Many bikers will tell you that one motorcycle is not enough. Likewise, they’ll tell you that they need more than one pair of gloves. But I currently own nine pairs of motorcycle gloves. Do I have a glove problem?
In fairness to myself, different gloves serve different purposes, or climates. Gloves that offer the best level of protection may be too hot for summer wear, or they may not be waterproof for rainy weather. And trail riding may necessitate different gloves than riding on the road. So those factors at least account for some of my glove collection.
Further, some gloves that felt good in the store, or looked good online, might not work out after they’ve been worn on the bike for a while. It’s like we’re searching for the perfect glove and have to reject some along the way. Either that, or I just have a habit of buying more gloves than I need.
When I moved from Bermuda to Portugal, less than two years ago, I brought three pairs of motorcycle gloves with me: Icon Pursuit, Icon Merc Short and Alpinestars GP Plus.
The Icon Pursuits were an everyday glove for me during the warmer months in Bermuda. They are a short, leather glove that offer a close fit and good feel. As a lightweight glove, they don’t offer much in the way of impact protection, but they do have a semi-hard, flexible insert over the knuckles as well as small hardened ovals on the four fingers, between the knuckles and the next joints (distal interphalangeal joints). The gloves have expansion gussets down each side that improve flexibility and provide a snug fit.
They served me well as a minimalist glove in Bermuda, where the speed limit is 35kph and motorcycles are restricted to 150cc engine size.
Icon Merc Short
As indicated in its name, the Icon Merc Short is another short glove but it offers an upgrade in protection when compared with the Pursuit. Its genuine carbon fibre knuckle plate is more substantial. The leather is thicker and is reinforced on the fingers and thumb for better impact and abrasion protection. The palm heel also has two raised, padded areas for impacts. Overall, it is a sturdier glove that offers more protection.
Unfortunately, whilst the thicker leather improves its level of protection, it also serves to make the glove less flexible and less comfortable. As a result, I have hardly worn them over the several years that I’ve owned them, always deferring to a more comfortable pair.
Alpinestars GP Plus
The GP Plus gloves are a significant step-up from the previously mentioned Icons. They also cost significantly more. But they are a high-end, quality glove that offers a combination of comfort and protection.
Impact and slide protection are provided by a substantial rigid knuckle plate, hard polymer compounds on the palm heel and on top of the fingers, and leather reinforcements. There is additional padding on the cuff closure, protecting the wrist bone from injury, and the double cuff Velcro closures keep the glove secure. Stretch panels on the fingers and thumb aid with flexibility and comfort whilst small perforations between the fingers aim to help with temperature control. The outsides of the little fingers have built-in blades for wiping helmet visors.
I’ve found the GP Plus gloves to be very comfortable. I took them with me for motorcycle tours in Cambodia (off road) and Thailand, where they served me very well.
After I moved to Portugal and bought myself a BMW F800GS, they were the gloves that I wore. I was confident in the level of protection that they afforded, as well as their comfort – until the weather got hotter!
However, within the subsequent 20 months, I managed to buy another six pairs of gloves, as follows:
Alpinestars WR V Gore Tex
When I went to England to undergo rider training and to pass the UK motorcycle test, the temperatures were dropping below freezing. There were periods when my fingers were getting extremely cold whilst wearing the Alpinestars GP Plus gloves. I needed to find something that offered more warmth.
A nearby motorcycle shop didn’t have much variety, so I settled on a quick purchase of a pair of Alpinestars WR-V Gore-Tex gloves. I subsequently learned that the ‘W’ in the name means they are geared towards women!
The backs of the gloves are made from a poly-textile but the palms and the underside of the fingers are made of leather. The Gore-Tex lining provides waterproofing and breathability whilst 60g of Primaloft thermal insulation on the back of the hand offers some protection from the cold. The fingertip is touch-screen compatible. The wide cuff and double Velcro closures make it easy to get them on and off. They they offer virtually no protection against impact.
The gloves may have offered a bit more protection against the cold than my all-leather GP Plus, but they certainly didn’t keep my hands toasty warm. At least they provided protection from the rain! They were a hasty purchase, born out of necessity, and they haven’t seen much use.
BMW Motorrad Rallye GS
As the Portuguese weather heated up, I found myself searching for gloves that would be a little cooler than the Alpinestar GP Plus. I found what I wanted in the BMW Rallye GS. They combine a kangaroo leather palm and goatskin back with elasticated Spandex for a very comfortable glove. A hard-shell knuckle insert provides ample impact protection for a short, lightweight glove. Lightweight mesh between the fingers, and in sections on the back of the hand, allow air-flow through the glove.
These rapidly became my favourite gloves for summertime use. They are probably the most comfortable gloves that I have owned and I wear them throughout the warmer months. I really love these gloves. The only negative comment that I can make about them is that the colour of the leather fades after time. But that doesn’t impact their comfort or usability.
Dainese X-Travel GTX
Having been unimpressed by the Alpinestars WR-V Gore-Tex, I set out to find a better glove for cold and wet weather. I settled on the Dainese X-Travel GTX.
