I’ve often heard it said that when a person comes off a motorcycle, the first part of their body to hit the ground is a knee, followed by the hands. Putting our hands out is a natural defence mechanism we’ve all been using since childhood—but when we fell over as kids, we weren’t flying over hard, abrasive asphalt at 60 mph.
I’ve seen a staggering number of riders decked out in a full-face helmet, an armored jacket, armored pants and armored boots—and then no gloves at all. Or a pair of thin gloves designed for nothing more strenuous than light gardening on a Sunday afternoon.
But I’ve become quite attached to my fingers and thumbs, and you probably like yours too. So this week’s selection is focused on leather motorcycle gloves: the type that’ll keep your digits attached to your palms, while looking good at the same time.
Spidi Summer Leather gloves This Italian company has been in business for over 30 years: They were supplying gloves to Kenny Roberts back in 1977, their first year of production. The $65 Summer Leather gloves are made from a combination of goat leather and ‘Clarino,’ a fabric consisting of ultra-fine fibers impregnated with polyurethane. There’s extra padding on the palm, and thermoformed polyurethane knuckle protection. Choose from the tan color shown here, or Black or White. [Buy]
Icon 1000 Beltway gloves The bright red Beltway Glove by Icon 1000 is made from French cowhide and is fitted with state-of-the-art D3O® impact protectors across the knuckles. For $130 you get a beautifully styled, well-ventilated glove with a mid-length wrist and a strap to keep it bolted to your hands. The color might not be for everyone, but I like it. Anything that makes me more visible to half-asleep, texting drivers is a good thing. Also available in Black and Bone colors. [Buy]
River Road Taos gloves A throwback in design to the sort of gloves motorcyclists were wearing in the 70s. The $60 Taos gloves are 100% leather and have a ‘Hipora’ waterproof and windproof coating on the outside, and Thinsulate insulation on the inside. The wrist straps are solid and there’s a rubber ‘windshield wiper’ on the index finger of the left glove. Readers in the southern hemisphere who are now heading into winter might want to take a good look at these: the insulation should stop your hands from turning into frozen blocks of ham after a long ride. [Buy]
Tour Master Deerskin gloves These classic gloves by Tour Master are made from aniline deerskin leather, with a dye that penetrates the whole hide. Outseam stitching means fewer internal ridges and extra comfort, and the gloves are designed to mould to your hand’s shape over time. They also have perforated fingers, a velcro wrist strap and padded knuckles. These $75 gloves come in both black and tan, and are recommended for wear in warmer weather. [Buy]
Speed & Strength Strip Search gloves These gloves have a look that I think will come to define our current era: thermoplastic knuckle protectors, hook and loop wrist closures, and pre-curved fingers. The Strip Search also offers a reinforced palm, a leather covering on the knuckle protectors, and a clean design that’ll never go out of style. The gloves cost $70 and are widely available: Speed & Strength is actually owned by the giant US motorcycle parts distributor Tucker Rocky. [Buy]
Roland Sands Design Diesel gloves RSD’s reputation is building as a manufacturer of gear that’s both good looking and well-made. The $90 Diesel is one of three RSD glove designs, and sports an unusual styling motif: flexible ribbing that stretches right across the back of the hand. The Diesel also has padded fingers, a padded palm, and a wrist strap to keep it fastened when you need it most. Choose from either Black or Tobacco colors. [Buy]
The number of leather motorcycle gloves on the market at the moment is huge: any list is little more than an exercise in personal preference. If space wasn’t a factor, I could easily have included a dozen more gloves. So tell us in the comments which gloves you own now, or have worn in the past. What would you add to this list?—James.