by Brandon Jackson for webBikeWorld.com
The Frank Thomas Rage gloves include many safety features and look good.
The price is reasonable but the quality may need to be addressed.
Frank Thomas may not be the first name you think of for motorcycle apparel, but regulars of the Cycle Gear chain have probably seen the name.
Frank Thomas is also apparently well known in the UK as I have seen numerous adverts in British bike magazines.
Since I am one of those Cycle Gear regulars, I've been curious about some of the reasonably priced gear bearing the Frank Thomas brand.
In this case, I was looking for a pair of gloves to replace my favorite Joe Rocket Reactor street gloves. The only shortcoming I find with the Reactor gloves is the lack of a gauntlet for better protection.
Frank Thomas makes a variety of street gloves from short cuff to what I would consider an amateur track day or aggressive street type of glove.
The Frank Thomas glove that I found interesting is called the Rage. The Rage glove fits that aggressive street/occasional track day segment, with good protective features as well as the use of Kangaroo leather for the palm area and underside of the fingers. Let's take a closer look.
As you can see in the photos, there are a several protective features on these gloves. To start, a large carbon fiber molded protector over the knuckles should offer good protection. The downside is that this type of carbon fiber protector can be uncomfortable if not molded properly.
With the Rage gloves, the protector is noticeable, but not uncomfortable after a couple of hours riding. It helps too that the glove is lined inside over the back of the hand and under the knuckle protector.
A second bit of carbon fiber can be found on the top of the wrist towards the inside, which is designed to protect that particular area. Although it may seem like an unlikely spot for impact, the protector doesn't get in the way, so the fact that it’s there is probably good.
Additionally, under the heel of the palm is this fibrous sort of material that should provide an abrasive resistant surface to protect the hands in case of a slide. It seems well located for this purpose, but its soft design makes it appear that it's a one-trick pony. One slide looks like it would destroy this piece, but better it than your skin.
On to the fingers and you'll find a little button of rubber and an extra piece of leather on each knuckle except for the index finger, where instead can be found some nice soft material with “Frank Thomas” embroidered in it.
My feeling is I would appreciate a little armor love for my index finger rather than be shown the name of the maker who has decided my index finger isn't as important as the others. The thumb does get a bit of rubber armor on the back as well.
Something to note about the rubber pieces on the knuckles: although the larger sections between the main and first knuckle have ventilation holes, the leather underneath does not appear to be perforated to allow air flow.
Neither a flashlight nor blowing through the perforated areas revealed any sort of path for airflow. As such, these gloves are so far good in moderate temps, but come summer, they may get a bit hot (and to answer this, Frank Thomas does make an "Air Rage" glove with more venting and similar features).
So, combine all these protective features, extra swaths of leather in key abrasion areas, lots of double stitching, and the Rage gloves look good from the protective standpoint. I'm giving it a "very good" rating for protective features.
I am a solid medium size in most manufacturers' gloves, and so far a medium in Joe Rocket, Olympia, Icon, and Alpinestars all seem to fit me well.
The Frank Thomas Rage gloves run very similar to the brands mentioned, perhaps a little more on the relaxed side like the Joe Rocket gloves than the more snug-feeling Alpinestars.
Now the real party piece for me with the Rage gloves is the kangaroo leather in the palm area. This is my first pair of gloves that make use of kangaroo leather and I understand now why it's praised so much. It provides good protection with less bulk and gives you better feel at the grips due to its thinner yet still protective nature.
One thing I found odd at first is that the Rage gloves do give great feel for controls on the bike, but the tips of the index and middle fingers are covered with an extra square of leather. This ends up making it a bit of a challenge to operate intercoms and other small devices -- that is until you learn to use your other two fingers to operate these devices.
The gauntlet is a reasonable size and has a dual closure with two generous portions of hook and loop fastener attaching the flaps underneath the wrist.
The gauntlet could be larger in diameter since I don't get quite as much area of hook and loop fastener mated up as I would prefer for the best security. Still, it holds and has never come undone during use, but I have not had the unlucky opportunity to crash test it yet.
The wrist closure strap that helps keep the gloves from sliding off in a crash is also secured with hook and loop fastener that actually has a decent sized contact area. What I don't like is the placement of the strap being on top of the wrist where it can get bunched up as the wrist is rolled upward, which happens when rolling on the throttle. This is not an uncommon way to place this strap, but having worn designs that place the strap under the wrist I may be a bit spoiled.
Comfort is a bit of a mixed bag here, but not only for the usual reasons. What I mean is that any glove that offers a lot of protection is going to suffer a bit in the "supple and comfy" feeling department. Due to its nature of being tough enough to save your hand, it's probably going to need to be a little hard in places.
In this way, the Rage gloves actually perform well. The molded knuckle protector, the extra bit of molded carbon fiber on top of the wrist, the "slide on me" patch on the heel of the palm all seem to keep their presence relatively subdued.
Where the comfort is compromised is both in the finish and design aspects. There are a couple of issues that let the Rage gloves down and that will be discussed in the next section. As it stands, I'm giving them a "good" for fit and comfort based on the pair I have now.
The design of the Rage gloves when just looking at them seems to make a lot of sense. They offer protection in the right places, make use of that great kangaroo leather, and seemed like a bargain at the $79.00 sale price I paid for them (the list price is $99.99).
