Anyone who rides with me knows this… you’ll never see me ride without eye protection or full finger gloves! Those are two very delicate areas that I cannot stress protecting enough. Maybe it’s a holdover from my bicycle racing days, but they remain my two mandatory pieces of safety equipment.
Well, if you ride as much as I do with that philosophy, the subject of gloves is going to come up. I had looked at the Aerostich Roper gloves for some time, but never committed to buying a pair, because I just could not try them on. So before the review, let me tell you what caused me to take that leap of faith and order the gloves from Aerostich.
As we prepared for our Waterfall Weekend Tour in July, I decided it was time to retire my current motorcycle gloves (after 1 year of use). I did not have enough time to order the Elkskin Ropers, so I drove down to the local Cycle Gear shop and tried on about 6 different brands. When I look for gloves, I want something that offers protection, while still maintaining some dexterity, as I pretty much live in gloves.
I settled on a pair of Sedici Leather motorcycle gloves. They were around $50-60 and they allowed good movement. The other thing that interested me was the lifetime guarantee on workmanship. To offer that kind of warranty, it implies that the item will be constructed soundly. I purchased the glove on a Thursday and we took off for a three day tour. After only 3 days of riding and 700 miles of pavement, the gloves were already showing wear. Multiple areas of stitching had come undone and I was tremendously disappointed. I took them back on Monday and got my money back.
Now for those of you unfamiliar with the Aerostich Company, please take a look at their website and contact them for a catalog. For the touring motorcyclist – actually any motorcyclist, this is a company to be familiar with. Their catalog takes me back to the days of Sears & Roebuck (before the internet) when you would flip through the pages figuring out your Christmas list. Their catalog is filled with subtle humor as well. One example is the micro hair dryer. The photo in the catalog is a bald gentleman using it. That’s great stuff!
Back to the gloves. I called the company and spoke with a representative about sizing. The roper gloves come in “glove sizes”, which results in about twice as many options as the standard S, M, L, XL hierarchy. I placed my order and waited. Unfortunately, my size was back-ordered, so a couple of motorcycle trips passed before they came in. Once they arrived, I immediately tried them on, only to find out that they were just a tad small. I called Aerostich and told them my plight along with the fact that I was a week away from our final tour of the year. Because of my predicament, Aerostich shipped the correct size that same day.
Two days before our departure, the gloves came in, so now for the review. The gloves are fantastic. Very supple in their hand (no pun intended) and the fit was amazing (like a glove!). I was initially concerned because my hands are a little wide, but the elk skin stretched just the right amount to allow for a full range of motion.
I ordered the Competition Elkskin Roper Gloves (#421) in a size 9. These are a step up from their original roper gloves, adding a Velcro strap at the wrist along with a section of visco-elastic TF3 impact material to pad the knuckles. The gloves are made in the USA (Washington State) and the stitching looks strong and well done. One other addition is that of the “wiper” blade on the underside of the thumb. I’ll be honest, I thought the idea behind a squeegee like this was a marketing gizmo, but as luck would have it… it rained on our ride home. I was pleasantly surprised at the usefulness and the placement of the implement on the glove is perfect. It is not in an area that bends, nor is it up against your grip stop. Nicely done!
I could tell, minutes into the tour, that these were comfortable gloves. The range of motion afforded was similar to a thin (unprotective glove), and I was able to handle all of the controls at ease. Sitting on a Goldwing is somewhat like an airplane cockpit: lots of controls, buttons, and switches. All (along with my back up GPS) were manipulated with ease.
Finally, after 700 miles over the weekend, it was clear that I had a winner. The gloves looked brand new, but felt like I had owned and wore them for years. Most heavy riders report 4-5 years and I can certainly see why. These gloves come in the natural tanned hide or black dyed. I understand the black can bleed some initially. I prefer the tan gloves as it tends to be more visible when signaling or pointing out objects to other riders and drivers.
NC Touring and I highly recommend these Aerostitch Competition Elkskin Roper gloves. I’m even contemplating a set of their gauntlet ones for the winter.