Motorcycle gloves are simultaneously one of the most important parts of your gear when riding a motorcycle and among the most often ignored. Not only do riding gloves have the important function of keeping your hands from being injured in a crash, they also perform a critical task in keeping your hands protected while riding.
So, we’re going to help you not only choose the best bike gloves, but also the best gloves for the kind of riding you’re doing or expect to be doing. Going for a dirtbike ride? Gotcha covered. Track day? No problem. Just riding to work? We’re looking out for you, too.
Our riding gear picks are based on a combination of personal experience, product reviews and advice from industry experts, so kick back and learn something.
In the hunt for the best cafe-style motorcycle riding gloves, I’ve personally come across a bunch of crappy, overpriced and uncomfortable pretenders to the best motorcycle glove crown. It wasn’t until I got a pair of Speedway leather gloves from Velomacchi that I found the blend of basic, sort-of-retro styling, high quality, supertough materials and excellent construction that I’d been looking for.
These riding gloves have been my daily riders for the better part of four years now and when they get too gross to wear, I’ll be buying another pair. They even fared well in my big crash back in 2018. These touring gloves don’t have hard armor or modern materials, but the leather is thick, the rubber is soft and the brass rivets on the palm work to help minimize injury from pavement dragging.
Dainese is a big brand in the industry and casts a mighty long shadow, and because of that, it’d be easy for the company to phone it in on something like a cafe motorcycle glove. That’s not the case with the Blackjack. Don’t get me wrong, these are basic gloves, but they’re made of tough goatskin leather and have the right look with enough hand and palm protection baked in to make them perfect for casual riding.
I love the built-in precurve for the fingers that makes them more comfortable during longer rides. I also prefer a riding glove without hard armor for this kind of riding, so the padded knuckle protection are just the ticket. The best part is that these leather motorcycle gloves aren’t that expensive, so there’s really no excuse not to buy them, right?
For a long time, women’s motorcycle gear was basically a joke. The industry by and large operated on the “Shrink it and pink it” principle, meaning they’d take men’s gear, make it in smaller sizes and offer it in pink or with butterflies on it or something. It was a bad way to operate and thankfully, companies like Alpinestars are moving way past that by designing riding gear for women that is not only protective, but cool-looking and comfortable, with women’s anatomy in mind.
The Stella Kalea leather glove is a good example of a warm-weather cafe glove that’s going to fit a woman’s hand properly and that makes no sacrifices in hand and palm protection or cool factor to do so. Like our other cafe glove picks, it’s relatively basic summer glove, but we like the all-over perforated leather and short cuff design. And we love that these leather motorcycle gloves are under $100.
There’s no way around the fact that Held gloves are really, almost eye-wateringly expensive. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but like the best expensive stuff, you’re actually getting something worthwhile for your money. In this case, it’s the best touring motorcycle glove on the market.
What makes this Held motorcycle glove so great that it can justify its nearly $300 price tag? Versatility, mostly. Typically, if you want a glove that’s warm and waterproof, then you have to sacrifice breathability or warmer-weather comfort. Makes sense, right? With the Held Air N Dry, you don’t. It has two built-in liners, one designed for warmth and weather resistance and the other emphasizing temperature management and breathability. This means you only have to carry one pair of gloves on your big trip, making these waterproof motorcycle gloves incredibly versatile.
Alpinestars’ Corozal DryStar gloves are a great, more affordable though less versatile alternative to our No. 1 pick for the best motorcycle gloves for touring. These are a short-cuff glove, which some folks prefer (I do) and the DryStar liner makes for a highly water-resistant glove that, along with its insulation, is perfect for riding in early spring and late fall.
The Corozal DryStar gloves also have the huge benefit of being affordable. These guys come in at just over $100, which makes them perfect to supplement your normal complement of summer or winter gloves.
Sometimes you’re out riding your motorcycle in warm weather, and everything is great, you’re having fun and then, all of a sudden, you’re hit with a summer storm. Normally, your hands will get soaked and start to get very cold extremely quickly and you run into all sorts of problems.
