Good basic gloves at a bargain price that work for day-in day-out riding.
Eska is one of the largest glove manufacturers in the world, but the brand is not as well recognized among motorcyclists as it should be.
The Austrian company has been manufacturing gloves for nearly 100 years and they make motorcycle gloves along with other types of specialty gloves for work and play. In fact, Eska is well known for their police, military and firefighter gloves and also for ski gloves and street gloves.
Need gloves that will protect you against cuts or chemicals or fire or how about molten metal? Eska has a pair for you.
So a company that has been making rough duty gloves for extreme conditions since 1912 should know a thing or two about protection, and their line of motorcycle gloves is both extensive and technologically advanced. The company has an extensive line of motorcycle gloves for racing, sport riding, street riding and scootering, including waterproof gloves, mesh gloves, four-season all-around gloves and women's gloves.
Eska contacted us recently and sent a sampling of their motorcycle gloves, including the H2 partial mesh glove for summer wear. We'll start our Eska motorcycle glove review series with the H2 because they have been appropriate for our continuing warm summer weather. Then we'll move on to several other gloves in the Eska lineup.
We'll review the top-of-the-line Eska Indianapolis GTX race glove that has an unusual feature (for a race glove): the Gore-Tex "X-Trafit" insert. We'll follow that up with a review of the Eska GP Pro sport gloves, which have a bevy of features including kangaroo leather, Pittards reinforcements on the fingers, Kevlar threads and a unique carbon fiber knuckle protector with the special Eska "Airflow System" ventilation.
After that, we'll review the base version of the Eska Indianapolis gloves, which differ from the Indianapolis GTX version. The Indianapolis gloves are interesting because they combine mesh and leather with race glove features like a longer double-layer gauntlet and a separate wrist strap. These are designed for warmer-weather sport riding.
And we'll finish it off with the Eska Squadrato gloves for women, a good-looking street/sport glove that is comfortable but has more protection than most women's street gloves.
We've been riding with the Eska gloves in a variety of conditions over the last several weeks and our overall impression is that Eska makes high-quality gloves with a definite emphasis on performance.
The gloves feature an interesting and, we think, a unique blend of style, features and details. It is also apparent that Eska has more than a few experienced motorcycle riders on staff because the glove designs are well thought out but the focus is on meaningful features and performance.
It's a little late in the season, at least in the northern hemisphere but let's start off this review series with the Eska H2 gloves, which are designed for hot-weather street riding while offering more protection than the typical mesh gloves that are available.
The Eska H2 mesh gloves are designed for warm-weather riding. Mesh gloves are always a compromise between air flow and protection and not all of the mesh gloves we've reviewed are able to balance these two somewhat incongruous requirements.
The Eska H2 gloves feature an open-weave mesh fabric in the main body of the H2 gloves, but the bias is towards protection, so large portions of the mesh are covered by leather, carbon fiber protectors and other features. This is the compromise; the solid fabrics diminish the amount of air that can flow through the gloves.
But on the flip side, Eska used a variety of thinner lining materials on the inside of the gloves, not that thick foam lining that inhibits much of the air flow in some other brands of mesh gloves.
The design seems to work, as the light weight of the H2 gloves (each of these size 10 XL gloves weighs 80 grams) and the materials that have been used provide very good ventilation for this type of glove.
Besides the leather sections that will be described in more below, the H2 gloves feature a type of elastic fabric on the underside of the wrist encompassing the entire gauntlet and also bordering each of the fingers (i.e., in between the fingers). This adds to the flexibility of the H2 gloves and we found them to be comfortable to wear in warm weather, especially as the hands get hot, sweat and swell as the temperatures rise.
The H2 gloves are biased towards protection with the use of a large carbon fiber protector over the base (main) knuckles. The gloves also include carbon fiber sliders over the first and second knuckles of the forefinger and second finger and one over the middle knuckle of the third finger. A separate carbon fiber slider helps to protect the outside of the heel of the hand.
The base knuckle protector is double-stitched into a section of soft leather that is semi-floating on the back of the hand. The carbon fiber heel protector and secondary knuckle protectors are single-stitched on to leather sections that hold the protectors in place.
