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I commute to work a few miles on my bike in the city. Today someone walked out in front of me and I squeezed the brakes too hard and went over the handlebars. I suffered a mild elbow fracture because I put my arms out in front of me and the palms of my hands are destroyed.

I started thinking, I have had several incidents while commuting (mostly in snow or on leaves) and I almost always get hand injuries as a result. I'd like to get gloves that protect my hands.

But:

  1. I don't want the gloves to make injury to elbows, arms, head, scaphoid, or anything else greater. That is, they shouldn't stick to the asphalt too hard nor slide too much (I think...I'm open to suggestion)
  2. They should be comfy to ride. I can have a separate pair for winter and summer riding.
  3. I'd prefer if they were tough enough to withstand a few falls without taking too much damage.
  4. I'm always on roads and bike paths, so asphalt is the only landing consideration.

I'm not sure what kind of stuff to get. Cycling gloves seem like they are mostly leather and it seems like they would be damaged from a fall like I just had. Motorcycle gloves seem heavier duty and have more protection, but I don't know how they would have affected this situation. That is, I'm very glad my hands are hurt and face/head/shoulders are fine.

Is damage to wrists or scaphoid bone a serious concern? If so, are there good gloves for that? I'd love some suggestions.

Edit: BTW My commute is only like 20 minutes each way per day. Long distance issues are not of concern for me.

  • 2
    Ordinary cycling gloves should help a lot. But if you're injuring yourself that regularly perhaps you should rethink your cycling style. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 29 '14 at 1:10
  • @DanielRHicks Yeah, this is my worst crash to date but I'd say I have an incident about every 6 months, on average (in the winter I always have warm gloves on). I feel like I ride like a granny but I do ride daily regardless of conditions and I seem to find peril. I guess this means a motorcycle is out! :) – farnsy Oct 29 '14 at 1:19
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    Do understand that ordinary leather cycling gloves will not be destroyed every time you fall on them. Yes, after maybe 3-4 hands-out spills on asphalt with a pair you will see spots wearing through and want to replace them, but they'd probably still be good for that much more abuse before the padding wears through. (And note that your helmet probably should be replaced too, if it's figuring in at all.) – Daniel R Hicks Oct 29 '14 at 1:25
  • Thankfully never had a spill that went far enough to involve my head. Will def replace helmet should that happen though. I am traumatized from this experience and kind of want elbow and knee pads (like a rollerblader) and a full motorcycle helmet. Maybe a shrink is what I need most. – farnsy Oct 29 '14 at 1:37
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    You shouldn't be flying over the handlebars during heavy braking. Learn to brake harder and earlier on the rear and keep your weight low. Also as in answers below people who think ahead don't have so many accidents. – JamesRyan Oct 29 '14 at 12:15
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Thankfully I never ride without gloves. The light weight gloves with padded leather in the palms is all you need - they are cheap, comfortable and effective - what more could you ask for. I had a crash after my bike was tampered with and the front wheel fell off. I am a programmer, and although I emptied the company first aid kit of dressings, and could not walk properly or bend my elbow for days, I could still type. Had I not been wearing gloves, I would have been off work for weeks.

As I see it, if you damage the leather enough to make the gloves unserviceable, and walk away - keep walking - straight to you lottery shop. Leather is tough and slide - in my case the gloves, which took the full impact of my fall, had no visible damage - unlike my shoulder, elbow and hip....

Wearing big heavy gloves might protect you hands, but downhill riders and motorcyclists that wear these also wear full face helmets and body armour - unless you do the same you will come off and although your hands will be fine, the rest of you won't be.

Any bone damage is a problem - if you don't want it, don't fall off. You can learn to fall to minimize injury - downhiller riders are the masters of this, question is - can you be bothered as the only real way to learn is to do it.... You could wear body armour but its no guarantee.....

  • I picked up a set of cheap leather biking gloves (one set without fingers and the other with, for different weather conditions). I'll just buy replacements and be grateful if I ever scratch them up badly. – farnsy Oct 30 '14 at 13:50
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There is plenty of advice about gloves under the Gloves tag. See especially the question "What's the purpose of cycling gloves?" and one of the answers. From which you see that I recommend ordinary cycling gloves. Your purpose is their purpose.

But I suggest that while you should be wearing gloves, you also should pay attention to how you ride, and where you ride.

On a bike, as you have discovered, you are vulnerable. Ride according to the conditions. Commuting is actually quite dangerous, because we tend to ride in a wider range of conditions: wet, windy, icy, leafy, greasy, heavy traffic, poor visibility, pedestrians, skateboarders, rollerbladers, other cyclists. Every one of those should cause us to change our riding to match, usually by slowing down, sitting up, and looking for options.

As a cyclist, I always think I have to take 100% total responsibility for my safety - because it's me who'll get hurt.

Every time you have (or had) an incident (don't call them accidents), think through what you could have done to avoid it. Autumn leaves will fall in Autumn. Pedestrians will walk out when you can't see them (because they can't see you). Cars will change lanes without indicating.

Sounds like I must ride like a little old lady, but the opposite is the case. However, in the last 30 years I've had only 3 crashes. In retrospect, I realized that each one could have been avoided by paying more attention to the conditions and situation.

Also rethink those incidents where you didn't crash. Yesterday, I took a downhill negative camber corner faster that I ever have. I suddenly found I was sliding - my front tire had developed a leak and didn't have enough grip anymore. Fortunately, there was no oncoming traffic, I stayed upright, and was able to stop. But I'm thinking - what were the warning signs? I was already taking a risk - how could I have reduced it?

Take care out there and ride according to the conditions.

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    Very true. Interestingly, the weather was great and I was going very slow. In fact I had plenty of space to stop before I hit her, but she surprised me and I squeezed to brakes too hard. Not my best moment. – farnsy Oct 29 '14 at 1:24
3

Maybe try Downhill Mountain Biking gloves. Downhill doesn't suffer the same weight considerations as road cycling, so the gear is generally much tougher and designed to offer protection in some pretty terrifying crashes. The best pair I had were designed with gel-pads at the heel of the hand, which cushioned any impacts...of which I had a few.

Snowboarding wrist guards are an option also, they contain a hard plastic strip running up the bottom of the forearm, however I've never tried cycling in a pair so I'm not sure how comfortable they would be. They'd possibly prevent wrist injury from hitting the floor.

Consider tyre choice when it's snowy or during periods of leaf-fall.

  • Thanks for the suggestions. I noticed that there are also "downhill" gloves apparently made for skateboarders but they are designed to slide, rather than stick. Do you thinking sticking to or sliding on asphalt is what's wanted in a bike accident? – farnsy Oct 28 '14 at 22:20
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    Definitely sliding, if your hands stick then the energy of the crash will have to go up your arms, leading to further damage. As you've found out, sliding causes abrasions to your hands but no further damage, so you're looking for some gloves that will slide to some degree. – mjsqu Oct 28 '14 at 22:23

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