But put them on and wear them for a while and you'll begin to wonder who at Frank Thomas actually wore them while riding a motorcycle.
For starters, the gloves are partially lined inside. The palm has direct contact with the kangaroo leather and that feels good. The back of the hand as mentioned earlier has a layer of a soft material between it and the leather. The way the fingers are stitched using hidden seams does give them a nice clean look on the outside, but that also means your fingers are going to feel the edges of all the leather that was tucked inside.
Also, if you look at the pictures of the underside of the fingers, you will see a bit of expansion type leather bits at the base of the fingers. I haven't been able to view exactly what these look like from the inside, but they are not smooth against the finger which is pressing the bit against the grip. While not a deal breaker by any stretch, the interior of the fingers in the Rage gloves aren't the most comfortable.
To make matters worse the fingers seem to be a bit short depending what day of the week the gloves were made.
Seriously, I tried on several pairs of the same, red, medium, Rage gloves and had a different fitting experience with each one of them.
For example, the gloves pictured here are actually the second set I purchased. The first set was returned to my local Cycle Gear store for an exchange. While the first set seemed to fit OK from a sizing standpoint, in actual riding, the right hand pinky finger had to try and flex the protector on it to curl around the grip.
For some reason, the way the glove was sewn, the protector was sliding over the side of the finger, making it hard to curl, and making it uncomfortable to move as the material inside was abrading my skin. The fact the left glove didn't do this made me think this is just a one-off issue so I went to the shop to return the "defective" glove.
This is where it got interesting. I plucked out every pair of red medium Rage gloves I could find and tried them on, about 5 pairs in all. They all fit differently.
With some pairs the fingers were noticeably shorter to where my fingers were pushing the end of the finger box when I curled them. Other pairs were roomier. One pair had an index and middle finger that fit correctly, but the ring and pinky were too short, an issue found only on the right hand glove!
Now I understood -- my little "twisted pinky" first pair of gloves was more the norm than the aberration. The bargain I was getting on kangaroo leather plus lots of protection plus reasonable good looks was suffering from inconsistent workmanship.
By trying on the multiple pairs of gloves, I was able to match up gloves from two different pairs and make a decent, fit well, matched set. I really wanted to have my glove and eat, or rather wear it too. I paired back up the all the other gloves and left with my newly paired gloves determined to be happy with them.
In spite of all that has been said about the finish, the durability of the gloves seems to be at least on par with the other brands mentioned above. Despite being inconsistent in the way the various pieces of the glove are assembled, the actual assembly seems rather durable.
I think if Frank Thomas could tighten up quality control, they would have a very competitive pair of gloves for the sub $100.00 range. So where does this put the quality and finish? "Needs improvement" is the best answer I can give here.
The Frank Thomas Rage Gloves are beauty that is unfortunately only skin deep. They have all the safety features, they look good (at first), and the price is reasonable. Start paying attention to details though and the beauty can turn ugly fast.
Does this mean that they won't protect well? I think they may do fine for protection assuming the inconsistent manufacturing doesn’t affect the durability. Out of all the gloves I currently have, these are the ones I hope I'm wearing if I do have a crash.
But I would not recommend making a purchase without first trying on the pair you plan to buy.
From "S.G." (11/10): "In response to your review of the Frank Thomas Rage gloves, I would like to add a comment validating your review.
I recently went to the Cycle Gear in Houston looking for a decent set of street gloves. I tried on a few pairs of Frank Thomas gloves in the $70 - $130 price range and was not impressed.
Although comfortable, it was easy to spot poor stitching issues (as noted in the review) on every pair. The finger stitching was almost always uneven; at least two pairs I looked at had missing or loose stitching where one or more fingers were already coming apart.
At the risk of sounding overly critical; even a quick glance at the stitching on a Frank Thomas glove when set next to a Fieldsheer or Alpinestars in the same price range makes this a no-brainer.
Looks aside, remember the main reason for purchasing decent gloves. In the event of an unplanned pavement durability test, these are not the gloves I would want protecting my hands. I recently found your website on Bing; I love it! Keep up the good work. Thanks."
From "B.W." (4/10): "I must be the exception; my Rage gloves were uncomfortable at first, but have broken in beautifully... with the exception of my Arai Vector helmet, they are now my favorite piece of protective gear..."
From "A.F." (4/09): "Here are the provided pics of the gloves. After being disgusted for the lack of quality control these were exchanged for a set of Alpinestars GP-2s which are in great condition after nearly 9k miles and a very awkward California fall, winter, and spring."
From "N.C." (4/09): "I read your article about the Frank Thomas brand with interest and agreed with your conclusion. We to in England figure if Frank Thomas tightened up their quality control and actually try on their own gloves for testing, they would see where their quality control falls down.
I for one bought a pair of really good gloves from their range 2-3 years ago at a price of £65 they were great both supple and warm, the fit was great to but with in a week of having them I sent them back as the inner lining came out when your hand became, moist from being to warm. After 3 exchanges I just got my money back and moved onto Hein Gericke products."
From "A.F." (3/09): "I had purchased a set of these gloves back in Sept of '08. I agreed the kangaroo leather is leaps and bounds much more supple then traditional cowhide. I experienced a more serious form of quality control mishap. The stitching holding the Velcro secure straps on my gloves unraveled after only a week and a half of use!"