The ABR guide to summer riding gloves

It could have been so much worse.

One moment I was happily chugging along a dusty trail between Lo Manthang and Ghami, high in Nepal’s Mustang Valley, the next I was flying over the handlebars of my Royal Enfield.

Enter your email address below to sign up to the ABR newsletter and receive the 96-page Guide to Motorcycling in Britain absolutely free.
Your Free Guide to Motorcycling in the UK
Enter your email address below to sign up to the ABR newsletter and receive the 96-page Guide to Motorcycling in Britain absolutely free.
YOUR FREE UK MOTORCYCLING GUIDE

Like a slow-motion sequence from an action film, I can remember putting out my hands to break my fall as I cartwheeled through the air before hitting the ground and continuing into an ungainly barrel roll, finally coming to a halt in a sitting position.

Behind me, the trusty Enfield was upside down, miraculously resting upright on the bars and rear seat with both wheels still gently spinning like a scene from a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.

Also miraculous was the fact both the bike and I were relatively unharmed. OK, so the front headlight was a basket case and there were a few scrapes here and there, but for my part, the kit I was wearing had protected me from what could have been serious injuries in a very remote environment.

I’d scratched the dark visor on my helmet, my mesh jacket and Kevlar jeans were a bit dusty, but the piece of clothing that had taken the initial hit, my Alpinestars leather riding gloves, had performed above and beyond the call of duty.

Despite landing from some height on a collection of sharp rocks, gravel, and general masonry, the padding, leather palms, and wrist protectors of the gloves had shrugged off the crash like rain drops on a hot header pipe.

In fact, my hands were completely unscathed, the only after effects being slightly aching wrists for a day or so after.

Stay in touch

That’s why gloves are such an important part of our riding kit. In a large proportion of crashes both fast and slow, it’s our hands that are quite likely to take the initial hit of whatever surface we’re riding on.

Perhaps we should tuck in our arms and roll like an army parachutist, but the natural reaction is to put out our hands to break the fall, hence collar bone breakages are so common.

But while collarbones heal quite well, your hands are far more delicate and sensitive and that’s why protecting them with proper motorcycling gloves every time we get into the saddle should be second nature, just like putting on a helmet.

So, with the summer ahead of us, and hopefully the prospect of warmer and maybe drier weather too (God knows we are due some), we’ve decided to test and review some of the hottest, or coolest, summer riding gloves on the market.

But just like all motorcycling kit, there are many different options out there, with every manufacturer both large and small offering a truly bewildering array of options for summer riding.

So, what should you look for in a new pair of summer gloves?

Features of a summer riding glove

 

Dexterity

It’s all well and good wearing gloves, but if they don’t allow you to confidently feel your bike’s controls or move your fingers, they’re no good. You need to have a full range of motion in your fingers while wearing gloves, especially while riding off-road. Keep in mind, however, that some gloves might feel a bit restrictive at first, but will loosen and improve when you break them in with use.

Ventilation

Effective ventilation is one of the most important features of a summer riding glove as it will help you keep your hands cool and comfortable. Many leather gloves will have holes in them (perforations) which will allow air to penetrate through the material. If a summer glove has a waterproof liner in it, then ventilation is going to be impacted and it’ll likely be stuffy to wear.

Armour

You shouldn’t skimp on armour to protect your hands. Look for armour in the knuckles, extra digit protection, and palm padding. Ideally, we’d like to see scaphoid (the bone below the thumb) protection as well.

Fasteners

In order for gloves to do their job in the event of an off, they have to stay on your hands. Adjustable wrist straps coupled with a larger fastener on the cuff will help prevent a glove from being ripped off your hands, while also allowing for a more comfortable fit and better control.

Visor Wipe

There are common waterproof gloves, but not so much on summer riding gloves. This little rubber tab, or area of suede, on the left-hand index finger is there to help you clear your visor when it’s raining (or splashes from a muddy trail). We wouldn’t say they’re essential for summer gloves, but they are still useful.

Cuffs

Most of the summer riding gloves we’ve reviewed in this issue have short cuffs, but regardless of whether cuffs are long or short they should be slim and easy to fit under a jacket. Shorter cuffs will be cooler to wear during the summer months.

Insulation

Generally speaking, summer gloves won’t have any insulation, and if they do then it’s best if it’s minimal and doesn’t impact dexterity. More important is ventilation.

Palm Protection

The first thing anyone does when they fall is to put their hands out. It’s a natural reaction, and there’s not much you can do about it. What you can do is protect yourself, and it’s for this reason that the palm of your gloves should be one of the strongest areas in terms of abrasion resistance. Typically, this area will be reinforced with extra leather, though it’s also nice to see padding.

Pull Tab

It’s amazing how useful one little piece of fabric can be. Located around the cuff of a glove, this will help you pull it on with ease. They should be sturdy though, as there’s no point in having them if they rip off on first pull.

The limits of versatility

Ideally, you’ll want your summer riding gloves to be able to handle a range of conditions, especially as adventure bikers.

However, the fact is, there isn’t a single pair of gloves that are suited to every condition.

For adventure bike riders that venture away from the blacktop, this is especially true. You may not want to schlep up a rain-soaked Welsh dual carriageway on your Ténéré 700 in a pair of lightweight off-road gloves, but if you are going on to ride the splashes of the Strata Florida once you get to Powys, then you may need the delicate control that thinner and lighter gloves can provide as opposed to thicker waterproof road mitts.

So, with most of the gloves on test costing less than £100, upgrading your summer wardrobe to include a couple of new pairs of gloves shouldn’t break the bank.

Read the ABR review of summer riding gloves

 

We’ve reviewed over a dozen of the latest summer riding gloves on the market, including offerings from Alpinestars, RST, Klim, and Leatt to see which deserve your money.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we aimed to provide a range of options, materials and styles currently available to suit a variety of riding styles and climates.

Maybe we might even persuade you to relegate those ageing relics you’ve been wearing to the garden.

On test:

  • RST Ventilator-X
  • Segura Tobago
  • Oxford Products ROckdale
  • Furygan Dust
  • Dainese Argon
  • Merlin Jura Air Mesh D30
  • Leatt ADV X-Flow 7.5 short
  • Bering Bakundu
  • Touratech Guardo Desert+
  • Halvarssons Flon
  • Lindstrands Holen
  • Rukka Forsair 2.0
  • Alpinestars Halo
  • Klim Badlands Aero Pro short

If you want to discover which of these ABR recommends, along with our best budget buy, pick up a copy of Adventure Bike Rider issue 81 (also available on the Digital Library).

It’s packed with not just reviews of summer riding gloves, but the latest adventure and touring motorcycles, travel stories, UK routes to ride, and loads more.

Get your copy of ABR issue 81 here.