I notice a lot of new riders don’t wear gloves… and I cringe. If you think about everything your hands do for you and how different your life would be if they didn’t work right, it’s best to spend a little dough and protect them while you’re riding. I’m not quite the gear hoarder that some of my friends are so I can’t possibly review every glove out there, but I have used a few gloves the past few years that are still currently available: Joe Rocket GPX 2.0, Joe Rocket Speedmaster 7 and Icon TiMax (original). I thought I’d pass on some information about them in case you happened to be considering these particular gloves for purchase.
Joe Rocket GPX 2.0 – $99 MSRP, usually $89 online
For under $100, these race-style gloves are really hard to beat. They feature Pittards leather in the palm, injection molded plastic knuckle protectors (with vents), perforated leather on top for extra ventilation, extra padding everywhere it should be and a double enclosure on the wrist. And of course, I bought them because I like the way they look.
They perform fairly well for sport riding, meaning they offer good protection and decent feel. The ventilated knuckle protectors are a little gimmicky as I never feel the air coming through unless it’s under 50 degrees F, but they still move a little air across the hands. The double wrist enclosure is easy to use and feels secure.
I’ve had two sets of them and have used them for several track days; they’ve even survived a couple of low-speed crashes with no problem. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a solid sport riding glove under $100.
Joe Rocket Speedmaster 7 – $159 MSRP, usually $149 online
Made with kangaroo leather on the palm and bottom portion of the fingers, these very reasonably priced race gloves offer excellent feel and a snug fit. If you haven’t used kangaroo leather before, it’s noticeably thinner and lighter than cowhide but stronger. These gloves also feature Kevlar lining in the top portion for added protection. I’ll admit seeing Mat Mladin (seven time AMA Superbike champion) racing in them helped my decision to buy a pair.
Overall they’re a terrific glove at their price point. They definitely need a little breaking in, but the kangaroo leather gives noticeably better feel on the controls than the GPX 2.0 gloves do. The triple wrist enclosure is slightly cumbersome and I’m not sure it’s any better than the GPX 2.0’s double enclosure, but it definitely works. The unique look is also something I liked; the knuckle protectors are covered with leather and give the gloves a streamlined appearance. These might be the best bang for the buck in race gloves.
Icon TiMax Original – $175 MSRP
Gaudy, pricey, bulky, aggressive, clumsy. Icon took over-the-top protection to a new level when it originally released these gloves a few years back and I fell for it. With titanium covering every knuckle, finger joint and your palms, protection and intimidating looks are the obvious selling points of the TiMax. Let’s face it, there probably isn’t a more bad-ass looking glove on the market. The downside of all this protection is a lack of feel.
It takes lots of extra leather and stitching to get all of those individual titanium pieces sewn into the glove, and you’ll definitely feel it. The fingers also run a little short so you may need to size up. I purchased them a size bigger than normal based on a reseller’s suggestion, but the extra size created an issue with the wrist enclosure – it’s too big. I already have skinny wrists, so I have to really wrap the velcro piece around quite a bit. As a result there’s not that much overlapping velcro holding it together. Fortunately I never crashed while wearing them, but I was always afraid they’d come off if my hands were dragging behind me. If you have thick hands and wrists, this might not be a problem for you.
Taking into account their high price, it’s hard to recommend them. They make it tougher to work your bike’s controls thanks to all that excess material and the sizing is a little strange. They’re also not suitable for track days because they’re a short style glove (no wrist protection). Unless you really need to look like you’re ready to knock people’s teeth out, and maybe I’m underestimating the demand for that, you’re probably better off spending your money elsewhere.