Why Your Cycling Gloves Keep Tearing

May 19, 2021 0 Comments

Cyclists riding on a road near a forest

A dedicated cyclist will go through quite a few pairs of gloves over years and decades on the bike. At some point, you may look back and wonder just how many garbage bags you could have filled with those sweat-laden, hole-riddled pairs you threw out.

With a lot of use, this invaluable piece of cycling gear will disintegrate surprisingly quickly. Once there’s one small tear, it can spread and ruin a cycling glove in no time. And, given how much cyclists use them, it’s no surprise that regular wear and tear leads to endless glove restocking.

Well, you may wonder why your cycling gloves keep tearing. There’s a way to end this relentless cycle and substantially extend the life of your cycling gloves. You can stop (or at least slow down) the tearing, and longtime cycling coach Darryl MacKenzie will show you how.

Why Cyclists Wear Gloves 

First, though, it’s worth answering an important question: Why wear cycling gloves in the first place? The easiest way to stop tearing through them is just to stop wearing them, right? 

Well, technically, sure. But there are good reasons for cyclists to wear gloves. Let’s look at three benefits of cycling gloves.

Reduce Road Shock

One of the many reasons why you need gloves for bike riding is that they provide protection for your hands. Good cycling gloves are made with padding to protect the key spots where your hands rest on the handlebars for hours at a time.

Some gloves have padding that’s ideally placed for mountain bikers, while others have it situated for road riders. The best pairs cover all areas so you will be protected from road (or trail) shock when you hit bumps on your ride.

Absorb Sweat

On a hot ride, sweat will run down your arms and collect at the low point — your hands. Another common reason why cyclists wear gloves is that the gloves will conveniently absorb that sweat and keep it from becoming a nuisance.

“That’s a lot better than having it create a film of sweat between your hands and the handlebars,” says Coach Darryl. You may have some gross, sweaty gloves to wash, but at least you kept a grip for your whole ride.

Protect Your Hands in a Crash

Finally — and most important — your gloves protect you from injury. A fall of your bike often leads to painful road rash, and exposed palms can get the worst of it. It’s much better to tear through a pair of gloves than to rip your hands to shreds on a fall. In Darryl’s experience, that can keep you off the bike for weeks.

What Causes Your Cycling Gloves to Tear

Although cycling gloves are usually thick and durable on the palms, they are made with a thin, stretchy fabric in between the fingers. This material is perfect for allowing your hands to breathe, but it can also easily tear over time. 

So, why do your cycling gloves keep tearing? Well, it tears easily if you don’t know how to take your gloves off. 

Luckily, what causes your cyclist gloves to tear can be easily fixed and avoided. As Coach Darryl notes, most cyclists actually take their gloves off the wrong way. They’ll grab the gloves one finger at a time and pull them off their hands. This stretches the fingers and inevitably leads to tearing.

The Trick: Take Off Your Gloves Correctly

Years ago, Coach learned a better way to take off his cycling gloves. Instead of pulling, push. Take your opposite hand, place the back of the hand toward the palm of the hand from which you’re removing the glove, slide your fingers underneath the palm of the glove, and push up. Your hands should naturally cup together, making it easy to slide in and gradually nudge the glove off.

Since he started taking his gloves off this way, Darryl guesses they now last four times as long as they used to. 

“Gloves just last a lot longer when you’re not putting stress onto the part of the glove that is the weakest,” he explains. Pretty straightforward, right?

A Handful (or Gloveful) of Other Tips

That’s not all Darryl has to say about gloves, though. Not surprisingly, he has a few other tips that you may find useful, beyond the question of why your cycling gloves keep tearing.

  • Never own just one pair of gloves. If you’re cycling regularly, they’ll be dirty or still wet from the wash when you need them. Always have a few pairs on hand so you can keep one clean and dry when you need it.
  • Velcro your gloves shut in the wash. Before you toss your gloves in the washer, be sure to velcro the strap down on each one. This will prevent the “pilling” that can happen when the velcro sticks to the thin material on another glove’s fingers. It tugs at it and causes small pieces of the fabric to pull up.
  • Velcro your gloves together in your bag. After you take them out of the wash, strap the velcro of each glove to the opposite glove. Once they’ve air dried (never put them in the dryer!), you can place them in your cycling bag still attached. This makes the gloves easier to find and keeps them from sticking to all of your other clothes.
  • Don’t buy a new pair without really trying them out. You want gloves that are made to fit you on your bike. So, take your bike with you when you buy gloves and actually stand over the bike with your gloves on while gripping the handlebars. Make sure they adequately cover your hands and have padding in the right places to absorb shock. 

Now you should know everything you need to know to find the right gloves and make them last. 

In addition to wearing gloves to help protect your hands, you must also stay hydrated and keep your cycling bottles clean, so you can stay safe and make the most of your ride.  

Before you conquer your next biking quest, check out our leather bike saddles. If you have any questions, contact our team today.

Happy hands make happy riding!


Look for more insights from Coach Darryl over at his website.

Photo by Munbaik Cycling Clothing from Pexels