Motorcycle gear is as specialized as the stuff NASA uses to equip astronauts and as personal as a toothbrush. Helmets, jackets, pants, and boots are now made of materials that didn’t exist five years ago and are guaranteed to be form-fitting, water-proof (or at least moisture-resistant), while capable of standing up to giant insects, rocks, and space debris. New body armor is said to be so good that at least one company is making car bumpers out of it. Practicality need not be sacrificed for fashion. Some men’s riding gear is designed to subtly augment “abs and pecs” in a manner that suggests every saddle-free hour is spent in a gym. Many riders who favor motorcycles built in the US choose “cod piece” riding pants, that provide a groin compartment suitable for stashing a pipe wrench. A lot of these guys find themselves jammed against bars by hot women new to this kind of fashion statement who ask, “What have you got in there?”
They can honesty reply, “My tool.”
Contemporary motorcycle gear for women not only provides the utmost in riding comfort and protection these days, but accents each curve like rubber skid marks on the Dragon’s Tail. Women who may otherwise appear average-looking in a business suit (though there is no such thing as an average woman biker) become red hot in riding gear, while smoking-hot women (all of the ones I know) reach the temperature of magma in an Aerostitch suit. Many gear manufacturers catering to current men’s physique trends in the United States are now using Clydesdale horses as sizing models, so riders whose asses hang down on each side of the back wheel are still encouraged to annually spend thousands of dollars attempting to look the part.
A rider will find that perfect fitting helmet, that ideally-cut jacket, those great pants, and the most comfortable boots at least once in a lifetime. If that person is smart, they will buy five of that item instantly. It is a well-known fact that once a rider discovers equipment that he or she loves, it will vanish forever to be replaced by some shit that sort of looks like the original, except:
• Instead of costing $159 (USD), it is now the price of the average divorce;
• It only comes in colors typically found in a bag of “Skittles” candy;
• It now has new zippers that dissolve when wet, or jam when pulled upward with a right hand;
• The “XXX” size is made for someone in an Asian city who last ate three years ago;
• It has new “design” features that offer no value to you or anyone you know.
Sometimes gear disappears from a catalogue like an unsolved murder, with manufacturers immediately discontinuing it, firing all the people involved in making it, and destroying all of the records, molds, or patterns used in its design. I once called a jacket manufacturer to inquire if any of a previous model run were still available. The person on the other end of the phone told me “no.” Then they pleaded with me not to call back.
“Why,” I demanded.
A shot rang out, and I heard an ominous thud, like a sales rep hitting the floor.
“That’s why,” said a different voice, and the line went dead.
This is especially true with motorcycle gloves. I once read that medical science has determined there are 2,823,921 nerve endings in each fingertip. This is what helps the average male determine the difference between an erect nipple and the buttons on a remote control in a dark room. (I have no idea how the boys in secret medical laboratories have arrived at this exact figure, but I have never looked at my fingertips the same way since. I still remember the first time I touched an erect nipple in a darkened corner of a high school dance, with all 2,823,921 of those nerve endings. Each one worked.)
Considering the tips of one’s fingers are the second most sensitive part of the male motorcycle rider’s body, you would think that glove manufacturers the world over would be dedicated to providing hand protection that also offered the highest degree of sensation. Yet motorcycle gloves remain on the forefront of compromise. There are gloves that fall into the “Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle” category, with fish-scale skid plating, lightning bolts, and raised armor over every joint. There are also gauntlet-type gloves made from exotic leathers. I almost bought a pair that had moose-hide on the back, white rhino-hide on the palm, and individual strips of sperm whale-hide for increased sliding protection. (They were $4,000 and I scrimped and saved for them by eliminating 30-days of alimony payments to an assortment of former wives.)
But I halted my order at the last minute, as one of the 50 or so motorcycle magazines I get each month had just run a piece on the unbelievable protection offered by Kangaroo leather. Sure enough, I found a pair of motorcycle gloves made of “nearly indestructible” kangaroo leather, lined with the pouches of jumping marsupials who succumbed to natural causes, after being hit by cars on Australian freeways. The cost was astronomical. (I’d have had to get married three more times and cut out those additional alimonies to afford these gloves.) Australia seems to be the home of exotic leather and I contacted a BMW rider there looking for advice. He gave me the name of “indigenous craftsman,” who was willing to help.
Mulitangilowe Walllawallaballa, or “Ted,” as he likes to be called, offered to make me a pair of gloves out of platypus leather for $50. I gladly sent the money only to have the gloves arrive with four fingers in place — and the rider’s thumbs to be inserted in the still attached platypus beaks. The gloves were not as sensitive as I imagined, and gave a strange puppet-show like air to operation of the clutch and front brake.
Above — "Pursuit" Gloves by Icon offer excellent control touch, good ventillation, and a skin-tight fit for me in 3X (which I prefer). They are lightly armored but a good value for $55. Photo taken from the "New Enough," website, a vendor I have been buying gear from for the past 6 years.
I currently own four pairs of motorcycle gloves. My summer gloves are Icon “Pursuit” perforated leather (full fingers) with minimal armor on the knuckles. I got them from “New Enough” for $55. Made in China, the sizing seems to have gotten better this year. The 3X size is skin-tight on me and offers excellent feel for the controls. The glove is made of sheepskin leather, with a goatskin palm, and offers a Velcro® closure at the short cuff. These have two zillion little holes in them and work very well for my style of riding. The will not however deflect a death beam from Skeletor.
The gloves I wear for transitional fall riding (45º to 60º) are Icon’s “Sub Stealth” model, which is the same as the above (without the perfs) for $45, also from New Enough. Performance is about the same too. The best transitional fall riding gloves I owned were simple deerskin leather gloves from Timberline. Dick Bregstein gave them to me. They were stolen off my bike when it was parked in a shopping center in Frazier, Pa. I sincerely hope they were taken by a someone who had freezing cold hands that day and was desperate to get warm. (In which case, they were welcome to them.) I was only a few miles from home and managed okay, as I carry spares for just about everything.
Above — Icon's "Sub Stealth" gloves are virtually identical to the "Pursuit" gloves but without the perforations. I can wear these down to 45º, or a little cooler, in perfect comfort with excellent handelbar touch. Price was right: $45. Photo from "New Enough's" site.
The second best transitional gloves I ever owned were branded by Harley-Davidson. These were a slightly heavier kind of nubuck suede that were great in temperatures down to 35º. I wore them cold one day at noon, when the temperature warmed up to 35º, and came back in the dark when it was much colder than that. I nearly got frostbit hands. But for warmth, flexibility, and sensitivity (in their temperature range), they couldn’t be beat. I left these on a shelf in the garage last winter and mice ate them, shredding the fingers for nesting material.
Interestingly enough, I recently returned to a couple of local Harley-Davidson shops to see if I could replace those gloves. (That effort was as gratifying as yodeling up my own ass.) But then I thought, “Harley is a company that embraces practical change. They might have something better.” I decided I wanted to try on a pair of “Men’s Torque Gauntlet Gloves.” I found these online and I liked them because:
• They appeared to be simple leather.
• They did not appear to be bulky.
• They came back over the sleeve of a riding jacket
• They did not have a huge Orange Harley-Davidson Eagle logo or skull cast into the leather, (offering a rather nice embossing job instead.)
• They were $65.
Above — The "Men's Torque Gauntlet Gloves" from Harley-Davidson really appealed to me too... I just couldn't find a pair to try on. Harley does market some very good gear. They had a mesh jacket one year that I absolutely loved. But it the largest size in came in was a 48. Photo from the internet.
This too, however, was like yodeling up my own ass. I couldn’t seem to order *them online, and was constantly being referred to one of three local Harley Dealers. This was okay with me... I like looking at new Harley-Davidsons (who doesn’t?) and I believe in supporting local dealerships. (I have a enduring fondness for the Harley-Davidson company, especially their dealership in Willow Street, Pa.) Not a single dealer had the gloves. (This was in September.) All offered to order them for me.
“Will you order them in two different sizes so I can see which pair I want,” I asked. That question drew blank stares. I said “Thanks,” and moved on, with money for gloves still burning a hole in my pocket.
