Summer motorcycle gloves have a tough job on their hands (pardon the pun).
First they have to offer seriously good protection but in contrast to that, they have to offer lots of feel. The two aren’t usually great bedfellows.
Anyone can stick a load of armour onto a glove but not everyone can do it and keep the glove light, flexible and without lumps or bumps that affect your comfort. A glove that’s not supple enough will affect your ability to use your bike’s controls without limitation.
There is a CE-standard for motorcycle gloves, EN 13594:2015. It is broken down into two categories, Level 1 and Level 2.
Motorcycle gloves with Level 1 performance provide a lower level of protection but offer greater flexibility than Level 2, whereas Level 2 gloves provide increased protection but due to their increased amount of protective armour, they may not be as flexible as a Level 1 glove.
Where gloves get expensive is when they offer loads of protection and hard armour but then use exotic materials like kangaroo leather to improve the comfort and feel. In this guide I’m hoping to make you aware that you don’t have to have gloves with all the plastic armour bolted on – you can find a sensible compromise.
Motorcycle glove buying tips
When it comes to buying, the usual mantra of buying the best you can applies to gloves as it does any product. Always look for the certification tabs (even if, annoyingly, some still don’t state exactly which they adhere to…).
Some people also like the RiDE magazine reviews. You can find some gloves with a RiDE Recommended rating or a RiDE Best Buy which might be all the validation you require.
Summer motorcycle gloves are also the glove of choice for racers or trackday riders. If you’re riding on the road, you’re probably happy to sacrifice a bit of protection for comfort, whereas on the track, you might want all the protection you can get.
Do your homework before purchasing and try on as many pairs as you can, to get a good understanding of what works for you. One brand’s Medium is another’s Medium-Small, so don’t just buy the first pair you try.
Our review criteria
We’ve set strict criteria for this gloves buying guide because with 100s of pairs of racing gloves on the market, we can afford to be picky.
- Every set of gloves has to have at least one area of hard armour – preferably on the knuckles.
- They have to be full length. Some manufacturer’s ‘sports’ gloves are only three-quarter length or short which won’t be much use when worn with leathers or on track.
- They have to have a wrist strap in addition to the standard cuff strap
- Minimum CE Level 1 Certified
- Bonus points if they have a little-finger bridge
There are a lot of racing gloves on our longlist but we boiled this down to 5 great gloves for our shortlist.
The best gloves for you
It’s impossible to say ‘this is the best motorcycle racing glove’ as different gloves fit different riders in different ways.
However, the best gloves all have build quality, protection and comfort in common.
Your gloves need to be comfortable, you’ll be wearing them for a long time. When it comes to comfort, price isn’t always the best gauge. Some of the most expensive gloves pack in a whole host of armour and clever retention systems but there’s no getting away from the fact they’re not as comfortable as other gloves that haven’t gone all out in the protection stakes.
As you have seen from our strict criteria above, all the gloves in this review have met a very high bar.
From under £70 to over £300
There’s quite a difference when it comes to the cost of summer motorcycle gloves. There are plenty of great options around the £70 mark, which might make you wonder why some cost more than £300. As you’ll see from our review below, the most expensive gloves aren’t just down to brand snobbery – they often pack in more features. It’s up to you to decide what you must have and what’s nice to have.
Although the price has been a factor in our considerations, we’ve recommended the gloves that we think are the best available right now – we haven’t just gone for the most expensive.
If our picks don’t work for you in terms of budgets, brands or features, then refer to our shortlist where you’re sure to find a great option.
CE Approval for Motorcycle Gloves
There is a CE-standard for motorcycle gloves, EN 13594:2015. It is broken down into two categories, Level 1 and Level 2.
The areas tested include The cuff length, resistance to removal, knuckle impact protection, abrasion resistance, cut resistance, seam strength and tear strength. So as you can see, a lot goes into the CE approval.
Motorcycle gloves with Level 1 performance provide a lower level of protection but offer greater flexibility than Level 2, whereas Level 2 gloves provide increased protection but due to their increased amount of protective qualities, they may not be as flexible as a Level 1 glove.
If your glove features the KP symbol on the CE approval label it means it has been tested on the Knuckle Protection test.
