Of all the appendages on the human body, the hand and fingers are probably the most complex, fragile and sensitive-yet also the most exposed when riding a motorcycle. The hand has (depending on the individual) approximately 29 different bones, 29 major joints, at least 123 named ligaments, 34 different muscles, 30 recognized arteries, and among the human body's densest concentrations of nerve endings in the tip of each finger. In other words, it's easy to damage-and when you do damage it, you will feel it as pain more than nearly any other part of your body.
Properly protecting a sportbike rider's hand and fingers isn't as easy as throwing on a set of old rancher gloves. A riding glove needs to have enough armor in the right spots to protect against impacts, yet still offer a good amount of flexibility to freely operate the controls. It needs to be constructed from material thick and/or strong enough to protect against abrasion, while also allowing the rider to feel the controls so that the proper amount of pressure or movement can be applied. And it needs to be fastened securely to prevent it from slipping off your hand in a crash.
We've gathered a good cross-section of the racing/sport-glove market in this particular buyer's guide, but it should be remembered that most of the manufacturers listed have many additional models that we didn't have the space to showcase here. Be sure to check out their websites and catalogs for other choices that might be better suited to your individual tastes.
We've also rated each glove for comfort, fit and quality. In addition to SR's staff, we had numerous people try on each glove model in the size that fit them best and give us their feedback. So check out our selection of digital protectors, and hopefully you'll find one that fits your needs and pocketbook-as well as your hand.
AGV Sport GPR
Utilizing premium Japanese leather on the top half of its construction along with deerskin on the palm, AGV Sport's GPR glove features laminated metal-mesh hard armor with foam backing over the knuckles and finger joints. An extended gauntlet, rubber vents in the several finger joints, carbon-textured leather covering foam padding in high-impact areas, and the usual hook-and-loop-fastened wrist strap and gauntlet flap head the list of additional features.
Although fairly comfortable with precurved fingers, all of our testers noted fitment problems with the GPR, with most of the smaller sizes feeling overly loose in the fingers and palm area. Conversely, large-size hands tended to feel too tight in the fingers. Quality ratings suffered due to small-detail problems; for instance, one pair of gloves' rubber finger vents had no screen in them, with the liner popping up out of the vent. Overall protection seems adequate in most areas of the glove.
Alpinestars GP Tech
The top-of-the-line model from Alpinestars, the GP Tech boasts numerous features that would be too long to list here. Highlights include polyurethane plastic hard armor for the knuckles, fingers and wrist; kangaroo-leather palms reinforced with Pittards leather in the fingers plus Pittards abrasion-resistant Armor-Tan leather and Kevlar knit panels in critical areas on top of the glove; a perforated top panel and cuff and ventilated finger sidewalls; plus the company's patented third/fourth-finger bridge to prevent the "finger roll" that results in injury and potential seam bursting.
Overall fit was deemed very good by most testers, although some of the small-size hands thought the fingers were too long. As you'd expect from a $200-plus glove, quality and attention to detail are present in all areas of the GP Tech's construction. Precurved fingers help with comfort, although many testers opined that the abundance of armor atop the glove restricted movement a bit and felt a little cumbersome. There is no doubting the protective capabilities of the GP Tech, and while the third/fourth-finger bridge is a safety concept used in several companies' top-shelf gloves, a couple of testers disliked having the fingers tied together on the clutch hand.
Alpinestars GP PRO
The next step down from the GP Tech, the newer GP Pro glove from Alpinestars has many of the same features as its more expensive brother, such as the polyurethane plastic hard armor for the knuckles and wrist and the third/fourth-finger bridge. However, the overall amount of armor in the GP Pro is toned down just a bit; for instance, the knuckle armor is a tad smaller, and the finger armor is smaller and slightly different from the prominent pieces on the GP Tech. The plastic wrist cuff is also a bit smaller and shorter, and the heel padding is designed differently.
Ironically, many testers felt that the GP Pro's toned-down armor helped it feel more comfortable than the comparatively tanklike GP Tech. Overall flexibility and finger dexterity are better with less sense of bulk, yet you still feel well protected in the GP Pros. Fit for all sizes surprisingly was also improved, with fewer complaints about fingers being too long. As you'd expect, quality and attention to detail are very evident with the GP Pro as well.