The base knuckle protector leather is double-stitched where it meets the tops of the fingers. In the rear, where it floats over the mesh body of the glove, it is covered with a large separate cap seam that covers and protects the edge. On either side of the top of the hand, this leather carrier is blind-stitched into the sides of the glove.
Eska used some other higher-spec features on the H2 gloves also, including a special Pittards "digital reinforcements" leather on the palm-side of the fingers; "Amara" microfiber leather on the palms, which gives a good feel for the grips; and even a touch of gel in a small pad that is interestingly placed at the center of the heel of the hand over the lunate carpal, which is probably the area that would hit the ground first.
The Amara leather, which has an appearance of a suede or nubuck-type leather, is also used to cover the tip of the thumb and the outside edge of the forefinger. It tapers down to a narrow sliver down along the outside of the forefinger back to about past the base knuckle.
On the inside of the palm, the Amara leather is double-stitched in one section to cover the forefinger/thumb circle. A larger pad of the Amara leather is double-stitched in a zigzag pattern, from the small gel pad at the heel of the hand, slanting upwards to meet the forefinger/thumb juncture, then back out under the base knuckles along the top of the palm of the hand.
These sections are thin enough to not compromise the rider's grip while offering good feel with some wear protection. There are a few narrow bars of silicone grip strips under each of the base knuckles on the Amara leather.
Two more sections of this material are double-stitched on to the palm side, located under the second knuckles of the forefinger and second finger. These are designed to help prevent wear from the brake and clutch levers.
The H2 gloves have a few subtle features that might go unnoticed at first. For example, Eska uses what they call the "Easy Flex" knuckle protector system over the thumb. This "floats" the knuckle protector on a band of leather over the knuckle, which allows the thumb to bend and move underneath while keeping the protector (padded leather in this case) over the knuckle.
In practice this little feature makes a difference in terms of flexibility and comfort and also air flow, but because it floats over the thumb, one has to hope that it will remain there to protect the knuckle in case of a crash and slide. That's part of the compromise one has to consider when buying a pair of motorcycle gloves designed for hot weather riding.
The mesh material used on the thumb at first appears to be the same as the material used on the body of the H2 gloves, but on closer inspection, the mesh has been gathered in small corrugations to create a sort of thicker, more flexible accordion-like material.
The pleats are oriented perpendicular to the bend of the thumb, which adds a lot of flexibility in this important area. This feature will probably go unnoticed by H2 owners, until they realize that their thumbs don't get tired or sore from having to push against less flexible materials or design.
Each of the Eska gloves we are reviewing carries the CE mark, and (updated information) Eska has now confirmed that the gloves meet the European EN 13594:2002 safety standard for motorcycle gloves and EN 340 for protective clothing standards. As far as we can tell, this is a first for mesh gloves and that fact that all 5 pairs of these Eska gloves carry the CE mark is an indication of the quality and performance of the products.
The H2 gloves have a section of elastic on the back of the wrist to help hold the gloves in place. The large gauntlet secures with a perforated section of rubberized material that attaches to hook-and-loop on the underside of the gauntlet. One improvement we would suggest is for Eska to include a separate wrist strap to help secure the gloves more firmly on the rider's hand. The rubberized strap doesn't give as much confidence as it could that the gloves will stay put during a crash.
The fingertips are stitched using an "X" type structure where the two sections of the elastic material meet the upper leather and the Pittards leather used on the palm side of the fingers.
The fingertips have ample room, but the stitching can be felt on the inside, around the sides and tips of the fingers, more so than on any of the other Eska gloves. This is somewhat exacerbated by the thin lining used on the inside of these gloves. Eska confirmed that the H2 gloves do not use Kevlar thread for the stitching material, but the Indianapolis, Indianapolis GTX and GP Pro gloves use Kevlar thread in the stitching in the palms.
The H2 gloves shown here are a size 10, marked "XL". They have a fit that is similar to many size large gloves, but all of the Eska gloves we have are marked XL (with the exception of the size 8 women's Squadrato gloves), so the Eska glove standard runs perhaps just slightly smaller than expected.
