How Motorcycle Gloves Should Fit: A Comprehensive Guide

There is some debate about whether a rider should wear motorcycle gloves or not while on the road. Many people think that motorcycle gloves are a core element in achieving maximum safety while riding. Still, this safety can only be experienced if the gloves fit properly.

How should motorcycle gloves fit? The fit of your motorcycle gloves should be snug without being too tight around either your fingers or your palm. This may differ between men and women. The fit depends on:

  • Material
  • Intended use
  • Brand/manufacturer
  • Country of origin (American vs. European)

There are many caveats to be aware of when shopping for the appropriate motorcycle glove size. Not only should you be mindful of how the material will behave after you break in your new pair, but how the glove will affect your safety and comfort. The criteria you use for fitting your glove may change due to a variety of reasons. To get familiar with all factors involved in sizing your gloves, and how to achieve the proper fit, consult the detailed guide below.

Why You Need Your Gloves to Fit Properly

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The purposes and relative importance of various types of motorcycle gear can be a topic of great controversy, so, ultimately, the decision to wear gloves is dependent on your preferences. Generally, though, your motorcycle gloves are a crucial part of ensuring your safety as you ride. As you’re riding, your motorcycle gloves will provide you with the following benefits:

  • Comfort. The gloves will absorb the majority of the vibrations directed at the hands via the handgrips. This prevents the numbing, tingling sensation that many motorcyclists get while riding. 
  • Safety. The chances of you developing muscle and hand fatigue are significantly reduced. Additionally, if an accident were to occur, your hands would be protected from severe injury. Your body’s natural instinct is to outstretch your hands as you fall. If your hands are the first to impact the pavement, you need to ensure that they are adequately protected.

The only way you can reap these benefits is by purchasing a glove with the proper fit. Having gloves that are too tight or that fail to cover the entirety of your hand could result in considerable discomfort while you ride. On the other hand, gloves that are too large will likely fall off, or be so loose-fitting that they offer only a fraction of the protection that they would if they fit appropriately. 

Before committing to a brand-new pair of motorcycle gloves, make sure they fit correctly. Regardless of whether you believe in wearing gloves as a core part of your gear or not, it is undeniable that a proper fit will give you the maximum protection. 

How to Know What Size Motorcycle Gloves to Buy

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There are many details to take into account as you shop for a new pair of motorcycle gloves. You need to consider the following factors as you decide on what size to buy:

  • Material. The two primary types of material you’ll find when shopping for a new pair of gloves includes leather and textile. The one you choose will directly influence the glove’s ability to accommodate the shape of your hands over time. More specifically, leather can be expected to stretch approximately 5% of the time, assuming that you regularly wear the gloves. You can achieve a much more comfortable fit after breaking these in. Textiles won’t stretch in the same way that leather gloves will, but they will get softer the more you use them. 
    • Note: If your hand is measured to be between available sizes, it’s always best to round up to the next size when buying textile gloves. 
  • Types of use. You must also consider what you will be using the gloves for. Will you be racing, touring, or wearing the gloves during cold weather? For each of these uses, see the table below on how to fit your glove accordingly.
  • Brand. Different motorcycle brands will vary in the way their products are manufactured. This means that you may have to choose a size higher or lower than you usually wear, depending on the brand you select. (For this reason, it’s best to stick with only one or two brands that have been proven to fit your hands well.)
    • Note: Because of how fickle motorcycle glove sizing can be, it’s best to avoid buying gloves online! However, if you must buy your purchase via the web, know that glove size charts can be misleading or otherwise inaccurate. Seek further information from customer reviews to determine the accuracy of the sizing guide. 
  • Country of origin. This may come as a surprise, but the country in which the glove was manufactured also plays a role in how it will fit you. Gloves made in America tend to run a bit larger than European-made pairs. When transitioning from a European glove to an American one, go up by one size to maintain the appropriate fit.