Cortech Scarab R.R.
The Scarab R.R. uses cowhide leather for the majority of its construction, with the exception of goatskin in the palm area. Molded titanium/carbon armor panels are employed for the knuckles, fingers and wrist, and Schoeller Keprotec fabric gives flexibility to the finger sidepanels. A "Dry Skin" version of the Keprotec fabric backed by a titanium/carbon insert is used in the heel of the palm for impact protection, and a soft, brushed-polyester liner aids comfort by wicking moisture away from the skin. The same style of 360-degree, full-circumference wrist-closure strap with hook-and-loop fastener as the Adrenaline keeps the Scarab in place.
A step down the food chain on the Cortech glove lineup, the Scarab R.R.'s ratings from all our testers tended to reflect that position. Fit was a bit loose in the fingers with all sizes, and the smaller-size hands had a hard time finding a fit that wasn't either too tight or too loose overall. Some testers said they could feel the finger seams when grasping the bars, while others complained of bunching in the palm, which hurt the comfort ratings.
Although the brand is not widely known in the pavement sector, AXO has been in business for 30 years as one of the major market leaders in the off-road world, designing and manufacturing protective apparel. The KKR-4 glove is constructed of premium cowhide leather, with carbon-fiber knuckle and finger inserts and Kevlar reinforcement layers in the palm for impact protection. Precurved fingers provide comfort, while a Kevlar inner liner and additional reinforcement layers on the side of the palm assist in abrasion resistance. A double overlapping gauntlet-closure system works with the wrist strap to ensure the glove stays on.
The KKR-4 has an abundance of padding and armor in seemingly every conceivable spot, giving an impression of excellent protection, yet the glove is surprisingly supple and offers good control feel. Overall quality and attention to detail are very good, with clean stitching and stout construction. Comfort and fit were rated highly by all sizes of testers, with the exception that the little-finger armor creates noticeable discomfort when grasping the bar.
Cortech's Adrenaline glove uses goatskin for the back portion of the glove and kangaroo skin for the palm and grip area of the fingers. Injection-molded polyurethane plastic armor protects the knuckles, while thermoplastic rubber is utilized to shield the fingers and gauntlet area. The palm and finger tailoring is precurved to improve comfort and dexterity, with a soft brushed-fleece liner adding to the cozy feel. An antislip silicone panel assists grip in the palm, and the dual-cuff gauntlet plus 360-degree, full-circumference wrist-closure strap assure that the glove stays put in the event of a fall.
For a midpriced glove, the Adrenaline scored high in all categories with nearly every tester, with excellent comfort heading the list. All of our different-sized testers reported superb fit as well, with only the extralarge size noting a slight tightness in the palm and knuckles. Some of our staff have extensive experience with the Adrenaline and note that they tend to stretch with time, so you might want to try your normal size even if it feels a little snug. Overall quality and construction are very good, especially for a glove at this Price point.
Constructed from abrasion-resistant and sweatproof kangaroo leather, the Held Phantom glove uses a glass-fiber composite shell for knuckle protection, along with highly abrasion-resistant rayskin underlaid with a shock-absorbing gel in the side of the hand and fingers. The ring and little fingers also receive additional Kevlar padding. Shock-absorbing Suprotect foam lines the back of the hand, thumb and outer portion of the long gauntlet to protect the wrist area. Special flat-seam construction keeps the seams from being exposed to impact and possibly bursting, while also keeping them away from the rider's skin for comfort. A hook-and-loop-fastened wrist strap and gauntlet cuff ensure snug placement on the hand.
Most of our testers found the tailoring of the Phantom's fingers to be a bit long, but the rest of the glove tended to fit nicely. Abundant impact protection is evident on the back and sides, yet control feel is excellent through the relatively thin material on the palm and fingers. Despite the heavy protection, the Phantom remains flexible without any palm bunching or finger seams irritating the wearer. Overall build quality is top-notch with good attention to detail.
