2013 Summer Glove Series:
▪ Rukka Vauhti Gloves
▪ Racer Guide Gloves
▪ Racer Mickey Gloves
▪ Racer Summer Fit Gloves
▪ Racer Limes Gloves
▪ Racer Stratos Gloves
▪ Racer R-Safe Gloves
▪ Rev'it Sand Pro vs. Striker Gloves
▪ 2013 Summer Glove Preview
The Racer "Stratos" gloves are a combination of leather and goat hide with a full-sized gauntlet.
Also included is a leather-covered hard knuckle protector for the main knuckles.
The Stratos gloves are an all-around, multi-season type but they're not as heavy as true winter motorcycle gloves. They also feature the Gore-Tex X-Trafit waterproof liner and they're "Guaranteed to Keep You Dry" by Gore-Tex.
These are very comfortable gloves suitable for touring or cool rainy summer days and they have a full-surround secondary wrist strap for excellent security.
Here we are at Part 6 of our eight-part 2013 Summer Motorcycle Glove Review Series that has since blossomed to 10 parts, with the late addition of a pair of Rev'it gloves and one pair from Dainese that will be added as a "bonus".
The Racer Stratos gloves aren't really summer gloves in the classic sense. But it does rain in the summer and sometimes it gets cool and if you're riding in higher altitudes, the Stratos gloves could be a lifesaver.
And don't forget -- summer is a relative term. Summer in Louisiana is one thing. Summer in Québec is quite another.
The Stratos gloves are very comfortable and they work very nicely for touring or multi-season use. The fact that they come with the high-tech Gore-Tex X-Trafit (report) waterproof liner, which we have described previously on webBikeWorld and which is used in several of the high-end motorcycle gloves we have reviewed, is a valuable extra bonus.
The X-Trafit liner means these babies are waterproof -- no ifs, ands or buts about it -- and Gore-Tex guarantees it.
OK...so you might not want to wear the Stratos gloves on a brutally sunny day like today. As I write this, my electronic thermometer in the shade on the backyard deck reads a blistering 40 C (that's 104 F) with 73% humidity. Hot and sticky in anyone's book.
But as they say, "if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes". The conditions are ripe for a sudden thunderstorm with heavy rain and -- who knows? -- even hail.
If you're caught out in conditions like that, you probably don't want to be wearing your Racer "Guide" gloves (review). You'll want the Stratos, no doubt -- and let's also hope you brought along that Tourmaster Sentinel rain jacket (review).
The Stratos gloves are designed for touring or general street use for all conditions except the hottest of days. They're about as comfortable as any pair of motorcycle gloves we've reviewed, thanks to the soft cow hide and goat skin combination leather along with a generous cut and proper sizing with plenty of room for the digits and box construction fingertips.
They also have a more secure fit than any of the Racer gloves we've reviewed so far (note I said "so far"), because they have a nicely designed wrist strap that does the job by keeping the gloves on your hands with minimal annoyance.
Since the Stratos gloves are claimed waterproof, we put them through the (in)famous webBikeWorld "Bucket Test", which means dipping Stratos-gloved hands into a bucket o' water for 4 minutes. The result? Not a single drop got past the Gore-Tex X-Trafit waterproof liner. That's impressive -- but to be expected from modern W.L. Gore & Associates technology.
Curiously, Racer Gloves gives a five-year waterproof guarantee but the Gore-Tex guarantee has no specific end date that I can find.
Bottom line on Stratos gloves ventilation? There is none. At least there are no perforations, vents or other gimmickry. The Gore-Tex membrane does allow a certain amount of moisture to transpire out and the roomy fit helps, but the main purpose of the Stratos gloves is to keep your hands waterproof.
The flip side of that is a minimal amount of insulation; in fact, Racer doesn't list any insulation in the Stratos gloves, although it feels like there's a thin layer in there. The X-Trafit membrane probably takes up some of that space also and provides wind-blocking in addition to waterproofing.
There's not enough insulation to make these ridiculously out-of-the-question for summer wear, but like I said, you'll probably want fully ventilated/perforated gloves for the hottest temperatures anyway.
The Stratos gloves are lined with a slightly thicker but more plush-feeling fabric lining than the other Racer gloves reviewed in this series. The lining feels like a fine micro-fleece, with a higher-quality feeling than the other gloves also.
It could be that the lining is specially designed to work with the Gore-Tex X-Trafit waterproof membrane to allow moisture to be more easily transported from the skin outwards. In any case, it does help to make the Stratos gloves feel very comfortable and there are no seams or other rough spots I can feel on the inside.
I'm betting the W.L. Gore oversight for the manufacturing procedures and final inspection has a lot to do with the fit, overall construction and liner comfort. Since Gore is providing the guarantee, they are very fussy about how the Gore-Tex brand name is used and how the product is manufactured. They can and will quickly pull the license if problems are found and in the end, that means a strong level of confidence to the motorcyclist customer who buys the product.
