2018’s Best [Lightweight & Protective] Summer Motorcycle Gloves

Confused about which are the best summer motorcycle gloves? Here’s my detailed guide on gloves providing maximum protection and maximum breathability.

Looking for the best summer motorcycle gloves for the money, but confused as to exactly where the balance is, in terms of price and quality? I hear ya!

There are hundreds of glove brands, from the absolute dirt cheap, to the insanely expensive.

This 5-minute review (from a motorcycle rider…me), is going to cover the best summer motorcycle gloves on offer in 2018.

Short Cuff Or Full Length?

First up, let’s talk about the difference between short cuff and full-length motorcycle gloves for summer riding.

Typically, you’re going to find that short cuff gloves offer the absolute best ventilation, but they’ll lack protection slightly in comparison to the full-length equivalent.

But, if you’re wearing a top motorcycle jacket, this should cover the wrist area that ISN’T covered by a short cuff.

Basically, full-length gloves aren’t essential for protection, and the ultimate gloves for warm weather are short cuff.

Either way, we’ll offer up suggestions below for both short and long summer motorcycle gloves.

The Best Summer Motorcycle Gloves

  1. Alpinestars SMX-1 Air

Our Top Pick For: The Best Short Cuff Summer Motorcycle Gloves 

Alpinestars are a motorcycle brand that need no introduction. Whether you ride motocross, enduro, track or street, there’s a good chance you’ve got one of their products in your kit bag. And, if you haven’t already, the SMX-1 Air could be your first.

Price

For a brand like Alpinestars, the SMX-1 Air summer gloves weigh in relatively cheap. You’ll be able to pick them up for around $60, which puts them in a competitive price bracket with a ton of other brands offering similar products.

And, that’s rare. Alpinestars motorcycle gear (whether that’s boots, leathers, or in this case gloves), tend to be at the very high-end in terms of price.

Breathability

The SMX-1 Airs from Alpinestars aren’t just a set of gloves “suitable” for summer, they’re designed SPECIFICALLY for summer.

If you want a lightweight, short cuff and breathable set of motorcycle gloves, these are the ones for you.

The lightweight leather means temperature in your hands is moderated, but they’re not lacking in protection either.

Protection

The core protection comes from the 3D chassis that has leather incorporated throughout.

A quick glance, and you’ll notice the reinforced knuckle protection. Sure, it’s unlikely, but if a stone flicks up and hits you in the knuckle, it’s going to hurt…unless your wearing summer gloves with knuckle protection like the SMX-1 gloves.

Durability

You can get good protection and ventilation from cheap motorcycle gloves. The problem? They wear out ridiculously quickly.

That’s why Alpinestars have reinforced the hard-wearing areas of the glove. They’ve focused on the palm and thumb area. And, that’s coupled with a suede reinforcement on the outer hand.

Comfort

Besides keeping your hands cool during warm weather, the SMX-1 Airs are designed with comfort in mind.

The thumb and palm reinforcements are simple but comfortable inserts, and the stretch insert helps to offer that perfect fit. But, you’ll also get shock absorbing EVA foam on the palm and outer thumb, as well as TPR finger sliders for comfort and protection.

Like the outer hand, you’ll get suede reinforcement on the fingertips, allowing for better front brake and clutch feel (oh, and they’re compatible with touchscreens on GPS units and smartphones).

Finally, the SMX-Airs incorporate a pre-curved finger layout. On cheap (and stiff) gloves, you’ll be using muscles to curve those fingers, and that’s going to reduce comfort, and increase the chance of getting arm pump whilst riding.

Online Reviews

I always like to check out online reviews before making a purchase online. And the SMX-1 Air review portfolio is a big one.

All combined, there are over 100 positive reviews backing up what we’ve covered (durability, comfort, protection and breathability), making these the top of the shortlist for the majority of street bike riders.

Who Should Buy The Alpinestars SMX-1 Air Summer Motorcycle Gloves?

The SMX-1 Airs have it all. They’re comfortable, durable and offer huge amounts of protection. And, they’re not just suitable for street riding. You’ll be able to use them for adventure, touring, supermoto and even dirt bike riding (if you’re lucky enough to own more than one bike).

Better still, at around $60, the SMX-1 gloves are an absolute bargain coming from a factory with a reputation as big as Alpinestars’ is.

