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Why can’t all gloves use touchscreens?

Touchscreens gloves Farkle Fingers
Farkle Fingers "finger puppets"

With the growing use of touchscreens on motorcycle instruments, GPS units and, of course, phones, why aren’t all motorcycle gloves touchscreen-sensitive?

Ok, you shouldn’t be using your touchscreens while riding, but we know many will, simply because they can!

TouchscreensTomTom Rider 550 GPS

So, how do they work?

Touchscreens work two different ways.

They can function by emitting a tiny electrical charge between your bare finger (or sensitive glove fingertip) and screen which completes a circuit and drops the voltage at that point on the screen.

That activates the function.

Or the screen is made of two transparent layers of glass or plastic, each coated with a conducting layer of Indium Tin Oxide (ITO).

When you touch the screen, the top layer bends and touches the bottom layer, completing the circuit.

The latter type is used on many GPS and bike instruments so you don’t need to take off your glove or use a special glove.

So what is the best touchscreen-sensitive solution?


Touchscreen gloves Farkle Fingers
Farkle Fingers “finger puppets”

We’ve tested several touchscreen-sensitive gloves and found they are all very hit and miss.

Thinner summer gloves work best while the thicker the glove, the less chance of being effective.

This is especially evident with fine points on the screen and precise manoeuvres such as “pinching” to zoom in or out.

We’ve also tried touchscreen-sensitive patches and attachments that are also less effective with thicker gloves.

GloveTacts touchscreens pads
GloveTacts touchscreen pads

The most effective touchscreen-sensitive gloves we’ve tried are textile thinsulate-lined winter gloves from Mujjo.

Unfortunately, they aren’t motorcycle gloves as they have no abrasion or impact protection, although they do make leather versions which would have reasonable abrasion protection.

 Mujjo leather touchscreen-sensitive glovestouchscreens
Mujjo leather touchscreen-sensitive gloves

And managing director Remy Nagelmaeker says they have no plans “at the moment” to make them more compatible with riding.

“Since our products are made for minimalistic yet efficient design for regular everyday use, adding extra features necessary for riding could hinder their look and feel for the general audience,” Remy says.

And that seems to be the major problem.

The “extra features” such as abrasion-resistant material and armour seem to be hindering the sensitivity.


Indian Roadmaster Classic
Indian Roadmaster Classic instruments have excellent sensitivity

Some motorcycle instruments and GPS units use resistive screens.

But in testing, we have also found these to have erratic functionality and lack the fine detail to perform many functions.

In fact, because touchscreen-sensitive gloves and screens are so hit and miss, they can be a dangerous distraction as it can take longer to get them to work.

Meanwhile, your eyes are off the road for longer …

Again, we suggest leaving the screen alone until you pull over.

Then, it’s more convenient to have gloves or a screen that works with gloves, rather than having to remove your gloves first.