Dainese clearly put a lot of thought into the design of these gloves. They have a fabric and goatskin outer, with a suede palm. A Gore-Tex membrane takes care of waterproofing and breathability whilst Dexfil thermal padding helps with warmth. Impact protection comes in the shape of hard metallic knuckle protection, a rigid panel on the palm heel, rigid distortion control panel on the little finger and inserts at the finger joints. The gloves have a nice double cuff closure, so any rain that might run down a jacket sleeve and under the outer cuff, is then halted by the elasticated inner cuff that fits snugly around the wrist. And both the inner and outer cuffs have pull-tabs at the front and back that really help when pulling the gloves on. The finger pads are touch-screen compatible and there is a visor-wiper on the left thumb.
The thermal padding results in a bulkier glove, when compared to all-leather gloves. I feel less connected to the bike when wearing bulkier gloves, as they don’t provide the same feeling on the grips. I also find them a bit less comfortable than a leather glove. But that is the trade-off to gain waterproofing and thermal insulation. I do appreciate the level of detail in these gloves and the amount of protection that they provide. But I only wear them when the weather is too cold or too wet for my leather gloves.
Dainese Druid D1 Long
I can’t offer a justification as to why I bought these Dainese Druids, as I didn’t really need another pair of this type of glove. But when I saw them in a local motorcycle shop and tried them on, I had to have them.
The gloves are made from micro sheepskin, with soft goatskin palms and suede reinforcements between the finger and thumb. Elasticated stretch panels help to ensure a nice fit. The wrist section is extremely flexible, providing the comfort of short gloves whist retaining the protection provided by the cuffs. The cuffs themselves have double Velcro closures for a secure fit. Perforations along the insides of the fingers seek to provide some breathability. Extensive carbon fibre composite panels provide protection to the knuckles and the back of the hand. Additional protection is provided by rigid panels on the palm heel, rigid distortion control panels outside the little fingers, and additional inserts and padding on the fingers, thumbs and cuffs. In short, they offer excellent protection.
These Druids rapidly became a favourite glove, surpassing the similarly designed Alpinestars GP Plus. The Druids are just more comfortable and offer increased protection when compared to the GP Plus.
After buying my Honda XR400 trail bike, and riding it in hot weather, I decided that some lightweight, breathable off-road gloves would be a worthwhile addition. Whilst shopping online, I saw the 100% Airmatic gloves that were described as the “perfect go-to glove for all types of riding.” They were clearly lightweight gloves that offered a lot of breathability, so I took a chance and ordered a pair.
When the gloves arrived, I was surprised by how flimsy they are. The palms and undersides of the fingers and thumbs are made of suede. The uppers are made of a light, breathable fabric. Protection is almost non-existent, consisting only of a series of small raised rubbery triangles across the top of the hand and fingers.
They provide a very comfortable, snug fit. They are extremely light and provide excellent feel through the thin suede. But the distinct lack of protection concerns me.
Dainese Air Hero
My concerns over the lack of protection afforded by the Airmatics prompted me to find another pair of gloves for trail riding. Once again, I turned to Dainese and bought a pair of their Air Heros. They are a very different glove to the Airmatic, being more similar to the BMW Ralleye GS. Whilst providing breathability for hot climates, they still achieved a CE safety rating.
The Air Heros utilize cowhide, goatskin and suede, combined with a breathable mesh fabric on the tops of the fingers and thumbs, as well as the top of the wrist. Rigid polyurethane inserts protect the knuckles and a semi-rigid Dainese logo provides protection for the outer wrist. The upper fingers get a modicum of protection from raised rubberized sections. These short gloves have a single Velcro fastening strap.
The gloves are comfortable and give excellent feel on the grips. The mesh panels help to dissipate the heat in summer weather and they offer a pretty good level of protection.
Best On Road Gloves
Three pairs of gloves have risen to the top of the pile with respect to road riding. The BMW Ralleye GS are the clear favourites for summer riding.
When things cool down a bit, the Dainese Druid D1 beats out the Alpinestars GP Plus for both comfort and protection.
And when it gets very cold, or wet, the Dainese X-Travel GTX will get the nod.
My Choice for Off Road
The Dainese Air Hero will be the first choice for any off-road riding. The flimsy 100% Airmatics will likely only be called into action if the weather gets too hot for the Air Heros.
Having been beaten out by the Dainese Druids for on-road use, the Alpinestars GP Plus are now likely to be relegated to off-road use, for periods when the weather is too cold for the Air Heros.
Out of Favour
Six pairs of gloves still have clear roles to play for me, either for road riding or for off-road use. That leaves three pairs that have fallen out of favour.
The Icon Pursuit is a nice, comfortable short glove but it has been surpassed by both the BMW Ralleye GS and the Dainese Air Hero based on the protection that they offer.
The Icon Merc Short are just too stiff and uncomfortable, so they are unlikely to see any ride time.
The Alpinestars WR-V were easily beaten out by the Dainese X-Travel for rainy weather. I’m unlikely to wear them, but they can stay in the store room in case a passenger needs them one day.
Do I Have a Problem?
So, having reviewed the nine pairs of gloves in my collection, do I have a problem? I don’t think so. I can justify a need for six pairs of the gloves. One pair was a hurried purchase that was forced due to immediate circumstances. The final two pairs are several years old and have been replaced by more comfortable gloves that offer better features.
I just have to remind myself, the next time I am in a motorcycle shop, that I don’t need any more pairs of gloves!