The Best Mountain Bike Gloves To Keep You Safe

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From twisting and turning the handlebars, to reaching out to move branches or balance on a rock, your hands are exposed to lots of wear and tear as you ride on rough terrain. Wearing gloves designed for mountain biking is the best way to protect them whether you’re tearing downhill or taking a leisurely ride through the forest. 

Keeping your hands secure on the handlebars and resistant to fatigue and trail chatter leads to a longer and more enjoyable ride. Mountain bike gloves also help keep your hands warm and dry, deflect flying debris or branches, protect against blisters, chafing, and even provide impact protection to your palms, knuckles and fingers in the event of a fall or crash. 

What are mountain bike gloves?

Mountain bike gloves are a key part of the safety gear designed to be worn by riders to keep their hands protected from weather conditions, impacts, and abrasions. 

Available in both full finger and fingerless designs, mountain bike gloves have special features such as palm padding, knuckle protection, and carefully placed grips to aid with steering and control. Typically the gloves are a thinner fit for better grip, but you can get more insulated options for riding in colder or wetter conditions. Whatever type of mountain bike glove you choose, you’ll be sure to see the benefits of protecting your hands quickly when out riding. 

Why should you wear mountain bike gloves? 

The features of mountain bike gloves benefit cyclists in a variety of ways. Gloves specifically for mountain bikers are designed to keep a good grip on the handlebars, with sweat-wicking materials and silicone grips that work even in wet weather. The materials that are used in mountain bike gloves are also lightweight, meaning you can accurately feel the grip of the handlebars and brakes. 

Alongside better grip, comfort is the next biggest benefit of mountain biking gloves. Offering protection from the wear and tear of many hours twisting and turning on a bike, the durable materials keep riders’ hands warm in rainy, windy or cold conditions, and are breathable in hot climates. They also give an extra layer of protection from any cuts or abrasions caused by rocks, branches or gravel. 

Mountain bike gloves can have D3O® padding built into the fingers, knuckles and palms. This is particularly helpful in the event of a crash or bail, as D3O® helps to support the hand and minimize the chance of serious injury. It’s also useful for mountain bikers who experience numbness as a result of the repeated shocks coming through the steering column. This means mountain bike gloves can help keep mountain bikers riding comfortably for longer, even in challenging conditions. 

​​How should mountain bike gloves fit?

To make sure riders can have full use of their hands and fingers to grip and steer, mountain bike gloves need to have a close fit to the hands and fingers. This secure fit is important to ensure the gloves don’t move out of place, leaving the protection in the wrong place.

Finding mountain bike gloves that offer a secure fit, stay in place and aren’t restrictive is the ideal balance. Lightweight knuckle and hand protection, stretchy materials and extra support such as wrist straps all offer extra security and comfort to mountain bikers. 

How to choose the best mountain bike gloves 

There are plenty of mountain bike gloves out there. To find the best option for you, consider your priorities based on the following features: 

  • Rubber or silicone grips. These may be placed on the fingers or palms and are key to helping riders keep hold of the handlebars in rough conditions. Different gloves will have different grip designs, so it's worth testing how these interact with your bike grips before you buy. 

  • Protection. D3O® impact protection can help reduce the seriousness of injury in the event of a crash, fall, or slide. It’s also soft and flexible, meaning that you riders don’t have to compromise on comfort to get protected. Having appropriate impact protection across the knuckles, fingers and palms is ideal for all mountain biking styles, but if you’re riding enduro or downhill, this is a must. Consider what level of protection you want, and choose a design that gives you the factors you need. 
  • Fit and style. Mountain bike gloves should be snug but not too tight. This will stop them from slipping out of place and ensure mountain bikers can feel the handlebars and brakes. Some designs also come with fastening straps to provide a secure fit. There are also women’s and men’s styles to best suit individual needs. 

  • Quality materials. To stop hands from becoming sore, materials need to keep them at an appropriate temperature, wick away any moisture and act as a protective layer from any abrasions, without hampering performance. Checking materials to make sure they’re breathable, lightweight and durable is key. 

The best mountain bike gloves

If you’re looking for high-quality and protective mountain bike gloves, then there are some D3O-protected options below. 

Fox Racing’s Defend D3O Gloves

Made with comfortable stretch materials, the Defend D3O Gloves give mountain bikers extra protection without holding them back. The compression fit and internal texture give riders a heightened feel and control, additional hook and loop wrist straps provide a secure fit and fingertips are touchscreen compatible. The D3O® knuckle guards offer discrete integrated impact protection, to protect these vulnerable joints from damage. 

Troy Lee Designs Gambit Gloves

Available in a range of styles and levels of protection, Troy Lee Designs Gambit Gloves keep mountain bikers looking great and feeling comfortable over rough terrain, helping to dampen trail chatter through the palm. Made from a three-layer softshell fabric and soft fleece liner, these gloves offer great temperature control with perforated palm ventilation. D3O-protected knuckles and a dual-layer palm will help riders get the most out of every ride. 

Specialized Trail Gloves

Whatever obstacle you need to get down or over, Specialized Trail Gloves will help you stay comfortable and in control. These close-fitting gloves have silicone-printed fingers to help you feel the handlebars while maintaining grip and staying protected. They come with added features such as a thumb sweat wipe, neoprene wrist closure, and perforated palm for temperature and sweat control. D3O® knuckle guards are integrated into the stitched nylon for secure, non-slip impact protection. These are a great choice for riders looking for slim-profile gloves and a pull on style. 

Racer’s Rock WR Gloves

If you’re looking for some extra warmth and protection from the elements in the winter, then you should consider the Rock WR Gloves. Available in a variety of unisex sizes, it has D3O® knuckle guards to protect from impacts on ice, snow or harder ground. Palm padding offers an extra layer of protection with strategic placement on the heel and outside of the hand. Made from water-repellent fabrics, with a waterproof membrane and hook and loop wrist closure, your hands are sure to stay toasty in these. 

Endura Sport MT500 D3O Gloves

With four-way stretch and ripstop material, the MT500 D3O gloves act as a second protective skin, great for riders looking for something low-profile but still with maximum protection. Strategic silicone placements help improve grip for handlebar security, and integrated lightweight D3O® knuckle and finger protection makes them the perfect option for everyday riding. 

Visit your local bike store or sports retailer and try on a range of mountain bike gloves to find the pair that best suits your riding. Always look for D3O® impact protection to get the best level of safety possible - find out more about our mountain biking partners here.