My biggest pet peeve within the motorcycle community is the failure to wear gloves. I’m an ATGATT guy, so I gear up even if I’m just running to the grocery store for a cigar and I never forget my leather motorcycle gloves. I have had too many clients that hopped on their bikes to run a quick errand and some dummy in a car takes them out. So, when I see riders flying around town with their “safety flip flops” or “safety muscle shirt with no jacket”, I just shake my head and pray for the best.
But, when I see a rider with a jacket and jeans and no gloves, I really feel my blood pressure go up. The reason is that no matter what happens out there, hit a squirrel, oil patch, or gravel, if you have to hop off the bike, you are going to put your hands out. It’s literally a hard-wired reflex; you will do it. The problem is that if you don’t have gloves on, you are in for some really painful recovery.
The first time I saw bad road rash first-hand was when I was in college. We were all out drinking on campus and were headed out to another dorm to continue. My good friend Pete was with us, and a buddy with a truck offered to ride a handful of us in the bed to save a few steps. About 6 guys piled in the back and off they went. I opted to walk since it was a nice night and having 6 dudes in the back of a pick-up is the opposite of sexy.
The other dorm was in spitting distance and I watched as they approached a speed bump, slow, and then speed up again after the rear tires cleared. It wasn’t a big bump, but I’m sure the alcohol dulled Pete’s reflexes. Pete was sitting on the tailgate and when the driver accelerated, he flew off the back. He didn’t hit his face or head, thankfully, but his reflexes kicked in and he threw his hands out to keep from eating pavement.
The fall knocked a lot of the skin off his palms, wrist, and arms. It didn’t look like much then, but we still picked Pete up and took him to the infirmary. I thought he was fine but weeks later we heard that Pete was considering taking the semester off! I went to see him and he showed me the road rash on his arms and hands. It was painful to even look at.
He had salve all over them and he told me he couldn’t sleep due to the pain of the repeated cracking and burning scabs on his hands. He had trouble cleaning himself and he couldn’t take written exams because he couldn’t hold a pen. He certainly couldn’t type on a computer. He could barely function. I never forgot this event, and his misery cemented my use of gloves for any two-wheeled adventures.
I use lots of different gloves; fit and feel are key. Don’t buy your gloves over the internet because if they don’t fit right, they might make your hands go numb or keep you from feeling the throttle properly. I have some goatskin leather motorcycle gloves I use on the road. They offer a good feel, good protection, and they hug my hands. Icon makes some excellent leather motorcycle gloves at a good price. Dainese gloves cost a bit more, but they are top-notch.
At the track, it is calf-skin palms with heavy-duty uppers, reinforced with Kevlar stitching, and carbon fiber knuckle guards. Some gloves join pinkie finger to ring finger to keep from the inevitable pinkie break if you slide off a corner at speed. You don’t want pro-rider pinkies!
Some riders opt for work gloves and, in a pinch, they’re definitely better than nothing. Real leather motorcycle gloves are pre-curved and designed not to bunch at the palm so they’ll be much more comfortable and offer better protection long-term. That is key for rolling on and off the throttle and being able to feel the cable movement. One of the MotoJustice promotional items we offer are “shorty” gloves that we hand out to riders and pillion passengers just to make sure they wear something. With phones being an appendage for some folks, the complaint was that they had to take the gloves off to work GPS or take a call so I went with fingerless gloves to at least keep palms and wrists protected. If you have to work a phone while riding, they do have gloves that are touch screen friendly and do NOT have to be removed to play with a GPS unit that is suctioned to your gas tank.
There is no excuse! If you want to wear a mini skirt or a muscle shirt while you ride, that is your business. You know where we lawyer/riders stand on this issue. But when it comes to gloves, you have to wear them. We offer legal services to riders, but please do the minimum to keep yourself safe. Remember, all the gear, all the time!