wBW Olympia Glove Review Series
Part 2: Olympia 180 Monsoon Gloves Review
Not bad looking, comfortably soft leather and -- surprise! -- fully waterproof.
The Olympia 180 Monsoon gloves have no armor and very little extra abrasion protection and I could live with that.
The sizing, however, is non-standard with too-long fingers for the size.
These are fairly basic motorcycle gloves in terms of their construction and styling -- although the styling does seem a bit out of the 1980's -- with a few extra features thrown in.
The leather is super-soft and pliable; again feeling more like a dress glove than a heavy-duty motorcycle glove.
At least there's some pretense of abrasion protection, with overlapping leather sections on the back of the main knuckles and an extra layer over the palm and inside of the thumb.
The Monsoon gloves are fully lined with a soft nylon-type fabric, so no complaints there. The most surprising feature is that the Aquatex waterproof liner really is waterproof and windproof, a definite plus.
I fully expected the waterproofing to be a joke, quite frankly. But the Monsoon gloves passed the webBikeWorld "Bucket Test" (immersion in a bucket of cold water) with flying colors. Pretty amazing stuff for 38 bucks!
The gloves also have a fairly hefty hook-and-loop leather strap across the back of the wrists that works to keep them secured.
The gauntlet length is a bit of a problem; it's too short to make these a "stunt" type glove but not long enough to go over a motorcycle jacket sleeve cuff, so they sort of bunch up between the cuff and the rider's wrist.
When they fit over a slim sleeve cuff, the strap works fine but if you cinch the strap against bare skin, the strap is too long (for some) and it hangs off about 20 mm or so from the outside of the gloves
The appearance of the stitching is first-rate and some double rows are used. The fingers are sewn together using the roomy "box" style, with two "walls", a "floor" and a "roof" leaving a nice space for thick fingers.
OK, so everything sounds peachy, right? Well, the biggest problem with the Monsoon gloves is the non-standard sizing. The fingers are nearly 15 mm longer than expected on a size large glove, giving me way too much room when I have my hands on the grips.
Also, the body of the gloves feels about like a size XL instead of a large. All told, the fingers feel like they belong on a size XXL glove and the body feels like an XL, not a size large as these are labeled.
So the recommendation here is to try these on in a store and see if you can find a pair that fits, ignoring the labels.
As I mentioned in the Introduction, one of the things you pay for when you buy good motorcycle gear is a fit and sizing that is based in reality and designed by people who actually ride. I don't get the feeling that someone who knows motorcycling designed the Monsoon gloves.
I knew that the Monsoon gloves had no armor and I accepted that fact. I expected a comfortable and basic motorcycle glove with thick-feeling leather and good quality stitching.
I also knew the gloves were claimed waterproof, but to be honest, I did not think they would be; that they are is a surprise.
I expected the lining to feel rough or scratchy; instead, it is very comfortable. However, I did expect the gloves to fit as expected to a standard size large and they do not.
The stitching on the Monsoon gloves has a high quality appearance; whether it will hold up under stress is an unknown. The leather is very soft and supple and the liner is very comfortable.
The gloves are waterproof and windproof and mildly insulated. The Aquatex liner is claimed breathable and I'd say that's correct, as breathable liners go.
The hook-and-loop cinch strap on the back of the wrist feels sturdy and it can tighten the gloves enough to keep them on the hands, a potential safety factor.
The fit is the only real con here, understanding and accepting the absence of armor and the rest of the acknowledged compromises with an inexpensive pair of gloves.
The Monsoon gloves are my favorite of the three pairs of Olympia gloves in this brief review.
I like everything about them, realizing, of course, that they have no armor and minimal one-shot, slow-speed abrasion protection.
I wish the sizing was correct, as these would make an excellent pair of spare gloves to keep handy in the panniers just in case or for an unexpected cold and wet day in Spring, Summer or Fall.
As such, I can give them a qualified recommendation. Try before you buy.
From "C" (06/2011): "I've worn these gloves for the past five years and 47K miles during all four seasons in New York. They have always performed flawlessly in any rain, and I've been pounded at times.
As "S.S." noted (below) and you pointed out, putting the gloves back on with wet hands does require some finagling, but they eventually do "re-center" your fingers, and they'll still be bone dry inside.
I'm purchasing a new pair this year, yet I still employ my old ones almost every time I ride. Almost forgot, if you have those funky long fingers, they fit pretty well. :) "
From "KoF" (06/2011): "Love your site and use it all the time. Your experience with the Monsoon gloves is way different then ours. Both mine and my wife's gloves leaked like crazy after a 30 minute rainstorm. Additionally, prior to that event we found that it is almost impossible to insert a slightly damp hand into that glove.
To be fair, that is an issue with most waterproof gloves but it was worse with the Olympia. The liner will also come out with your hand after you manage to get a wet hand into the glove in the first place. I have and use a few of their gloves but the Monsoon ended up in a roadside trash can."
From "S.S." (06/2011): "You guys gave them a good review but I believe you would change this if you ever had to put them on or take them off with even slightly wet hands. The inside liner is a bear to manipulate if this is the case. I called Olympia and asked if the designer of the glove had ever had to wear this product. If so, they would be redesigned tomorrow!!!"
Editor's Reply: We should have mentioned this -- many waterproof gloves can be difficult to take off if your hands get damp. This is because the waterproof liner usually isn't attached, it must be free-floating inside the glove to maintain its integrity. So you have to be careful when removing a waterproof glove to ensure that the liner doesn't turn inside-out. We didn't find the Monsoon gloves to be any more difficult to remove than other waterproof gloves.
From "E" (06/2011): "Upon reading your article I (at first) wanted to accuse you of snobbery against more cost effective articles of motorcycle apparel... I brought the crate (the car) today as the weather report showed a pretty decent chance of rain, so I don't have any of my gloves with me.
I probably have about a dozen pairs and remember 2 brand names: Alpinestars and Cortech. I remember them because they are my go-to gloves. My Alpinestars are the road racing type gauntlet gloves that I use most of the time and the Cortech are lightweight summer gloves and the rest I can pretty much consider disposable... ...so time to eat humble pie.
With the money I've spent on 10 pairs of cheaper gloves, I could have gotten 2 pairs (or 3) of good brand name gloves. Point taken. Thanks."