Why Should I Wear Motorcycle Gloves?
By Wesley Pestana | Updated Nov 25, 2018
Why Should I Wear Motorcycle Gloves?If you ask any experienced motorcycle rider what their top three essential, bare minimum pieces of riding gear are, they'd likely say a helmet, a jacket and gloves – because these protect the most important and vulnerable parts of your body. And if you cut that down to two, they may well remove the jacket from that equation. But why is it so important to wear motorcycle gloves?
Your Hands Are Important
How do you get a motorcycle to accelerate? You use the throttle. How do you get it to take off from a standing start? You use the clutch lever. How do you turn the bike? You use the handlebars. And what body part do you use to operate all of these controls? Yes … your hands. In addition, outside of motorcycling, having functional hands and fingers is essential to pretty much everything you do, from your job to your hobbies and sports you play, to simple day-to-day basics like eating, drinking and brushing your teeth.
Furthermore, our hands are complex appendages; there are twenty-nine different bones in each hand, twenty-nine joints and at least one hundred and twenty-three ligaments. When your hand hits the street or any hard surface at speed, with the full force and momentum of your flying body behind it, many of these intricate items can be destroyed, causing severe damage to your hand and wrist.
Now that we've established just how important an appendage your hands are, it should seem obvious that any time you get onto your motorcycle, you should ensure that they're protected. But what kind of gloves provide the best protection for your hands?
The Differences Between Motorcycle Gloves and Other Types of Gloves
Like many other items of motorcycling equipment, a good pair of motorcycle gloves can be rather pricey. However, just as with other vital pieces of riding gear, coughing up a few extra dollars upfront for a high quality pair of motorcycle gloves may well save you a few hundred or thousand dollars in medical bills down the line. Hand and wrist injuries often require complex surgical procedures to repair, and we all know how expensive pretty much any kind of surgery usually ends up being.
Alright, so it's pretty obvious that you need to wear a sturdy pair of gloves whenever you ride your bike – but why can't you save a few bucks by just buying, say, a tough pair of workman's gloves instead of a far more expensive pair of motorcycle gloves?
The answer to that is both in the construction of the gloves and in the features that motorcycle gloves offer that are absent on other types of gloves. Workman's gloves are made to be durable for handling heavy items, and protect one's hands from, say, barbed wire or jagged steel. They may even provide abrasion resistance if they're made of thick leather.
However, they are not designed to stay together when carrying the full momentum of a human body hitting the road at speed; this requires the type of strong, specialist stitching only seen in gloves designed specifically for motorcycle riding. The thickest leather in the world can't save your hand if the seams of your glove split apart on impact.
Another feature you'll find on motorcycle gloves that you won't find on any other kind of glove is armor. If you've ever tried to punch a wall or any hard surface, you'll know how easy it is (and how painful is is) to injure your knuckles. On pretty much any high-end pair of motorcycle gloves you'll find hard, durable armor made of either high-impact plastic or carbon fiber (or a combination thereof) that covers the whole knuckle area, which provides excellent impact protection, abrasion protection in the event of a slide, and the solid rigidity of it keeps your hand from being crushed if your hand is trapped between your bike and the road surface.
A good pair of motorcycle gloves won't only protect your hands, but will also offer protection for your wrists too. This comes in a few different forms. The first is what's known as “palm sliders” - pieces of armor fixed to the palms of the gloves. How does armor on one's palms protect one's wrists, though? The answer is due to physics; when your body flies off your motorcycle and you hit the ground at speed, your hand is often the first part to make contact with the street. Often your gloves (or bare skin … ouch) “grabs” the road surface and stops abruptly, which means that all the momentum of your moving body is transferred to your wrist, which then obviously twists and breaks. Depending on the speed at which you are traveling, the force of such an impact can cause multiple fractures up your arm. Palm sliders, however, allow the hand to keep sliding along the road, thus preventing scaphoid fractures.
Long Or Short Motorcycle Gloves?
Motorcycle gloves, regardless of what type of riding they're designed for (racing, touring, cruising, adventure, offroad or general street riding), usually come either in “gauntlet” form or “shorty” form. The gauntlet type gloves feature long cuffs that cover the wrist and some of the forearm, and these are safer because of the superior support, padding and armor they offer for one's wrists. Of course, they can be uncomfortable and hot in warmer weather, which is where short cuff gloves come in; usually they cover only the bottom of the wrist, and thus offer little to no wrist protection. If you are not riding at high speeds or in inclement weather, however, they do provide fairly decent crash protection.
It's easy to forget just how crucial a pair of healthy, functioning hands is not just for riding a motorcycle, but for doing pretty much anything. Whether you are looking for women's motorcycle gloves, heated or fingerless, the only question on your mind about motorcycle gloves should thus not be, “Why Should I Wear Motorcycle Gloves?” but rather, “Am I wearing the best and safest pair of motorcycle gloves I can afford?”. Make sure that you ride safe and wear your motorcycle gloves every time you climb onto your bike.