It's always difficult to tell with gloves, as the sizing seems to vary quite a bit. The fingers on the H2 gloves seem just a tiny bit shorter than the fingers on all of the other men's Eska gloves we have been wearing, which may be a result of the "X" cross stitching at the tips of the H2 gloves.
However, the thumbs have a good fit and this is important; too many gloves seem to have disproportionate thumbs. The thumb should have some extra room in the tip because of the way the hand grips the round bars. The thumbs on the Eska H2 gloves have just the right amount of room; that is, very slightly longer in proportion to the length of the fingers.
One of the nicest things about the H2 gloves is how flexible they feel on the hands; crucial when riding in warm-to-hot weather. The design and the relatively good amount of air flow helps to avoid sweating and allows the gloves to be easily removed when desired. The gloves have no apparent binding points and this makes them a pleasure to wear compared to some of the other summer gloves we've reviewed.
The Eska H2 gloves are comfortable and they provide excellent ventilation in very hot weather. Few mesh gloves have the protective features of the H2 gloves, nor the attention to detail. It's easy to cut corners on a mesh street glove, and they're usually sold at giveaway prices and as mentioned, there's always a compromise between safety and ventilation, but Eska hit the mark here. It's also nice to know that the Eska H2 gloves meet CE standards.
The most difficult part of owning a pair of Eska gloves may be finding them. It's not easy to find online retailers in the UK, France or even the rest of Europe who carry the brand, but we're hoping to change that with our series of Eska gloves reviews, which perhaps will persuade more retailers to carry the brand.
One could argue that the H2 gloves may not be the best choice to start a review series for a brand that is unfamiliar to many, but we wanted to get the H2 review published while the weather was still appropriate for them.
The other Eska gloves are as impressive, including the very interesting top-of-the-line Eska Indianapolis GTX race glove, with its Gore-Tex X-Trafit lining. They are perhaps the most comfortable -- and surely some of the most protective -- all-out motorcycle race gloves we've tried. So stay tuned for more Eska glove reviews coming soon!
Buying Eska Gloves: Due to the strong response from the webBikeWorld reviews, Eska is now taking email orders for gloves shipped worldwide, directly from the factory. They said that an online purchasing system with shopping cart will also become available soon! For more information, contact Eska directly through their website.
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From "G.M." (09/10): "I thought it had finally come to an end. My search, that is. Like Diogenes, looking for an honest man, I have been searching for the perfect hot weather glove.
These H2 gloves include all but one of the features I am looking for, and require. They have mesh for ventilation, and yet they are carefully designed to provide maximum protection. They have a gauntlet, which I am also looking for. But they do not have a secure wrist strap, as you pointed out, and without this, we return to the question of how can a glove protect your hands if it pulls off during a slide.
My Firstgear Mesh gloves (previous model to the present Mesh Tex 2.0 - I recommend reviewing these if you get the chance) include knuckle protection, mesh, and the wrist strap. They, too, are almost perfect. But I am concerned that my particular model (unlike the present Mesh Tex 2.0) does not include leather palms.
The palms on mine are Clarino, which is used on the present Mesh Tex and the Eska gloves to supplement leather palms and to improve grip. As a stand-alone protective material, I am just not so sure about Clarino. I have not been able to identify the animal who gave it's life to create the hide, I suspect it was a vegetable (or mineral) not an animal. (Editor's Note: Clarino is a synthetic leather).
So, my search goes on. I hope Eska will take your suggestions to heart and add a wrist strap, so my search for the perfect hot weather glove can finally come to an end. And if we have a wish list, making the gauntlet a bit longer wouldn't hurt, but it would not be a deal breaker.
Oh, and maybe they could add some retailers. As you mentioned, they are hard to find. Google could only find the glove with a retailer in France. The price of 50 euro is only $62.50, but I'll bet the shipping would be expensive, and a return if you got the wrong size would be pretty tricky.
I am looking forward to the rest of the Eska reviews, they look like serious and very competent MC glove manufacturers."