Superb quality and thoughtful design make the Dainese "Guanto" X-ILE gloves a summertime winner!
Motorcycle gloves probably make the most difficult subjects for a webBikeWorld review. It's not easy to spit out 1,000 words or so about a pair of gloves, that's for sure.
This is true also for motorcycle jackets -- after a while, they all pretty much look and feel about the same, making it seem as if pulling one's own teeth might be easier and less painful than conjuring up new ways to describe the pros and cons of a jacket that differs from the rest only in the most minute of details.
Ahh -- the tough life of a webBikeWorld reviewer! I'm sure you're feeling sorry for me, right?!
Fortunately, Dainese is making this one easy for me. They sent along a pair of these Guanto X-ILE gloves with one of their new Shotgun jackets, and both have unique styling and construction that's different enough from most of the gear that has come through the portals lately that it makes writing about them a pleasure.
Our European webBikeWorld visitors have been chirping at us for years to take a look at Dainese gear and we finally caught on. I think they're right -- based on the examples I've seen and tried, Dainese makes some of the highest quality motorcycle gear you can find.
And the variety is almost endless; five full pages just for gloves on the Dainese website, with prices ranging from "Are you sure?" $39.00 (Brescia) to "Yeeouch!" $449.00 for Valentino replicas (and who wouldn't want a pair of those?).
The company makes so many different products that they've apparently found it necessary to gin up a host of different sounding names for all the gear. Some of the names make sense and some are nonsensical but everyone knows that the minds of the marketers are forever puzzling.
In the past, Dainese products weren't readily available on this side of the Atlantic, but that's all changed and our RevZilla affiliate now carries the brand, which is a real bonus.
Both the Shotgun jacket, which I'll cover in an upcoming review, and the Guanto gloves are designed for right now -- summertime. I do think they're both pretty amazing pieces of kit with some definite differences. Most noticeable is in the way they fit, and it all has to do with that wonder fabric of the Disco Age -- Spandex!
Spandex is also known as Elastane in Europe, as Lycra elsewhere and by several other names, trademarked and generic. The inclusion of this stretchy fabric in the Shotgun jacket and Guanto gloves makes all the difference in the world. The Shotgun jacket feels like it was poured on, it's that comfortable, and it has all the stretchy roominess any rider would ever need...and the Guanto gloves aren't far behind.
Just throwing in a dart or two of Spandex isn't enough, of course. It has to be done correctly, and putting it in the right spot means knowing how to design and style the results so that they will fit, function and feel better.
Just for the record, the word guanto is Italian for "glove" (plural: guanti). The English language websites are calling these the Dainese Guanto gloves, so I guess we'll have to play along.
But they're officially known as the Dainese X-ILE on the Dainese website, since "Guanto gloves" translates to a meaningless "glove gloves". So the real question is about the X-ILE name, which is perhaps a cute way of saying "Exile"?
I thought at first that the X-ILE gloves were made entirely from some new type of flexible leather or other space-age material, perhaps similar to the Leather With Lycra we described in a webBikeWorld news release from the past. But again, it's all in the design, and the stretchy Spandex material has been put in just the right places on the X-ILE gloves to help make them fit just like gloves should fit.
Details and specs for the X-ILE gloves aren't easy to come by, even on the Dainese website. But the gray/taupe colored palms are made from a very soft leather, with heavy doubled reinforcements covering the heel of the hand, under the main knuckles in the fist and around into the underside of the thumb.
The leather used in the plams appears to be different than the leather used on other gloves I've worn. The X-ILE leather feels like a cross between suede, microfleece and the type of nubuck leather found, perhaps, in a pair of work gloves.
This leather shouldn't be as comfortable as it is, but -- it is. At first glance, the leather used in the X-ILE gloves almost looks a bit rough, thus the wildly inaccurate comparison to work gloves. In reality it's as soft as a baby goat's bottom and it feels completely broken almost immediately and if not, it certainly will be after the first ride.
Another surprise is that the leather used in the palm side of the gloves is unlined, but it nevertheless feels just as comfy on the inside.