I mentioned the generous fit of the Stratos gloves, a result of proper construction and sizing. Actually, these size L gloves may even run slightly large to perhaps a half-size big, but that's just fine with me because it adds to the comfort and flexibility and makes it easy to put the gloves on if your hands are a bit damp.
The fingers also get special commendation also; the "box" construction features a single wrap-around section of leather with no seams that runs from the web between the fingers all the way out around the tip and back down the other side. The tops and bottoms of the fingers are then sewn using blind stitches and the overall effect is clean, simple and stylish.
That construction method also leaves plenty of room for the fingers and I think the Stratos gloves would be especially kind to thicker digits.
The Stratos gloves are very nicely made, with an interesting vase-shaped area on the palms that you can see in the photos. It's formed by the extra section of leather on the outside "heel" of the hand and down along the thumb. Both of these sections add some extra abrasion protection to the palms also.
I wondered when I first tried the Stratos gloves whether this palm shape would affect riding comfort but I haven't noticed it at all when riding, as most of the grip force is located under the main knuckles and the leather is a smooth one piece at that point.
The thumbs of the Racer Stratos gloves have the same construction as I noted for the fingers. The thumb length on this size L allows plenty of room, unlike too many other gloves I've tried that seem to have a thumb length proportionally too small.
In fact, another issue we've mentioned in some of the webBikeWorld motorcycle glove reviews is the problem of a too-small fit when a waterproof liner or insulation is used. What seems to happen sometimes is that the manufacturer cuts the overall glove pattern to size, but then the fit drops by a size or more after the liners are inserted.
That's not the case here at all; it seems like the gloves were first designed to fit and then the liner and outer shell were cut to match, which is the way it should be. This is what provides the nice roominess of the Stratos gloves with no binding.
The gauntlet on the Stratos gloves does seem a bit too small; I'm not sure how it will fit over a heavier winter jacket. It fits fine over the thinner summer jackets I've been wearing lately, but I do wish the gauntlet had about 20 mm more width or circumference, or perhaps a larger "V"-shaped dart in the leather to allow more adjustment.
The gauntlet has the typically large hook-and-loop closure and a secondary hook-and-loop wrist strap runs nearly the full circumference of the wrist, from the inner part of the wrist on the palm side all the way around the outside, then up and over the top of the wrist where it meets a very large embedded oval-shaped ring. The strap goes through the ring and then the end is secured to the hook-and-loop.
Not only is this a very secure closure system, it's also comfortable and remains pretty much out of the way once the hooks and loops are fastened.
The Stratos gloves have a large hard leather-covered main knuckle protector, similar to the Racer Limes gloves (review). The fit is very comfortable on the inside and I honestly don't even know the knuckle protector is there when riding.
The protector "floats" over the top of the gloves on a section of leather that is separate from the main body of the gloves, and this is probably what helps isolate the protector from the knuckles.
There are no hard knuckle protectors on the fingers, although a section of accordion-pleated leather is located above the second, third and fourth fingers. The extra vase-shaped sections of leather I mentioned earlier add some abrasion protection to the outside and inside edges of the palm.
There is an extra section of leather or goat hide over the bottom half of the palm, which continues in one piece along the outer edge of the hand along the "pinky" finger. There is also a gel pad on the outside of the palm at the "heel" of the hand, which is designed to act as abrasion and cushioning protection in case of a fall.
The Racer Stratos gloves are labeled as meeting the CE Level 1 standard and they come with the CE homologation certificate.
The thumbs of the Stratos gloves also have no hard protectors, just thick leather. It's interesting to note also that the thumb has the same construction as the fingers and this provides a lot more room than normally found in the "blade" type construction typically used for the thumbs of motorcycle gloves.
The thumb of the left hand has a 21 mm long silicone visor scraper attached that can be used to squeegee the water off of the motorcycle face shield.
While the Racer Stratos aren't a true summer glove, they're very comfortable and waterproof, which is a very useful feature for cooler rainy days.
These gloves have a high level of build quality and a roomy fit, along with other features like the very secure wrist strap, water squeegee and CE Level 1 type approval.
The price of the Stratos gloves is a bit steep, but the Gore-Tex X-Trafit waterproof liner and the guarantee that comes with it is worth something for sure.
|wBW Review: Racer Stratos Gloves|
U.S. Distributor: Racer Gloves (U.S.A.)
|List Price: $189.99|
|Colors: Black||Made In: Indonesia|
|Sizes: S to 3XL||Review Date: July 2013|
From "D.T." (July 2013): "You wondered why Gore-Texís guarantee has no end date. Thatís because their guarantee is contingent on wear. If the glove is worn out, no guarantee. I think they also make you go to the manufacturer first."
Rick's Reply: If anyone can provide a link to the specifics of the Gore-Tex guarantee I'd appreciate it. I haven't been able to find anything with the details, either online or in the printed guarantee that comes with the gloves.