It’s important to protect your head and torso, but a lot of people seem to forget about the need for good riding gloves. Gloves are not just a winter accessory to keep your hands warm, they are also intended to keep your skin on, since it turns out asphalt can be quite harsh on the palms. Of course, you still need enough feel to operate the vehicle, so striking a balance is vital.

I’ve had a look at some of the most popular glove choices and given my thoughts on each. I’ve put my top picks at, well, the top of the list.

Best Overall – Dainese Carbon Cover ST Gloves

Dainese has always been a solid choice in my view, giving some more expensive products a run for their money. What they’ve done with the Carbon Cover ST gloves is to place carbon fiber strategically to give you the protective benefits without blowing the bank.

There’s a mix of materials here and I really think Dainese has played to the strengths of each. Apart from the carbon fiber bits, the main construction is cowhide leather, the palm uses goat leather, and there is some polyurethane, kevlar, elastic, and some more things I don’t have the space to mention. This is actually a pretty complex glove with protection where you need it most. At a sub-$200 price I think the Carbon Cover ST gloves are an absolute bargain.

Best Budget Gloves – Alpinestars SMX-2 AC

I’m going to come right out and say it – I doubt you’ll easily find a better glove for less than $100 than these SMX-2 ACs.
They lack the extensive armoring of the more expensive gloves on the market, but at this price point they still have all the key areas covered. Also, don’t discount the protective value of well-stitched leather by itself. Leather, that is, kevlar and carbon fiber. The finger seams in these gloves are reinforced and pre-contoured, so you don’t have to fight a glove made with straight fingers, which no one actually has.

All in all these are no-nonsense, high-quality gloves made from the right materials at a very good price. If I were strapped for cash this is where my money would go.

Best All-Weather Gloves – Alpinestars WR-3 GoreTex

Alpinestars can basically do no wrong in my view; I’ve always found their gloves to be both good quality and designed by people who actually ride motorcycles. In other words, practical with little details that really make you realize that they’ve thought it all through.

These WR-3 gloves are designed to go OVER your jacket sleeves, which is a way more comfortable solution and has the added benefit of a nice wind and weather seal. Gore-tex is also a material that has stood the test of time; it’s really good at keeping water out while letting the glove breathe. The gloves have full knuckle protection and the main body is made from quality leather. It has an accordion section to let the glove fit well, and also has palm reinforcement. This is an all-weather sports touring glove, so there’s a lot of thermal insulation as well. A really neat feature is the integration of a touchscreen stylus on the glove’s index finger, which lets you operate a smartphone or GPS without having to take them off. As an all-weather touring and even commuting glove these come highly recommended.

Best Sportsbike Gloves – Spidi Carbo 3

These are some of the more expensive gloves that I have had a look at. First of all, they have that MotoGP superbike racing look down pat, which is unsurprising since Spidi (pronounced “speedy”) actually has riders using their products in that class of competition. Nothing this cheap, but still the pedigree is there.

These red, green, and white gloves look absolutely fantastic. They are also made from top stuff – full grain cowhide, quality wadding, and keramide padding. There’s also carbon fiber armor for the knuckles and silicone material for comfort and ergonomics. These are pretty suitable for amateur track day antics, as well as daily sport bike-riding.

Spidi has also got some patented design wizardry in these gloves to help the hand slide during crashes, limiting the damage they’ll take internally and externally. The Spidis are reasonably priced, great quality, and very attractive. I’m sold.

Hot Leathers Skeleton Mechanic Gloves

Man, I see these everywhere. It just sort of goes with a certain badass biker look, I guess. The funny thing is that these gloves are not really meant for use on a motorcycle. They are actually protective gloves for people who are doing repair work on cars, or welding and other mechanical-type work.

As such, they provide excellent feel and you’ll have no trouble operating switch gears or your helmet controls. On the other hand, I doubt they’ll provide adequate (if any) impact protection should you have a fall. The synthetic leather and nylon should help with road rash though – just don’t come crying to me if it doesn’t. Still, they are pretty cool-looking and they might work as a light commuter glove. Also, they are very, very cheap.

Milwaukee Leather Men’s Premium Perforated Cruiser Gloves

These cruiser gloves from Milwaukee sure look the part. Since they are perforated they should breathe quite well. At the same time this probably makes them less than perfect for cold weather, since those same airways let the heat out.

There’s some decent padding on the palms, as well as armored knuckle padding. I think these would work well as an all-round glove that’s not too bulky but gives protection against commuter-speed falls. They are priced low as well, so if you don’t like them it’s not too expensive of a mistake. There are, however,reports that quality issues in terms of stitching and material are present. Still, at this price, that’s not too unexpected. Good for a season I’d say.

Towall Motorcycle Summer Gloves

These summer gloves from Towall definitely look like they can take a pounding. There’s a big, intimidating knuckle armor plate and finger plates that definitely help with the psychological aspect of feeling protected. There’s even fingertip protection. The glove is made from PVC and synthetic material, some of which is leather-like. The material is breathable, hence the whole summer glove aspect. They also made the palm texture grippy, which is good for when it rains a bit or you are doing some off-road riding in mud.

Here’s the problem though, it seems the protection these dirt-cheap gloves provide is only psychological. People who have actually fallen with them have suffered some pretty bad injuries. Avoid at all costs.

TitanOPS Military Tactical, etc.

These are pretty popular and they look good, but the fact that they’ve squeezed every “manly” adjective in the product description should ring some serious warning bells here. These are not specifically meant for use on motorcycles, but it’s clear that a lot of people are doing just that. You don’t have to go far, however, to see that the lack of adequate palm protection really makes these a liability for even low-speed falls. I’m also uncomfortable with the many reports that complain about things like the stitching quality. Don’t do it, is what I’m saying.

I Glove You

Some of the gloves here, like the mechanic’s gloves, are ones to avoid, but my top picks are a great place to start and I think you should use them as a benchmark for comparing any gloves that you are considering. If none of my top picks strike your fancy, remember to check out my glove buyer’s guide for tips on what to look out for. Safe riding everyone!