Mountain Bike Gloves: 13 Common Questions (Answered!)

In this article we answer 13 common questions about mountain bike gloves, from how long they last to the best MTB glove alternatives!

Do You Need Mountain Bike Gloves?

Mountain bike gloves are not essential, however, many riders opt to wear them for the added comfort, grip, and warmth they provide.

Gloves serve a number of purposes when you’re out at the bike park, hitting the trails, or even just commuting to work. They provide shock absorption to make riding easier on the hands whilst also providing extra grip, particularly in wet weather or when your hands are especially sweaty!

On top of that, gloves provide a level of protection to your hands whether that be from thorns and nettles on overgrown trails or from cuts and scrapes when you inevitably crash your bike.

Whilst they’re not essential, they are recommended. Particularly when riding gnarly or overgrown trails. Oh, and they keep your hands warm in the winter too.

How Long Do Mountain Bike Gloves Last?

How long a pair of gloves will last you depends on how much you ride your bike. The more frequently you ride, the quicker the gloves will start to wear down.

A half-decent pair of mountain bike gloves should last at least a year unless you’re riding all day every day. Many riders will keep the same pair of gloves for a few years, so they’re a good investment.

Do Beginners Need Gloves for Mountain Biking?

The benefits of beginners wearing MTB gloves are the same as those experienced by seasoned riders. Gloves are not essential for beginner mountain bikers, but they are beneficial in protecting the hands, improving grip, and providing that much-needed warmth in the cooler months.

Do Mountain Bike Gloves Have Wrist Support?

The majority of mountain bike gloves don’t offer much in the way of wrist support.

Some types offer a more supportive velcro strap that covers more of the wrist than others, however, if you’d like true wrist support the best option is to purchase a wrist brace such as the Troy Lee Designs WS 5205 Wrist Support or Mobius Wrist Brace X8.

The likely reason that wrist support isn’t a standard feature of all MTB gloves is that riding with wrist support can feel quite restrictive which can be annoying if your wrists felt fine in the first place.

How Should Mountain Bike Gloves Fit?

Mountain bike gloves, and in fact, all cycling gloves should have a fairly snug fit. The glove should fit on your hand so that it goes all the way to the crease of your wrist (the point where your wrist bends when it’s flexed).

Additionally, when you’ve fully pulled the glove onto your hand the material between the fingers should come all the way to the space in between your fingers.

There shouldn’t be much excess material above each finger but bear in mind everyone’s hands are shaped differently.

When the glove is on you should be able to make a fist without feeling excessive tightening around any part of your hand or fingers. If you do the gloves are likely too small.

Are MTB Gloves Supposed to be Tight?

Mountain bike gloves should be relatively tight. They should be tight enough that your hand can’t move around inside the glove as this would reduce your ability to grip as well as chaffing your hand whilst riding.

That said, you should be able to make a fist comfortably whilst wearing the gloves. If making a fist or gripping your handlebars causes the gloves to become uncomfortably tight anywhere, then they’re too tight and you need a bigger pair.

Will Mountain Bike Gloves Stretch?

A new pair of bike gloves will possibly stretch a little bit, but not much. If you try on a pair of gloves that feel too tight but you expect them to stretch, you probably shouldn’t buy them and try a size up.

Whilst they won’t stretch much, they will ‘break in’ much like a new pair of shoes, becoming more comfortable and fitting slightly better after you’ve worn them a few times.

What are the Best Mountain Bike Gloves for Sweaty Hands?

Mountain bike gloves come in many different styles, some of which are far more suited to people with hands that are likely to overheat or get excessively sweaty.

If you’re prone to sweaty hands, have a look for a pair of summer/warm weather MTB gloves. They have thinner, more breathable material that can help get more air to your hands.

It’s also worth considering fingerless gloves for ventilation. Whilst they do offer less protection overall as your fingers are exposed, they also undoubtedly give your hands more of that much-needed fresh air.

Can You Wash Mountain Bike Gloves?

Yes you can! And let’s face it, you probably should as well. Bike gloves can get start to smell pretty quickly.

When washing your gloves, it’s important to check the label to see the manufacturers’ recommended washing instructions.

Some gloves will be machine washable, or perhaps machine washable only on a cold water setting. Others will require hand washing to avoid damage.

If hand washing your gloves, use warm water that is comfortable to put your hand in, along with washing detergent.

How Often Should You Wash Your Cycling Gloves?

You should only wash your gloves when they need washing. So, when do they need washing? This depends on how muddy/sweaty they get when you use them.

Unless you get really muddy or have very sweaty hands it isn’t necessary to wash your gloves after every ride. That said, as long as you wash them in accordance with the washing instructions on the label they should be fine.

If you cut the label out of your gloves as soon as you bought them or the instructions are too worn to read, play it safe and wash them by hand in cold/lukewarm water to avoid damaging them.

Many riders choose to wash their gloves after every 3 to 5 rides, and some even less frequently than that. At the end of the day it’s personal preference, but once every 3 to 5 rides is a good rule of thumb if you don’t want them to stink.

After a ride when you choose not to wash your gloves, just make sure you allow them to air out properly. This in itself should go a long way to reducing that glove stench!

Can You Use Motorcycle Gloves for Mountain Biking?

Yes, motorcycle gloves can be used for mountain biking. The gloves serve similar purposes and you’ll get even more protection from motorcycle gloves. Dirt bike gloves are the most similar to mountain bike gloves and can even cost less.

The only real downside of motorcycle gloves is that they are typically thicker than mountain bike gloves, so your hands can get sweaty fast.

Can Leather Gloves be Used for Mountain Biking?

The right sort of leather glove can absolutely be used for mountain biking. In fact, some MTB gloves are made from leather.

As long as the gloves fit you properly, that being it isn’t so tight that it restricts blood flow to parts of your hand or too loose that your hand can move around inside the glove they should be fine.

Another thing to check is how much grip you get from the gloves. Leather is typically quite grippy, but a leather glove designed for fashion may have a finish on the material that makes it slippy.

Can You Use Ski Gloves for Mountain Biking?

Ski gloves can be beneficial for cycling if it’s freezing cold outside. That said, the padding in ski gloves can result in your hands moving around quite a lot in the glove making the handlebars that bit harder to grip.

The best way to find out is to take your ski gloves the next time you go for a ride and see how they perform, each ski glove is different so some will have more grip than others.

If it’s remotely warm outside your hands are likely to overheat quickly.

What are Good Alternatives to Mountain Bike Gloves?

Aside from the gloves mentioned earlier in this list, a great and cheap alternative to MTB gloves is a pair of work gloves.

A cheap $5 pair of work gloves from a store like Home Depot with a good grippy palm can make for ideal mountain bike gloves if you don’t want to pay MTB glove prices, or if you’ve misplaced your main pair of riding gloves and don’t want to go without.