Dainese Full Metal Racer
Dainese has a long and storied reputation in Grand Prix roadacing, and the Full Metal Racer glove reflects the latest development input from two of the world's top MotoGP racers: the omnipotent Valentino Rossi and multitime world champion Dani Pedrosa. Constructed from high-quality cowhide leather, the Full Metal Racer features new-design titanium knuckle/back-of-hand protection, along with carbon/Kevlar armor throughout the fingers and rest of the hand. Soft armor inserts and a goatskin reinforcement layer protect the palm, while a Kevlar heat-resistant lining on the back of the hand shields that area. A unique Distortion Control System on the little finger prevents digit rollover and accompanying twisting injuries.
The Full Metal Racer is easily the most expensive glove in this group, but it was also the only glove that universally scored top marks across the board. Fit and comfort were both rated very highly in all sizes, with unrivaled feel at the controls, yet there is protection in all the right areas without being overdone. Superb overall finish and quality are evident everywhere, and the glove is easily the lightest in this group-it's pretty obvious that you get what you pay for with this one.
Constructed from premium cowhide leather with a Kevlar fabric liner, the Hellracer has composite multilayer Kevlar/carbon-fiber inserts on the knuckles and fingers for impact protection, along with multiple thermoplastic resin and carbon inserts backed by foam padding in other areas. Goatskin palm reinforcement ensures abrasion resistance, while elastic inserts allow freedom of movement in the most mobile portions of the hand. A hook-and-loop-fastened wrist strap and cuff flap ensure that the Hellracer stays on the rider's hand.
The Hellracer is a definite step down from the Full Metal Racer, with fewer protective features and a perceptible drop in tailoring detail. Some testers felt the ring and little fingers to be a little stiff, with the seams becoming somewhat obtrusive when grasping the bars, while others thought the fingers were a bit too long in their sizing. For the most part, however, overall comfort scored well. Build quality certainly isn't up to par with the Full Metal Racer, with some seams and other portions of the Hellracer not reflecting the same attention to detail-although considering the Price difference, that could be expected.
Intended as a warm-weather glove, the Helimot F-108 sports kangaroo leather in the palm and grip areas of the fingers and similarly employs an additional layer lined with foam padding in the heel of the palm and grip portion of the thumb. Unlike the H-20, however, the back of the F-108 consists of a combination Kevlar/lycra fabric that is claimed to be very strong and abrasion-resistant, while breathable enough to keep the rider's hands cool. The same style of tandem-foam impact protection is used in the knuckles and fingers.
As with the H-20, many testers felt the F-108's finger tailoring was too long, although we noticed that the tips of the fingers get narrower to keep a snug fit. On a couple of medium-size hands, the wrist strap didn't have enough adjustment to keep the glove from sliding off. Overall comfort was rated highly, slightly better than the H-20. The same wishes for a bit more protection in the fingers and side of the hand were raised with the F-108, but the high-quality build is also the same as the H-20.
As with its more expensive cousin, the Held Thrux uses kangaroo leather in the palm area-but in order to keep costs down, cowhide leather makes up the rest of the glove's construction. A molded carbon-fiber shell provides knuckle protection, and a layered design allows the shell to float for unhindered flexibility. The finger protection also incorporates vents in the outer three digits, with the tops of the fingers and the side of the hand receiving additional leather layers and Schoeller Keprotec fabric. The same flat-seam design as the Phantom improves comfort, along with a polyester liner. The wrist strap has a flap to prevent damage in a crash, and the gauntlet's cuff is well padded.
The Thrux scored high marks in comfort with nearly every tester, although fit evaluations tended to run across the board, with some smaller hands noting slightly excessive finger length and not enough adjustment in the wrist strap. Control feel is excellent with the relatively thin kangaroo leather in the palm and fingers, but some testers wished for a bit more protection in the side of the hand and little finger. Quality was rated highly by everyone.
Helimot's made-in-USA H-20 glove is another subscriber to the kangaroo-leather crowd, with the marsupial skin used in the palm and grip area of the fingers. An extra protective layer lined with padding is sewn into the heel of the palm and grip area of the thumb. The back of the glove is cowhide leather, with knuckle/finger/gauntlet protection provided by Helimot's proprietary "tandem foam" system that is softer and more pliable than any hard armor. Precurved tailoring ensures a snug and comfortable fit, and both wrist and gauntlet have hook-and-loop-adjustment fasteners.
