Motorcycle Helmets

Before I jump into some all-arounders, I wanted to do a quick commentary on the ‘special’ glove options you can see nearly everywhere - all mesh gloves, and waterproof/special-purpose gloves.

Mesh gloves

I went through a number of mesh gloves, some of which even seemed like they might actually, you know, do something - as in protect the hands.  Fox, Olympia, doesn’t matter - in my experience, the ones I’ve seen look OK, and it’s cool if they let you use your smartphone and all, but - they just don’t hold up and I wouldn’t use them at all except for very specific off-road slow speed riding.  I also had a few AlpineStar mesh gloves which looked like they had some reasonable-ish armor on them for a lightweight glove, but I still wouldn’t nescessarily trust them to hold up well.

I low-sided in a gravel 'sort of road' in Costa Rica and the Olympias just shredded like so much wet paper, leaving some nice rash. of course, being wrist length, but also under where the gloves were intended to protect - in this case the knife edge of my hand got pretty tore us.  Of course, it did nothing to protect my wrist from bending around, so I also nearly sprained my hurt for the next 4 days or so.

I’d love to have a viable mesh option out there, as they are cooler, but I’d be looking for things specifically on the material composition as well as the threads - anything ‘poly’ is unlikley to hold up.  Kevlar Aramid thread or some composite might do justice, but look carefully at both the thread being used itself, as well as the material used for the rest of the glove.

Waterproof gloves

Sadly, I really like tight fitting gloves, that feel like second skin so I can feel the controls. I do like the gel palm from the Olympias to damper vibration slightly on my thumpers, but I've yet to manage to find any glove that's protective/non mesh with a gel palm, nor any waterproof gloves that are at all what I'd consider to be 'protective.' The waterproof gloves also tend to fit and feel a whole lot more like ski gloves (the big puffy kind), versus anything resembling 'close fitting.'

As much as I think Joe Rocket gear is over-commercialized crap (search for 'joe rocket crash' and draw your wn conclusions), I have a pair of JR Waterproof gloves. They are waterproof, and have a 'wiper' on the left glove to wipe rain off your visor, which is nice at times, but I doubt they'd protect me much more than the Olympias did if I 'really needed them' one day.

For the most part, I believe I'm giving up on waterproof gloves for now, until technology catches up with gloves, and we have a pair of skin-tight yet waterproof and protective gauntleted gloves, and going to stick with waterproof outer glove liners instead. While I have found a few that are mostly waterproof, the loss of protection and feeling/bulkiness of them just isn't the compromise I'd like to make.

I’d love to find an option I could depend on, so let me know if anyone has actually found success here. 

Heat and cold

I must be lucky. I know how some people seem to have huge issues in the heat with particular pairs of gloves or boots, but I don't. I've worn my RevIts and others through several summers (non mesh), and now am wearing my Kobes through another one, and it just doesn't bother me in the heat. Then again, I do ride unfaired bikes, although 2 of them have hand guards. If you do have an issue with too much heat, I'd simply say - get the most protective glove you can deal with for the climate and your tolerances and comfort.

I do however, really dislike cold, numb hands in winter, and I expect to be putting a set of handguards off a DL650 onto my SV once it gets cold here this year. I've ridden down to a windchill of 10*F or so, which was...well, miserable. Cold weather gloves I've found to be much like the waterproof gloves - they're more like puffy ski gloves than close fitting (or protective). You can buy a set of glove liners  which are suspiciously close to pantyhose nylon, for around $10 or so. Buy a few pair - they do work, but don't expect miracles..they may let you go down another 10*F or so.

Remove the direct wind from your hands with handguards, and you can go another 10-15* below 'normal' for you. I've also tried wearing very tight knit regular gloves beneath my normal gloves, and a liner inside that. That worked OK, but starts to feel like a winter glove - very kludgy.

I'm expecting to try a set of electric glove liners, if I can find some, for next winter, but I'm fine going to 30*F or so with my regular gloves + inside liners, with a hand guard. Beyond that, nearly all my gear starts to get outside of it's temperature range, and I start to wonder if I really want to ride that day.

What do I look for in gloves?

Consider the climate you ride in, and beyond potentially needing a pair of waterproof gloves to throw in the pack/kit for backup/occasional use, or a set of super-cold-weather gloves, I try to limit my main pair to being actually - protective.

Depending on your climate, having 2 primary pairs make sense - one for extreme heat/humidity/summer and the other for ‘the rest of the year’ short of truly cold or occasional storm riding.

What I’m looking for is knuck protection of some kind, the knife-edge side of the hand, with at least some form of finger and palm protection. For my non-summer pair I also want the glove to wrap around my wrist and offer some protection there.

For off-road or hot summer riding, I still want the same basic protection elements, as branches, trees and rocks have a way of tapping your hands on tight trails, even with barkbusters (highly reccomend for off-road!).  With Barkbusters installed, you’re more or less protected when moving, but everyone’s got an occasional off, and you don’t always manage to keep your hands within the barkbusters/guards.  The wrist protection is more optional here - not that it’s a bad thing as much as it makes the glove even warmer.

