What do you do for a living? How important are your hands in day to day life? These two questions should give you some insight into how important it is to wear gloves when you ride!
If I'm unable to work for even 1 day, that can impact my ability to provide for my family and more importantly, work on my website. There are so many options out there: summer, winter, dual sport, off road, gauntlet, no gauntlet (shorties). You can definitely find something to meet all of your needs.
If you did something as simple as trip and fall over a rock that's on the sidewalk, what's the first thing that's going to touch the ground when you fall? Most likely, your hands. It's instinctual, isn't it? The first thing we use is our hands to shield our faces and bodies from whatever it is that's coming at us, even though we know it isn't going to help. We can't help it.
Protective gloves are going to provide you a barrier between you and the pavement, or whatever you might come into contact with. I know it seems counter intuitive (but isn't that the truth about everything when it comes to motorcycles? counter steering, accelerating to make the bike stand up in a corner, counter weighting, etc.), but a great pair of gloves will actually help you manipulate the throttle and brake/clutch controls a little better (assuming they're the right fit).
You don't have to invest in the most expensive pair of race gloves you can find, but there's a happy medium between a protective glove and something that fits your riding needs.
So let's consider these features when shopping for a glove:
- all leather (cow, goat, or kangaroo)
- full fingered
- wrist protection aka gauntlet which covers your wrist bone and can extend up to the middle of your forearm
- reinforced palms for abrasion resistance
- soft foam, hard foam, carbon or thermoplastic urethane or rubber knuckle protectors
- Perforation can help tremendously with keeping your hands ventilated in hot weather
Off the Bike
- Try not to make a fist, instead form the letter C with your hand. You'll never make a fist while riding, so why use that to judge fit?
- Try not to high five anyone either, it should feel extremely uncomfortable to fully extend your fingers, because they should be made to fit in riding position
- Try the gloves on with your jacket to make sure the sleeves will fit with the gauntlet (if there is one)
On the Bike
- Squeeze the brake lever, the clutch lever. Go through the motions of riding and see how that feels
- Look for your fingertips to feel the inside seams of the gloves while it's curled around the handgrip. That's a good thing! That means it's the right length. You just don't want your fingertips to press up against the seams when wrapped around the grips
- Make sure there isn't extra bunching of material on the palms, it could mean you're wearing the wrong size (too big)
- Look for a nice snug fit so they'll stretch out and break in to become the perfect fit
- The tougher question is, how do you know how much the gloves will break in? Everything will expand outward, just enough to make them more comfortable. And mostly in width or circumference, not length; your fingers won't get longer. But your wrists start to expand and your palms will open up outward.
- You won't gain a size, but think about a new pair of leather shoes, and how they break in after you've worn them awhile. Things just get a little more comfortable without being too big.
$20 v. $100 Gloves
"Can you tell me why twenty dollar leather work gloves are not sufficient gloves."
Answer: Well a glove that cheap can't offer any protective value other than being leather. Although that's fine, it's the bare minimum and you need more than that.
"What more protection do hundred dollar gloves do? Do they protect from breaking fingers?"
To answer the first part of that question, here are a few things that a more expensive glove can offer:
- Materials (external and internal): higher quality cowhide, goatskin and sometimes kangaroo (which tends to cost more than $150, Schoeller-Keprotec, Kevlar lining
- Construction: double stitching to prevent tearing, minimal seams, key impact/abrasion areas reinforced (palms, outside of hand along the palm up to the pinky finger), sometimes the 4th and 5th fingers sewn together to prevent separation
- Protection and Retention: Soft/hard armor or impact foam on the knuckles, the bottom of the palms, between the joints of the fingers, velcro and zippers to keep them on our hands at all times!
- Fit and Comfort: A more expensive glove will fit and feel ten times better than a cheaper one. The gloves will have a precurved fit and cut, so that it's more comfortable in riding position.
But most importantly, I think a more expensive glove will stay on your hands no matter what. The purpose of all of our gear is to cover our bodies and stay put in the event of an accident. I've yet to see a $20 glove provide anything but a little warmth from the wind.
Generally, every accident tends to be different in terms of the events leading up to one. Chances are that you'll be injured in an accident, no matter how slow you're going. You may or may not break a finger, it can completely depend on the situation. It really comes down to risk. How much are you wiling to risk a major or minor injury?
In my worst accident (I've had 2), I wore these gloves from Racer and I still broke one finger. Because the 4th and 5th fingers on those gloves are sewn together, they stayed that way when my hand hit the pavement, but my middle finger somehow got over extended and it fractured. 1 is a lower number than 2, and that's all I could've asked for; aside from wishing I hadn't been rear ended, of course. So unfortunately, no, they won't always prevent breaking a bone.
The fact is that you have no idea if/when you'll be injured in an accident. There's just no guarantee. And yes, spending $100 on a pair of gloves won't guarantee that.
But I can guarantee you this, that spending more on your gear will minimize the risk of injury. Sometimes it's difficult for us as riders to see the bright side in an accident, but that's what motorcycling is. Understanding the risks and doing everything in your power to minimize it.
I hope you will too!