Why do cyclists wear gloves?

two cyclists wearing gloves


Cycling is an incredibly popular mode of transport for people of all ages. Not only is it a fun and healthy way to get around, cycling is also very environmentally friendly. As we are all becoming more aware of the damage done to the environment by vehicle exhaust fumes, we should all be looking to cycle whenever possible.

There are more cyclists on the roads now than ever before, and one thing you may have noticed is that many of them are wearing those special fingerless gloves.

Many cyclists claim that these gloves provide many different benefits, but is this true?

Or are they just a fashion statement?

To answer those questions and more, here are ten reasons why cyclists wear gloves.

1. Wearing cycling gloves is more comfortable

When you spend a lot of hours on your bike, your hands can get very hot and sweaty, especially on hot days during the summer. This can be very uncomfortable, but when you wear cycling gloves, all that sweat can be absorbed. (Just be sure to clean your gloves regularly)

As well as being hot and sweaty, there is also considerable pressure put on your palms when you are riding every day without gloves. Adding an extra layer of padding between your hands and the handlebars can help reduce this stress a lot.

2. Cycling gloves provide better grip

When your hands get sweaty, it is easy to lose your grip on the handlebars. If you are riding in busy traffic or on a difficult road surface, this could be potentially very dangerous. Some people may think that wearing gloves will make their hands more sweaty but this isn't the case. The best gloves are made from breathable, wicking material which will absorb the sweat from your hands preventing them from slipping on the handlebar. These gloves are ideal for the summer when riders tend to sweat more.

3. Gloves prevent calluses and blisters

If you commute a long way every day through busy traffic, or you take part in mountain biking or racing, you will spend a lot of time gripping the handlebars extremely tightly. This can cause calluses on your palms and fingers which can affect your grip. If you continue to put pressure on these calluses, they can burst and become painful blisters.

It can be very difficult to ride while your hands are blistered, particularly on cold winter days, but wearing gloves will prevent new calluses from forming, and also prevent any calluses you already have from becoming blisters. Many people also develop particularly painful blisters on the skin between their thumbs and hands as a result of changing gears. Try to reduce the contact between your thumb and the handlebar with gloves that have more padding around the thumb.

man in red crew neck t-shirt and woman in blue crew neck t-shirt riding

4. Cycling gloves provide shock absorption

If your bicycle has a front suspension cycle fork, then this will provide a certain amount of shock absorption. If you regularly ride on uneven, rocky terrains, however, or you take part in sports like downhill mountain biking, you will need extra protection.

Choose gloves which have gel inserts or foam padding and these will absorb shock and prevents vibrations which can make your arms sore. This will ensure that you can continue to cycle in comfort no matter how bumpy the terrain.

5. Wearing gloves keeps your hands warm

While hot weather can cause your hands to sweat, cold weather can make your hands sore and numb. Winter gloves are made from thermal material and are designed with full fingers and thumbs to keep everything warm while you are riding. This extra warmth will prevent numbness which can potentially affect your grip.

You may think that it will be difficult to ride properly with full-finger gloves but they have the same grip on the fingers and the palms as open finger gloves. This means that not only will they keep your warm, they will also allow you to ride safely all year round.

6. Cycling gloves can prevent common injuries

Anyone who has been cycling for a while knows that there is a commonly occurring condition which affects cyclists called carpal tunnel syndrome or handlebar palsy. This is caused by extension and compression of nerves in the wrist and it can be extremely painful.

People who ride regularly need to wear gloves to reduce the pressure on their wrists or else severe nerve damage can occur. Cycling gloves offer extra support and protection to your wrists which helps to reduce pressure and prevent carpal tunnel from developing.

man in blue long sleeve shirt black shorts and gloves riding black bicycle

7. Gloves protect your hands in a crash

Accidents are an unfortunate reality for cyclists and the best thing you can do is to ride as carefully as possible and wear all the correct safety equipment. As well as a scientifically tested helmet, you should also wear gloves to protect your hands in the result of an accident. Anyone who has ever fallen off their bike knows that the natural reaction is to put their hands out to break their fall. Not only can this result in broken wrists, it can also lead to serious road burn.

To protect your skin, make sure you wear gloves with a padded palm so that the gloves get torn up rather than your hands. This is particularly important if you are riding during cold or wet weather when the roads are more likely to be slippery.

8. Cycling gloves can help you ride safely at night

Another important safety feature that every cyclist needs to prevent a crash is lights. These should be at the back and front of your bike and anywhere else you can attach them.

In addition to these lights, there are also special gloves with LEDs which cyclists can use to signal when they are riding at night. While these gloves can help keep everyone who rides at night safe, they are also a little more expensive than regular gloves.

9. You can wipe your nose and face

A sweaty forehead or a runny nose is a common problem for cyclists and the last thing you want to do while riding along is to root around in your pockets for a tissue. Many cycle gloves have a layer of towel material on the back for wiping away snot or sweat quickly without having to take your hands off the handlebars for too long.

10. Cycling gloves are stylish

As well as all these safety and performance benefits, there is one other reason why cyclists wear gloves; they look awesome! There are many different styles of glove to match your other cycling gear, and with most pairs only costing a few dollars, you can easily afford to buy a few.

To sum up...

Cycling gloves offer fantastic protection and will keep your hands warm and dry whether you are riding in the summer or the winter. Gloves reduce the risk of chronic nerve injuries to your wrists, and in the unfortunate event of a crash or a nasty fall, will prevent your hands from being torn up by gravel and rocks. Make sure you choose padded gloves with extra grip around the palm and thumb, and you will be able to prevent calluses and blisters no matter how often you cycle.

Cycling gloves are very cheap and so all you need to do is find a pair that suit your style and that provide the protection you need.