Once you have these elements of your buying decision determined, you can finalize the decision on your appropriate glove size by measuring your hand.

A Note About Hybrid Gloves

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As mentioned above, the material of the gloves plays a direct role in how they will fit your hand. Although the market is dominated by the two materials listed above, leather and textile, there is a third type that offers its own unique advantages and drawbacks to the fit. This third type is the hybrid motorcycle glove.

In a hybrid glove, both leather and textile materials are combined to provide even greater satisfaction in your experience with your motorcycle gear. The caveats for this glove type can go either way, either offering the same gradual flexibility provided by solely leather gloves or leaning toward the relative rigidity of the textiles. 

Keep in mind that these hybrids are also meant for various types of environmental conditions. So, you may have to consider factors that you wouldn’t normally if you were opting for a purely leather or textile pair of gloves. 

For example, you wouldn’t necessarily have to consider the possibility of wearing a liner with a pair of standard leather gloves. However, if you’re buying a hybrid pair, you might have leather material featured alongside waterproof or insulation options. This will change the criteria of your sizing quite dramatically.

How to Measure Your Hand to Determine the Right Motorcycle Glove Size

Motorcycle gloves are available in the following sizes:

Sizes for WomenSizes for Men
X-Small6” X-Small7” 
Small6.5” Small7.5-8” 
Medium7” Medium8.5-9”
Large7.5”)Large9.5-10” 
X-Large8” X-Large10.5-11” 

You must determine which size best suits your hands. To do this, you can follow one of the three methods listed below. 

  1. Draw an outline of your hand. This, by far, the easiest method by which you can determine the best glove size for your hands. Outline your right hand. Measuer the outside of your hand straight across to the tip of your thumb. Align your index finger with the black line on the left of the image to achieve an accurate comparison. Note the measurement on the right side of your hand: This is an approximate measurement of your appropriate glove size. 
  2. Use a measuring tape. This is more accurate and is the best choice if you have a measuring tape available. This process is quite simple. Take the measuring tape and wrap it around your knuckles, excluding the thumb. (Make sure to use your dominant hand for this measurement. You will be using this hand more, so it is of great importance that this hand is comfortable in the gloves, even more so than the other.) 
    1. Note: As you measure, your hand should be positioned in a closed fist. This is because your hand expands in size when it is in this position, giving you the most accurate measurement in your sizing. 
  3. Refer to the size chart provided by the brand. A size chart will typically look similar to the table above, reflecting sizes for both men and women. Remember that there is no particular standard to which all brands and manufacturers adhere – each has its own unique patterns and models for the production process. So, gloves from different brands will have a unique fit and comfort level. You may want to measure your hand first before consulting the store’s sizing chart to make sure you get the most accurate fit possible. 

Measuring Your Hand for Sizing from Online Stores

There are differing opinions on how to measure your hands for fitting motorcycle gloves from an online store. Some sizing guides will recommend that you place your hand flat onto a tape measure to measure the width of your palm. In this case, you would measure the area immediately below the knuckles. 

Others may recommend measuring the entire circumference of your hand instead, to give full consideration to the whole shape of your hand. No matter which you choose, you must ensure that you measure both hands separately. Like many other parts of your body, your right and left hands are unlikely to be identical in size.

Measure your hands one at a time and determine your glove size based on the widest measurement for each of the two. It’s always safest to use the maximum, as it is much better to wear a glove that slightly exceeds your ideal size, rather than falls below it. A glove that is too small may pose issues to your dexterity and circulation, both problems that compromise your safety while riding. 