Helimot only provided us with large sizes in the H-20, and even some of those testers felt the fingers were a bit too long. Other than that detail, all agreed that fit was otherwise snug. Some thought the leather was too stiff, but we've spoken with a couple of people who have Helimot gloves, and they report that they break in quickly and become more pliable. Comfort was rated highly, although most were wishing for more protection for the fingers and the side of the hand. Overall quality is top-shelf.
Joe Rocket Sonic
An entry-level sport-riding glove, the Joe Rocket Sonic utilizes drum-dyed leather construction throughout. A molded plastic knuckle protector with gel padding handles impact protection up top, while high-density padding on the fingers, cuff and wrist takes care of the rest. Double layers of leather are attached to the grip area of the palm as well as the heel and side of the hand and little finger. There is no wrist strap, although the gauntlet cuff has a double closure system. The edge of the articulating portion of the glove where the knuckle protection is mounted is lined with reflective material for nighttime safety.
While all our testers were impressed with the Speedmaster 7.0 glove, no one was that impressed with the Sonic. Fit and tailoring were very loose and flimsy, and nearly all testers had issues with the inner seams on the fingers causing discomfort. The absence of a wrist strap is a major safety omission in our opinion (especially with the loose fit), and every tester bemoaned the lack of additional protection. Overall quality is also pretty far down the scale, with a couple of unfinished trims and rough seams visible.
Icon Merc Long
The Icon Merc Long glove has a cowhide-leather construction throughout, with a reinforced goatskin palm for abrasion resistance. A molded carbon-fiber shell protects the knuckles, and the articulated design allows freedom of movement without the shell binding on the rider's skin. Foam padding inserts protect the fingers, heel of the palm and majority of the glove's long gauntlet. Silicone inserts in the palm assist with grip, and a hook-and-loop wrist strap ensures retention in case of a fall.
Comfort ratings with the Merc Long were middle-of-the-road, with many testers stating that the seams in the fingers were a bit obtrusive and irritating. While bigger hands didn't have a problem with a snug fit, smaller hands found the fingers a little too long and the fit generally loose overall. Although offering a feeling of decent protection, the Merc Longs are definitely on the big and bulky side, especially for those with smaller hands. Quality ratings were very good for the most part, belying the Merc Long's inexpensive price.
Joe Rocket Speedmaster 7.0
The latest iteration of Joe Rocket's Speedmaster glove, the Speedmaster 7.0 adds yet another to the growing legion of kangaroo-leather converts, placing the 'roo leather in the palm and grip area of the fingers with conventional cowhide leather on the back. Injection-molded plastic shells for the knuckles, back of the hand, fingers, thumb and gauntlet provide impact protection, along with high-density foam padding on the fingers, cuff and wrist. A heat- and abrasion-resistant Kevlar fabric liner shields the back of the hand and fingers, while the unique double-cuff gauntlet closure and wrist strap keep the glove in place.
The Speedmaster 7.0 won high marks from nearly all testers for fit and comfort. Control feel through the kangaroo-leather palm is excellent, and the split knuckle armor articulates with the hand nicely when gripping the bars. Some testers were wishing for a bit more protection on the side of the hand and little finger, and the double-cuff gauntlet made the glove labor-intensive to put on. Overall build quality is very good (much better than in years past with Joe Rocket gloves) with clean stitching and almost no rough spots.
N2 Kangaroo Perforated
As evidenced by its name, the N2 Kangaroo Perforated glove uses that leather in the palm and grip areas of the fingers, with conventional cowskin leather in the outer sections. Schoeller Keprotec fabric is placed underneath the extra kangaroo-leather layer on the heel of the palm, with molded carbon-fiber knuckle and finger hard armor for impact protection. All of the conventional leather sections of the glove (including the finger panels) are heavily perforated for airflow. Hook-and-loop-fastened wrist and gauntlet cuff keep the glove secure.
