by Lori B. for webBikeWorld
In all my years of riding and pillioning (a new word I just made up!) on motorcycles, I don't think I've ever seen a woman wearing full leathers and race equipment.
Not that it doesn't happen, because I have seen some photos of women at track days who are dressed appropriately. But it is very rare indeed.
You may have also noticed how often a motorcycle passenger, often a woman, seems to wear even less protective gear than the rider?
And around here, even the motorcycle riders don't wear much, I can tell you that! Even my 8th grade niece makes comments about motorcycle riders wearing shorts and sneakers.
A couple of things come to mind regarding this.
First, I'm very pleased that many of the motorcycle clothing manufacturers are finally making their products available in women-specific sizes, rather than the "unisex" sack suits of old. Thank you manufacturers!
Something else that's nice is that the manufacturers also seem to have found real, live women to design the clothing!
This creates clothes that not only fit but also look great -- well, as great as protective motorcycle clothing can look, I suppose.
But there's still one problem that nags at the back of my brain.
The styling of women's motorcycle clothing seems to take preference over function. Which brings us back to the rarity of seeing women in all-out race style gear -- I guess it's just too bulky-looking, and who wants to buy something that doesn't look good when it's being worn?
So we have a problem -- good looking women's motorcycle gear that isn't as protective as it could be (or should be). I, for one, would like to buy heavier, more protective clothing.
Most of the women's clothing that's for sale seems to be designed more for a woman passenger than a woman motorcycle rider. The passenger's clothing apparently can be made thinner and with less protection.
These Olympia 403 "Ladies Perforated Gel" gloves are a good example. They're very comfortable and the leather is butter-soft. They also look great and they fit me perfectly.
I can even wear them horseback riding and no one knows the difference (in fact, they're of much higher quality than most of the women's riding gloves and cheaper too!).
But they're awful thin -- I just hope they will protect me if I end up in a slide.
Rick and the rest of the crew are very safety conscious (I won't tell them that with age has come the loss of their "no fear" gene) and some of that has rubbed off on me. So I've become a critic when it comes to safety features.
The Olympia gloves have no knuckle protectors; no extra thick leather pads on the sides or thumb; and Olympia says that the threads are Nylon. I'm not sure if that's a plus or a minus!
But they do look like they're worth way more than their $39.95 list price. The stitching around the fingers and on the palm is perfect, although it's only one very tiny stitch thick.
The Olympia 403 gloves are perforated on the back side and they flow lots of air through to keep my hands cool.
Olympia says that the perforations are "micro computer generated", and I'll guess that that means they're laid out on a computer and cut with a laser beam or something to keep them accurate and to help prevent them from tearing.
The palms have the Olympia gel padding that is the type used on many different styles of both men and women's Olympia gloves.
The gel is sewn in to the palm and it's very thin, but it does add some extra cushioning when I'm riding instead of pillioning.
The gloves have a nice Velcro strap along the back of the hand to keep them from coming off. I also like that there are no metal pieces or studs anywhere.
I do have a pair of Held women's gloves that are styled after a pair of men's racing gloves.
I bought my pair in Germany a few years ago when Held gloves were still made in that country. But it looks like Held no longer makes their racing gloves in women specific sizes like mine.
Until I find a more "heavy duty" pair, the Olympia perforated gloves at least make a nice substitute for riding in hot weather.
They are very comfortable
and the leather is some of the softest I've ever felt.
I just hope they will protect my hands if I crash!