Last Updated on July 7, 2021
There are many ways that motorcycle gloves are made but it’s no secret that leather riding gloves make up for some of the safest and most protective gloves on the market.
This post is going to go over all of the most popular types of leathers used in motorcycle gloves so that you can have a better understanding of the materials used in some gloves that you might want to get for yourself in the near future or even the gloves that you currently have.
Gloves are necessary for every ride so you might as well understand the leather that’s going on with all of the different glove choices that are out there.
Is Leather The Most Protective Material?
Leather is a very popular material choice both for riders and for manufacturers.
Leather simply gets the job done. If you are going to be sliding on the concrete with your palms – most would instantly want (or wish that they had) highly protective leather palms to dramatically reduce the amount of damage done during an accident.
Leather VS. Textiles
It’s no secret that leather is great for abrasion resistance and impact resistance when some armor is there to back it up. Leather is used in a heap of products and it being used in motorcycle gear is very easy to understand.
Most motorcycle gear will either use leather, textile or some combination of both. Textiles are usually cheaper but can still be well made whereas leathers are typically going to cost a little more, but they are a lot more heavy duty compared to textiles.
With that said, textile based riding gear can still be highly protective so let’s not completely bash on textiles – one of my jackets is a full on textile jacket because it breathes well during the hot days of riding yet it still has plenty of armor and what not going on to keep me protected.
Same thing with a pair of gloves that I ride with during the summer, the palm is goatskin leather but the rest of the glove is made of high quality textiles and armor padding.
For the most part, I’m sure most of us could agree that we would feel a lot more comfortable with leather as the main material for our riding gloves.
Data Doesn’t Lie
There have been tests done as well with crash test dummies showing what it’s like sliding at 60mph and leather has shown over and over again to be the king when it comes to handling abrasions.
All in all, the short answer is that yes – leather is the best material to have in a glove when it comes to the build quality and overall levels of protection.
However, you should also factor in the different types of leather that is used in motorcycle gloves as well. Different types and grains of leather are going to be more or less durable and protective depending on the type.
That’s why we want to share these types with you – so that you can have a better understanding of what’s really being used in all of the different leather gloves out there.
The Main Types of Leather Used In Motorcycle Gloves
There are quite a few different types of leather used in the manufacturing of motorcycle gloves and we’ll be sharing some of the most commonly used types of leather and their levels of durability, overall protection and price points.
Cowhide leather is absolutely the most commonly used leather not just with gloves but with motorcycle gear in general.
Why is that?
Because it’s the cheapest and most widely available type of leather for glove makers to get their hands but it still has a good enough level of all around protection for it to be used over and over again.
When it comes to getting some motorcycle gear on a tighter budget while keeping the higher levels of protection alive, cowhide is most likely what you’ll end up getting.
Goatskin leather isn’t used much in terms of gear all around. It’s found mostly with the palm of a riding glove because it is more supple and softer than other types of leather.
My Icon Anthem 2 CE gloves use goatskin leather on the palms, they have a quality feel to them and I’d trust goatskin leather to protect my palms in the event of sliding during a crash.
Deerskin leather is popular when it comes to some of the higher quality and higher priced gloves that are out on the market right now.
When it comes to comfortability, flexibility, insulation and quality – deerskin leather riding gloves are hard to pass up.
Typically, you’ll want to go down a size when you are trying on and buying deerskin riding gloves because they are able to stretch so much that the material is meant to provide a custom fit to your hand.
It’s also a natural water-resistant type of leather which makes it a good insulator for when you’re riding in the cold.
Deerskin motorcycle gloves are the way to go if you want to maximize insulation and comfortability. Most deerskin gloves are made entirely of the leather rather than just specific parts of the glove.
Kangaroo leathers aren’t used as commonly as the other leathers mentioned because it is extremely expensive. Kangaroo leather is thinner and lighter than most other types of leathers but it’s also some of the toughest which is why it’s so much more expensive.
You aren’t going to find too many companies that make kangaroo leather motorcycle gloves because it’s not a very sought after type of riding glove when cowhide or goatskin palm gloves work well enough.
However, if you’re looking for them then odds are that you already have a full set of kangaroo gear as well because it’s widely used for MotoGP rider’s protection.
Some folks think that synthetic leathers are a complete waste of money and time to the point where they shouldn’t be considered at all.
I can understand why that’d be the case for some – having the genuine leather feels better and there is a level of confidence that comes with each ride knowing that you have genuine leather protecting your hands.
With that, synthetics (when manufactured properly) can provide more protection than what you’d first assume.
It also provides a vegan-friendly choice for those riders who wish to keep away from animal products.
Consider The Leather Grade On Any Glove
There are different grades of leather used in the construction of gloves, and motorcycle gear in general, that you should also consider when you’re in the market.
The grade of a leather is the overall process of how the leather is treated, how it feels and the general strength of the leather itself.
There are quite a few companies that have their own exclusive manufacturing process for their gloves and they’re absolutely worth looking into. Many of these techniques are done to improve the final product of the glove, especially compared to competitors.
Two main types of leather grades to be on the lookout for riding gloves because they’re really the only two you’ll see done with gloves. It’ll help you understand what the leather is all about.
Full-grain leather is known to be the best and strongest type of leather. The grain remains whole and that’s why it gives better durability and longevity.
For those reasons, it is the most costly and most popular type of leather, even though it may have faults and defects in the leather’s design.
Top-grain leather is thinner compared to full-grain leather because it is sanded down to get rid of the faults and defects in the leather’s design, it’s a smoother look which is the point of having top-grain leather.
It’s still very durable and provides high levels of safety while you are riding but it’s simply thinner, not as thick as full-grain leather which is why it’s right below full-grain leather on the ranks of leathers in terms of strength.
Although top-grain leather is going to be more refined and look better, I highly recommend snagging gloves that use full-grain leather as it would be the safer piece of gear to go for.
Which Leather Type Should You Ride With?
It mainly comes down to personal preference and the amount of protection you would want out of a pair of riding gloves. You obviously want a pair that’ll stand the test of time that will also protect you on your every day rides.
Leather gloves are going to provide the most safety for your hands but textile gloves can still be a very safe choice when you’re shopping around.
Consider your budget, your style and how much of a safety cushion you want for your hands and pick the gloves that are the right gloves for you!
If you’d like, you can check out our guide for cheap riding gloves which showcases some of the lowest priced gloves but without sacrificing overall quality to get the job done.
Do you know what type of gloves you are going to get?
Is there anything I may have missed when it comes to leather riding gloves?
Let me know in the comments below!
What’s up! I’m Colton, the main guy behind Moto Gear Knowledge. Gear has always been my #1 priority when it comes to riding.
I share my experiences regarding gear and anything else moto related with you here. 👍