Although the N2 glove feels supple and soft initially, the majority of our testers noted that fit and comfort were insufficient. Inconsistent tailoring seemed to be an issue; some fingers were fine, while others were too long. Lack of precurved fingers resulted in bunching at the palm when grasping the bars, and many testers felt the internal finger seams were very noticeable and bothersome. Although this glove is obviously at a lower Price point, build quality still appears a bit rough and unfinished. Some testers also wished for more protection on the thumb, which only has an additional layer of kangaroo leather on the grip area.
N2 Victory Race
Constructed from cowhide leather, the N2 Victory Race glove features molded carbon-fiber protection on the knuckles, fingers and top of the hand. A single vent is provided on both the forefinger and middle finger, and an extra layer of leather (lined with Schoeller Keprotec fabric for additional abrasion resistance and padding for comfort) extends from the heel of the palm along the side of the hand. A soft nylon liner aids comfort, while a hook-and-loop wrist strap and double-closure gauntlet cuff ensure retention on the rider's hand.
The Victory Race glove's substantial armor and stout build provide a sense of abundant protection, but it comes at a cost to comfort. The glove feels bulky and somewhat stiff, and there's significant bunching in the palm and fingers when grasping the bars. The fingers' internal seams can be a bit bothersome, and the thickness of the palm's leather robs control feel. We also found that the wrist strap was overly long, almost running out of adjustment before it could cinch down enough to prevent the glove from coming off. Build quality and finish are pretty good considering its budget intentions.
Kushitani GPR 5
Yet another proponent of kangaroo leather in motorcycle gloves, the Kushitani GPR 5 sports the soft but strong material in the palm and grip areas of the fingers, while the rest of the glove is made from the company's own incredibly supple leather. Knuckle and finger protection is provided by Kushitani's proprietary K-Foam padding, with a redesigned Action Pleat System over the knuckles that (plus a Kevlar knit liner) provides flexible yet significant impact protection without hard armor. Zylon fiber panels (Zylon is the company's self-developed fiber, claimed to be seven times stronger than Kevlar) on the ring and little fingers provide additional abrasion protection, along with an extralong gauntlet over the wrist.
The GPR 5 garnered high ratings in all categories with virtually all our testers. Fit and comfort were rated superb in all sizes, with excellent control feel and flexibility. Despite the lack of hard armor, all testers felt the sophisticated padding provided more than ample impact protection; the double-cuff gauntlet made the glove a bit labor-intensive to put on, however. Overall quality and finish also received high marks.
Olympia Vented Kevlar Protector
Made using "super premium deluxe leather" and Kevlar-reinforced thread, the Olympia Vented Kevlar Protector glove features the usual molded carbon-fiber knuckle protector with floating design to allow freedom of movement and prevent discomfort. Extra leather layers and padding protect the fingers and palm, with high-density padding used in the heel of the palm, thumb and side of the hand. A single vent in the back of the hand provides airflow, with the padded gauntlet and wrist strap featuring the usual hook-and-loop adjustment.
While overall fit seemed OK for a budget glove, all testers in every size noted that the Olympia felt stiff, as if the lack of precurved fingers prevented them from curling around the grip. The internal seams in the fingers are somewhat bothersome, and there's not a lot of feel through the relatively thick leather. The absence of precurved tailoring also results in the leather bunching up in the fingers and palm when gripping the bars. Considering its budget pricing, quality is OK.
Rev'it! GT Corse
The Rev'It! GT Corse glove uses a cowhide-leather construction with goatskin leather in the palm and Pittards Digital grip pads at the tip of the fingers. Goatskin reinforcement panels are attached to the heel of the palm, the grip area of the palm and the tips of the index and middle fingers, with SuperFabric(r) in the high-impact areas of the outer palm, little finger and outer thumb. Carbon-fiber hard-shell protection is placed in the knuckles, fingers, back of the hand and wrist. A tri-fleece lining eases entry and exit, while a Kevlar reinforcement lining in the back of the hand provides additional protection.
Comfort was rated highly in nearly all sizes with the GT Corse, with the precurved fingers and supple leather appealing to a number of testers. Fit, however, wasn't quite as unanimous, with some smaller hands falling in between sizes and one of the larger sizes complaining of the fingers being too tight. Control feel was a bit numb for some testers, and the dual gauntlet-closure setup was a bit labor-intensive to put on. Overall quality garnered top marks across the board.
