of motorcycle gloves are vital not just to protect your hands in the event of an accident, but also from debris that can be thrown up by other vehicles. Getting hit in the hand by a stone flying at 50 or 60 miles per hour could cause serious injury.

There are lots of different sizes, styles, materials, and colors to choose from. You’ll find anything from half-finger gloves, which are favored by some cruiser riders, to those reinforced with kevlar. There are lightweight summer gloves as well as multilayered winter gloves, which will keep your hands warm and dry in the worst conditions.

We’ve been looking at the market so we can help you choose the best motorcycle gloves for your particular riding style. The following motorcycle buyer’s guide offers more detailed information.

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Motocross gloves are popular, but it’s not a good idea to wear them for road riding. They don’t offer enough abrasion protection.

Choosing motorcycle gloves

There are two criteria for choosing a good pair of motorcycle gloves: construction and style. The first is perhaps the most important, because it impacts your safety — but there’s no denying the second has a huge bearing as well.

Everybody wants to look good on their bike, and some glove styles just don’t go with some bikes. That’s very much a matter of personal choice. There are hundreds of alternatives available to you, from classic black to retro tan to the color combinations associated with race wear.

The only type we would caution against is the half-fingered style. In our opinion, they offer insufficient protection.

Motorcycle glove materials

Leather is the traditional material for motorcycle gloves. It’s durable, strong, and has excellent abrasion resistance — meaning it won’t wear through easily if you end up sliding down the road. Lots of hides can be called leather, including goat, sheep, deer, and even kangaroo. Cowhide remains the toughest and most hard-wearing, but the others are more supple. The qualities of kangaroo are such that it is now used in some tailored high-end race leathers.

There are also synthetic leathers available. When first introduced, these lacked sufficient strength. Not only has the material been improved, but they are often combined with kevlar reinforcement, which makes them immensely resilient.

In modern motorcycle gloves, textiles are often combined with leather. They make for a lighter glove and allow breathability and stretch — but are not usually used in areas that might be abraded.

Motorcycle glove construction

Knuckle areas are prone to injury from road debris, so many motorcycle gloves incorporate protection in this area. Material used can vary from plastic plus extra padding to steel or carbon fiber. Extra padding on the outside of finger joints is also welcome, though it usually makes for a heavier glove.

You work your hands a lot on a long ride, braking and changing gear, so additional flex areas in the fingers and where they join the knuckle of your gloves make for greater comfort.

Palms need good grip, but a little additional padding is also a good idea. In the event of a fall, you naturally put your hands out to protect you. This commonly leads to broken bones in the wrist (typically the scaphoid). Look for impact-absorbing material in that part of the glove to reduce this kind of injury.

The closure should be snug around the wrists for proper fit and to keep your hands as dry and as warm as possible in bad weather. Velcro straps are quick and easy, but some styles use buckles instead. Zippers are a good idea on long cuffs, but you’ll still want one of the other types as well.

Most manufacturers offer unisex gloves, but some sell them as men’s or women's. Although the size of a woman’s hand may often be smaller, there’s no real structural difference like there is with jackets. A small man’s glove should fit a woman’s hand perfectly well.

Many motorcyclists use their phone as a satnav, and a leather-gloved finger often doesn’t function properly. Sensitive microfiber fingertips allow you to use your device without removing them.

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Did you know?
Many motorcycle gloves now have a sensitive area at the tip of one or more fingers, so you can operate your smartphone without taking them off.

Motorcycle gloves for winter riding

For winter riding you want a longer cuff to protect you from drafts and extra padding to keep you warm. You also want waterproofing. At the budget end, you’ll find leather that has been treated. It’s moderately effective, but needs to be renewed on a regular basis. Padding makes the gloves less flexible. High-quality alternatives have a waterproof membrane inside, which is also breathable so your hands don’t get too hot. Modern materials mean gloves of equivalent warmth can be made much thinner and so retain most of the flexibility of summer gloves.

The optimum winter motorcycle glove is heated. In the past, these had to be wired to the bike, which could be awkward as cables needed to run up your jacket sleeves. There are now several models that are cordless. A slender lithium ion battery slips into the rear of the cuff. You’ll get several hours of warmth from each charge.

Motorcycle glove prices

Inexpensive: We usually advise against buying cheap products because of quality concerns, but you can pick up a perfectly good pair of leather motorcycle gloves for $15 to $25 — so there’s no excuse for you to not protect your hands properly. Many winter gloves also fall into this range.

Mid-range: Buying higher-quality motorcycle gloves usually means better protection without losing flexibility and comfort. There are lots of choices in the $30 to $60 range, which vary from classic retro looks to track style (although not full-on race wear). Winter gloves in this price bracket are lighter and more flexible with a high level of water resistance.

Expensive: For more than $60, you get into the realm of top Italian motorcycle gloves by makers like Alpinestars, Dainese, and Spidi. They incorporate the latest designs and high-end material technology. You also get true race wear. It’s not difficult to spend $200 to $300. Cordless heated motorcycle gloves are $110 to $150.


  • It’s convenient when you’re out and about to stuff your gloves in your helmet, but it doesn’t do your gloves — or your helmet lining — a lot of good. Same goes for jacket pockets. Whenever possible, leave them to rest in their natural shape in an open area.
  • Liners can be washed by hand with soap and warm water. Do not use other cleaning agents or fabric softener. If they aren’t removable, just turn your gloves inside out.
  • If you get leather gloves wet, let them dry at room temperature. Never put them on a radiator or in a dryer. They’ll dry too quickly and probably split. Never put them away damp; doing so will promote mold growth.
  • Weatherproofing will wear down eventually. Use a leather conditioner/cream to restore them and keep them supple. Once a year is recommended — or more often if you regularly ride in harsh conditions.
  • Modern textile gloves usually contain a fair bit of leather as well, so treat them like leather gloves.
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Leather isn’t naturally waterproof. Some manufacturers treat the material, but it isn’t permanent. A better solution is a waterproof membrane. These are also breathable, so your hands won’t sweat.


Q. How do I know what size gloves to order?
Most manufacturers offer sizing charts and instructions for measuring your hands. If you’re between sizes, it’s generally recommended to go larger — you can’t grip properly if they’re too small. Check the return policy, so you can exchange them if the fit doesn’t suit you. Try them on as soon as they arrive, and return them promptly if necessary.

Q. Are there safety standards for motorcycle gloves?
Not in the U.S. In Europe, they use EN 13594:2015, which tests impact performance, abrasion, tearing, perforation, and stitching — but it’s not a legal requirement either to manufacture to that standard or to wear them. A few Euro-spec models are available in the U.S., mostly high-end road and race gloves. If you’re buying these for the extra protection they give, be careful. It’s not unknown for manufacturers of cheap motorcycle gloves to make exaggerated claims. Check specification carefully. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Q. Is it a legal requirement to wear motorcycle gloves?
Not in the U.S. But did you ever see the road rash on a biker’s hands after an accident when they weren’t wearing gloves? Good motorcycle gloves are not expensive or uncomfortable, and they protect you from extremely painful injuries. Why would you not wear them?

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