When it comes to the question of the single most important piece of riding gear, there is no doubt amongst riders and government agencies alike that it is the helmet since it protects the most critical part of the human body – your brain.
Most government agencies stop at the helmet when it comes to enforcing riding safety gear laws. However, right after the helmet, a well-established fact amongst riding community is that the second most important piece of safety equipment is a pair of riding gloves.
Why is it so?
In the event of an unscheduled meeting with the tarmac, your hands can be at the receiving end of severe injuries. This can render them temporarily or worse, permanently unusable for all manner of critical daily tasks – at your workplace, in your daily life, etc. Needless to say, this makes it imperative to protect them with the best possible protection money can buy.
When it comes to choosing a pair of gloves suited to motorcycle riding, it’s a jungle out there. From Karol Bagh and JC Road variants costing Rs 300 to the choice of one’s riding style, there are many critical decision factors. We take you through the important ones in the following sections. Do read on!
This is the most important factor of all. Since the hands operate the most critical parts of motorbike machinery, viz, the throttle, brakes, and clutch, it's absolutely essential that the gloves fit just right – neither too loose nor too tight.
It is a common misconception, that one can have better control of motorbike machinery, by operating with bare hands. This is incorrect and a pair of well designed, well fitting gloves can actually increase a rider’s efficiency in more ways than one.
It is always better to buy gloves after trying them out in person. Make sure that there is no excess length at the fingertips and that the movement is not restricted when you fold your hands into a fist or when you try to touch the tip of the index finger to your thumb. The inner liner should not feel loose or present any hindrance to the fingers. In case you are buying online, refer to manufacturers size chart and try to read up reviews about the actual fit of the glove you have selected.
Depending on the material, the fit of gloves can vary, leather gloves tend to be tight when first worn and acquire the shape of the user's hands after some instances of use. Textile gloves should fit perfectly from the first try on and tend to retain shape better.
The first and foremost item on the agenda is the material of the glove – leather, textile or a mix of two.
When it comes to leather, there can be different types of leather, depending on the intended use – cowhide, kangaroo, lamb, or other exotic leathers. Cowhide leather is thick and tough and typically used in track or sports-oriented gloves. Lamb or sheepskin leather tends to be softer and thinner and makes for comfortable urban gloves.
Modern textile gloves are designed with rugged use in mind and as stated previously are the preferred choice for adventure bike riders.
A second most important factor in design and construction is the type of protection and its location. CE rated protection is always preferred and Titanium, Kevlar, Carbon fiber, Goretex, EVA foam, TPU are some of the materials typically used in high-quality gloves.
Finally, the closure system and the cuff are important too, since the gloves need to remain firmly in place in case of an impact and the cuff design protects from the elements. Also, the closure system is operated hundreds, if not thousands of time during the lifecycle of gloves so it needs to be rugged and reliable.
What’s wrong with the Rs 300 unbranded or a fake copy?
On the surface of it, both look identical, so why should one pay more for the branded variants?
The obvious reasons are the longevity and post-sale or warranty support, but more importantly, it is the protection which is questionable in the cheap unbranded ones. Unfortunately, there is no obvious way to find it until it’s too late.
Consider this fact first:
Branded motorcycle use years of feedback from riders and extensive studies of injuries from motorcycle crashes. Some even sponsor race riders and collate track use feedback from them and then carefully engineer features derived from this research into their motorcycle gloves. This might make the glove cost slightly more than a nonspecialized one, but this system is iterative and enables us to get the best of research and technology working for our safety and benefit.
Fly by night operators, on the other hand, have one objective in mind, to make the gloves look identical to genuine branded ones and in the process use the cheapest materials and construction. There is no continuity or warranty support either.