How Different Uses Influence the Appropriate Glove Size

You may need a slightly different fit based on the way in which you’re planning to use your motorcycle gloves. Follow the guidelines listed here on what to consider about your plans for use:

Type of UseWhat this MeansWhat to Consider About the Glove
RacingThis, of course, is for motorcyclists who participate in racing. These are meant for maximum safety and comfort while on the track.This fit should be characterized by a more aggressive curvature on the fingers. They should hold your hands snug, providing maximum security as you race.
TouringThese are designed with commuters and other long-distance riders in mind. They are intended for protection against environmental elements and potential injuries resulting from impact with the pavement.These do not have to be as aggressively tightened to your hand as a racing glove. Instead, they should offer more flexibility and dexterity. You should be able to feel the details of the controls through the material, so you maintain full control of your bike at all times.
Cold WeatherIf you expect to be in cold weather, no matter what the riding style, these are best for insulation while offering similar protections as those listed above.These will inevitably be bulkier since they’ve got several additional layers of insulation. Included in this glove design is also a waterproof membrane to keep your hands dry. Still, they should be comfortable around your palm and fingers, but not too tight. Give a little leeway to the snug fit, since you may want to be able to fit glove liners inside if the weather gets to freezing temperatures.

How to Test the Fit of Your Motorcycle Gloves

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It is critical that your gloves feel comfortable and snug right out of the bag, otherwise it is unlikely that you will ever be happy with the fit. As you shop through a selection of gloves, try them on if possible. (If it is not possible to try on the glove before purchase, make sure to save all the packaging, in case you must return the glove due to a bad fit.) Follow the steps below to test the fit of the new gloves:

  1. Open up the glove by detaching the Velcro straps around the wrist. Get the glove as opened up as possible. 
  2. Place your hand into the glove. Here is where you take the first note of the fit. How much effort did it take for you to get your hand in the glove? If you had to struggle to fit your hand into it, this might be the first sign that the glove is too tight. If you inserted your hand with no resistance whatsoever, you might have chosen a pair that is too big for you. However, this is only the first part of the fitting, so don’t make any final decisions just yet.
    1. Additional note: The glove is intended to bottleneck around the wrist. So, this part of the glove is supposed to feel slightly tighter than the rest of the glove. This is to keep the glove secure on the hand and to support its shape for longevity. However, if the wrist portion is too tight (to the point of discomfort), then it could be a problem.
    2. This fit will not change significantly over the life of the glove, even after you break it in. So, you must be sure that you are happy with the fit upon opening.
  3. Check the amount of space you have in the gauntlet. This is another vital aspect of fitting your motorcycle gloves properly. Before you tighten the gauntlet, open this part of the glove up as widely as possible to check the amount of space available. Will you be able to fit the sleeve of your suit or jacket into the gauntlet? If so, you can strap up the gauntlet. If not, then switch to another pair.
  4. Check the length of the fingers. Of course, you’ve got to make sure that your fingers will be comfortable, too. It would be very uncomfortable to have your fingers slightly bent for an extended period, and such a fit would inevitably result in cramping. Make sure the length of the gloves accommodates your fingers appropriately.
    1. Note: If this aspect of the fit is not suitable right away, odds are it will not get better. Quality motorcycle gloves are not known to stretch over time, so you won’t be able to change this aspect of the fit by frequently wearing it. 
  5. Practice your dexterity while wearing the glove. Move your fingers and wrist around as much as possible to get a feel for the extent of your dexterity while outfitted in these gloves. You cannot realistically expect to move your hands with as much flexibility as you would without the gloves, but you do want as much mobility as possible. 
    1. Note: Again, you don’t have to be too critical here, as this is another aspect that will change over time. As you break in your gloves, the fit will become increasingly molded to the shape of your hand. This will improve the flexibility with which you can manipulate things while you’re suited up. 
    2. How to test this: If you like, you can choose an object to practice with, preferably one that is highly textured. Roll it around in your hands and make sure you can feel the bumps, indentation, and key features of the object. This will clue you into the functionality of the gloves, as well as fit.
  6. Put the grip to the test. Often, you’ll see people testing the fit of their gloves by squeezing their hands into a fist. While this does demonstrate the flexibility, you’ll have while wearing the gloves, it’s not exactly representative of the functionality. Rarely will you be forming a fist without a grip in your hand, so it’s best to test the fit by holding a handgrip. You can use either the handgrip on your own bike or a testing component in the store. 
    1. Note: Just as you did when testing the finger length, push the V beside your thumb down to make sure the glove is fully seated. Hold the handgrip and make sure it’s comfortable, and the fit remains secure.

