The Dainese Carbon Cover gloves are new for 2011.
They are located somewhere near the middle of the massive 2011 Dainese glove range in both price and features and they're a solid choice for street riding.
I especially like the comfort that is provided by the thoughtful fit and fingertip construction.
The reasonable list price has made the Carbon Cover gloves one of the hottest-sellers in the current Dainese lineup.
I count 49 pairs of gloves in the 2011 Dainese glove line, with prices ranging from a coronary-inducing $449.00 for the Valentino Rossi replicas all the way down to $49.00 for the -- are you ready for this? -- the "Desert Poon" gloves.
Starting with those Desert Poons, each succeeding glove model is priced at just about 10 dollars more all the way up the line.
So to say that Dainese has your digits covered in every way, shape and form is an understatement.
If you want to spend $450.00 on a pair of gloves, well, you can certainly do that and Dainese will be happy to sell you a pair. But the star of the lineup sits around mid-pack, priced at a pretty reasonable $119.00 list. Can you guess which one that is?
Of course! It's the Dainese "Carbon Cover" gloves that are the subject of this review. $119.00 isn't too steep of a price to pay for a good pair of street/sport gloves of this quality and the more I wear them, the more I like them.
Compared to the AGV Sport Willow gloves I reviewed last time out, the Dainese gloves have a few added protective features that make up the difference in price and should address the concerns that some of you had for the lack of an outer edge, heel-of-the-hand protection package on the Willow gloves.
So let me run through a more detailed look at the Dainese Carbon Cover gloves and see what you think this time...
Dainese makes several different glove models that look very similar to the Carbon Cover gloves. They use the word "Carbon" in the title, which can also be a bit confusing.
For example, there are the "Steel Core Carbon" gloves ($249.00) and the "Pro Carbon" gloves ($149.00). Both of those gloves look very similar to the Carbon Cover gloves in terms of styling but the feature set varies.
It's always good to find similarities between the less expensive version of a piece of gear and the more expensive version, which is sort of the case with the Carbon Cover gloves compared to those other gloves using the word "Carbon" in their title.
Many motorcycle riders have apparently decided that the Carbon Cover gloves have just enough protection for street riding, and this is what has made this particular model so popular. The Carbon Cover gloves don't have the higher-end TPU plastic sliders and other protective bits you get on the Pro Carbon and Steel Core Carbon versions, and the Steel Core Carbon gloves add Kevlar liners and armor on the back of the hand.
But for general all-around street and sport riding and perhaps even the occasional track day, the Carbon Core gloves should do the trick at a significant savings.
The first thing you'll notice with the Carbon Cover gloves is that they are very light at only 101 grams (each glove) in size large, as measured on the webBikeWorld scale. Dainese says the gloves are made "with just one single panel of leather for the greater protection of the stitching", and maybe this helps to reduce the weight.
I'm not sure what they actually mean by that "single panel" statement, because when I look inside the gloves I see a seam on either side of the inside and outside of the hand, like the top of the glove is sewn to the bottom (palm) side.
The construction of the gloves does a nice job at hiding the seams, however, with leather coverings along the inside around the thumb and the outside of the pinky finger and along the heel of the hand are completely covered by more leather sections.
This is the main difference between the Carbon Cover gloves and the AGV Sport Willow gloves, which don't have as much protection on the outer part of the hand, noted by some of the webBikeWorld readers who sent their comments for that review.
The Carbon Cover gloves do not have the large TPU sliders on the heel of the hand, the scaphoid and the back of the hand found on hard-core race gloves like the Dainese Steel Core Carbon gloves. The absence of that type of protection marks the Carbon Core gloves as more of a pure street/sport type.
But the Carbon Core gloves do feature extra sections of leather and padding along the outside of the hand and the outside of the pinky finger is also covered with extra sections of leather and some padding.
So the bottom line here is that the Dainese Carbon Cover gloves are a sort of kicked-up version of street/sport gloves and much like a Dainese Steel Core Carbon "Lite" version. The Dainese "Core Carbon" product line sort of breaks down like this:
The Core Carbon gloves are at the low end as the street version and they have a list price of $119.00. The Pro Carbon gloves have a bit more protection and thicker padding, along with some TPU on the outside of the pinky finger and they list for $149.00.
The Steel Core Carbon gloves are the top end of the "Core Carbon" glove lineup with much more TPU and race-like protection, but they cost more than twice the price of the Core Carbon gloves at $249.00.
The three gloves mentioned above have a common styling theme and one more feature in common -- they're all made from leather. I guess it's just your basic, all-around garden variety type of leather because Dainese doesn't go into a lot of detail about it; "cowhide" is all they say.
So no fancy goat skin or kangaroo hide here, but whatever it is they use feels just fine. It has an initial stiffness that rapidly breaks in after about the third ride. The leather does feel slightly thin, but that gives good feel and the light weight of these gloves is a plus for street riding and the quality of the leather helps here also.
