Excellent quality hot-weather gloves with a touch of kangaroo leather and Superfabric.
Not the ultimate in protection, but perhaps enough to satisfy.
As always with summer gloves, there's a compromise between ventilation and safety.
Held USA is under new management by Schuberth USA. Seems a bit strange but makes a bit of sense also, since they're both German companies.
Held gloves used to be made in Germany and I/we remember when you could watch live streaming video of the gloves being made in the factory.
Those days are long gone, however, and most or all Held gloves are made in the same countries that just about every other pair of motorcycle gloves are made.
In the case of the Held Sambia gloves, that means China, despite the "Engineered in Germany" and "Held GmbH, Burgberg, Germany" labels in the gloves.
Would German-made gloves be any better than these? Actually, probably not. If there were a "Made in Germany" label in the gloves, there probably wouldn't be any noticeable difference.
Except when you got to the price tag...
So, China it is and I'd have to assume the factory is managed or directed or controlled by Held and strict quality standards are maintained.
The build quality is apparent from looking at these Held Sambia gloves (Sambia is German for Zambia, apparently the inspiration for the name?).
They're not cheap to buy but hey -- they're not cheaply made either.
Too many brands of highly ventilated summer gloves look like they'll fall apart before you get them on your hands.
But these are nicely made and they even have kangaroo hide palms like real racing gloves, along with a nice dash of Superfabric abrasion protection over the external scaphoid (lower/inner wrist). Although I'd prefer it if the kangaroo hide was finished, rather than given a napped surface.
A big TPU hard main knuckle protector and a sliver or two of that questionable rubbery stuff over the minor knucks finish out the protection.
There's also a slab of rubberite covering the outside of the wrist. Unfortunately, the rubberized plastic protectors are all too common on motorcycle gloves these days.
There's nothing but fabric on the outside of the thumb, however, and those rubbery "sliders" are minimized over the fingers. There's the thinnest slice of padding over the top of the thumb, however, and at least the rubber looks good, not like other short textile hot-weather gloves.
You're paying for the construction quality here -- along with the Superfabric and kangaroo leather.
The body of each Sambia glove is made from elasticized textile; the hang tag says it's genuine Spandex. That's good in this case and it gives the gloves a comfy fit without making them feel too tight.
There's enough stretch and some comfy lining along the top of the gloves to give them a very nice feel on the grips. But again, there's that comfort/protection compromise, as Spandex surely doesn't have the abrasion and impact resistance of real leather.
The Sambia gloves are listed in the Held "Adventure Touring" category but you'd never know it by looking at the Held USA website, which is sorely in need of an update.
Click on the "Collection" link and you get a German-language link that wants to open a Flash product catalog. No thanks, Flash is dead. Way too sketchy when it comes to security.
Let's hope Schuberth gets on it, although the Schuberth Helmets website is, uh, not the paradigm of usefulness either...
In any case, forget the Adventure Touring thing and just look at the Sambia gloves as a darn good option for hot-weather riding of all types. I've been using 'em on a BMW LT touring bike and they work just fine, although you'll want to ride with some air flowing over them for best results.
On a motorcycle sans fairing, with your hands in the breeze, they'll likely be more air flowing through the Sambia gloves than you've felt in a long time.
That's a good thing in hot weather.
Air even comes blowing through the four vents on top of the main knuckle protector, which has forward-pointing vents with screening hidden underneath, to protect against errant sweat bees, no doubt.
Seriously, the Sambia gloves have about the best air flow you'll find in this type of glove, with the benefit of at least having a modicum of protective features.
Even riding a motorcycle with hand guards, the air flowing over the top can be felt.
The stretchy fabric and excellent sizing both help to make these feel comfortable, both in terms of temperature control and riding comfort.
We're currently in the deepest part of summer, with 31-33 C days (89-92) and high humidity the norm by noon time, and the Sambia gloves are what I turn to.
