Mountain biking is just like any other sport. It has its dangers.
And because of this, it makes sense for mountain bikers to practice safety and precaution. One good way to do just that is by wearing gloves.
There are two kinds of gloves. These are either full-finger gloves or fingerless gloves. Most trail riders wear full-finger gloves because of the level of protection they provide.
Meanwhile, cross-country or light trail riders usually wear fingerless gloves. These are the gloves that don’t cover the entire fingers.
But are these fingerless gloves any better for mountain biking?
Let’s find out.
What are fingerless gloves?
Fingerless gloves are a type of gloves that do not cover the entirety of the fingers. They are open at the tip, allowing the upper-most part of the fingers to be exposed to the elements.
These are also lighter compared to full-finger gloves as they are made for maximum breathability. These gloves also allow air to enter the hands and cool them down, which comes in handy especially if you’re out riding on a hot summer’s day.
What are full-finger gloves?
Full-finger gloves are another kind of gloves used for mountain biking. These are the more common kind of gloves because of the security it provides.
These gloves are also the choice of many aggressive riders who ride through enduro and downhill trails. They cover the entire fingers and hands just like what an ordinary glove does.
Mountain Biking Disciplines and Required Gloves
Cross-country mountain biking is more about the distance traveled. This usually spans several kilometers, around 30 to 100 kilometers or even more. This means that cross-country riders should focus more on breathability and comfort instead of safety.
Note, though, that cross-country or XC trails are less difficult and lighter compared to the usual enduro and downhill trails. So, there’s no problem if you compromise a bit of safety on your gloves.
What’s more, is that XC riders don’t go as fast compared to downhill bikers who shred rock gardens and gnarly trails around 40 to 80 kilometers per hour or even more! Thus, half finger gloves are ideal for cross-country riders.
Enduro mountain biking is more aggressive compared to cross-country. Enduro is trail riding and is a mix of both XC and downhill.
Enduro riders both have cardiovascular strength and technical skills to traverse seemingly impassable trails.
So, it makes sense for these guys to wear gloves. However, the ones that they wear are thinner, just like the Troy Lee Designs Air mountain biking gloves, compared to the full-blown armor-covered gloves for downhill mountain biking.
Downhill mountain biking is all about the gnarliest of trails you can ever imagine. You might just go always down, but the trails you pass through are seemingly impassable.
It makes sense for these hardcore riders to get the most protection there is, especially with their gloves.
Hence, these mountain bikers should wear full-finger gloves that have armor protection on the knuckles. These padded gloves for mountain biking are similar to the ones you find on motocross riders and winter gloves.
A good example of this is the 100% Cognito D30 MTB gloves which have D30 padding that provides added protection on crashes.
Benefits of Fingerless Gloves
The best thing about fingerless gloves is that they are very breathable. Their tips are open, allowing air to enter the hands and cool down the fingers.
This is very useful especially if you always ride in hot and warm climate areas. Your hands are less likely to get fatigued and the chances of getting hand and arm cramps decrease.
The POC Road Mesh is a nice mountain bike glove option out there. It’s even considered one of the best mountain bike gloves or MTB gloves in the market due to its quality and aesthetic appeal.
Fingerless gloves let you get a good feel of your grips and handlebar. This gives you superior control and maneuverability. It doesn’t feel awkward because you have direct contact with your handlebar grips. But this only works if you don’t have any sweaty hands.
What are the disadvantages of fingerless gloves?
Safety is the number one concern when it comes to mountain bike gloves. Note that your fingers are exposed to the elements. And what do gloves do? Well, it protects your hands if you fall, which is very likely.
Your hands are also the first part of your body that touches the ground. What you normally do when you crash is you instinctively stretch out your hands to protect your head and chest from hitting.
This then leaves scrapes and scratches over your hands. Worst-case scenarios can even lead to extreme blood loss.
Your fingers are exposed to the elements when you have half-finger mountain bike gloves, which is a bad thing if you want to play safe with your mountain biking. You can get sunburned, have your fingers wet, or worse, get bitten by an insect or crash on the ground and lead to severe hand injuries.
This is very true for mountain bikers who have sweaty hands. Your fingers aren’t covered by the gloves, so you gain direct contact with the grips, brake lever, and shifters.
Holding tightly onto your grips will then be much difficult because the sweat from your fingers would just make your hands slip off.
This can then pose safety risks. Meanwhile, sweaty fingers will make it harder for you to brake when you’re wearing these mountain bike gloves. In worse cases, you can get thrown off your bike when you accidentally pull the front brakes strongly.
Mountain bikers have two options, either they use full-finger gloves or wearing fingerless gloves.
Both options have their pros and cons. And it’s up to the rider to weigh it out and choose the things they want to compromise.
You just can’t have it all, even if we’re talking about mountain bike gloves.