Using a flashlight to peek down into the fingers, all I see is the flip side of the gray leather. The underside of the leather used in the top half of the gloves is lined with a soft and slightly shiny fabric, which helps to move over the hands as they close, making the gloves conform better when I'm gripping the handlebars.
The back side of the X-ILE gloves is a thinner black leather, quite different in contrast from the nubuck-style palms. The black leather is a bit dressier but also very soft.
The fingers are just the right length and with a tiny touch of room in the fingertips for the perfect grip. A few seams can be felt along the sides of the fingers on the insides, but only if I concentrate; once I'm out on the bike, I notice nothing.
But the key to the flexibility offered by the X-ILE gloves is the stretchy Spandex material that starts at the outside of the wrist on the top of the gloves and curves downward, surrounding the thumb, which allows it to hug the curvature of the hand.
Another detail that might pass unnoticed is the use of the Spandex on either side of the black leather in the forefinger and second finger. This floats the leather on top of the Spandex, giving extra flexibility to these two digits, and making the X-ILE gloves perfect for my two-fingers covering the brake and clutch levers.
The fit and finish on the X-ILE gloves is superb; not a stitch out of line and details that make a very obvious difference.
For example, the edge of each of the leather sections is very carefully rolled over and stitched tightly and evenly over the entire length of the seam. It makes a big difference in the way the gloves look and both the stitching and design also add to the comfort level.
This focus on cut and stitching, combined with styling, is a hallmark of the best motorcycle clothing manufacturers. We've noted this before and, based on my experiences so far, there probably isn't a better example of it than in Dainese products.
A small cross-wise accordion pleat in the leather across the back of the hand is repeated as a vertical pleat on the wrist and both serve as a combination styling touch and added stretch points. Even the tiny stitching on the seam that covers the entry point of the gloves is perfectly applied.
The fingers use a box section construction, with blind seams along the outsides while the seam at each fingertip is on the outside.
The extra wear sections on the palm are made from the gray leather and are just as thick. These sections are all double-stitched and again, both the cut and the stitching is flawless.
The thumbs on motorcycle gloves can sometimes cause fit problems, but somehow Dainese got this right also. The red leather swirls down over the top of the thumb but ends before the tips. It uses a blind stitch on the outside. The bottom of the thumb is constructed from the gray nubuck leather and it all comes perfectly together -- not too loose and not too tight.
This pair of X-ILE gloves in size large fits just as expected, so if this is true across the entire size range for the X-ILE gloves, you should be able to order to your exact size.
The cuffs are tight, requiring a good push to get the hands inside and this is for safety reasons to make sure the gloves stay put once they're on. As you can see in the photos, the Guanto X-ILE gloves have a short cuff by design, so you have to like this style -- and understand its compromises.
A short hook-and-loop strap secures the gloves at the wrist and the snug fit at the entry point, combined with the strap, keeps the gloves in place. Once they're buttoned up, I can pull them off with some effort, but they feel much more secure than most of the other short gloves I have used.
I think one of the keys to the good design of the X-ILE gloves is that they're tight enough to stay put, yet feel roomy enough once they're on the hands. The snug entry does mean that the gloves are a bit more difficult to pull on when my hands are damp or sweaty, but that's a small price to pay for the security.
Dainese doesn't come right out and say it, but the X-ILE gloves are obviously designed for hot-weather use. The short gauntlet helps here, although it can be a bit difficult to get it properly stuffed under some jacket cuffs. It's paradoxically too short for some and too long for others.
The mostly unlined interior also helps, as does the minimal amount of padding. The gray leather includes perforation holes on each side of the fingers, which probably helps, although air can't really be felt flowing through. There are perforations on the padding over the first two main knuckles, the fingertips and the back of the hand, but I think these are more of a styling effort than functional.
Yet the air does seem to seep in to the gloves for cooling, I think through the textile pieces and perhaps because of the minimal amount of lining. The leather absorbs some moisture also, as does the smooth lining on the top side of the inner part of the gloves.
So overall, the X-ILE gloves may not have air flowing directly through like a pair of mesh gloves might, but they feel like they offer much better protection than some of the very minimal (and cheap) mesh summer gloves I've worn.