That’s where the Stella S-Max DryStar gloves come in for the well-prepared and totally rad woman cyclist. This short-cuff summer glove option is comfy and protective like all Alpinestars gloves, but also has a DryStar waterproof liner sans any insulation. This means you’ll stay dry, but your hands won’t boil when it isn’t raining. It’s win/win with these waterproof motorcycle gloves.
Riding in cold, wet weather is a special kind of hell and few things in these situations are as important as warm, waterproof gloves. These Stella Tourer W-7 DryStar gloves from Alpinestars are both of those things and they look cool, too.
Unlike our previous pick, these DryStar-lined gloves are insulated, which means they’ll keep your mitts relatively toasty on long, cold rides. Again, bonus points for this winter glove option being under $100!
A good dirt glove has a very different job to do than its on-road counterparts. These are less focused on protecting a rider from gnarly abrasion and high-speed impacts and more focused on flexibility and low-speed impact protection.
Flexibility is important because when it comes to riding off-road, clutch modulation is key and these O’Near Butch Carbon gloves will let you operate the lever with finesse. The carbon knuckle armor will also benefit you by saving your hands should you fly off your bike and smack the dirt particularly hard. Also, at $50, how can you say no to excellent hand and palm protection?
Track gloves are asked to do a big job. They have to be superprotective to prevent your bones from shattering in a high-speed crash and flexible enough to allow you to move around and operate your bike’s controls without interfering. There’s a big premium placed on abrasion resistance, too, so that 175 mile-per-hour 200-foot slide down the back straight doesn’t see your hands worn down to stumps. In addition to a motorcycle helmet and motorcycle boots, finding the right racing glove for you, is, obviously, critical.
Enter the Alpinestars GP Pro R3 gloves. They are the right glove for track riding, offering plenty of impact protection in the form of molded plastic armor on the knuckles and fingers as well as tons of abrasion resistance thanks to goatskin leather overall construction with kangaroo leather palms. They’re also a bargain at under $300 and they come in a whole host of colors to make sure they look cool, no matter what your racing leathers look like.
The Stella SP-8 V3 gloves from Alpinestars take the design cues and tech from the brand’s more high-end racing gloves and put them into a more affordable and anatomically correct package for women riders tearing it up on track.
These gloves are less focused on hard-core club racers, and as such they sacrifice a few features in the name of cost cutting — namely kangaroo leather palm sections — but nothing that you’re likely to miss on a basic track day. They’re almost one-third the price of our men’s glove pick, and they’re also pretty great for finger and knuckle protection.
If you want even more finger and knuckle protection for race day, and you’re willing and able to pay more for it, it’s hard to beat the Held Phantom II track glove. These things are beefy. They feature a huge titanium knuckle protector that’s embedded in TPU plastic for slide and impact protection. They also feature ceramic plates going up the outside of the wrist for more impact resistance as well as stingray leather inserts.
These guys are definitely an investment, at around $400, but I’m always a proponent of spending as much as you need to in order to get the best, safest gear for you. If a pair of gloves is cheaper but doesn’t fit as well, you’re not really saving money, just buying inconvenience and distraction later.
Sometimes you want to go out riding in a winter wonderland and a set of thick winter motorcycle gloves just isn’t going to cut it when it comes to keeping your hands warm. That’s why vehicle-powered electrically heated gloves exist, and when it comes to heated gear, it’s hard to beat Gerbing.
The Gerbing G4s are insulated and water-resistant for when they’re not plugged in, but when they are, the microwire heating element will heat your mitts all the way up to your fingertips, to a maximum temperature of 135 degrees. Sounds great, right? It is, but don’t forget that you’ll need a heat controller and some cabling, which, weirdly, don’t come with these bad boys, so leave room in your budget for those when purchasing these heated motorcycle gloves.
