Joe Rocket Highside Gloves Review
by Brandon Jackson for webBikeWorld.com
The Joe Rocket Highside gloves are very comfortable, offering reasonable protection for the the street at an also reasonable price.
Joe Rocket has come a long way over the years to reach its current status of one of the most popular manufacturers of motorcycling gear.
One thing they have managed to keep consistent along the way is their approach to pricing.
Don't get me wrong -- they do have some gear that seems a bit expensive, but there are still plenty of products in their lineup that offer good value.
My first pair of Joe Rocket gloves were the Reactor 2.0, an instant favorite which then became my first choice whenever I was heading out to ride.
They offered decent armor, some perforation for good air flow, and most importantly, they were comfortable. They felt like my very own hands were used for the factory sizing and they looked good to boot (glove, boot, whatever... ).
I was happy with the Reactor gloves and couldn't have been more pleased, until...well, until I became an avid reader of a site called webBikeWorld. Reading the articles on gloves brought to light some points, such as the importance of the gauntlet for better wrist protection and how a properly designed wrist strap can helps keep the gloves from sliding off the hands in a crash.
My favorite Reactor gloves, with their fashionable short cuffs, had none of these features, and now I wanted them.
So I set off on a search to find a replacement that offered a similar level of protection, fit, and comfort. I tried on many gloves at various dealers and I also looked online at my favorite sites searching for that mix. While browsing the RevZilla website I found another pair from Joe Rocket that I hadn't seen before -- the Joe Rocket Highside gloves.
They seemed to meet all of my criteria and they were reasonably priced as well. Could these gloves be what I was searching for? Could the quest for my "glove" holy grail be at an end? Have I tracked down my white whale of gloves and...well hang on a minute -- they're just gloves after all.
How about we just have a review, shall we?
The Joe Rocket Highside gloves are a mix of cowhide and goatskin leather with a lining of polyester for comfort.
Cowhide appears to be used in the majority of construction, while parts of the palm and the underside of the fingers are goatskin. The finger boxes are stitched using external seams which, while improving comfort, do leave the stitches exposed where they can more easily be snagged or torn in a crash.
While on the subject of the fingers, each finger has an additional piece of leather sewn on the top for additional protection. Within these extra patches are leather-covered bits of foam armor (two on each finger) above each finger joint providing extra impact protection.
The thumb boasts just one of these extra armored bits and its construction involves a combination of internal and external stitching in its formation.
The knuckle protector is constructed in a similar fashion to the finger joints. High-density foam armor covered in leather is made into four sections. It's not easy to see, but the foam is actually thicker than one might guess.
Due to the way the glove is constructed, one can reach underneath the knuckle protector and feel how thick it is (see photo below). This thick foam combined with an extra layer of leather and another thin strip of foam underneath the protector add up to what feels like a rather decent amount of impact protection.
Back on the gauntlet there are two more similar pieces of foam armor on either side of wrist and a large patch of extra leather right in the middle containing the Joe Rocket logo. The gauntlet itself is not particularly large in length and diameter. While the gauntlet does fit well over the different jackets I own, it may bit fit over some jackets with bulky cuffs.
The glove gauntlet is closed using a sizeable patch of hook-and-loop fastener. The top portion is attached with a stretchable piece of textile.
This method of attachment essentially creates an auto-adjusting gauntlet closure well suited for operating a motorcycle. Just ahead of the gauntlet closure is a leather wrist strap which also fastens with hook-and-loop.
The strap doesn't appear to be very substantial but it has proved to be able to withstand everyday use.
When fastened, the wrist strap is very effective and keeping the gloves from slipping off of the hand. I've "tested" this repeatedly by forgetting to undo the strap and trying to pull the gloves off before realizing the strap is still fastened. Under controlled (read as intentional) attempts to remove them with the strap fastened, they stay put.
Joe Rocket used a mix of single and double stitching on the Highside gloves. The double stitching is found mostly on the additional leather patches on the palms and on the knuckle protector, while a simple single stitch is used elsewhere.
The stitching for the most part has held up well, except for the tips of the fingers, which are showing a bit of pulled or fraying thread. This is not a deal-breaker, but perhaps this could be where the low price is apparent.
This pair of Joe Rocket Highside gloves are size medium and the sizing is spot-on. Initially the gloves were a bit snug but after about two weeks of use they broke in quite nicely.