Buy The Alpinestars SMX-1 Air Gloves  
  1. RST Tractech EVO Race Gloves

Our Top Pick For: The Best Summer Motorcycle Gloraves For ALL-OUT Protection 

RST don’t get a lot of coverage in the USA. Why? I have no idea. I’m over in the UK, and RST are huge here. They compete with the big boys, including the likes of Dainese and Alpinestars. And to be honest, they’re products (whilst on-par), are a heck-of-a lot cheaper.

I don’t personally own these, but I do tend to “borrow” my cousin’s when he’s not wearing them (he has a spare room…just for bike gear). So, I’ll try and wind in what I/he thinks of the RST summer race gloves, alongside the manufacturer’s specs.

Mainly, I’m dropping the RST Tractech EVO Race gloves in this list, for those that don’t know about the brand…you’ve been missing out!

Price

Now, if you want the best summer gloves for all-out protection, you’re going to have to pay BIG for them. If you’re a fan of the SMX-1 Air (i.e. Alpinestars), there’s a chance you might want to check out the RST Tractech, before buying full length Alpinestars.

Why? As I’ve said, Alpinestars AREN’T cheap. A full length set of leather gloves like these (from Astars) would cost in the $250 bracket. From RST? You’re looking at around half that, and I think that’s a pretty-good deal!

Breathability (And Waterproofing)

If you’re not living in the UK like me, you might be blessed by knowing you’ll leave for your ride at sunrise, and return with a grin on your face at sunset.

For us, it’s usually a case of leaving dry and returning wet. And the best thing about the RST Tractech EVO gloves is that they’re waterproof.

But, plenty of cheap gloves are waterproof, so why pay over $100? The RST summer gloves are breathable. And that means even when it’s raining (it could still be warm), you’re not sweating.

What this also means? You’ll be able to use the RST Tractech gloves all year round.

And the same goes for a hot day. That breathable liner is going to keep the temperature of your hands moderated, to almost perfection.

Protection

Protection is really where the RST Tractechs are leaps and bounds above the SMX-1 Airs.

The list of protection on offer is extensive:

  • Aramaid thread which absorbs impacts in the most important areas of the gloves
  • Reinforced palm
  • Premium leather construction
  • Kevlar reinforcement
  • Double wrist cuff, reducing the chance of losing a glove (and skin), in a crash
  • A hard knuckle, made from high quality carbon fiber

Basically, if you get a hand injury wearing the RST Tractech gloves, just be glad you weren’t wearing cheap equivalents; the injuries you’d be nursing would be much more serious.

Durability

Many of the features that protect you, also prolong the life the RST gloves.

That includes the likes of reinforcement, the use of Kevlar, premium leather and aramaid paneling. Unless you bail hard, the RST Tractech summer gloves will be in your kit bag for years to come.

Comfort

These look like a serious set of motorcycle gloves, and I can tell you first hand; they definitely are.

So, you would think all this protection is going to come at the cost of comfort? It doesn’t.

In fact, these are comfier than some of the cheaper short cuff gloves I have (but no longer wear). You’ll feel very little in the way of stitching on the interior. After riding for a few minutes, they feel just like wearing a short cuff summer motorcycle glove.

You’ve got outstretched and pre-curved fingers, providing the best fit possible, and improving grip around the bars.

And, you’ll lock all this together using the double wrist and cuff closure, for a snug but secure fit.

Who Should Buy The RST Tractech Summer Motorcycle Gloves?

You either sit in one of two camps:

  • You want the lightest, shortest and most breathable summer motorcycle gloves possible.
  • You want the best summer motorcycle gloves and won’t compromise when it comes to protection.

Heading for lightweight? You’ll want the Alpinestars SMX-1 Air.

Heading for maximum protection? You’ll want to grab a set of Tractech EVOs from RST, in our opnion, the best summer motorcycle gloves offering maximum protection (without breaking the bank).

Buy The RST Tractech Gloves  

What’s Next?

Thanks for reading our 5-minute review of the best motorcycle gloves for warm weather.

Like what you’ve read? I’m a motorcycle junkie and regularly post up new product reviews, when I come across products I think are cool. Bookmark the NoobNorm homepage and pop back soon to read them.

Or if you’d prefer, sign up to our newsletter, and I’ll fire you an email when I post up new content.

Written by
Grant Draper

Grant's a motorcycle geek, outdoor enthusiast & confirmed racing nut. He road tests all the gear he buys, and then gives his feedback here on NoobNorm.

He also details any quick fixes he stumbles upon, whether that's to stop brakes on motorcycles sticking, or unusual noises coming from gaming wheels.

View all articles
Leave a reply

Written by Grant Draper