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Risk Hierarchy: Information - Rider Ed - Driver Ed - Conspicuity - Bike Defect - Ultra-Defensive Riding - Crash Avoidance - Injury Mitigation - Crash Scene
Glove choice is important, and comfort and protection, as usual, is a trade-off.
Maids found that gloves were worn and reduced or prevented injury in 44% of crashes.
Although most good motorcycle leathers have a complicated stitching pattern, like double inseam with top stitch, gloves are typically sewn with single inseam type stitching, because it is the least bulky.
Riding gloves should then have the minimum amount of stitching, especially on the palms, because the seams are the weakest parts. Many experts prefer nylon thread over kevlar. Kevlar is stronger, but doesn't stretch, and is capable of ripping through the needle-holes all along a seam, in a crash.
While many gloves have knuckle armor, carbon fiber being common, we think it is equally important to have additional protection on the palm, because of the human instinct to extend the hands to protect the face in a fall. That said, we have known carbon fiber knuckle protection to be totally worn away while protecting the rider's hand in a crash. Experts say that the carbon fiber, when subjected to direct impact, can shatter and create dangerous shards. Some prefer other plastics or leather overlays for knuckle protection.
Glove material should be soft and flexible, so you can feel what is going on with your motorcycle. Kangaroo, deer, elk, calf and lamb skin and high-quality leather are good options.
Fit is all. Gloves should be a bit snug at first as they will loosen up with wear. The gloves should have a secure closure, so they won't strip off in a slide.
Most summer gloves aren't rainproof. We like rubber over-gloves for the rain. Some of the elk and deer gloves are washable, so might withstand getting wet, but wet leather is a miserable feel. We have seen a German brand of gloves from which plastic partial over-gloves can be extended from a zippered pocket for rain protection. Your hands seem to get the wettest when it rains, depending on how effective your windshield and fairing are, and most dyed leathers will bleed dye on your hands when they get wet, so we think it's worth paying some attention to rain protection. We always think that a few wet and dry cycles will make a glove wear out faster, no matter how you dry them.
For hot weather, there are several types of perforated and semi-mesh gloves that offer decent protection. Some folks go for fingerless gloves, but you are giving up a lot of protection, and even the lax MSF training guidelines don't allow fingerless gloves. Best bet is to hit your local cycle shop and try some on.
In the winter we usually go to goretex/cordura/thinsulate gloves with fair rain protection, sometimes with silk or thermal liners. Gauntlet style is essential in winter, with over-the-cuff sealing to prevent wind up the sleeve. The better gloves have leather panels on knuckle and palm for crash protection, although the cordura/kevlar blends have decent abrasion resistance in denier ranges of over 1000.
Heated gloves are available, but we like handlebar grip warmers for winter. You can also get protective enclosures for hand and grips to deflect wind and rain.
It always seems that the hands are the hardest parts to keep warm in winter, it is worthwhile spending some cash to get an option that works for you if you plan any winter riding.