After about an hour or so of riding, I do notice some sweating around the back of my wrist on both sides; this is the area covered by the larg-ish rubbery external wrist slider. But otherwise, all good.
The Sambia gloves come in size 7 to 12; these are size 9 L (large) and they fit exactly as I'd hoped. The fingers have enough room at the tips to accommodate heat swelling and the stretchiness of the Spandex helps.
The inside is lined along the top with some type of thin polyester and the gloves are mostly stitched on the outside, so they're fairly comfy inside, although not quite a smooth as the Held Air N Dry gloves I'll be reviewing next. But those are decidedly not summer gloves...
All of that means you can probably order your correct size and it should fit to plan.
By the way, if certain details of the Sambia gloves look familiar, you may recall the Held Air Stream gloves reviewed by H.B.C. back in 2011. They remain in the Held glove lineup as the Held Air Stream II gloves with a list price $30.00 more than the Sambia gloves.
You get a slightly longer gauntlet and a visor wiper, but most of the other features (including the main knuckle protector) look similar on both types.
I was concerned when the gloves first arrived, because these short-gauntlet gloves have a wisp of a wrist strap. It doesn't look like it's enough to hold the gloves in place, but if it's cinched down tight enough, it will.
I remain concerned, however, that over time the genuine (claimed) Velcro will wear and provide less of a connection. As always, I'd prefer to have better security when it comes to the wrist strap. But, so far, so good.
This is a good spot to note the issue with short gauntlet gloves. Note the photo above; even with the lightweight REV'IT! Air jacket (review), the interface between the sleeve cuff and the Sambia gloves (or just about any other short gloves) is, well, confused.
You have to live with this if you're going with a pair of short gloves, unless you can somehow fit the abbreviated glove gauntlets under the sleeve cuffs, which isn't always easy to do.
The Held Sambia gloves first and foremost have excellent ventilation for the hottest of summer weather motorcycle riding. The air can be felt coming through the gloves and even through the large main knuckle protector.
While good ventilation sounds reasonable for a pair of textile gloves, it doesn't always happen, as webBikeWorld readers know.
The Sambia gloves are also very comfortable, due in part to the use of the stretchy Spandex in the glove body.
They're not inexpensive but as we've also learned over and over again through the years, too many pairs of lightweight summer gloves aren't worth whatever you'll pay for them, as they usually have sketchy protective features and even worse build quality.
NOTE: The original review was revised from construction of goat leather to the correct kangaroo leather.
From "R.E." (October 2015): "Wanted to share my experience with the Sambia glove. After reading the many negative reviews from RevZilla regarding build quality, I cautiously purchased the Sambia due to my past satisfaction with other Held products.
Within the second month of use, the same issues others were having with the stitching on the index finger appeared. First on the right index, and then on the left.
The problem is with the stitching around the fingers. The thread is the weak link here. RevZilla referred me Held USA as it fell outside the 30 day exchange. I sent two emails and left one voicemail and unfortunately did not receive a reply.
I'm sorry to not to heed others advice and may still take them to a boot repair shop and get them properly stitched.
Replaced with BMW Rallye Gloves, which also use SuperFabric. The cuff is shorter and probably slightly less protection."
From "K.H." (August 2015): "I rode about 80 miles in my new Sambia (gloves) yesterday. They fit great, were immediately comfortable, had good feel on the controls, and breathed well.
I bought the grey color to minimize heat gain; that color looks good to me. They even have a snap that allows you to put the gloves together and hang them off of your shift lever when parked.
All told, these gloves, right from the start, are in my estimation the best balance of protection and breathability on the market."
From "T.R." (August 2015): "I was wearing Sambias during a high side on my BMW 1200GS in May of 2014. My jacket sleeve slid up and I picked up some road rash near my elbow (poor Velcro on the mesh jacket), but the gloves did their job well.
I have one scuff on the back of the left glove, but otherwise they performed and stayed on!"