The Racer "R-Safe" gloves currently occupy the top spot in the Racer Gloves lineup. These may just be the most protective motorcycle gloves I have ever come across.
They have many different protective features, backed up by redundant layers just in case. The gloves are made with kangaroo leather palms, which are also covered by an acre of SuperFabric. Three big Knox SPS scaphoid protectors are included.
Topside, the R-Safe gloves have a huge two-stage main knuckle protector, along with a large TPU slider on the outside of the wrist at the gauntlet.
The redundant protection for the body of the gloves comes courtesy of a Kevlar lining that covers the entire top part of the fingers and back of the hand hand.
There's more, of course, including a really nice construction method for the fingertips that leaves plenty of room without reducing protection.
One of the biggest surprises is that the R-Safe gloves fit nicely and feel comfortable, even with all of the race-style features. They're expensive -- but not as expensive as other high-end race gloves of this caliber, which sometimes give you less yet cost more.
Moving up the Racer Gloves hierarchy right to the very pinnacle, this is Part 7 of our eight-part 2013 Summer Motorcycle Glove Review Series.
The Racer R-Safe gloves are the final Racer Gloves model included in the series.
Actually, we fudged it a bit, because the Racer Stratos waterproof gloves (review) are, technically speaking, not really a summer motorcycle glove.
But then again, neither are the R-Safe gloves. Does it really matter?
It's agreed that the Racer R-Safe gloves are the biggest surprise of this series. OK, so they do have some perforated leather at the back of the wrist and maybe that counts for "summer".
No matter -- the real winner here is your hands, because if you're looking for the highest level of protection money can buy, well, it may not get much better at the price they charge for these.
Not that anyone can really compare crash results, but based on the specifications and my real-world impressions, the R-Safe gloves just may be the most protective of the many dozens of other motorcycle gloves we have reviewed for webBikeWorld.
Let me put it another way: if I was going to crash -- whether it be on the street, track or pulling the bike out of the driveway -- I'd want to be wearing the Racer R-Safe gloves.
Two big (literally) features are immediately apparent when you pull the R-Safe gloves out of the box. The first is that huge "double bubble" main knuckle protector on the back, which floats over the back of the hand on a separate island of leather.
The four individual knuckle sliders are attached to a thick underlayment of TPU (Thermo-Plastic Urethane). My guess is that you'd have to be sliding along for, oh, about a kilometer or so before this monster is ground down to its core.
Flip the glove over and you'll find a massive amount of SuperFabric covering an area that includes the palm, the side of the hand and the flap that protects and hides the secondary wrist strap.
SuperFabric has been discussed many times on webBikeWorld; it's basically a sheet made up of tiny little dots or "shields" of ceramic that are resistant to abrasion, cutting and tearing. The stuff's expensive as heck and hard to sew, because the sewing machine needle tip can break if it hits one of the ceramic rounds, they're that hard.
And there's another R-Safe protective feature that stands out -- literally: the big TPU wrist protector on the outside of the large gauntlet. It's about 20 mm thick and 80 mm long by 60 mm wide, which would probably give protection to both your wrist and the ulna bone of the forearm during a slide. Combined with a good set of race protectors inside a jacket sleeve and your arm is about as protected as it gets.
The kangaroo leather used in the palms is the type found on many high-end race gloves. Racer USA says the rest of the gloves are made from goat hide, but the Racer Austria home website says the rest of the glove is cow hide. It's hard to tell, because some of the leather on the top of the gloves is thick, like cow hide (fingers) and some of it has a softer feel, like goat skin (back of the hands and gauntlet).
Kangaroo and goat leathers are supposed to be lighter in weight yet provide better abrasion protection than cow hide, but thick cow hide is more common and less expensive, so maybe that's how they keep the price more reasonable.
Following with the "more is better" redundant protective backup approach, the R-Safe gloves even have a layer of Kevlar liner on the inside, protecting the top half of the hand from the fingertips all the way back to the wrist.
Covering the kangaroo leather palms, the R-Safe gloves have a huge swath of SuperFabric that runs from just underneath the base of the thumb, across the "heel" of the palm and up along the outside of the hand, all the way up to the just shy of the very tip of the "pinky" finger.
This is a big piece and, as far as I can recall, it's the first time I've seen SuperFabric used in such an extensive manner on a motorcycle glove.
But going with the multi-layered, redundant safety approach to protection that is apparently a hallmark of the R-Safe gloves, the combination of kangaroo leather and SuperFabric wasn't enough. For good measure, Racer also includes the Full Monty array of Knox SPS (Scaphoid Protection System) protector sliders on the heel of the hand.
Again, it would probably take some serious pavement sliding on 60 grit or better before this combination of goods were ground down in a crash.
OK, so these aren't summer gloves, technically speaking. But safety is a year 'round proposition, right? (I just thought of that...).
Thus, also technically speaking, these are summer gloves...for anyone interested in ultimate year-'round protection.
In fact, there is a modicum of perforated leather or goat skin on the back of the wrist and the bottom side of the gauntlet. It doesn't do all that much and the gauntlet is over a jacket sleeve, but in the real world, the R-Safe gloves aren't really any hotter than, say, the Racer Stratos gloves, which have the Gore-Tex liner.
That's one of the nice features of "organic" materials, like leather (or kangaroo or goat hide): breathability. Maybe you won't be wearing the R-Safe gloves in 32+ C temps (90+ for Fahrenheit Fans), but for anything else, I'll take the protection, thank you.
Most of those cheesy plastic knuckle "protectors" on cheap gloves -- you know, the ones with the holes or metal screening? -- don't do a whit for ventilation anyway. So why bother? I'd rather have the real stuff.
One of the most amazing features of these seriously protective gloves is how comfortable they are to wear. Many times, you'll give up comfort for protection; witness the aptly-named Hurt Schizo gloves (review), which have a lot of protection but not a lot of comfort, in the reviewer's opinion.
Now I'm not saying that the R-Safe gloves feel like a Burberry dress glove. But the Austrian Racer Gloves company promotes the fit of their products in their marketing information and in this case, rightly so. The pre-curved shape of the R-Safe gloves is just right, as is the proportional cut of the finger length and width.
The only caveat is that this pair is a size XL and I usually take a size L. Racer USA says the R-Safe gloves "Runs a ½ size smaller when new, but breaks in to gain back the ½ size." We agree; for a size XL, my pair does feel about a half-size small, but I like a little bit of breathing room inside and these are perfect.
Inspecting the interior with a flashlight, the R-Safe gloves appear to be unlined along the palm half, but the seams are nicely done and there's a bit of padding on the back of the Knox SPS scaphoid protectors, so it feels comfortable and I don't experience any pressure points when riding.
The Kevlar liner on the top half of the inside feels soft (i.e. not scratchy) and there's enough room in these size XL around the main knuckle protector and the wrist so that they don't feel tight, yet they're definitely snug enough to provide a feeling of security.
The finger construction is notable also, with the thick kangaroo skin "floor" of the fingers edged with thick leather and the race-style stitching method. The "walls" of each finger are a single piece of leather that wraps around the fingertips to avoid seam bursts in that important area. And the top side or "ceiling" of each finger is sewn with a blind seam -- very nicely done.
This type of construction adds to the comfort factor compared to some other race gloves I've worn that have more of a "blade" shape at the fingertips that can cramp the amount of room up there.
Like all of the Racer Gloves products we've reviewed in this series, the R-Safe gloves are very nicely made. These are not stylish dress gloves by any means, so the stitching and construction is all business. But you can tell that a lot of thought went into the gloves.
They're not just "let's dot the i's and cross the t's and check off the list of what features a motorcycle race glove is supposed to have". These are serious tools and it seems obvious to me that the designers really knew their stuff and what's important for motorcycle racers.
For example, there's an accordion pleat between the middle and tip knuckles of the first four fingers and also on the thumb. Another large pleated section at the back of the wrist is colored in red on this white/black pair. The pleats give some extra flexibility for the outer lengths of the fingers and the bend of the hand to allow both a better grip on the controls and added comfort.
So while the R-Safe gloves may not have Italian high-fashion looks, I think they have more features and more "protective redundancy" than, for example, the Dainese Full Metal RS gloves that cost $90.00 more at $349.95 and certainly more than the aforementioned Hurt Schizo gloves at $299.99.
In fact, I'm going out on a limb here and I'll say that at their $259.99 list price, the Racer R-Safe gloves can even be called a bargain, considering some of the other much less protective gloves that can cost upwards of two C notes.
The big gauntlets on the R-Safe gloves are right up my alley. They address all of the complaints we usually have with motorcycle glove gauntlets that are too narrow, too short or both.
Open up the wide section of hook-and-loop and the gauntlet is big enough to fit over leather or winter motorcycle jacket sleeve cuffs. The extra-long gauntlet can also be considered as yet another safety factor; it never hurts to have another layer of abrasion protection on the arms.
The all-important secondary wrist strap is located on the underside of the wrist. It measures 19 mm wide and it runs through a plastic or nylon square D-ring on the inside of the wrist, then the hook-and-loop folds back over and secures.
This is all covered by a large flap of the SuperFabric; it's the first time I've seen SuperFabric from the back side, and surprise -- it looks identical to the business side. This means that the ceramic "shields" go all the way through -- they're not just bonded to the exterior. Surely this will help protect the secondary wrist strap from abrasion.
All of this means that once they're properly secured, the R-Safe gloves are indeed safe on the hands.
I've pretty much covered this (is that a pun?), but to summarize, the R-Safe gloves have the large TPU main knuckle protector, along with separate TPU (I think) knuckle protector/sliders on the main knucks.
The first, second and third fingers have large-ish TPU sliders over the tip and middle segment knuckles, and these are bonded and sewn into a secondary layer of leather, double-stitched at the edges.
The fourth or "pinky" finger doesn't have the sliders but it is protected on the outside edge by the large SuperFabric section that runs up from the rear of the palm. The third and fourth fingers are also joined with a single section of leather that on the third finger holds the middle knuckle slider, then joins the two fingers, then folds over to add some protection to the outer edge of the fourth finger (see the pics in the Slide Show).
The thumb has a single slider over the middle knuckle.
While not counting as a protective feature, the R-Safe gloves also have large sections of silicone "grippy" traction pads on the inside of both hands where they meet the grips. These have a cute little Racer logo embossed, as illustrated in the photo above.
The Racer R-Safe gloves are among the most protective motorcycle gloves I have encountered. They're loaded with features and there's that redundancy I have pointed out, with several of the most important features having backup protection just in case.
This includes the double main knuckle protectors, which floats on a separate leather section, covering the gloves. Then on the inside of the top half of the gloves is a single section of Kevlar for good measure.
The palms are made from Kangaroo leather, according to Racer, and then covered with a large section of SuperFabric, which then has the full Knox SPS scaphoid race protection slider system sewn into the SuperFabric.
The real wonder is that with all this, the R-Safe gloves are surprisingly comfortable for this type of glove. Each size XL R-Safe glove weighs just under 200 grams (197 to be exact) and the gloves were apparently carefully designed and constructed to fit without drama.
The R-Safe gloves currently have a list price of $259.99 and while at first glance, that may seem like a lot, compared to other high-end, serious motorcycle race gloves, it's actually very reasonable -- even more so when you consider the multiple levels of protection these offer.
|wBW Review: Racer R-Safe Gloves|
U.S. Distributor: Racer Gloves (U.S.A.)
|List Price: $259.99|
|Colors: Black or White with Red.||Made In: China|
|Sizes: M to 3XL||Review Date: August 2013|
From "L.B." (August 2013): "Did you notice the two small "intake ports" on the knuckles? They allow air into that area and if you look under the "pocket" can see the perforated leather to allow the air to flow through. Small, but does pass some air."