Comparison of the best motorcycle gloves for 2022
|Best cafe/urban motorcycle gloves||Velomacchi Speedway Gloves||$149|
|Best cafe/urban motorcycle gloves runner-up||Dainese Blackjack Gloves||$96|
|Best women’s cafe/urban motorcycle gloves||Alpinestars Kalea Leather Gloves||$90|
|Best men’s ADV/touring motorcycle gloves||Held Air N Dry Gloves||$299|
|Best men’s ADV/touring motorcycle gloves runner-up||Alpinestars Corozal Drystar Gloves||$110|
|Best women’s ADV/touring warm weather motorcycle gloves||Alpinestars Stella S Max Drystar Gloves||$75|
|Best women’s ADV/touring cold weather motorcycle gloves||Alpinestars Stella Tourer W-7 Drystar Gloves||$95|
|Best dirt motorcycle gloves||O’Neal Butch Carbon Gloves||$50|
|Best men’s track motorcycle gloves||Alpinestars GP Pro R3 Gloves||$270|
|Best women’s track motorcycle gloves||Alpinestars Stella SP-8 V3 Gloves||$100|
|Best track motorcycle gloves runner-up||Held Phantom II Gloves||$399|
|Best heated motorcycle gloves||Gerbing 12V G4 Heated Gloves||$170|
Why you want motorcycle gloves
We talk a lot about motorcycle gloves protecting your hands while you ride, but of course, that protection extends far beyond keeping your skin on your bones in the event of a crash. So then, what exactly do we mean by protected? Protected from what?
First and foremost, wind blast. Even on a warm day, the effect of wind hitting your fingers at freeway speeds can cause serious chills, and on a cold day, your hands will go numb a whole lot faster than you think. That’s bad not only because it can prevent you from being able to operate your bike’s controls effectively, but also it can be really distracting, and studies have shown that distractions on a motorcycle can kill.
Gloves can also protect from impacts, like a rock that gets kicked up by a car, or by a wayward insect that seems harmless as it buzzes around but which becomes a big deal at 60-plus miles per hour.
Sizing and types of motorcycle gloves
Determining your motorcycle glove size isn’t too tough and can be accomplished with a string and a tape measure. We’re big fans of the method outlined in this video by our pals at RevZilla. Also, something to keep in mind: Just like when you buy shoes, different brands treat fit and sizing differently. An XL from Alpinestars will fit a rider differently than one from Velomacchi or Dainese. Always double-check the size chart before you order.
Also, as with motorcycles, there are different gloves for different kinds of motorcycling. There are dirtbike gloves, adventure gloves, cafe racer gloves, track gloves and more. There are also insulated and uninsulated gloves as well as perforated gloves for hot weather. Luckily, unlike helmets or motorcycle jackets, gloves are cheap enough (relatively speaking) that having a couple of pairs won’t break the bank. Be prepared to spend around $100 for most quality gloves, and more if you’re a rider who needs features like waterproof liners or exotic materials.
The most important thing, as with any piece of motorcycle gear, is that you wear it and that you wear it every time you get on your motorcycle. The best gear in the world can’t protect you if it’s sitting at home in your closet while you’re out on your bike.
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Motorcycle gloves FAQs
What are the best brands of motorcycle gloves?
There are lots of brands available making high-quality motorcycle gloves, but our favorites include Alpinestars, Dainese, Held and Velomacchi.
How should motorcycle gloves fit?
Properly fitting motorcycle gloves should be snug but not constricting with no pinch points or extra bunched-up material. You should be able to secure them firmly but not overly tightly at your wrist.
Why do you need proper motorcycle gloves?
Any kind of leather glove is going to be better than wearing nothing, but a motorcycle crash will cause your hands to experience impact and abrasion forces that leather garden or rancher gloves were never meant to contend with. Buy the right tool (gloves) for the job (motorcycling).
What materials are ideally suited for motorcycle gloves?
Leather is king when it comes to motorcycle gloves. We also like seeing rubber or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) impact protection. Materials like carbon fiber or titanium are cool, and serve a purpose, but aren’t strictly necessary or beneficial for most casual riders.
How much coverage and protection can motorcycle gloves provide?
Motorcycle gloves can be had in short-cuff or gauntlet types. The former stops at your wrist and offers the most freedom of movement. The latter goes up to your midle forearm and offers more protection and water resistance, but can restrict movement and be harder to put on or take off.
What are the warmest motorcycle gloves?
Any motorcycle gloves listed as insulated are going to be very warm, but you can buy electrically heated gloves (and jackets, pants or boots) if you’re going to be riding in really cold weather.