by Glenn W. for webBikeWorld.com
Probably better for cruising than sportbiking, Bionic Gloves have some promise but they leave me underwhelmed.
Whenever I happen to mention to a casual acquaintance that I ride a motorcycle, their response is usually "Oh, do you have a Harley?"
That's typical, at least in the U.S.A.
When I tell them I own a BMW, I can count on this: "Oh -- I didn't know BMW made motorcycles". At that point, I'll try to change the subject.
Which brings us to the Bionic Gloves. Great name, actually, but something tells me that if the folks who designed them are motorcycle owners at all, they're probably cruiser riders.
They also play golf, ride horses, work in the garden and play tennis, racquetball and baseball, because there's a Bionic Glove for all of those activities and more.
But what works for one sport doesn't necessary work for another.
Bionic Gloves were supposedly "designed by an orthopedic hand surgeon" to provide "more gripping power with less fatigue", but ironically seem to do just the reverse when compared to "normal" motorcycle gloves.
The defining characteristic of the Bionic Gloves are the gel pads used under the fingers, over the base knuckles and elsewhere. Also, the middle and top knuckle pads have a distinctive round shape, which is apparently designed to spread the tension around the perimeter of the bent knuckle, providing more comfort.
The Bionic gloves are made from sheepskin, according to the company, so the gloves will "fit like a second skin", as they say.
This is where the paradox comes into play, because in one sense, the Bionic gloves can feel comfortable with their snug and stretchy fit, when riding certain bikes under certain conditions. But the gel inserts and the Bionic design don't seem to work very well for sportbike riding, in my opinion, for two reasons.
First, the gel inserts isolate feel from the hand grips, which is precisely what you don't want on a sportbike. High quality leather race gloves usually have kangaroo leather palms with no lining, which provide the best feel for the grips, which is necessary to get feedback from the front end.
Also, when leaning forward, with weight on the hands, the gel strips make the gloves uncomfortable. They actually pinch the skin together on the palm side of my fingers and hurt my hands.
The gel strips are located above and below the bend of the fingers under the middle and first knuckles. There's more irony here, because the gel strips are apparently designed to make the gloves feel more comfortable rather than less.
Just for kicks, I borrowed a friend's old Suzuki GL 1400 cruiser and took it for a spin. Surprise (or not) -- the Bionic gloves felt comfortable when riding the cruiser. In this case, the gel helps isolate some of the vibes and the upright posture doesn't place much or any weight on my hands, so there's no pinching from the gel strips.
Thus, my conclusion: the Bionic Glove dudes are cruiser owners and may not have considered how the gloves would work on a Sportbike. Of course, this is all pure supposition on my part, but it's as good of an explanation as I could come up with.
It's too bad actually, because a few of the features on the Bionic Gloves are rather nice. If you like motorcycle gloves with short cuffs, then you'll probably like these, because the pure elastic cuff fits snugly and easily tucks up under a motorcycle jacket sleeve.
The elastic is also used in the center of the doughnut-shaped knuckle protectors on the backside of the gloves, and this material also helps provide better air flow than might be expected from a non-perforated leather glove.
But the fingers seem thinner than normal for a pair of motorcycle gloves, and since there is no textile or elastic on the sides of the fingers, the tight fit only works for those with narrow fingers. I have pretty slim digits and the gloves feel too tight when I curve my hand around the grips.
I'm also not at all fond of the very shiny and plastic-y feeling clear vinyl on the tips of the fingers and the palm. It appears as the shiny material in the photos below.
The vinyl feels like a bodysuit leftover from Mistress Victoria. It has a kind of creepy texture and appearance, in my opinion. I'd much rather see layers of sheep, goat, kangaroo or Kevlar rather than this stuff.
Most of the glove sections are single-stitched, except the elastic cuff, which uses a double row. The fingers are sewn with "blind" seams on the outside, so the leather is folded in, and can be felt inside the snug fingers at the tips and around the sides. This also makes the gloves feel slightly more uncomfortable than they might have been if the seams were external.
I'm not sure how much protection is actually offered by the gel knuckle protectors. The gloves have no hard armor or protectors anywhere else and nothing other than the leather covering the first knuckles out by the fingertips.
The palms have a thin layer of gel under the shiny vinyl sections covering the palm and heel of the hand, but these seem more like they were designed for comfort than as sliding protection.
The fingertips use a sort of X cross pattern to bring the tips together, as can be seen in the photo below.
I'm just not very fond of the Bionic Gloves; they seem like a good idea but the combination of features doesn't really do much for me.
Now I have a feeling that my opinions may not be shared by many webBikeWorld readers who buy these gloves, and that's fine. I'll guess that under some conditions, and especially for cruiser owners, as I mentioned above, the Bionic Gloves will be much admired, but they just didn't work out for me.