The old adage "You get what you pay for" keeps coming to mind with this sampling of Olympia motorcycle gloves.
It's difficult to pick a favorite in this bunch because each pair has at least one serious flaw.
But another old adage may be appropriate: "Some protection is 100% better than none". OK, so we made that one up, but after wearing these three gloves, here's the bottom line: spend a little more to get (hopefully) a lot more glove.
We thought we'd try something a little different this time around, with a brief three-part "Quick Look" review series of a small selection of Olympia gloves from their 2011 catalog.
The reviews in this series are formatted in the webBikeworld "Quick Look" style, which is different from our usual extensive webBikeWorld detailed reviews. In this case, the Quick Look reviews will provide a brief overview; the evaluator's expectations; and the pros, cons and bottom line conclusion for each of these Olympia gloves.
The goal of this review series was to see if we could find a decent pair of motorcycle gloves for under $50.00. Any one of several motorcycle glove manufacturers could have been chosen, or a combination thereof.
But we picked Olympia for a couple of reasons. First, we haven't reviewed an Olympia motorcycle glove in quite a while (here's a list of all the wBW Olympia Glove Reviews) and second, Olympia brand gloves can be found in just about every motorcycle shop in existence, anywhere on the planet.
It's a brand that many new riders turn to for their first pair of motorcycle gloves simply because there are so many Olympia gloves to choose from (64 different models of men's and women's gloves in the 2011 catalog) and they're available.
While at least two of these gloves have one or more interesting feature, each of the gloves in this comparison is flawed in a way that makes them difficult to recommend at any price. So perhaps you really do get what you pay for -- or perhaps we're just spoiled by wearing much better gloves that may cost a little more but which also offer a lot more.
We made three online purchases, sight unseen. This was done deliberately because it's a typical method used by a typical novice motorcycle glove buyer. We had no previous experience with any of these gloves, nor had we seen or handled them in a store. We made our decisions using only the limited amount of information available and the (also limited) online photos of each glove.
The three gloves we chose were:
1. Olympia 144 Deerskin Classic Gloves Review - They looked cool, like something Brando would wear in The Wild One. They're made from deerskin, which is a soft and pliable material that is claimed to breathe better than cow hide. They have a cinch strap on the back of the wrist.
2. Olympia 180 Monsoon Gloves Review - Claimed "waterproof, windproof, breathable and lightweight", these looked good and the photo showed a wrist strap across the back for added security.
3. Olympia 298 Switch Gloves Review - New for 2011, so we thought they would have the latest Olympia technology. They also appeared to have carbon fiber middle knuckle protectors and a short tab under the wrist to secure the gloves.
We've learned a few important lessons in the 11+ years of conducting webBikeWorld reviews.
You may or may not agree, but that's been our experience after reviewing over 1,100 motorcycle products in 11+ years.
So where does that leave Olympia? The do meet a few of the criteria above; for example, Olympia is a name-brand company with a huge worldwide presence and they've been making and selling motorcycle gloves for more than 60 years.
They also have a huge selection of motorcycle gloves for just about every purpose. Their gloves are generally aimed at the mass market however, with only a few models that we've seen that we might consider for daily use.
Many of the gloves are made to a price and we get the feeling that their lower-end gloves are turned out en masse by some anonymous factory that doesn't know much about motorcycling in particular and probably also makes bicycle gloves, street gloves, dress gloves and other leather products.
For example, the Olympia 144 Deerskin gloves seem thrown together to look like an old-school long gauntlet design, but the cut, fit and components are sub-par, leaving very little to recommend. So they only cost around $35.00. If you want to say you can buy a pair of motorcycle gloves for 35 bucks, well, there you go. But do they have any features that actually make them useful? No, not really. So why spend the money?
The other two pairs have more to recommend, but it's almost like someone with motorcycling experience needs to talk to the designers and give them a few clues, because with just a couple of tweaks, they could probably go from being "not really" to "not bad".
From "D.W." (06/2011): "I just read your mini-review and wanted to offer a counter point. One of my frustrations with motorcycle gear is that I have no idea how the protective layer, be it a jacket, pants, gloves or boots will perform in a crash. There is no consistent test of abrasion resistance used by all manufacturers to differentiate between the products performance.
It is too bad that there is not, at least to my knowledge, of a DOT helmet type certification consistently applied to the various products.
With that out of the way, I have found that Olympia gloves fit my hands perfectly. I actually find that most other manufacturers' gloves "bunch" where my fingers meet the palm area. So on a long ride, the bunching chafes and on occasion has actually created blisters.
I have never had a problem with Olympia's gloves and I have three sets: a very perforated glove for hot weather, a waterproof mid temp glove and a full on winter glove. The leather is always supple and while I have not tested them in a crash (Thank G-d), the have lasted for over 20,000 miles with no problems in construction. Keep up the great work."