Alpinestars GP Tech Gloves Review
by C. P. for webBikeWorld.com
High-tech, high-quality gloves at a price.
If you're looking for a moderately priced pair of gloves, stop reading.
At $235.00 list, these top-of-the-line Alpinestars GP Tech gloves are anything but cheap.
They're in the same category as the Held Galaxy and Krypton gloves or the Kushitani Hyper Racing and GPR IV gloves -- all of which retail for over $200.00.
But if you're able and willing to fork out a couple of C-notes for a pair of motorcycle gloves, the Alpinestars GP Techs are -- like the Held and Kushitani gloves -- serious, top shelf bling. So what do you get for $200?
For starters, you get the benefit of Alpinestars relationships with many top MotoGP and World Superbike riders.
These include stars such as the former AMA Superbike champion Nicky Hayden, former 500cc world champion Kenny Roberts, Jr., and former World Superbike champions Troy Bayliss and Troy Corser, as well as AMA stars Miguel Duhamel and the brothers Bostrom.
Alpinestars claims that the GP Tech gloves were developed with professional GP racers in mind, and this lineup of racers proves the point.
What you notice right away about the GP Tech gloves are the finger, knuckle, and wrist protection. A few years ago, carbon fiber was the rage for providing "hard" protection on both gloves and boots. Besides being functional, the carbon fiber was cool looking.
Alpinestars still uses carbon fiber on the finger and knuckle sliders on its other gloves (such as the GP Plus), but the GP Tech (as well as the GP Pro) use injected molded thermoplastic, which, according to Alpinestars, has superior impact and abrasion resistance.
If you own a pair of Alpinestars Supertech or S-MX Plus boots (as I do), the thermoplastic protection on the GP Tech gloves matches the shin and heel/ankle protection and toe sliders on the boots, which is a plus for owners who are fashion conscious about their riding apparel.
But what really sets the GP Tech apart from other motorcycle gloves is the wrist gauntlet. Instead of leather -- as you'd find in other gloves (even the Held and Kushitani), Alpinestars uses the same thermoplastic found in the finger and knuckle sliders.
It looks pretty trick and provides an added level of protection for the wrist.
Another unique feature of the GP Tech gloves is that the third and fourth fingers are connected, which is supposed to help prevent "finger roll" in a crash.
Finger roll is when a finger is rotated beyond the breaking point, and the pinky finger is especially prone to this in a crash, caused either by the slide or if the hand gets caught under the tumbling body.
In any case, it's nice to know that the gloves have this feature and it sure makes it easy to give the Vulcan "live long and prosper" hand sign!
The construction of the GP Tech glove is a combination of leather and stretch Kevlar, which provides a combination of both protection and flexibility.
The palm is made from kangaroo leather, which is claimed to have greater tensile strength and abrasion resistance than cowhide leather.
Kangaroo leather is also about 50% lighter than cowhide. That probably doesn't make too much difference in a pair of gloves, but it's one of the reasons many manufacturers (including Alpinestars) offer suits made with Kangaroo leather.
The base of the palm also has a series of rubber-like nubbie thingies (sorry for using such a technical term) that presumably provide yet another layer of impact/abrasion protection.
Pittards leather is used to reinforce critical areas -- such as between the thumb and forefinger and the outside of the pinkie finger.
A final feature of the GP Tech glove is for those of us who ride during hot summers -- the cuff and finger sidewalls are perforated to help air flow and keep your hands a few degrees cooler.
Not surprisingly, the GP Tech gloves fit like ... well ... a glove. Like a lot of other gloves, they have dual wrist closures so you can make them comfortably snug.
And the combination of leather and stretch Kevlar makes for a glove that isn't overly stiff.
I found the GP Techs to be comfortable out of the box. I've yet to take them out on a really long ride, but I have no complaints after my first short ride with them.
A note about sizing. I wear a size small glove and that's the size that fits me in the GP Tech. But other people have reported sizing "issues" with these gloves.
A friend of mine who runs a web-based motorcycle clothing and accessories business told me he had problems fitting at least one customer. The GP Tech in the customer's normal size was too tight. The hand fit of the next size larger was correct, but the fingers were too long.
Ultimately, the retailer and the customer gave up on the GP Tech because they couldn't find a size that fit correctly (relatively important when spending $235.00 on a pair of motorcycle gloves!).
At least one web retailer that I found (in the UK) advises its customers to purchase a size larger than usual because the GP Tech gloves fit tight. I bought mine on the web and initially purchased a pair in size medium based on a combination of advice from my friend, what I'd read on the web, and discussing the issue with one of the staff at the retailer.
The mediums felt OK in terms of hand fit, but the fingers were definitely on the longish side. So I talked to another staff person at the retailer who actually wears the GP Tech gloves on a regular basis.
He said that his experience was that they fit tight initially but break in relatively quickly (which was actually my experience with my Alpinestars S-MX boots). So I exchanged the mediums for smalls and am 100% happy with the fit (and they didn't seem to require much break-in).
If you're planning to buy a pair of GP Tech gloves, you need to be aware of this potential sizing issue. The best option is to find a local Alpinestars dealer (I didn't really have that option readily available) and try the gloves on before you buy them.
If that's not an option, then make sure the retailer will exchange them for a different size and (important) ultimately allow a complete return/refund if you can't get them to fit just right. Don't forget that if you're going to spend $200-plus on a pair of gloves, they better fit perfectly.
I'd also recommend buying from a dealer (local or otherwise) who has actual experience fitting a variety of customers with the GP Tech specifically so that they're speaking from a personal knowledge base.
Clearly, the Alpinestars GP Tech gloves aren't for everyone. They definitely scream "racing" and are probably better suited to the dedicated sportbike and track rider who has deep pockets (or doesn't mind subsisting on a diet of Ramen noodles). For sure the GP Techs would probably not be the first choice for cruisers, commuters, or touring riders.
And let's be real: nobody "needs" a pair of $200 gloves -- Alpinestars, Held, Kushitani, or otherwise. And I can tell you that from personal experience. I've had one street crash (with a deer) and two get-offs at the track (both lowsides) and my AGV and Fieldsheer gloves that cost less than half the price of the GP Techs did the job of protecting my hands and fingers from serious injury just fine.
But if you must have the bling, then the Alpinestars GP Tech gloves are definitely it. And if you're like me, i.e., the owner of an Alpinestars TLD (the Noriyuki Haga race replica), suit and a pair of Alpinestars S-MX boots, you can rationalize the GP Tech gloves as being absolutely necessary to go the full Monty and complete the "look".
But tell your wife you needed them because you deserve the same crash protection as your GP and WSB heroes!
|wBW Review: Alpinestars GP Tech Gloves|
|Manufacturer: Alpinestars||List Price (2004): $235.00 USD|
|Colors: Black, Red or Blue.||Made In: Unknown|
|Review Date: March 2004|