While you don’t have to wear CE approved kit in the UK, it’s worth noting if you ride in France you legally have to wear CE approved gloves. That includes pillions!
Kangaroo leather and Knox protection
You might not have heard of Racer and this might seem like a lot of money to shell out on a pair of gloves but stick with me. When I tried these gloves – almost 10 years ago – I was so impressed. These pack proper protection; carbon protectors in the knuckles, fingers and cuff, Knox scaphoid protection and abrasion-resistant keprotec. They have kangaroo-skin palms which offer so much feel it’s like you’re not wearing gloves at all. It was a close call between these and the Alpinestars GP Plus but these win on comfort and the fact I still use mine a decade on.
CE approved gloves that are soft as silk
One of the big issues with armour-packed sports gloves is that they take ages to break in, are uncomfortable for the first month and feel clunky. That’s where these Alpinestars SP-8 leather gloves excel. They have armour covering the knuckles, a palm slider and little finger protection – so you’re in good hands, so to speak. But they are made from supple goat leather which is thinner than cowhide but offers better protection. Available in four different colours.
The best cheap summer motorcycle gloves
You don’t need to spend £100 on a pair of motorcycle gloves; there are lots of decent sets around the £50 mark. This pair of Ravine leather gloves from Richa cost just £44.99 on SportsBikeShop and represent great value for money.
They feature carbon-fibre finger and knuckle protection, a double wrist strap, a double-stitched palm, grip zones, stretch panels and reflective piping.
The only slight downside in my experience is the single-piece carbon-fibre knuckle protector. No doubt it’ll offer good protection but these single-piece carbon-fibre protectors are very rigid and I have found my middle knuckles pushing against them when riding. It’s not a massive issue, certainly not a dealbreaker and considering the price, it’s a strong contender.
If you want to go even cheaper, then check out these Texspeed Gloves. We haven’t tried them but they get great ratings on Amazon and they cost just £24.99. They don’t look to be CE approved but if you’re on a budget, they look like a good bet.
The most expensive motorcycle gloves
Three-hundred quid for a motorcycle glove? At that price, they better be something special.
These Supertech gloves from Alpinestars are top-level gloves, made from cowhide with a kangaroo-hide palm, which is thinner and stronger than cowhide.
They feature just about every bit of protection you could ask for, except an airbag! There’s TPU protective shell on the forearm, TPU knuckle protection and keprotech anti-abrasion material throughout. There’s also a finger bridge to stop your little finger bending back and high-end stitching that’s also treated to withstand friction.
They are pretty hard when new and I have found they take a fair old time to break in, so don’t buy a set the day before your first trackday or you’ll spend the day cursing them. Once they are broken in (mine took around a month of daily riding) they do feel good.
However, for daily riding there’s too much armour and it’s almost impossible to get my jacket sleeves over the thick cuff protection. I wear them on trackdays but they hardly ever come out on road rides.
They are well made but whether they’re worth £300 is down to you.
If you want to wear the same gloves as MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi then check out these Dainese Full Metal 6 Replica gloves. As you can expect from Dainese, they’re quality gloves and packed with features. Put it this way, if they’re good enough for Valentino…
Summer Motorcycle Gloves Buyer's Guide
It's a good idea to try on different sets of motorcycle gloves from different manufacturers in order to find the best set for you. Every glove is different and they're all built to a standard defined by each manufacturer. If you buy the first pair you try, you'll never know if it really is the best glove for you.
If you're looking for the best summer motorcycle gloves, these are the features that we think you should be looking out for.
- Wrist strap: A cuff strap is mandatory but a wrist strap will keep the glove in place in the event of an accident and by doing so, keep it comfortable too.
- Hard armour: Hard armour on the knuckles on the back of your hand will reduce the impact force if you slap your hand down in an accident. If this is a single piece it won't be as comfortable as a split-piece protector.
- Finger bridge: This is where the little finger (pinky) is joined to the ring finger. This reduces the chances of your little finger being dragged back when sliding and ending up broken.
- Ventilation: Any ventilation will create airflow and reduce the sweat build-up. Sweaty hands are uncomfortable and if yuo ride on track, they could be the cause of blisters.
- Double-stitching: Double stitching in impact areas (or ideally across the majority of the glove), will help prevent the glove from bursting in an impact.