If you go through this entire fitting and do not experience significant discomfort or pain, then you’ve got the perfect glove size! Take note of what you can and cannot make exceptions for as you test out your new pair to ensure you get the best fit without being excessively critical. 

How to Test the Fit of the Motorcycle Glove Around the Fingers

As you’re testing the fit of the glove as it relates to finger length, you’ll not only want to pay attention to the length and the comfort of your fingers in the glove but the security of the fit as well. To properly check your gloves fit for your fingers, follow these few steps:

  1. Have one hand gloved and one hand free.
  2. Make sure the glove is seated securely on your hand. (Pull down gently on the gauntlet and wrist to secure the glove in place, if it is not snug already.)
  3. Using the index finger of your free hand, poke the V between your fingers. Observe whether you feel the glove’s point of contact with your skin.

If the glove does not touch the bottom of the V, it is too small. However, if the glove does reach the bottom of the V, and still has room above the tip of your finger, the fit is too big. Of course, we have already noted that the length of the gloves is highly unlikely to change over time. The width, on the other hand, will give a little. 

As you break in your gloves, the material around the fingers will slightly open up over time. So, if you felt that the gloves were fitting perfectly apart from the narrowness of the fingers, don’t worry too much. This aspect of the fit will change and mold to your hands as you break them in.

Note that you must still exercise caution here, though. Although this aspect will change over time, if you’re experiencing excessive squeezing as you wear the gloves to the point of significant discomfort or pain, don’t count on this to change much. Identify your threshold of slight discomfort and the cutoff for justifying a new pair altogether. 

Are Motorcycle Gloves Supposed to Be Tight?

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Your motorcycle gloves should not necessarily be tight, but snug. As mentioned previously, it is ok to feel a slight tightness upon trying them on for the first time. They may feel like they’re giving a bit of a squeeze to your wrist or the sides of your fingers (an issue of width) the first time you slip them on. This is normal, and the sensation should be negligible. 

The tightness should not be restrictive toward your movements in any way. This can pose a severe danger to your ability to control your bike as you wear this gear. Gloves that are too tight can also cut off your circulation, which can lead to the loss of sensation in your hands, and potentially an injury related to extended periods of poor blood circulation. 

Remember, again, the importance of material and intended use when considering the tightness of the gloves. Gloves meant for cold weather should allow a bit more wiggle room than those for racing or touring, since you may eventually need to slip in a glove liner. The gloves that provide the tightest fit would be racing gloves. 

For all types, you must ensure that your hands will fit snugly according to the extent to which you will need to manipulate controls and withstand environmental conditions. As you wear them, you should be able to hold your fingers in a naturally curved position while holding the handgrips without discomfort during long-distance riding.

Further Considerations for Women

Women’s hands tend to be a bit narrower than the average man’s hands. This may translate into your glove sizing and influence the pairs that can be suitable for your hands. This is yet another reason why it’s best to choose one company and stick with it after you’ve discovered the right size for you. 

Not only do certain brands and manufacturers differ on how they design their sizes, but they may also vary even more in how they approach gear for women. Before you commit to a purchase, try on as many brands as you feel necessary before you determine which is best for you. Consider the following as you shop around for a pair:

  • Women’s hands usually are much narrower in the palm when compared to men’s hands.
  • Women’s fingers are often longer than men’s fingers relative to the palm. 

For these reasons, it is not ideal to simply settle for a small men’s glove. You must choose a size that is suited for the measurements of your hand – doing otherwise could pose potential risks to your safety and comfort. If possible, you may want to opt for a company that specializes in women’s motorcycle gear. They will provide the most consistency in fit and give you the most protection when riding.

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