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Which Motorsport Gloves do I Need? | Racing Gloves Explained
In the world of Motorsport, choosing the right gloves can seem like a minefield. With hundreds of options, prices ranges and styles, it’s tricky to know exactly which ones are right for your particular application.
From leather driving gloves to karting marigolds. Within this article, Fast Racer plans to give you the ultimate guide to all things racing gloves.
Your gloves are a critically important part of your racing outfit. They are not only designed to look cool but also serve a crucial purpose. Firstly, to protect your hands and wrists in the event of a fire, but also to provide comfort and grip between your hands and the steering wheel.
In motorsport, we rely on a number of bodily senses to drive the car. Vision, touch, sound and if you’re unlucky; smell. Your sense of touch can tell you a lot about what the car is doing. Ensuring that you have a strong connection between the steering wheel and your hands can have a big effect on driving performance.
Chose your gloves wisely!
Not all motorsport categories require the use of racing gloves under their regulations and lots of drivers opt not to wear gloves. It doesn’t matter what kind of event you are taking part in, the use of proper FIA or SFI standard racing gloves is always recommended.
We aren’t just saying this because we sell them!
Your gloves play a vital role in the fire safety of your hands and wrists, an important multifunctional part of your body. FIA or SFI validated racing gloves are completely fireproof and offer as much protection as you could ever need in the event of a fire.
Be careful here however because Karting gloves, do not offer any fire protection. In karting, it is considerably less likely to be caught in an enclosed fire. Karting gloves (and all other karting kit) are not designed with fire protection in mind and hence are usually much cheaper than circuit racing kit.
Another safety aspect to consider is the wrist length of the gloves. If you have a race suit that comes up slightly shorter on the sleeves, be sure to choose a glove that has a long enough wrist to comfortably overlap your race suit. Any bare skin showing between the two can often cause disqualification from race events.
Wet Weather Gloves
Wet racing gloves are a type of Karting glove that provides wet weather protection and keeps the hands dry and warm. Wet hands can cause them to cool, losing sensation at the fingertips. The decision to wear wet weather gloves is a bit of a mixed one, with some swearing that everyone needs them and some saying to definitely not wear them.
The reason against them is the level of grip that you get between your hands and the wheel. By adding an extra level of glove, you further distance the contact between your fingers and the wheel. Creating more movement and less feel.
On the other hand, keeping the hands warm and dry can make your driving experience much more enjoyable, especially if you have more races coming up that same day.
The decision is therefore up to you. Opting for two pairs of dry gloves and alternating between the two, in our opinion is the best choice here.
The Difference Between Driving Gloves and Racing Gloves
Driving gloves are hand shoes you would use to drive your vintage classic down to the shops and back. Many new drivers to motorsport think that their everyday driving gloves are a sufficient solution for track driving. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Although road driving gloves can be extremely comfortable and can provide better grip levels than bare hands, there are a number of reasons why they are not suitable for the track.
Safety is our number one point here. Driving gloves are not fireproof, in fact, a lot of them have breathing holes stitched in. An obvious no-no. Furthermore, driving gloves tend to be made out of a stiffer material, such as leather and sometimes suede. This stiffer material creates a resistance in the closing of your fingers and can reduce the contact patch between your hands and the wheel.
Design - the design of racing gloves is purpose-built to help you drive a racing car. Driving gloves are made for driving, but also to look cool. With much less testing and emphasis on performance.
If you are thinking of taking your car out on track, always opt for an officially branded racing glove, and not a driving glove alternative.
Why are Racing Gloves Expensive?
The costs of racing gloves can seem to vary massively. With the budget track gloves coming in at $129.00 USD like the OMP FIRST-EVO Racing Gloves and higher-end gloves like the Alpinestars Tech-1 ZX V2 Racing Gloves around the $200 mark. Karting gloves are generally cheaper, due to the mentioned points above, but can still range between $169.00 for the OMP ARP Advanced Rainproof Kart Gloves to $50.00 for the Alpinestars TECH-1 K Race V2’s.
With this difference in price, it’s hard to always tell what the advantage or disadvantage is for each type.
The next two paragraphs will explain in more detail how Fitment and Grip can play a massive part in not only which glove to chose, but also why some are much more expensive than others.
Another key aspect to price is the level of testing and manufacture that goes into the more expensive glove. The intricacy of design in top-level gloves provides the ultimate level of comfort and grip.
Do you need the most expensive gloves available? In most cases, no. High-level motorsports, where the gloves are being worn almost every weekend, yes. It really comes down to how serious you take the sport, and how much money you are willing to spend. You may see an advantage to a more expensive glove over 100 races, but doing the odd track day in your road car would not justify spending over $200 on a sweet pair of gloves.
If you have your price range in mind, then these next two chapters are the reason that you chose the gloves you chose.
It goes without saying, that when deciding which gloves to buy, you need them to fit properly. Unfortunately for you, each brand of glove will have a slightly different fit and measurement process which can make it tricky to find a size that fits you well.
Pay close attention to the fitting guides provided when searching for your gloves.
There are also new designs that brands like OMP are starting to use to further enhance fitment, such as pre-curved fingers. Having the fingers already at a slight bend means that when the hand is closed around the wheel, there is less material bunching up underneath your fingers. This gives a much smoother, cleaner connection with the wheel.
Also, outside seems (where the material is stitched together) along the fingers can create a significantly more comfortable grip. The aim is to get as clean a connection between your hands and the wheel as possible.
The fitment of the glove should be tight, your fingers should be just touching the ends of the gloves, the palms should be snug and the wrists should not be baggy. Any excess material will create movement in the glove, allowing the steering wheel to slip and a loss of control.
Each glove provides a different type of grip pattern. The entry-level gloves will often be made of a single material, with a small amount of silicone added to the fingertips to enhance touch and feel.
In high g-force racing, where a large force goes through the steering wheel, it can often not be enough to keep a firm enough grip with the cheaper style gloves.
The top-range gloves, therefore, offer much more detailed grip designs, and use patterned silicone patches across the entire hand to give the ultimate levels of friction.
Suede and leather gloves can also provide good levels of grip, however, the tacky, abrasive texture of silicone provides the best contact patch between your hands and the wheel.
If you’re thinking about taking motorsport more seriously, then the investment into an expensive pair of gloves might be right for you. The superior grip and comfort achievable in the higher-end glove range can make the final few tenths difference to your driving performance.
If track days and club level motorsport is more your thing, then a mid-range glove can provide more than enough ergonomics to keep you pointing in the right direction.
The main point to take away from this article is that fitment should always be perfect. Do not settle for anything less. A snug fit across the palm, fingers reaching the ends and a tight-fitting wrist should all be essential points to consider.
When buying gloves, be sure to cover all bases by buying the same glove in a number of sizes to ensure you find the proper fitment.
Grip type also plays an important part in the selection process. If you are involved in motorsports with a high load through the steering wheel, then make sure to opt for a glove with silicone grip patterns, such as the OMP ONE range or Alpinestars TECH range.
Finally, and something that we have not talked about much in this article is styling. Of course, picking a pair of gloves that looks cool is important, but make sure not to sacrifice fitment or grip in order to have a pair of gloves that match your aesthetic.
If you’re looking to buy essential race safety gear and accessories, check out what we have in store for you.
For more information, get in touch with us!
Author: Matt Lambert | Right Motorsports