- Double-layered leather: If your glove features any panels of double-thickness or dual-layer leather then it'll help the glove hold-up to any abrasion tears caused by prolonged contact with the tarmac (think fast lowside on track).
More armour doesn't always mean a better glove. Some gloves with armour on the palms can be less comfortable than those without.
A finger bridge lowers the risk of your little finger bending back and breaking in the event of a spill. Some people find them restrictive - you can always snip this with scissors.
If you're after improved feel, look for gloves that use goatskin or kangaroo hide as it's thinner and stronger than the equivalent thickness cowhide.
If you get blisters on your palms on trackdays, this is probably because you're gripping the bars too tightly, but if your gloves aren't ventilated, sweat build-up will quickly cause your skin to wear. Vented gloves will help, as will relaxing your grip.
Our shortlist: The best motorcycle racing gloves
We found over 500 different pairs of racing gloves on the market – that’s a lot of choice. We whittled our list down to 40 different pairs by applying our criteria and then picking a maximum of two pairs of gloves from each manufacturer.
We aimed to get a shortlist of 5 different gloves for you to choose from.
We removed the gloves that just didn’t quite cut the mustard. So if our two picks above don’t work for you, one of the pairs of gloves from our shortlist will.
Alpinestars SP-2 V3 – Alpinestars make a huge range of gloves, some with even more protection than this SP-2s but they’re our second pick as, above all else, they are superbly comfortable. They represent good value for money and offer everything you need in a glove and if you value feel, these are the ones for you. Made from premium leather, with a vented hard-knuckle protector and perforated leather to increase airflow, stretch panels and padded finger knuckle zones enhance comfort and grip zones on the palm and fingers improve feel. As a bonus, they’re also touchscreen compatible. Approx £110
Kushitani K-5198 GPV – Hard to get hold of, these Kushitani gloves are supremely comfortable. Made from a mix of cowhide, kangaroo leather and goatskin, they feature Kevlar stitching and plastic reinforced knuckle and finger protection. The connoisseur’s choice. Approx £170.
Racer High Speed gloves – Racer makes a quality range of motorcycle gloves. These catchily-named High Speed gloves are amazing value for money. Featuring TPU and Knox protection, kangaroo leather and a finger bridge. If you really like feel, you might not like the impact armour on the palms but these are no-holds-barred gloves and they won the RiDE Recommended badge. Approx £170.
Rev’it Jerez 3 leather gloves – A superbly comfortable and well-made glove from quality brand Rev’it. The Jerez 3 is made from goat-leather, making it strong and yet lightweight and thin. There’s a TPU hard-shell protector on the knuckle, palm slider and finger. Double layer leather zones on the palm and ventilation holes to keep them cool. Yes they’re pricey but they’re top-spec. Approx £290.
RST Tractec Evo 4 CE gloves – The Tractech range of gloves from RST ticks everything on the list of features you’d want in a summer motorcycle glove. Premium-grade leather, with a double layer on the palm, tough Aramid-fibre thread used in the main impact areas, split-carbon-knuckle protection, pre-curved fingers and silicone grip on the fingers and palms. The Tractech also features a finger bridge and is available in over 7 different models with various colour options. Approx £100.
Motorcycle gloves FAQs
What gloves does Valentino Rossi wear?
Mr Rossi wears Dainese Full Metal 6 gloves. They are quite hard to come by as Dainese don’t make a lot of Rossi replica kit but you can find the same model (albeit in different colours).
Should I tuck my gloves in or wear them over?
If you’re wearing leathers it’s best to wear the gloves over the leathers as they will offer more protection. Some racing gloves have hard plastic (TPU) cuffs which are impossible to tuck under the sleeves of your leathers and hard to tuck under a jacket, so if you’re a ‘gloves in’ kind of rider you don’t want to buy a pair with hard-wrist protection.
Can you repair motorcycle gloves?
Yes you can but most of the time it’s not worth it. If you’ve had a spill and some of the stitching has unpicked, a leathers alterations company might be able to rescue them for you. The same goes for when the seam wears out at the tip of a finger (a common issue). However the cost of repair is likely to be around £50, which might mean it’s not worth repairing over buying a new pair of gloves.
Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this review of the best racing gloves:
Motorcycle clothing CE Ratings: