Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Review: Racer Multi-Top Gloves

Waterproof & Good Feel, Without Compromising Protection:

I'm kinda a gear-collector (to put it nicely). I have several different pairs of jackets, pants, gloves, and boots. I look for quality and comfort, but also protection.

Lately I've been particularly challenged in choosing gloves. My every-day riding gloves (Tourmaster Scarabs) are leather, with armor over the knuckles, a long adjustable gauntlet, and a wrist-strap to keep them on my hands in the event of a crash.

My cold-weather riding gloves are similar. Tourmaster Coldfront Carbons are leather, waterproof, and have the same protective features with a whole lot more bulk in the form of insulation. Problem is....they suck to ride in. The insulation takes away from feeling the controls.

I've also got a couple of cheap pairs of less bulky waterproof textile gloves, but I never felt comfortable with the protection levels offered and tend to avoid riding in them.

I really wanted a happy medium.... something with good protective features, but waterproof without the bulk.

About a year ago I found just such a wonder: the Racer Multi-top. I finally scraped together the cash to purchase them two weeks ago.

I first tried them on last year at Road Rider, a large gear store in San Jose, CA and later found them available online at Motostrano in Redwood City, CA.

From the description on Motostrano http://www.motostrano-store.com/ramuwamegl.html

Aniline-nappa leather l kangaroo-leather palm and fingers l HIPORA Waterproof l Schoeller® Keprotec® backed l plastic mesh knuckle protector l 2-layer reverse leather palm l non insulated for exceptional fit and feel. A sporty waterproof and breathable touring glove, kangaroo leather palm, Keprotec abrasion resistance, and highest quality craftsmanship.

Comment from another friend who owns these gloves:
"warm, comfy, well built, good mid-weight gloves"

Feel:

The soft kangaroo palm is flexible and the liner slides comfortably against skin. The hipora waterproof and breathable liner doesn't add much bulk, but these gloves definitely aren't as sensitive as a single layer of leather. Still, when you compare them to something like the Tourmaster Coldfront Carbon (which I own for arctic temperatures), they are like a second skin.

I find riding with the Tourmasters to be difficult. The lining in the Racers subtracted a little from feel, but I would be quite comfortable running some tight twisties in them. I could feel the throttle turning under my fingers and had no problem reaching for the levers.

Warmth:

I haven't done extensive testing, but I had to commute home a few nights ago on the freeway in 50 degree weather (a half hour ride). I felt no need to turn on my gripwarmers. They are advertised as unlined, but the extra few layers that make them waterproof seems to add some significant windchill protection...at least enough to get you down to cold temperatures supplemented by gripwarmers.

Sizing:

These gloves seem to run a bit small. I normally wear a men's small in gloves. The Racer men's medium was a better fit, leaving more room for my thumb when curled around the bars, without too much excess in the other fingers. A friend purchased a men's large about a year ago and decided later that a men's XL would have been a better choice. Women's sizes are available.

Going up in size a little bit might be iffy in daily wear race gloves, but isn't an altogether bad idea when it comes to cold weather gloves. I often find that my fingers swell and get stiff in really cold weather, making gloves that fit well in a warm store become slightly constricting and annoying in the cold.

Cost:

Pricey - $155 from Motostrano. I managed to catch them during a sale and got $10 knocked off that price, with free shipping.

2 comments:

Pete said...

I just bought a pair of these (after a rather cold ride up here in WA). So far so good... I agree that it isn't as easy to feel the controls as my regular race gloves are, and that is taking some getting used to. I'll also need to get some grip warmers to go with it (it's been hovering around 36 - 40 degrees here recently). But all in all, they feel really nice, and I think they'll do the trick for my half hour freeway commute.

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