A lightweight gauntlet street glove for everyday use.
Sequels are often done to extend the life of a good premise and hopefully even improve upon the original.
Motorcycles are great examples of when new versions are often improvements on the previous one.
Just when one thinks "They got it just right this time", thatís a sure indicator that the next version will (usually) somehow top it.
And Joe Rocket has quite a long list of sequels in its lineup of motorcycle gear.
Often the updates to the product lines brought with them innovative and welcome improvements to already proven products.
Some of these products have gone through several iterations, such as the Speedmaster 6.0 racing suit, the Phoenix 5.0 mesh jacket and the Ballistic 8.0 (Wow - Version 8?) textile jacket.
When I found out that there was a new pair of Highside 2.0 leather gloves coming from Joe Rocket last year, I was very excited. The original Joe Rocket Highside gloves (review) (which I think is a terrible name for a motorcycle glove) had been my go-to gloves for quite some time.
They were comfortable, storable, and offered good protection for street riding...and they did all that for a good price.
It also happened that my original Highside gloves were starting to wear out. They had well over 10,000 miles on them -- probably closer to 15,000 -- so they had done well considering their low cost of $44.95 ($49.99 list price). And the Highside 2.0 gloves are now available at the same price point as their predecessor.
The Highside 2.0 gloves sits in the lower midrange of the Joe Rocket line of motorcycle gloves.
Like the original Highside gloves, the Highside 2.0 gloves eschews hard plastic or carbon fiber protection in lieu of padded sections covered in leather. This makes the gloves more comfortable and easier to store in a small area, like a tank bag or under a motorcycle seat.
The Joe Rocket Highside series is also one of the lowest priced line of motorcycle gloves from Joe Rocket (or from most other manufacturers for that matter) that offers the extra protection of a gauntlet. This feature drew me to the first generation Highside gloves; that, and the low price.
So it's only natural that I draw comparisons to the original Highside gloves in this review.
On paper, the new Highside 2.0 gloves seemed to tick all the right boxes. The online photos, however, made me a little skeptical -- the gloves definitely looked different from what had been my go-to pair of gloves for the last couple of years.
Would they fit the bill? Could this be one of those times where the sequel is as good, if not better, than the original? Letís find out...
The exterior of the Joe Rocket Highside 2.0 gloves is mostly leather (of an unspecified type), except for the area over the top of the wrist.
That section is covered with a type of polyurethane, a synthetic material that at a glance looks like leather and has a bit of stretch to it. Parts of the palm and a portion of the thumb also have an extra layer of a synthetic, suede-like leather for additional protection.
Inside, there is a bit of polyester lining that sits under the material on the back of the wrist and top of the hand. The rest of the gloves, including the finger boxes, are unlined, so your skin is in direct contact with the leather. This feature also offers a good feel at the controls.
Stitching on the gloves is good with no pulled threads to be found. The uniformity of the stitching could be better but this is one (of several) places where the gloves demonstrate they were built to a price. Double stitching is used on the thumb and on the synthetic suede used in the palm, but the rest of the construction uses single stitching.
The gauntlet design on the Highside 2.0 gloves is a departure from the previous version in that it is rather narrow. So narrow, in fact, that it is doubtful it would fit over any but the thinnest of jacket cuffs. It appears to be designed instead to be worn under the jacket cuff -- a style Iím not certain I like -- but will grant is a subjective point.
A strap made of synthetic leather with a patch of hook-and-loop fastener is used to secure the gloves. The hook portion is a low-profile style and feels much smoother to the touch than typical Velcro brand fastener. The material does seem to fasten together solidly, even though it feels at first like it wouldnít have much grip.
The strap itself, however, leaves something to be desired. Although the strap is 1.4 inches wide where it fastens to the loops, it forks into two 0.4 inch pieces where it is sewn into the glove itself. This looks to me like weak spot, as the material does not feel strong enough to take much abuse. Iím not sure what was behind the decision to this design element but it seems like it would have been much simpler to not cut this out and much stronger also.
Under the gauntlet strap, the leather of the glove is split about two inches and the split is filled with a section of elastic material. If you do prefer to keep the gauntlet over the jacket cuff, this material will help provide some stretch for accommodation, but I believe the small dimensions of the gauntlet would make this a bit difficult.
Ahead of the gauntlet strap and over the back of the wrist is another strap that keeps the glove from slipping over the wrist. This strap is made of the same leather as most of the glove and fastens with the same hook and loop fastener found on the gauntlet strap.
This strap is 0.6 inches wide and seems adequate, if not robust, for the job being asked of it. This strap passes through a plastic loop and then is pulled back over itself to fasten down and did hold securely when I tried to pull the glove off my hand.