Above — Gerbings Nubuck Heated Gloves for $119, are my choice for most colder weather riding days as they seem warm enough for my hands (even without plugging them in). This winter will tell. I am impressed with the way Gerbings packages their products, giving you a number of connections options and making things as "plug and play" as possible. Photo from the internet.
Gerbings got that $65, plus another just like it. I bought a pair of heated Nubuck gloves for $119, which came complete with a wiring harness, even though I will connect these to my Gerbings heated jacket liner. These gloves are a tad heavier than I would have liked, but not to the point of being overly bulky. I suspect they will be warm enough for my hands, which are always hot, without being plugged in. But in truth, they could easily replace my heaviest, and most impressive winter riding gloves. (I should be as warm as toast with these gloves, the jacket liner, and the heated seat. I still think it was really smart to install the voltmeter.)
Lee Parks Design is one of the most recognized brands in heavy touring motorcycle gloves. I got my fourth pair of gloves on a recommendation from the Mac-Pac’s legendary Doug Raymond. (Raymond has crossed the Rockies in a snowstorm, and rode from Philadelpha to Prudhoe Bay, above the Arctic Circle in Alaska — and back — in 14 days. Both trips were on a venerable BMW “R” bike.) They are also the cold weather gloves of choice, preferred by Horst Oberst, a man who has ridden in some of the mountainous parts of the world at a time when motorcycles were regarded as truly primitive. (Oberst also has a marked preference for the BMW “R” bike as well. There is no accounting for taste.)
Above — The warmest motorcycle gloves I have ever owned... The Deersports®PCI Black and Tan gloves from Lee Parks Designs. Photo from Lee Parks Designs Website.
At a pricey $184, my Deersports®PCI Black and Tan gloves by Lee Parks Design remain the warmest, non-electrical gloves I have ever worn. At 70mph, in ambient air under 25º, my hands felt warmer than room temperature. These gloves claim to combine a unique stitching technique, along with equally unique leather products, plus a some highly-advanced thermo-liner, to provide the warmest, strongest, and most comfortable motorcycle gloves on the market.
Here are some of the fine points as presented by their website:
• 2.75+ oz. deerskin (palm) and 4.0+ oz. elkskin (back) are more abrasion-resistant than cowhide
• Outlast® phase-change lining material changes it properties depending on temperature giving it an incredibly wide temperature range (35-75 degrees)
• Thinsulate Flex® insulation on the backside of hand helps keep heat in without adding bulk to the palm side of the glove
Lee Parks Design makes less expensive models, including several short-cuff street gloves, which I did not consider for one reason. The warmest gloves I have ever owned, are also the bulkiest, and insulate my hands from the clutch and the brake. Wearing these gloves, I can tell when I have entered the friction zone only as the motorcycle has started to move. You can deal with bulky gloves over time... You cannot ride with frozen hands. (Naturally, the muscle memory in your left hand tells you when you are in the friction zone too, but it’s nice to feel the clutch grip. It may be argued that the less expensive Lee Parks gloves are also less bulky. I simply don’t know.)
Also, I would be remiss if I neglected to point out that a number of Mac-Pac riders did not like various pairs of Lee Parks Gloves, finding fault with the stitching. (The company website claims they are delighted to make inexpensive repairs.)
It should be noted that none of my sub-freezing riding has ever been conducted in wet conditions. I love riding but not when there is the potential for ice on the road. I have no idea how these cold weather gloves work when wet. It is my plan to ride while wearing the Gerbings, but with the Lee Parks gauntlets in my side bags as back-up.
I do not promote myself as an expert on motorcycle riding or biking gear. Those people are few are far between... And with rare exception, they are tedious to listen to and worse to read. Rather, I make my recommendations based only on my personal experience — which is limited in some regards, but very typical to the common man in many others.
*Note to any Harley-Davidson representative — While I have spent my last dollar on gloves this year, I would be delighted to road test and review a pair of the Men’s Torque Gauntlet Gloves. I’d be delighted to either return the gloves at the end of the season — with my review — or buy them.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The LInkbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain — PS (With A Shrug)
Aerostitch and 'hot' do not go in the same sentence unless the outside temperature exceeds 80 DEGF.
Decades ago, I bought a set of deerskin gauntlet gloves from Stan's BMW in Doylestown. Warm and comfortable. Did I mention comfortable? I still have them. Their insulative properties have all but disappeared, yet I can't bear to discard them; they are simply too comfortable. I've attempted to purchase multiple 'replacements' only to be repeatedly disappointed.
I should have bought 10 pairs.
The Lee Parks sound very similar to my ideal gloves. Do let us know how they change with age.
Jackie: excellent topic. My gloves have fallen apart. I am due for a new pair. (hint). I would presume that colder models are sold in your area so you would have more experience with them than us who reside in the KW of Canada. I would also be pleased to review a pair of HD's finest if they should ship you a couple of pair for evaluation.
Wet Coast Scootin
ps: you are never home
Thank you for being the first of my readers to get back to me with a comment.
First of all, I was minding my own business at a motorcycle rally a few years ago, when a woman stepped into a tent, that happened to be in my line of sight, and presented her profile half in and half out of an Aerostitch suit. The vision mocked the Mona Lisa.
Because of the snow, ice, and sand of last winter, I got in damn little cold weather riding. I freally wanted to test out some of my stuff. I'm hoping to have better luck this time. I only have about 20 hours on those Lee Parks gloves.
When I see Doug Raymond's, or Horst's, with decades of ridig or over a hundred thousand miles on them, I marvel. At the rate I am using up these Lee Parks gloves, they should last 200 years.
I too have been disappointed by replacement gear, which seldom lives up to expectation.
Jack • reep • Toad
Your gloves have fallen apart?
Do I understand this to mean that you have one pair of gloves? How can you have one pair of gloves?
Technically speaking, I have only 2 pairs. Considering that the Icon gloves could switch off for each other, and that the two cold weather pairs could also back each other up. I did find another pair of warm-weather gloves, totally unused in the garage, that would make good lifeboat gear in a pinch.
Bob, you have convinced me that I need at least two more pairs of gloves. I just found a listing for BMW Airflow 2 Summer gloves for $105.
Thanks for reminding me.
Jack • reep • Toad
Quite an extensive review of your gloves Mr Riepe....can't say I've spent that much thought power on mine.
I've three sets, light vented gloves for hot weather which are form fitting from Firstgear.
My cool weather gloves are from Olympia and were my first set of gloves that I bought for motorcycling back in 2006, it's a testament to their quality that they still do their job nicely.
Finally for the sub-50 degree days which are upon us here in the great state of Colorado, I have deerskin gauntlet type gloves with thinsulate liner, they do pretty good at keeping my digits warm.
Then, there's the grip covers and heated grips for those "interestingly cold days" that find me and Natasha wandering about, having our sanity questioned by onlookers.
I've tried heated gloves and while toasty, found the wires a pain when dismounting/mounting for pictures while riding.
Good writeups Sir.
Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner
Nice review. Personally, I have given little thought to gloves but have ended up with three pairs, two of which have only been worn once. My main pair are deerskin gauntlet style gloves with some sort of thin insulation. I have used this single pair with temperatures ranging from 15F to 85F without any issues including riding for hours in the rain. I have a pair of thin, ventilated Power Trip that was on sale at NewEnough.com and a heavy insulated pair that someone gave me since he didn't care for the thick insulation.
I think I need to start looking for another pair of deerskin, gauntlet gloves with thin insulation.
When it comes to gloves, I only have two tests for determining purchase -- warmth and the ball test. The first one is obvious, will the be warm enough to ride at 70 mph.
The second test is a little more...touchy. If I can't adjust my balls while wearing them, then it's a no-go. A man has to (occasionally) take care of his little fellas while riding you know.
I have written extensively on my Aerostich Hot Weather Vegans. I think part of the reason I like them so much is that they were the first item I ever bought from Aerostich, and it just makes me feel like a real motorcyclist to own something from there.
My winter gloves still leave a little to be desired, but I survive anyway.
Does BMW even make gloves? and if so do they have side jugs instead?
