Get a grip
Biker Boy tests three glove types to see which would protect you most in a crash
The signs are encouraging.
Anecdotally, apparel shops report more bikers are buying safety products, particularly gloves and jackets.
But I wonder what happens when you don't protect your hands and fingers when riding?
To find out which types of gloves would fare better in a road crash, we devised a little experiment.
It is nothing too complex or scientific.
We tried to show what happens to your gloves in a crash by dropping them onto the road at 50kmh.
Our test subjects are a light synthetic motocross glove, a lightly padded leather and synthetic low cuff glove, and a full-on leather racing glove.
TEST SUBJECTS: (From left) The motocross glove, the leather racing glove, the lightly padded leather glove. TNP PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Naturally, their prices and protection levels vary.
Motocross gloves cost less than $50 while prices for leather racing gloves start from $300. Those boast added protection like Kevlar stitching, carbon fibre knuckle protectors, palm sliders made of hard plastic and overlapping leather panels to prevent tears.
In previous discussions with trauma surgeon Ganesh Ramalingam, he told The New Paper on Sunday that in a crash, your hands are likely the first to be hurt.
Said Dr Ganesh: "The most common part of the body that comes into contact with the road when the rider is conscious is the hand and arm, as a reflex to break the fall."
The 5kg weight attached to our gloves is by no means an accurate measure of the loads experienced in a crash.
But it comes close.
Added Dr Ganesh: "In general, if the rider is thrown off the motorbike and the hand is the first point of contact, he will be bearing his full weight on that hand and potentially more if the force of the original accident is great and he flew to a significant height."
Now, imagine a 60kg adult taking a tumble with arms outstretched. In such a case, you can expect more damage to the gloves and possibly more injury to your hands.
The good thing is abrasions will heal within a week or two. Fractures and tendon injuries will take six to eight weeks while nerve injuries may take months to heal, said Dr Ganesh.
OUR TEST RESULTS
The motocross glove (below) took the most beating, sustaining two puncture marks on the palm and the base of the middle finger.
The lightly padded leather glove (below) fared better with a ping pong ball-size mark on the palm and slight scuffing at the tip of the index finger. There was however a finger nail-size cut on the neoprene wrist.
Finally, the leather racing glove (below).
While there was a 5mm hole at the base of the middle finger, the lining inside the glove was not punctured. There were faint abrasion marks on the plastic palm slider.
Wear leather gloves as they are tough.
Their prices and our hot weather may discourage use but they could lessen the extent of hand injuries.
I still keep a pair of Kangaroo leather gloves that saved my digits when I was ejected from my motorcycle on the circuit at roughly 125kmh.
The knuckle protectors and magnesium knuckle sliders were knackered.
The impact left holes on the glove's pinky and thumb areas, causing me to suffer minor cuts. Remnants of dried blood can still be seen on the gloves.
I learnt that in a high speed crash, there is no way of controlling my body or hands to break my fall.
But without gloves, my injuries could have been far worse.
So if you're tempted to ride at breakneck speeds on public roads, just think of my battered racing gloves.
"The most common part of the body that comes into contact with the road when the rider is conscious is the hand and arm, as a reflex to break the fall. In general, if the rider is thrown off the motorbike and the hand is the first point of contact, he will be bearing his full weight on that hand and potentially more if the force of the original accident is great and he flew to a significant height."
- Trauma surgeon Ganesh Ramalingam