There’s nothing quite like a brand spanking new pair of leather motorcycle gloves.
While leather gloves should be comfortable from day one, they may still need some breaking in.
And while everyone seems to have their own favorite method to do this, there is no one “tried and true” method.
Many people will break a glove in the old fashioned way just by using them and roughing them up a bit.
Looking for a shortcut?
Here’s a crowdsourced list of ways to give new leather motorcycle gloves more flexibility:
How Most Riders Break in Leather Gloves: Just Use ‘Em!
You can’t beat the fresh smell, and the smooth texture of leather gloves — how they look and feel when hands grip the throttle, and — once they acquire that broken-in feel — the way they just seem to get better and better over the years.
While most riders will just break them in by riding with them, some look to treat the leather to speed up the process of breaking them in.
Some use commercially available products designed for this purpose, others use “home-grown”, time tested processes that have been passed down from rider to rider.
In reading this, please remember: there are so many types of leather — involving different hides, skins, tanning methods and finishes — that it’s impossible to give ‘one size fits all’ advice.
Here are some suggestions that we have gathered from other riders — including products you can apply to new gloves to make leather gloves feel broken-in — and one myth it’s probably better NOT to try.
First Things First: A Myth About Breaking-in Leather Gloves
Oddly enough, some riders say they fully soak their new leather gloves in hot water and let them dry on their hands. So we asked our leather experts about this.
Riders say they first soak the gloves in hot water and once they have cooled down a bit, wear the wet gloves until they are dry. This method supposedly allows the gloves to stretch a bit more, while conforming to the hand at the same time. We have read that the armed forces even use this method to break in leather boots.
But according to our leather experts, unless we are talking about deerskin leather gloves, DO NOT DO THIS!
Deerskin leather has unique property of staying soft even after getting wet, and it will not be harmed.
However, according to our sources, when other leathers get wet and then dry in this way, it actually can become stiffer and more brittle.
6 “Breaking-in” TIps for Leather Motorcycle Gloves from Other Riders
Here are six suggestions we came across. While we have not personally tried all of them, they have been used with varying levels of success by other riders.
- Leather Conditioner – Apply a moderate amount of commercially available leather conditioner to the gloves soon after purchase. Saddle soap works well too. When leather is cared for it can last many, many years.
Rubbing Alcohol – A method that is practiced by many bull riders to soften their gloves. They apply rubbing alcohol to the outside surface, and say this method will need to be repeated a few times to ensure maximum mobility in your glove.
Leather Oil – Simply using leather oil for gloves can double of even triple their lifespan. Conventional wisdom says to apply the oil to the gloves once every 3-6 months, using a stiff brush, as this will ensure the oil saturates the glove to its fullest. (Keep in mind that oil will most likely darken the leather, as well as give it a unique smell for a temporary time).
Oil will not only keep the gloves moist and flexible, it will also keep unwanted water from penetrating into it. As long as water still beads off of the gloves, they contain enough oil to maintain maximum performance.
Wax – Sometimes people prefer wax to oil for use on their leather. Wax will moisten as well as add extra weather-repellant properties.
Simply apply the wax and manipulate it over the hands just like washing them with soap under a faucet.
Note: We have read that one method of helping to absorb the wax deep into the leather is by heating them with a hair dryer and then applying the wax. We don’t advocate heating leather because it can damage the fiber.
Silicone Treatment – 3M Scotchgard for Leather is another way to add water repellency, for gloves that are not already water proof. This willl not seal the seams, but adds surface water resistance that will help in short periods of light to moderate rain.
- Steaming – Some bikers recommend wearing a new pair over a pot of boiling water, thus loosening up the glove’s leather. We can’t vouch for it, but have read this.
- Stow Under Mattress – An old school trick is sleeping with a baseball glove under your mattress for a couple of nights. Motorcycle gloves, too, perhaps?
- Use Them! – After applying any or all of the previous methods, what better way to finish breaking those new gloves in, than to take them for a spin on the open road. There’s no better reason to go riding than a new pair of gloves!
Other Tips for Leather Care
- Dry wet leather at room temperature. NEVER USE A DRYER.
- Maintain the shape of your gloves by standing them up on a wide wooden, plastic, or padded hanger.
- When storing leathers, in a temperature-controlled environment, use only breathable fabric like cotton sheets. Never use plastic, as it is a drying agent.
- Keep leather directly out of sunlight for prolonged periods of time.
- It is wise to take off salt residue left from sweating. With a single spray, the ‘De-Salter’ product from Anthony’s is said to help remove salt stains, mold and perspiration.
By following these tips, you’ll get your new leather gloves broken in sooner, and they’ll stay soft, water repellent, and last longer too.
From Rawhide, to Ready to Ride …
Please share any tips you know about for mellowing-out new leather gloves. Or put these suggestions to the test and report back.
We’re all about comfort here at Olympia … and on this topic, would love to hear what works for you!
P.S. We make over 70 styles of gloves — many leather styles and some with free shipping. To learn more about specific styles, visit your local dealer or our online store: