Are Motorcycle Gloves Supposed to Be Tight? Sizing Tips, Factors, and Top Picks

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The saying ‘fits me like a glove’ has been around for ages, but it can still be confusing. Does it imply a loose fit, or are motorcycle gloves supposed to be tight? Well, motorcycle gloves should fit snugly — not too loose and not too tight. Think of them as a second skin that allows you to easily open and close your hands while still providing ample protection with not too much space in your fingers.

But it’s not just about the fit around your hand; the length of the fingers on motorcycle gloves is important too. You don’t want them to be too long and interfere with reaching for levers, or too short and restrict your finger movement. And of course, your gloves should be long enough to cover your wrists in case of an accident, with a secure closure to keep them firmly in place while you’re zooming down the streets, carving up those twisty mountain roads, or racing on the track.

I also prefer gloves that have seams on the outside of the fingers and come with triple or double-stitched leather palms and wrist slider padding. When you take a fall, let’s say at 35+ mph, your natural instinct would be to use your hands to break the fall. But without properly fitting protection, your skin can become as delicate as tissue paper against the harsh road.

Why Motorcycle Glove Material and Type Matter for Sizing and Comfort

AGVSPORT Mayhem gloveAGVSPORT Mayhem Moto Glove with shock-absorbing technology, metal knuckles, and breathable venting. Safety, style, and comfort on the road.

Whenever I see riders cruising by without gloves, bare arms and legs, or just a t-shirt, I can’t help but think, There goes someone with plenty of spare skin! Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and have the scars to show for it. But most of us learn eventually—it’s just better to be safe than sorry! And when it comes to sizing motorcycle gloves, understanding the type of material and glove type is crucial.

Leather

AGVSPORT Laguna leather racing glove with genuine carbon fiber armor and shock-absorbing memory foam on the knuckles for extra protection. Made with a combination of nylon and leather, these gloves are designed for motorcycle racing.
AGVSPORT Laguna Leather Racing Glove: Carbon fiber armor, shock-absorbing foam, and a customized fit for motorcycle racing.

To fit snugly, leather gloves require breaking in by wearing them often and allowing the material to soften and conform to your hand. So, avoid the temptation of going a size up, as the glove will eventually become loose and ill-fitting. Leather can shrink in hot, wet conditions, but this is rare and only happens in extreme temperatures.

My Top Picks: Best Leather Motorcycle Gloves for Every Size

Best Leather GloveSizeCheck & Shop Now
Dainese Blackjack3XS-3XLAmazon
AGVSPORT Laguna3XL-XXLAmazon
ScorpionEXO Klaw IIXS-3XLAmazon
ILM Air FlowM-XXLAmazon
Joe Rocket Cafe RacerXS-3XLAmazon
Cortech ScrapperXS-3XLRevZilla

Today, the Dainese Blackjack continues to hold its position as the best overall leather gloves. For the most durable sport gloves, the AGVSPORT Laguna ranks as the top choice. And if you’re looking for a premium pick, then the Dainese Full Metal 6 is your best bet. The Scorpion EXO Klaw II gloves are the best for sport touring, while the Joe Rocket Cafe Racer, along with the REV’IT! Fly 3 gloves, are the ideal options for cruisers.

For those on a budget, the Cortech Scrapper and ILM Air Flow gloves offer the best value. Other top-ranking leather gloves are the Scorpion EXO SGS MK II, which are the best for short-cuff gloves for sport bike riders, and the Firstgear Kinetic, which are the best gauntlet-style gloves. If you need sweatproof gloves, the Held Rodney is your best choice, while the Joe Rocket Cold Weather Motorcycle Riding Gloves are the best for winter.

And, for touchscreen compatibility, the Indie Ridge Premium Leather motorcycle gloves are the best.

Textile

Alpinestars SMX-1 Air v2 motorcycle riding glove in black and size large. The glove features a combination of perforated leather and heavy-duty mesh for breathability during hot weather while still providing basic motorcycle protection.
Alpinestars SMX-1 Air v2: Breathable and protective motorcycle riding glove in black (size large).

Textile gloves don’t change much with use, so the fit will remain the same over time. But consider the wrist size and the amount of armor required for your riding style. Gloves with thermal liners may feel snugger and bulkier, so be sure to check that the liner doesn’t gather around the inner palm or fingers.

My Top Picks: Best Textile Motorcycle Gloves for Every Size

Best Textile GloveSizeCheck & Shop Now
AGVSPORT Mayhem3XL-XXLAmazon
Alpinestars SMX-1 AirSM-3XLAmazon
Fox Racing DirtpawSM-4XLAmazon
Dainese Air Maze3XS-3XLAmazon
Troy Lee Air2X-XXLAmazon
Klim Dakar ProSM-XSRevZilla

Rivaling high-level gloves like the Alpinestars SP-8 V3, the AGVSPORT Mayhem prides itself as the best overall textile glove in terms of quality and value, as it’s available at a fraction of the cost. The Alpinestars SMX-1 Air and Dainese Air Maze are the best for touring during the summer, while the Fox Racing Dirtpaw and Troy Lee Air gloves are the best for motocross. On the other hand, the Klim Dakar Pro is the best for dual-sport.

Motorcycle Glove Types

To understand the perfect fit of a motorcycle glove for you, you must first determine the type of glove you need. Riding glove types break down into five main categories: race, street, ADV, touring, and dirt. Each type has unique features and requirements. For instance, race gloves require a snug fit for precise movement, while touring and winter gloves need a bulky gauntlet design for added warmth and protection. On the other hand, street and dirt gloves are more lightweight and flexible.

Remember to find the right balance between comfort, warmth, and protection. Normally, I have multiple pairs of gloves for different purposes. I don’t worry if some are less comfortable than others because there are times when sacrificing comfort for warmth or protection becomes necessary in certain situations.

