San Francisco Bay Area

125 - Gloves

We can dance, we can dance
Everybody look at your hands
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody takin' the cha-a-a-ance

-Men Without Hats, "The Safety Dance"

Look at your fingers. Compare them to your arms and legs. Skinny little things, aren't they? They break so easily, don't they? So vulnerable. And just try riding a motorcycle without them. But what to buy? There are thousands of glove choices in the shops, online, and in mail-order catalogs.

Minimally, Moto-U students and faculty must wear full-fingered leather gloves. You can buy these for just a few bucks at a hardware store, and they offer a surprisingly good level of protection. However, leather protects best when it fits your hand like a...glove, and some impact protection for all 27 tiny, fragile bones you have in each hand is a good idea as well. But you also want the glove to be comfortable in hot, dry weather as well as cold, wet conditions.

If you think that means you need more than one pair of gloves, you are right! Most street riders have hot-weather gloves, sport gloves, cold-weather gloves and maybe something in between that can be worn 6-8 months of the year in the temperate Bay Area. Motorcyclists may also use rain covers of some kind as well. Let's look at each type.

Hot Weather Gloves

These are usually vented or made partially from perforated leather or mesh textile of some kind. Lightweight, comfortable, cool and flexible, these sacrifice abrasion resistance for comfort—is it worth it? Only you can answer that question.

Cold Weather Gloves

These are lined with wool or some kind of synthetic insulating material. The outer shells are leather, nylon or a combination of both. These may also have a waterproof liner made from a material like Hipora or Gore-Tex that wicks perspiration away from the skin while preventing water from soaking through from outside. Your hands will be warm and dry, but you also may sacrifice some control feel or have to deal with uncomfortable bunching under your palms.

Sport Gloves

These are the sports cars of the glove world. They are carefully made, loaded with features and expensive—sometimes over $300! They will offer good control feel, perfect fit (look for pre-curved fingers and adjustable retention straps) and protective features like armor and hard slider materials. Those features look serious but are of limited value—still, better than nothing. Or are they? You have to decide.

Intermediate Gloves

These are usually simple, comfortable and utilitarian, but can quickly become your favorites. Look for durable materials like kangaroo or deer hides—leather gloves used daily will become brittle and worn from your sweat and can wear out after a season of hard use! Some riders like to buy these a little loose so they can slip warm gloves liners inside.


Gauntlets are the wide cuffs that extend from the main body of the glove to over the sleeve of the rider's jacket (you are wearing a jacket, aren't you?). They keep wind, rain—and asphalt—from hitting the rider's skin. In hot weather, you may opt for gauntlet-free gloves often referred to as "shorties" or "touring" gloves.