Olympia Kevlar Race Throttle
Made of premium drum-dyed cowhide, the Olympia Kevlar Race Throttle glove features flexible molded knuckle and finger protection that is fastened underneath the leather for a less flashy appearance. An additional leather layer with Kevlar reinforcement bolsters the heel of the palm, along with another layer in the grip area and the outside of the little finger. Hook-and-loop-adjustable wrist strap and gauntlet cuff allow a snug fit.
The Kevlar Race Throttle scored low in the fit category on all testers' evaluation sheets. Tailoring was very loose in all sizes, and not only would the armor sometimes hang up on the rider's fingers when he put the glove on, but some of it was located in the wrong areas. The lack of precurved fingers results in material bunching up when grasping the bars, and the thick leather dulls control feel significantly. Overall quality is OK, but not much more than that.
Manufactured using Karvin cowhide leather on the back with goatskin in the palm and grip areas of the fingers, the Rev'It! Zenith features carbon hard-shell knuckle protection covered with goatskin and polyurethane hard-shell covers for the fingers. The heel of the palm sports an additional layer of goatskin with a silicon-injected protector and Schoeller Keprotec fabric reinforcement. The outer portion of the little finger features highly abrasion-resistant SuperFabric, while the inner tips of the index and middle finger have Pittards Digital grip pads for better control at the levers. A nonpadded tri-fleece liner eases entry and exit.
Overall fit and comfort were rated middle-of-the-road, with some smaller hands noting that the fingers were too tight and long despite moving up a size; some also felt the finger seams were obtrusive, with a general restrictive feel to the glove. With the lower Price comes decreased protection, although most felt it was adequate for the Zenith's intentions. Quality and finish were also rated average, which isn't that damning considering the price.
RS Taichi GP WRX
The RS Taichi GP WRX glove features genuine cowhide leather in the majority of its construction, with Clarino synthetic-leather material in various outer portions. The carbon-fiber knuckle protection rides in an articulating section to allow freedom of movement, with additional carbon-shell protection in the fingers and heel of the palm. Shock-absorbent EVA foam padding is placed in the wrist, knuckles and fingers, with anatomical precurved tailoring. Schoeller Keprotec fabric is used in the little finger protection for added abrasion and tear resistance, in addition to a finger-seam design that reduces the risk of tearing or bursting. Perforations in the back of the hand and the finger gussets allow cooling airflow.
The GP WRX received top marks across the board for fit, comfort and quality. Some felt the snug fit required a little work to get the glove on their hand, but once slipped on there were no complaints or issues with overall fitment. The supple leather and precurved tailoring allow easy movement and excellent control feel, and while not the most comfortable glove in this group, the GP WRX is right up there near the top.
RS Taichi Armed High Protection Leather
We made a slight mistake when we requested this glove, thinking it had more of a gauntlet. Nevertheless, the Armed High Protection Leather glove's construction (mostly leather, as its name suggests) provides a surprising amount of protection for a "shorty" glove. Individual carbon-fiber protector shells in the knuckles, fingers and heel of the palm ward off impact, while an extension of the palm's carbon armor piece covers the wrist area, a nice touch. Stretch Cordura at the base of the fingers in addition to articulating armor panels allows unhindered movement.
Despite its short gauntlet style, the Armed High Protection Leather glove garnered high marks for fit and comfort, with similar top grades for quality. Most testers felt that it was basically a shortened version of the GP WRX glove in overall feel, and its wrist strap is comfortable yet strong enough to keep the glove fastened to the rider's hand. While we're not big fans of shorty gloves, if we had to pick one this would definitely be a good choice.
A relatively new addition to Shift's ever-expanding lineup of pavement gear, the Vertex glove features genuine cowhide-leather construction with a composite-reinforced shell for knuckle protection, along with finger guards that have vents on the first three fingers. "Premium leather" is used in the palm and grip area of the fingers, with an additional layer backed by padding and a full Kevlar liner throughout for even more abrasion resistance. The now-common open-back design for the knuckle protector allows easy movement without restriction or binding. Perforated panels permit airflow for added comfort, and the long gauntlet sports padding for extra protection.