The leather is soft and supple (especially for this price range) and the polyester lining makes them easy to slip on my hands. The use of foam armor rather than hard plastic or carbon fiber in the knuckle protector also adds to the comfort level.
The lining also covers the interior of the gauntlet and the back of the hand, while the fingers and palm are unlined and directly in contact with the leather.
The goatskin used on portions of the palm and underside of the fingers provides excellent feel and feedback from the handlebars and their associated controls. The fingers are pre-curved and, thanks to the soft foam armor, are comfortable no matter how tight I make a fist or stretch my digits.
The sides of the fingers have perforations for air flow. Stretching the fingers out when riding will allow for a good amount of air to cool the hands when the temps are high.
The Highside gloves are not truly summer gloves, since only the fingers are perforated, but they do well up to the high 80's (~30 C). Combine higher temperatures with traffic and you might want to switch to a dedicated summer riding glove with more perforations or mesh.
If there is anything to nitpick on the Joe Rocket Highside gloves, it would be the quality of the stitches on the fingertips. You can see some examples in the included photographs; however, these gloves have had 2,000+ miles put on them and while those fingertips are not pretty, they haven't gotten worse in use.
The use of the foam armor allows the gloves to be easily folded and stuffed into small spaces such as a tank bag. The gloves look good too, with a sporty styling and availability in several colors. The Joe Rocket Highside gloves are not really made for racing or track day use, but at this price point, they have all the right features combined with long-distance riding comfort.
The Joe Rocket Highside gloves are the "baby bear" of motorcycling gloves. Not too hard like a racing glove; not too lax in the armor department like a short cuff or mechanic style glove. They work quite well as a medium duty glove for commuting, touring, and general street riding.
Factor in the gauntlet, the armor, and excellent feel and the Highside gloves are an excellent value for the $44.99 price paid.
From "G.M." (9/09): "Another great article on a very good product. I, too, have been searching for the Holy Grail of riding gloves for hot weather here in Hotlanta. I have a pair of Road Gear Boss gloves for colder weather, thanks to your recommendation on that excellent glove.
I read this review with interest because I have a pair of Joe Rocket gloves, sorry I don't know the name, but they are almost identical to the High Side gloves (unfortunate name, isn't it?).
The "armor" over the fingers is identical to the high sides, they have the soft armor at the knuckles, the perforations between the fingers, the same wrist closure and a similar connection at the gauntlet. They must be the previous model of the High Sides, I purchased them about three years ago at a local dealer.
I recently decided, after wandering in the wilderness all summer trying to find that Holy Grail, that the Joe Rocket's are my favorite pair of gloves for riding in temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees. Below 60 the vents let in too much air, above 90 they don't let in quite enough.
My other hot weather pair is a pair of First Gear mesh gloves with hard knuckle armor, and a short gauntlet, and Clarino palms, very breezy, but I am never sure about mesh and Clarino protection wise.
I still have my first pair of leather full gauntlet gloves purchased from Honda back in the mid-seventies. Full gauntlets are a good thing on a MC, bugs, bees and debris (pronounced "de breeze" here for effect) up your sleeve is a bad thing on a MC.
The old Honda gloves have no wrist attachment, had I gone sliding surely they would have come off, but they were the gloves I wore at all temps warm temps, and they served me well. And even though not perforated, I don't remember their being hot and uncomfortable.
One "side" comment; one wise web retailer suggests purchasing a glove one size larger for summer, and I think that's a great idea so long as the glove has a secure closure to avoid it's being pulled off when you need it most. Every pair I purchased this summer that was my normal size was so tight I could hardly move my fingers.
The Joe Rockets are an upgrade of the Hondas in every regard. The leather is quite soft, yet thick and comfortable, the wrist closure allows the gloves to be less than skin tight and yet they still can not be pulled off, the "extra" room inside allows air to circulate when you offer the perforations to the air stream, and they just plain feel good and protective. And they look nice, too.
After searching high and low, purchasing and returning several sets of gloves this summer, I decided that what I already had was the best available. So, after searching high and low, the best gloves were already at hand (sorry), including the Joe Rockets which are almost identical to those you have reviewed. I would recommend the Highsides as I find no discernable difference.