There is something about a pair of motorcycling gloves. Ones that grip the throttle and conform to you hands and give you that ready for action feeling, and look. Old enough to be worn and scuffed and hold the shape of your hands when pulled off and laid on the seat of your bike. I think I own a dozen pairs of motorcycling gloves. I rarely ride without donning them. Even in the searing heat of summer I put on the leather gloves, form fitting, mostly black, sometimes cowhide tan, always cool. This has not always been the case. For a large part of my life I rejected the use of gloves. Something my therapist tells me comes from my childhood. A subliminal sign of weakness, learned from my uber-masculine male role model father. My Dad never wore gloves. But of course he had hands like catcher’s mitts, with thick callouses and scarred knuckles. Me, I inherited my Mom’s hands. He didn’t need gloves; I in fact do, and wear them often. I’ve simply grown to like them, therapy notwithstanding.
When it comes to gloves, I like old school. I bought a pair of Chester Jeffries, ‘Jubilees’, when I tuned 50. Kind of like a birthday present for my hands. Classic gauntlets. Made in England since the 1930 and worn by bikers and B-29 Pilots and open-wheeled racers for decades. Time changes, and so do gloves. The game changers that open up new possibilities in riding for me are heated gloves. I prefer Gerbing but HD makes a good pair, as does BMW. They are almost 200 bucks so warmth does not come cheap, but the days of frozen fingers are of the past for the cost of a bottle of decent scotch. The heated gear makes the 8 or 10 month riding season a 12 month riding season. Growing up in the Northeast, I recall stopping often in fall and early spring riding to warm up fingers around a hot Styrofoam cup of Joe. Nowadays, with a flip of a switch, low, medium, high, we’re a warm as toast on the hands. It was not always the case. The good old-fashioned “gauntlet” gloves harkening back to cow puncher days are a favorite of mine as well. Harley Davidson motor clothes have been making these for almost a hundred years. They are thick, well insulated with ‘thinsulate’ and pre-curved when stitched, to give you a natural grip on the throttle.
Nowadays, gloves are made of a myriad of materials, not just leather. GorTex, rubber, neoprene, carbon fiber, nylon mesh, etc.… the leather gloves are simply my favorite. There are mesh gloves for summer, insulated gloves for winter all kinds of technical man made materials or every color and style, but it is the leather that serves me best. I once went to a 10-year wedding Anniversary party for my best pal Uncle Tommy. He inadvertently admitted to me at some earlier time that his lovely wife had some odd predilection to him wearing gloves. For some reason, they turned her on and if properly worn, he told me, would inevitably lead to passionate activities (not motorcycling). Needless to say when opening presents at the party all were amused to learn that my gift was in fact 10 pairs of carefully chosen gloves for his, and her, benefit. Biker gloves, cowboy gloves, welder gloves, lineman gloves… All unwrapped to the recitation of a poem written by myself, rhyming ‘gloves’ 10 versus, not easy. I cannot imagine the activity within the household in the ensuing weeks following the party. Good times!!
In my legal career representing injured bikers there have been dozens of instances where gloves, or lack thereof, played a major role in assessing damages in a motorcycle wreck. There is nothing quite like high-resolution pictures of a “de-gloved” hand (yes, actual medical terminology) to convince a jury that your client deserves a LOT of money. Needless to say, putting ones hand down to instinctively break the fall of flying off your motorcycle in a wreck, while NOT wearing a pair of gloves, will inevitably grind the skin off your palms. Sometimes, right down to the tendons and ligament. A tough recovery, painful, lengthy, expensive and all because you didn’t slide your gloves on. I would include a picture, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Needless to say, I cannot tell you how important wearing those gloves are. Helmets: If you know me, you know my position. Wear it not because your Government knows best, wear it because its simply safer, when YOU want to. I understand that helmets are a pain in the ass. They are hot, cumbersome, expensive, etc… Gloves, they are easy. Maybe even make you look cool(er). And compared to the cost of a full face DOT helmet, they’re economical compared to what you get. You can blow a lot of dough on gloves, custom made, Italian leather, etc…. I Google’d “expensive gloves” and side note: I found the Michael Jackson glove sold for $420,000 at auction a few years ago in New York. But hell, only ONE! What good is that on your Road King? Not to mention they are white and rhinestone bejeweled. In further consideration of pricey motorcycle gloves, there are a lot of options. You can fly to Italy, get custom fitted, drink latte, and biscotti for a few days on the Amalfi coast. Cruise your rented Ducati around waiting for the tailor to stitch hand dyed calf skins into works of art for a scant 8 or 10 thousand dollars. Cannoli’s included. Notwithstanding all this pie in the sky, my favorite gloves that I wear most often are sold right in isle 6 at Wal Mart. They are —— cowhide gloves, XL in tanned blonde leather. They are a reasonable $19.95. No, they do not have carbon fiber knuckles, or perforated hand backs or even Velcro closures across the wrist. They are plain, just off the bull’s ass. They keep me reasonably warm 3 seasons a year, provide good road protection and don’t break the bank. Especially when I’m prone to leave them on the bar or drop them in the paring lot once in a while.
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride hard, ride safe, and in the end make sure you ride home.