The Vertex scored high across the board in the comfort category, with nearly all sizes of testers' evaluation sheets posting positive remarks. Fit was a bit of an issue, however, with about half of the testers saying the finger tailoring was too long, and there were a couple of complaints about bunching in the palm when grasping the bars and the wrist strap restricting movement. Overall sense of protection with the Vertex is good, although the back of the hand behind the knuckle protector feels a bit vulnerable. Quality was rated very good, especially for a glove at this Price point.
As with its Vertex cousin, the Shift Bullet glove uses genuine cowhide-leather construction throughout, with "premium leather" in the palm and grip area of the fingers. An injection-molded polycarbonate knuckle protector shields that area from impact and floats in an articulating design to allow ease of movement with comfort. Finger protection is provided by articulating padded reinforcement panels, with the middle two fingers' upper protectors each sporting a single vent for airflow. Reflective trim adds nighttime visibility.
The Bullet scored high ratings for fit in nearly all testers' evaluation sheets, with decent tailoring in the fingers and palm area providing a snug feel. Comfort marks also were also mostly high in every size, although some small sizes noted an annoying seam in the thumb. The relatively thin leather helps comfort and gives excellent control feel, but it made a few testers wish for a bit more protection as well. Overall quality is a step down from the Vertex (for instance, there is a flap of leather on the palm that serves no real purpose), an expected drop considering the Price difference.
Long known for its superb boots and footware, Sidi is now branching out into the glove market. The Power glove employs soft goatskin leather and Kevlar stitching in its overall construction, with thermoplastic protection panels on the knuckles, fingers, side of the little finger, wrist and back of the hand. Numerous reinforcement panels are present in the palm and side of the hand for additional abrasion resistance. External seam stitching in the fingers and a breathable lining provide long-ride comfort. The gauntlet has protective padding in critical areas for extra protection, and reflective trim is used on the gauntlet and knuckles for nighttime visibility.
The Power received mostly high marks for overall fit, although small sizes noted a slightly loose feel in the fingers. Comfort was likewise rated very good, with nice, precurved fingers and a supple feel. Despite the external stitching in the fingers, some testers stated that they could feel some seams-but they also said they weren't obtrusive as in some of the cheaper gloves. Protection was rated highly with plenty of armor and extra leather in all the right places, and quality received top marks as well.
Using premium cowhide leather in its construction, the Sidi X-Street glove features padded and ridged knuckle/finger guards, with the palm reinforcement layer also sporting a nonslip material for better grip. Leather stretch panels on the wrist and fingers permit flexibility and dexterity, while perforated panels provide cooling airflow. The gauntlet has additional padding for increased protection, with a hook-and-loop-adjustable wrist strap and gauntlet cuff.
Overall fit with the X-Street wasn't as good as the Power, with nearly all testers remarking that the finger tailoring was too long. Comfort was rated good, although many testers wished for a little more protection; the knuckle shields' impact capability was suspect in some testers' eyes. Quality is a step down from the Power, but still above most other gloves in this Price range-attention to detail in the glove's construction is evident; it's just that some of the materials are obviously lower-grade to keep Price down.
Missed The Deadline...
Unfortunately Italian apparel manufacturer Spidi missed the deadline for entries into this buyer's guide, but we've already tested a couple of their models, so we'll include those here.
The Penta is constructed from premium Italian leather with SuperFabric (backed by Keramide fabric to protect against abrasion heat) in critical areas such as the heel of the palm, side of the hand and little finger. Dual-density polyurethane plastic guards with Suprotect padding protect the knuckles, back of the hand and wrist from impact, with the index and middle finger guards doubling as airflow vents (portions of the glove are perforated for venting as well). The ring and little finger are tied together with a removable hinge to prevent roll-over injury in a manner similar to the Alpinestars GP Tech/Pro gloves.
Several SR staffers have spent some time in the Pentas and report comfort as excellent with very good fit overall. One staffer with size small hands feels that the finger tailoring is just a tad too long, but other than that, fit with the rest of the glove is excellent. Control feel is excellent as well, with good flexibility considering the amount of armor. As you'd expect with Italian Spidi apparel, quality is top-notch, with superb attention to detail and finish.