You Also Be Interested in Learning: How To Break In Motorcycle Gloves

Two Types of Motorcycle Glove Fits and How They Impact Your Choice

A rider adjusts a pair of short-cuff leather gloves in preparation for a ride.
A rider adjusts a pair of short-cuff leather gloves in preparation for a ride.

Motorcycle gloves come in two common types of fits: the American Fit and the European Fit. The two may look alike when laid out on a table, but they have distinct differences in their fits when you try them on. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • American Fit Gloves–Relaxed and Roomy: These gloves have an overall relaxed fit, offering extra room around the palm circumference and fingers circumference, with slightly less length throughout the entire glove. American manufacturers design these gloves, although some European manufacturers have also adopted this fit.
  • European Fit Gloves–Snug and Secure: These gloves prioritize a snug, secure, and aggressive fit. They’re narrower around the palm and fingers circumference, with extra length at the fingertips. Manufacturers outside the US typically design these gloves.

Comparison Table of American Fit Gloves and European Fit Gloves Features

FeatureAmerican Fit GlovesEuropean Fit Gloves
FitRelaxed and RoomySnug and Secure
Palm CircumferenceExtra RoomNarrower
Fingers CircumferenceExtra RoomNarrower
LengthSlightly LessExtra Length at Fingertips
DesignAmerican Manufacturers, Some European BrandsNon-US Manufacturers
ManufacturersAGVSPORT, Alpinestars, Dainese, Joe Rocket, Rev'itCortech, Scorpion, Five Gloves, Klim, Bilt, Olympia

Two Easy Methods to Measure for Your Motorcycle Gloves

Having learned about the significance of glove fit and the distinctions between American and European fits, it is now time to determine your glove size. With insights gained from my 50 years of motorcycling experience and ample collection of gloves, I can share two methods I use to measure my motorcycle gloves and achieve a perfect fit:

Method 1: Measuring Tape or String and Rule

Measuring hand width (circumference) by wrapping a string around the palm just behind the knuckles, excluding the thumb.
Measuring hand width (circumference) by wrapping a string around the palm just behind the knuckles, excluding the thumb.
  • Get a measuring tape or a piece of string and a ruler.
  • Determine whether the glove manufacturer uses hand width or circumference to indicate sizes.
  • To measure hand length, place your palm down on a flat surface and measure the longest part from the tip of your middle finger to your wrist using a string or measuring tape. Mark where it first reaches your wrist with a pen. If you’re using a string, measure the length using a ruler or tape. Record the measurement in centimeters or inches.
  • To measure hand width (circumference), wrap the string or tape around your palm just behind the knuckles, excluding the thumb. Mark where the string overlaps with a pen. If you’re using a string, measure its length using a ruler or tape. Record the measurement in centimeters or inches.
  • Compare your measurements to the manufacturer’s size chart and select the appropriate size. Use the larger measurement if your hands are of different sizes.
Measuring the marked string against a ruler to determine the actual hand width measurement.
Measuring the marked string against a ruler to determine the actual hand width measurement.

Method 2: Hand Outline

  • Place your open hand on a flat surface, preferably a whiteboard or paper, with the palm facing down.
  • Draw an outline of your hand and label four points: Point 1, Point 2, Point 3, and Point 4. Points 1 and 2 will mark the hand’s width, with Point 1 being the widest point of your palm just behind the fore (index) finger knuckles (excluding the thumb), and Point 2 being the widest point just behind the little finger (pinkie) knuckles.
  • Points 3 and 4 will mark the hand’s length, with Point 3 being the tip of your middle finger and Point 4 being the start of your wrist.
  • Measure the distance between Points 1 and 2 to determine your hand width size, and the distance between Points 3 and 4 to determine your hand length size.
Hand outline with four labeled points: Point 1, located at the base of the index finger; Point 2, located at the base of the pinky finger; Point 3, located at the widest point of the hand; and Point 4, located at the wrist.
Hand outline with four labeled points: Point 1, located at the base of the index finger; Point 2, located at the base of the pinky finger; Point 3, located at the widest point of the hand; and Point 4, located at the wrist.

Remember to check the manufacturer’s sizing guide before placing your order, especially if you’re buying online. Happy riding with your perfectly fitted motorcycle gloves!

FAQs — I Have the Answers!

Q: Are Motorcycle Gloves Supposed to Be Tight?

The best fit for motorcycle gloves is snug, like a second skin, to provide comfort, protection, and ease of movement. They should not be too loose or too tight.

Q: Do Motorcycle Gloves Loosen Up?

Yes, motorcycle gloves can loosen up over time and with use due to the natural stretching of the materials. Leather gloves stretch about 5%, while textiles stretch even less depending on the materials and construction. Excessive stretching can cause the gloves to lose their shape and protective properties.

Q: Is It Better to Wear Tight or Loose Gloves?

Neither, you shouldn’t wear gloves that are too tight or too loose. Tight gloves can potentially cut off blood circulation and restrict movement, while loose gloves may not provide adequate protection in a crash. But if you must choose between the two, it’s better to wear tight-fitting gloves as they may provide better slide protection in case of a crash and will break in over time.

Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, and non-profit organizations:

MS/A

Picture of About the Author:

About the Author:

Michael Parrotte started his career in the motorcycle industry by importing AGV Helmets into the North American market. He was then appointed the Vice President of AGV Helmets America. In total, he worked with AGV Helmets for 25 years. He has also served as a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets.

In 1985, he founded AGV Sports Group, Inc. with AGV Helmets in Valenza, Italy. For over 38 years now, the company has quietly delivered some of the best protective gear for motorcyclists in the world.

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