The leather used for the Highside 2.0 gloves seems thinner than its predecessor. The gloves themselves are certainly lighter in construction which to me is a bit of a disappointment; the protection afforded by the first generation Highside gloves was one of their best features. The new version is definitely a step down in this area.
The Highside 2.0 gloves use a similar approach to the armor by using foam padding sandwiched between layers of leather.
This area unfortunately has just single-row stitching, versus the double-row stitching used in the first generation of the Joe Rocket Highside gloves.
There are four separate sections of this padding over the top of the knuckles, each about 0.4 inches thick. Similar but much less substantial bits of padding are present over the finger joints as well.
Back on the gauntlet there are two 1 inch square sections of padding on the outside facing portion of the wrist, one of which seats right over the wrist bone. This is a step down from the original Highside gloves, which provided padding on both the inside and outside facing portions of the gauntlet near the wrist.
Overall, the protective features are suitable for a touring or cruising glove, but for aggressive street riding or other times when risk is increased, I donít feel the protection offered by the Highside 2.0 gloves would be appropriate.
For my own use, I prefer to have a more protective glove at all times even when just commuting to work and back. This is entirely a matter of personal taste and how much risk one is willing to take when riding out on the street.
Iím a solid size medium in Joe Rocket and several other brands of gloves and the Highside 2.0 fit very well and overall comfort is very good.
The finger boxes are constructed using internal seams, which are quite noticeable when wearing the gloves. They are not uncomfortable, but they do make their presence known.
The padding over the knuckles is attached in a floating method that allows the padded area to move over the back of the hand when flexing. Speaking of the armor padding, the portions located on the finger joints can hardly be felt from inside the gloves. Their diminutive size no doubt helps improve comfort but of course reduces their effectiveness in a crash.
Since the armor used on the Highside 2.0 gloves is of the soft variety, the gloves are very flexible and are not prone to bunching up (mostly) or restricting wrist or finger movement. The leather is also somewhat thin compared to other gloves which contributes to comfort, though possibly at the expense of durability.
One item that is a bit bothersome is the way that the top of the gauntlet bunches up underneath the wrist strap once fastened down. Since the leather is very flexible, it is really more untidy looking than a source of discomfort, but not really a source of discomfort.
There are no perforations on the Highside 2.0 gloves -- not even on the sides of the fingers -- so hot weather may not be the ideal conditions for these gloves.
Conversely, since the leather is somewhat thin, cooler weather might also be a problem for them as well without supplementing them with liners or even heated grips.
For example, riding with the Highside 2.0 gloves when the temperatures are between the mid 60ís (F) to high 70ís (F) proved to be the ideal conditions for me.
If it became much warmer, my hands would get too hot and the area under the polyurethane material seemed to get sweaty rather quickly. In cooler temperatures, my heated grips helped out. But once the temperatures drop below 50 (F) on the Interstate, the tops of my fingers start to chill pretty quickly.
Comfort is where the Highside 2.0 gloves excel. Their lightweight construction and flexibility offers good flexibility and feel and they can be easily stored in smaller luggage or even good sized pockets.
The styling is subtle and simple which is often appealing to the cruiser and touring crowd.
On the protection front, the Highside 2.0 gloves pale in comparison to the first generation Highside gloves. The armor padding seems barely adequate to mitigate much physical damage in the event of a crash. Also, the split strap on the gauntlet looks like a liability that wonít put up with much pulling force.
The palms might fare the best in a crash, as there is a double layer of leather and synthetic material and this area is double stitched for strength.
Overall, the Highside 2.0 gloves are a shadow of the original. Even being lighter and less bulky, they donít really offer more comfort than the first generation gloves.
In the end, the sequel doesnít live up to the original and maybe thatís the problem. If the Highside 2.0 gloves had been brought out under a different name as a different product, I might not have been so hard on it as it is a decent entry level glove in its own right. But sequels are supposed to improve on the original, no?
From "C.B." (June 2013): "Thanks for another excellent review. My own Highside gloves just developed a hole in the palm after 5 or 6 seasons of regular use and I was more than a little disappointed to see I couldn't get an exact replacement. I'm going to give the Joe Rocket Sonic gloves a try since they at least look like a slight upgrade over the 2.0."
From "H.S.W." (March 2012): "I think youíre being unfair about sequels. How many times have we seen movies that are worse than the originals? The answer of course, is lots!
Itís the same with everything else, (how about the original Hayabusa v. newer models, which were all down somewhat on HP v. the original) including motorcycle gloves.
So while these gloves may not be as good as the first time around, as you note, theyíre OK as entry level gloves."