I also have too many gloves. You'll enjoy the gerbings. I love mine. BTW: Kangaroo is worth every penny. :)
GLoves are one of the most vexing pieces of kit that the motorcyclist has to contend with. I am always carrying 2 pairs (vented and wet, fall and winter). I have some very thick Gerbing heated gloves which have no feel whatsoever, but do a good job keeping my hands warm. My hands and feet get cold quickly and warm up slowly, so I put up with them, but it would be nice to have warmth AND feel. Happy testing this winter...
Jack: I actually have a few pairs of gloves, but my favourite is wearing through. I have a leather gauntlet type which would be good for the highway. Motorcycle shows are coming up and I'll see if I can find a deerskin or Gerbring (heated) model.
bobskoot: wet coast scootin
"Contemporary motorcycle gear for women not only provides the utmost in riding comfort and protection these days, but accents each curve like rubber skid marks on the Dragon’s Tail." -I WISH!! I flip through the magazines and wonder what woman would want a jacket exposing her tramp stamp to road rash. Then again...I might have just answered my own ponderings... :)
Great thoughts and write up. I too am of the "collecting gloves" group. These are too hot, these are too cold, these are too tight, these don't go cold enough, these make my hands sweat. I stick with the GS gloves down to 30F with hand guards. I like those Gerbings tho! They seem "thinner". Mine are too bulky.
I've got to hand it to you Jack, you exhibit the sixth sense of motocyclistiempathia to a tee. Why, I was only just riding my beloved K75 Tubbyballs on Sunday in bright but brisk English Autumn weather on a photoshoot for an upcoming blog post, when I thought that it's about time Jack told us about his glove collection.
I know very well how difficult it is to buy the perfect glove. I have 9 pairs spread across Europe.
Of course on Sunday my heated grips were set to 50% as the air temp was around 6C but these devices do not warm the thumb at all well. I was wearing my new Knox summer gloves - OK for 20 minutes then numb thumb.
I tried handlebar muffs once too, look at the third picture here Brass Monkeys. Completely useless as at speed they blew back and made the clutch slip.
I could drone on more...
Dear Charlie6 (Domingo Chang):
I'm surprised that you don't dwell more on your gloves... Then again most folks don't think much of their toothbrush, though they use it everyday.
Hand comfort is paramount to motorcycle enjoyment, but it is most often associated with cold. The only other time riders think of their gloves is in terms of sliding their hands on the ground.
And I almost never think in those terms, as it means the rest of me would be following.
Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment.
Jack • reep • Toad
Dear Richard M:
I heard from a few guys — all Beemer riders — who absolutely favor deerskin gauntlets. And this ha me wondering if I shouldn't have reconsidered an uninsulated pair for warmer weather.
I have also noted that guys who have them, have them forever. I'm not surprised, as mine were almost $200.
Thank you for reading my tripe and for writing in.
Jack • reep • Toad
The "Ball Test" factor really made me laugh. Despite hearing from a bunch of guys, you were the only one to bring up that key point. Yet it is one that should have surfaced earlier, and more often, I think.
I have self-adjusting balls, depending upon the state of the relationship I am in and how highly the woman in my life values my contribution.
Thanks for reading and for providing valuable insight.
Jack • reep • Toad
Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):
Riding a two-wheeled vehicle throughout the winter is its own measure of commitment. I would think that your gloves would be something that would cross your mind every time you pulled out into the frigid air.
As a guy who used t do a lot of cold weather camping (and hunting), when I could walk, I always had good gear to get through a cold stretch. But I have discovered that gloves are one area of equipment that do not carry over into biking.
I find it annoying tha this level of specialization so often translates into cost. BMW does brand at least 5 pairs of gloves, but I don't know one person who wears them. Their pricing is competitive in the market, but I do not hear people shouting their praises from the rooftop.
Thanks for taking a look nd dropping me a line today, Jimbo.
Jsck • reep • Toad
I swear I did read someplace that Kangaroo leather was the ultimate riding protection. But Platypus... Aaaaah! That's leather.
I am looking forward to testing out the Gerbings.
Jack • reep • Toad
Dear Classic Velocity (Wayne):
I'm with you. Except for the hottest of days, I also end up carrying two pairs of gloves all the time. And not that this is a real hardship, but it would be great to have an electric glove that was as thin as a wafer of leather, and could handle the coldest of days, while letting you feel the clutch bite too.