Spidi Race Vent
Constructed using perforated premium Italian top-grain leather, the Spidi Race Vent combines full ventilation with sturdy racing-glove construction. Molded titanium-fiber panels backed by foam and felt inserts cover the knuckles, little finger, bony parts of the wrist and side of the hand; several plastic protectors double as vents on the middle and ring fingers. The shell protecting the back of the hand also doubles as a vent, with two openings helping to scoop airflow into the glove. Additional leather layers on the palm lined with Keramide fabric and foam padding guard against impact and abrasion on the heel and side of the hand.
We've found the Spidi Race Vent to be just as comfortable as the company's other premium gloves, with a nice, lightweight feel that also provides superb tactility with the controls. Fit and tailoring are likewise excellent, with no excess length in the fingers and an overall snug feel. Despite less extensive armor than the top-of-the-line Penta glove, the Race Vent still has abundant protection and is one of the few gloves we can think of that can truly combine race-level protection with venting that actually works. Overall quality is top-notch as well, with superb stitching and attention to detail.
**Why You Need Proper Motorcycle Riding Gloves
And why they need to fit properly**
You hear the same excuses all the time:
"I'm not planning on crashing."
"I don't ride to fall."
"I ride under control at all times."
There's a common proverb that perfectly explains why you should wear ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time): "It's why they're called 'accidents,' not 'on purposes.'" No one plans on falling off. But if you're heading to the supermarket with the intent of buying a particular item, why do you go there with more than the exact amount of money for that item in your pocket?
A set of good motorcycle-oriented riding gloves should be just as integral to your daily riding gear as a quality helmet. Your hands are your body's most exposed yet fragile and sensitive extremities when you ride. And if you do fall, nine times out of ten the one part of your body that will surely come in contact with the pavement at one point or another will be your hands. We depend on our hands almost 99 percent of the time to perform daily tasks-so why would you want to leave them exposed and unprotected?
Note that we said "motorcycle-oriented riding gloves." Why not the rancher's style gloves you often see motorcycle police officers wearing? Ranch hands aren't expected to impact the tarmac and then drag across it at speed. Motorcyclists require a certain amount of specialized protection; they need to withstand both impact and abrasion, because a crash on the pavement often involves a hard initial hit followed by a long slide until you come to a stop. The top motorcycle-apparel brands that are heavily involved in racing have learned over the years from their sponsored riders exactly where and how much protection is needed, and advancing technology has enabled the breed to improve by leaps and bounds over where it was even 10 years ago.
That protection needs to stay in place in order to be effective, and that's where other aspects of motorcycle-specific design come into play. Most motorcycle gloves now come equipped with an adjustable wrist strap that keep them from sliding off your hand no matter how hard you pull. We've seen more than a few instances in the past of gloves coming off in a crash (for instance, the wild flinging of arms and legs from tumbling, or sliding on the ground feet first), and the top brands discovered long ago that a zippered or hook-and-loop-adjustable gauntlet wasn't enough to keep the glove on the rider's hand where it would do the most good.
Another area that is commonly overlooked is proper fit. All too often we see riders with gloves that are a loose-fitting "close enough" size, with baggy fingertips and bunching palms/fingers. There's a reason the adage "fits like a glove" was coined. In order to receive all the benefits offered by a modern riding glove, it needs to fit your hand properly (it should be noted that a couple of gloves we tried for this buyer's guide that were "close" in fit did not have enough adjustment in the wrist strap to prevent the glove coming off). Skillfully piloting a sportbike requires quick, unhindered and sensitive access to the controls, and an ill-fitting pair of gloves can be more of an impediment than you might think.
While we've tried to include as large a cross-section of size testers here, hands and gloves are just like heads and helmets-everyone's different, and some just fit better than others into a particular brand. It's tough in this age of dealers stocking fewer brands to try on, but we'd advise going out to as many motorcycle events as you can where retailers are present so you can try to find the brand and size that fits you and your tastes/needs the best. -K.K.