The extra leather sections on the palm and the heel, along with the carbon fiber knuckle protector on the 3rd and 4th knuckles only, is pretty much the only extra protection on the X-ILE gloves. The thick-ish leather used in the body of the gloves and some padding on the back of the fingers and top of the hand also helps.
But this is the hot-weather tradeoff -- more protection means hotter hands. I have been wearing the X-ILE gloves just about every day recently in summer temperatures and their comfort and design is a good compromise between trying to stay cool while also staying protected.
As you have probably guessed by now, I'm really pleased with the Dainese "Guanto" X-ILE gloves. The combination of quality and style and comfort really does it for me and I'd probably have to say at this point that these are the best short-gauntlet summer gloves I've tried. They just somehow feel perfect when I wrap my hands around the grips, and that's what counts.
When short gloves first became popular, I was skeptical, and I'm fully aware of the potential compromises in safety. But when the weather is as hot as it is here lately, a pair of gloves like these offer a good balance of a reasonable amount of protection while still remaining comfortable.
The Guanto gloves are superbly made, beautifully designed and -- best of all -- they just feel great when riding. They're more expensive than a pair of the cheap summer mesh gloves, but they're infinitely more enjoyable to own and I think they're worth every penny.
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From "A.J.L." (8/10): "I
enjoy your website, thank you for all the work that is put
Fit: My hands measure 7.5 inches from base of palm to tip of middle finger. This puts me squarely in the size large for most standard sized gloves. I found the Dainese large to fit just right. They seem very true to size.
Quality: The palms of these gloves are very nice. The leather felt broken-in from the moment I put them on. The palms are double stitched with layered patches in most areas except the base attachment to the wrist strap. The single stitching on the back-hand side is clean and tight, no fraying or loose ends. I give the construction quality a good to very good, they seem like they should last.
Comfort: As I mentioned, the palms are supple and very comfortable. The seams do not protrude inside the glove so there are no pressure points or chafing between fingers. The inside of the glove is bare leather on the palm with a Lycra-like liner on the back-hand side. The leather is soft and comfortable as is the liner. These gloves can easily be worn all day with no discomfort.
I have found some gloves with hardened knuckles to be painful when making a fist. These are not so. The inside padding and liner make it so that you don't ever feel the knuckle reinforcements.
Protection vs Weather: The inside two knuckles of the glove as well as the back of the hand have foam padding that seems a moderate protection. The outer two knuckles feature a carbon fiber (or look-alike) hard reinforcement offering better protection. The backside of the fingers have a leather pad that should help with abrasion, but likely not much impact protection.
The palms are well made and thick enough to inspire confidence for at least one-time use in a crash. The airflow at speed through the back of the gloves is moderate. Better than a full leather glove, but far less than the mesh gloves I am replacing.
I recently rode 5 hours on a 95 degree heat-indexed day in Georgia with little sweating and no discomfort, so I would judge these gloves a good compromise between mesh comfort and leather protection.
Complaints: My only real issue with the gloves is the Velcro attachment at the wrist. The gloves feature a small area of elastic with a medium length Velcro strap. The wrist area is very formed and when I put them on this seems to restrict my ability to tighten the glove to my wrist.
I wear my jacket Velcro-ed over the wrist of the glove so there is a little bunching of the glove material when I snug the jacket down. There seems to be no functional issue here beyond a bit of cosmetic looseness at the back of the glove; there is no discomfort at the wrist.
Conclusion: I am very happy with the purchase of these gloves. They look very nice, the quality is good, and the fit and comfort are excellent. I would happily recommend them and you should have no trouble ordering your standard size."
From "K.L.S." (6/10): "I just read your Dainese ‘Guanto’ glove review and believe your first impressions are correct. 18 months ago I ponied up for the Dainese - Ducati branded ‘Motard’ gloves that appear to be very similar. I fell in love with the soft, thick leather, the great fit, and the quality craftsmanship like your author did.
I can add to your review that my gloves have also held up remarkably well. No loose threads or pulled seams and the leather surface hasn’t worn at all. Just a little road grime and bugs to prove that they’re used every day."