For normal on-road and light dual-sport, the same applies but durability is even more of a concern as the speeds on-road are higher, and many accidents involve a level of sliding, part of which inevitably includes your hands, without any guarantee of being able to control your hands well when/if it happens.  

Most of the gloves with little ‘nubs’ of plastic or other material tend to be decent foa level of initial impact protection, but in a slide, it comes down to stitching quality and overall materials used, and they may well burn through or tear off, or remain attached but have the restof the glove tear away.  Off-road the slides usually aren’t as bad as on asphalt or concrete, so you can get away with a bit more there as long as the glove holds up.

If you can take the heat, leather remains hard to beat

Some people’s hands and feet just aren’t affected all that bad in warmer weather. My feet can get cold (have ridden down to 10*F - and yep, that was indeed - too cold!), but my hands don’t bother me too much in warmer weather. If you can tolerate vented leather, or a combination of leather and mesh in warmer weather - it’ll probably serve you pretty well. I like the Alpinestars above as a ‘compromise’ design in general - aside from no wrist protection, they check most of the protection area boxes - knuckle protection, and add pieces of leather or padding in other areas. I need to grab a pair of these and see if they have hand edge protection or not, but even on these, they should be semi-breathable with the added mesh, but the areas not using leather, including some of the pads - I’d expect to tear or shred in an accident. Even with something like this competent-seeming glove, someone’s off in Amazon reviews shredded the textile portion of the glove so he got some nice roadrash on his palm.

All gloves are compromises - pick the most protective one you can live with..

What am I using today?

Off-road (not gravel!), I'll use nearly anything but am in reality - still looking. My backup pair of Olympia Gels with the plastic finger armor (the same ones that shredded on me in gravel, badly), or regular MX gloves, as long as they have some armor on the outside of the fingers. If I'll be riding somewhere faster or in gravel at any kind of speed, I tend to wear my regular pair of on-road gloves.

I still have a pair of AlpineStar wrist cuts..not bad, really, and fit fairly well, but I'm just not fond of wrist cut gloves for any length of riding on the road, or at higher speeds. Decent gauntlet gloves have a strap across the wrist, usually that tucks under a strip of leather, making it unlikely to come loose in a slide, plus the gauntlet strap(s)..I'm not convinced the wrist cuts would do much to protect your wrist the way they meet up with most jackets, and I have slid on my wrist before...but, if you're going to go with 'shorty' wrist cut gloves, you could probably do worse than the AlpineStars.

I really liked my Rev-It gloves. They fit snugly and let me feel the controls, were decent leather, reinforced palm, and gauntlets with writs straps/tighteners (it would be really bad to have a good protective glove that slides off if you slide..), and they fit better than anything else I'd found so far in a gauntlet type of glove, with carbon knuckles and protection for your fingers. I wore them for a few years, and still do on occasion, but they've started to fall apart at the gauntlet strap. I'm not sure if it's the result of a quality issue or not, as it's only happening on one glove, and I expect I'll bring it to a tailor or try to sew it back myself. They cost me ~ $100 for the pair, on sale, and have served me pretty well, with what seems to be pretty decent protection.

For the street, I’m still rocking a set of now-aging gloves I had won at a bike rally…pretty sure the company has gone under, but they’re Kobe Agressors.  I’ll get around to replacing them with something newer, but the key is finding both protection in some level of armor, quality material (leather is good), quality in stictching material (e.g. ideally not typical poly thread), and the type of stitching done to make sure they hold up if you ever need them to.  

The Kobes have multiple layers of leather, protection for the pinky fingers, as well as the hard knuckle protection, and a few vents at the top of the gloves. The sizing is a bit odd at this point, and I think others have commented similarly - while the two longer fingers fit snugly/well, the others are a bit too long, and the wrist is a bit on the tight side, but it does stretch. They have protection in all the right places, and the seams seem quite strong, so it's somewhat of a toss-up, maybe they'll turn into my favorite gloves, or I'll wind up continuing to look, but they may be right for you, and I'm pretty happy with them so far. Quality seems better than RevIt, and they're more like full race gloves. I have no doubt they'll protect me if I need them to.

In general, consider purpose of use and match the needs from there - slower (compared to highway and street) off-road riding, you want some impact protection of some kind to protect from tree and rock hits along with offs, while sliding is somewhat less likely (at least compared to sliding across asphalt), so you might be OK without heavy-duty stitching, but it’s your call.

On the road, or even gravel roads - impact prpection becomes even more important with the chances of another vehicle behind involved, and seam strength/ability to hold up on sliding is also more important.  

Again, I’ve yet to come across any waterproof/weatherproof gloves I’d consider truly protective at this time, so pick what’s important for your riding, and do some research - the flashinest marketing does not always equate to a protective, solid product.