Thank you for reading my tripe, and for leaving a comment.
Jack • reep • Toad
I would be delighted to send you a pair of goves forwarded to me by any manufacturer who cared to provide me with a couple of pair... But I wouldn't get my hopes up. No one is standing in line for the priviledge.
So what is your favorite pair and have you checked to see if you can still get them?
Jack • reep • Toad
Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):
If anything I wrote led you to believe that I am not in favor of "Tramp Stamps," let me rectify that situation right now. I think tramp stamps should become official US postage.
However, my position is as obvious as it is shallow.
I attempted to mount handguards on the K75, which would have looked really neat in my opinion. Yet I abandoned the attempt when I realized they would not go on with my aftermarket mirrors. I'll be dipped in shit before I go out and buy 2 BMW lollipop mirrors.
Thank you for reading my blog and lending credibility to it by leavig a comment.
Jack • reep • Toad
My glove collection has been a source of speculation and wonder for thousands. I recently decided to end the rumors and conjecture by conducting a public tour. I generally buy one thing or another on the recommendation of other riders, and wonder if I could start a trend, in some regard.
Motorcycle glove futures surged the day after I posted this piece. I suspect a number of investors made a packet.
Why is is it so many of your rides include "a push from a passing motorist." Have you never heard of a battery tender?
Inquiring minds want to know...
Your cousin in America
Jack • reep • Toad
I may have bollocks something up. It shows I deleted a comment of yours, but I don't see how. Nio deletion was intended.
Jack • Reep • Toad
No worries Jack! You have never lead me to believe that you are not in favor of "Tramp Stamps". Given some of your past posts I was pretty sure you wouldn't mind a parade of them circling you on a regular basis. Your reputation is safe. :)
Shame the handguards won't fit with the mirrors. They work very well. But they are only needed a short season of the year compared to mirrors. Wise choice on not putting the lollipops on. They vibrate! :) -Lori
Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):
I bet they wouldn't bibrate on the K75. I had a set on Blueballs, my older K75, and they were as tight as damn it. But I like the big square, convex mirrors I have on this bike, and the rubber goosenecks compliment the fork boots. So I am not inclined to make the switch. In my opinion, the aftermarket mirrors are cooler than the handguards.
Jack • reep • Toad
Gloves seem to be like oil filters, there is always an opinion about which is the best. I have a couple of pair of gloves; Joe Rocket textile insulated waterproof gauntlets (wear 95 % of time) and a pair of Alpinestar Breeze mesh gloves. They work for me very well up here in the blessed land.
BTW...the hand guards work great. They don't vibrate too much and they aren't too close to the clutch/brake leaver that they interfere. I like them very much. I'm glad they didn't fit Fireballs.
It was I who deleted the post due to an imperfection - you know how self critical and perfection seeking a BMW owner can be.
Regarding a push, I use all tools at my disposal to achieve a result.
Best wishes as ever from England
I have 4 pair of gloves that get regular use, plus an extra pair that gets occasional use, and numerous pairs rotting in a box someplace because they were not nearly as good as they looked in the catalog or dealer showroom. Of the 5 most used glvoes they come from BMW, Aerostich, Roadgear, Icon and Widder. The BMW gloves are enduro gloves and are not harmed when I fall in the creek, which I'm quite good at. Riding on the road this time of year I always have a pair on and 2 pair in the top case.
You can never put to much thought into gloves nor can you try on to many.
I must agree with you on the Female half in half out of a Stich, HOT HOT HOT.
You were kind enough to write:
"You can never put to much thought into gloves nor can you try on to many."
I wholeheartedly agree with this philosophy. And if I really like the Harley-Davidson Men's Torque Gauntlet, I will probably still get them.
You are the first rider to check-in in favor of the BMW gloves. I expect I'll hear from others. My riding tends to be somewhat sedate — unless I am going like hell — and I am content in the service delivery of my gloves.
Thanks for sharing your glovbe selection with my readers, and for reading my endless tripe.
Jack • reep • †oad
Nice post. I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information. I really appreciate your work, keep it up.
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