The palms are unlined, which helps give that feel and transmits the messages from the bike to the rider through the hands. The palms have an extra layer of what appears to be a Pittard's type "Digital" leather abrasion resistant leather over the palms, but Dainese isn't specific about what this material on the palms really is.
It doesn't get in the way of the very good feel for the grips that the Carbon Cover gloves offer and the only other lining is a thin fabric layer on the top side of the inside of the gloves and along the top of the fingers.
The stitching is nicely done with double and even triple sections where needed along the abrasion points and hidden seams at the fingers. I think Dainese quality pays off here because the internal seams and edges have been nicely trimmed and I don't feel any roughness or chafing inside the gloves, despite the minimal amount of lining.
Dainese uses a few tricks to make the Carbon Cover gloves more suited to street riders. They claim a patent pending on the "Microelastic elasticated inserts" used in these gloves; you can see these in the photos as the 3.0 - 3.5 mm wide strips placed just over the thumb and along the back of the hand.
If you don't like a lot of hard TPU or other slider materials used in some gloves, these are for you, because other than the carbon fiber knuckle protectors and a few other tiny pieces, everything else on the gloves is leather.
My Carbon Cover gloves are a size large and I think they fit exactly to the expected size, which is excellent. Motorcycle gloves seem to vary quite a bit in standard sizing -- or is it the human hand that has more variation? We find more variance in glove sizes than just about any other type of motorcycle gear reviewed.
One feature I really like about the Carbon Cover gloves is the way the fingers are constructed. They have the "two walls, floor and ceiling" design of a touring glove, rather than the too-thin tapered top/bottom finger construction found on many race gloves.
We've seen this "walls, floor and ceiling" construction used in several pairs of semi-race gloves recently and it's a good thing for street riding because it provides more room in the fingertips and also provides room for expansion and stretch when the rider's hands are wrapped around the grips.
It's always important to try on the gloves while you're sitting on a motorcycle, because you'll probably find that the glove size -- or at least the finger length -- will seemingly shrink about a half-size due to the mechanics of gripping a handlebar.
The quality of the leather used by Dainese in the Carbon Cover gloves and the slightly boxier finger design helps control that and this is the first pair of gloves I've worn in a while which don't feel like they're cramping my fingers, either in length or width.
As I mentioned above, about the only non-leather part used on the Carbon Cover gloves is the carbon fiber main knuckle protector. It's not huge but it's a good size and it appears to be made with much higher quality than most of the carbon fiber junk used on cheaper gloves. It's also covered with a thick coating of some type of clear plastic or clear coat of some type.
There is a slight amount of padding on the inside of the gloves under the knuckle protector; enough to keep the gloves comfortable and allow the knuckles to bend without strain. The protector is sewn into a very large swath of leather that runs from about the center of the finger just above the second knuckle to nearly mid-point on the back of the hand.
Leather padded sections protect the heel of the hand, the scaphoid and the outer part of the thumb, along with the outer part of the pinky. So again, this isn't true race-like protection, but it's probably more extensive or more serious anyway than the AGV Sport Willow gloves and one also assumes that Dainese reputation for quality means the Carbon Cover gloves will do the job if necessary.
The Carbon Cover gloves feature an adequately-sized gauntlet with a large hook-and-loop cover that runs as a single piece from the inside of the wrist all the way over as it wraps around the outside of the hand. When it is secured and closed, it acts as a second layer of protection on the outside of the wrist.
The gauntlet has a nicely designed dart, which prevents the gauntlet material from bunching up and the gloves can be worn either under or over a motorcycle jacket sleeve.
A second strap under the inside of the wrist holds the gloves tight. It runs through a metal ring that is securely anchored to the outside of the wrist. The location of the ring used in this design works well because it helps prevent bunching on the inside of the wrist when the hand is on the grips.
The leather used on the insides of the fingers is lightly perforated with a single row of perforations along the inside and outside of each finger, although the first finger and pinky finger do not have perforations on the outside.
These perforations do flow a slight amount of air in some circumstances; i.e., when there is nothing blocking the wind from the hands on the hand grips.
The only other place on the gloves that could offer some ventilation is along the gauntlet. This leather is perforated but it's also lined on the inside, so it doesn't really provide much air flow.
The bottom line here is that the Carbon Cover gloves are not designed with flow-through ventilation in mind. But since the lining is kept at a minimum, they're not as hot in warm weather as some gloves either.
The Dainese Carbon Cover gloves feature traditional Dainese quality and excellent design, with comfort to match. The sizing is just right and the pre-curved fingers are comfortable, with enough room for holding the handlebar grips. These gloves also feel like they offer a good amount of protection without the cost of the more expensive Dainese race gloves.
I think the Carbon Cover gloves make an excellent choice for street and sport riding. The Dainese brand counts for a lot here and since I'm not about to test these gloves to destruction by taking a dive at speed, I for one am counting on Dainese know-how to ensure that the gloves will perform if the time comes.
I find these gloves to be both comfortable and stylish and I can understand perfectly why they have become so popular with street riders. They don't necessarily have any one particular standout or unique feature, but they check off all the right boxes at an affordable price -- and that is their simple but magic formula.