The Tucano Urbano Aviatore gloves feature modern technology and protection with vintage looks.
The good looks are matched by equally fine performance, even in rain and cold.
The Aviatore gloves are 100% genuine leather and include a synthetic fur lining for that "genuine" WWI SPAD S.VII fighter pilot look.
Modern amenities include a waterproof and breathable inner membrane; hard knuckle and cuff protectors; reinforced palms and a hook-and-loop wrist strap.
Don't forget the silicone visor wiper!
I will certainly be wearing these all winter, and hopefully for several winters to come.
I only ride motorbikes because I was born too late to fly biplanes in the First World War. So when Tucano Urbano offered us the chance to review some of their rider gear, my first pick was the Aviatore gloves.
The Aviatore gloves look as though they should be sported while grappling a joystick rather than a set of handlebars.
The photo on the company's website shows a pair of elegant leather gauntlets, one with the cuff rolled back to reveal a fleecy faux-sheepskin liner.
Could the gloves possibly look as authentic and luxurious in reality? And if they did, would they also be practical and protective? I couldn't wait to find out...
My Tucano Urbano Aviatore gloves arrived in a re-sealable foil packet, emerging pristine with a faint, pleasant smell of leather.
The leather itself is very soft and supple, with a lovely, strokable surface that also covers the knuckle armour.
The small, neat stitches are in single rows, and look as if they've been sewn by hand; there are a couple of thread ends sticking out on one of my gloves. The exception is a double row of stitches around the knuckle armour panel.
Since the type of leather used isn't stated, I'm assuming it's cow.
The synthetic fur lining mimics sheep's wool, its little curls designed to trap and warm tiny pockets of air for effective insulation. Light beige in colour, it looks classy and feels cosy.
The wiper blade on the thumb is small and subtle, a prism of transparent rubber through which a Tucano Urbano logo on the glove is visible. This, along with a fabric label on the back of each wrist strap, is the only external sign of branding.
A small label on the right glove shows a water drop to represent waterproofing.
The overall effect is of understated elegance. On the design front at least, Tucano Urbano have got this one dead right.
It's not easy for a glove to be both practical and elegant, but these seem to manage it. The hard knuckles flow seamlessly into the back of the glove without spoiling its line or classic looks.
There's a thick, protective pad over the bone at the base of the palm, just where your hand is likely to make contact with the ground in a fall.
A hard insert on the cuff of the glove protects the end of the ulna, that lump of bone that sticks out on the outside of your wrist (thank you, Wikipedia). Again, both of these pads merge subtly into the black of the glove.
The knuckle armour is described as ABS, which usually means something else entirely to bikers but here refers to a type of thermoplastic.
The gloves are among several products marked in the Tucano Urbano catalogue as "no PVC".
It's not made clear why this is an advantage -- it's possible the alternative material has better durability or impact strength, but some consumers also reject PVC due to health or environmental concerns.
There's an extra layer of leather at the base of the fingers, and another patch along the L-shape made by thumb and forefinger.
These should help prevent the gloves splitting in an off, as well as making them more resistant to daily wear and tear.
The Aviatore gloves are gathered at the wrist with zig-zag stitches and also have a narrow hook-and-loop strap which passes through a plastic fastener.
Once on and tightened, the gloves are extremely difficult to pull off again. It can be done, eventually, but I was worried for a moment that I might yank my arm out of its socket in the attempt.
The wrist strap is easy to grasp and fit in either position, even with one glove already on. However, I've struggled a couple of times trying to reverse the operation and undo the strap with the other glove still on.
The Aviatore gloves are styled as men's gloves, which are usually long in the finger for me (while women's gloves tend to be too narrow around the hand). I ordered a size XS, which I would guess is equivalent to a size 6. True to form, there's a little space at the top of each finger.
The thumb, however, fits fine, and the gloves are snug to my hand and wrist.
The long, slightly flared gauntlets are thin enough to be comfortable under a jacket sleeve, but will also fit over the top.
I tend to arrange them over the sleeve cuff according to whether rain-proofing (gloves inside) or ease of removal (gloves outside) is the current priority; they're slightly more comfortable inside, but your experience will depend on your jacket.
Winter gloves are never going to offer as much sensitivity of grip and touch as thin summer gloves. Compared to lined textile gloves, however, the leather of the Aviatore gloves is pretty flexible.
They give a surprisingly sensitive feel on the bars, so that only a light hold is required, while the hard palm pad makes a comfy rest. Operating the switches is also a piece of cake, despite the boxy-looking fingertips.
What of that furry lining? The faux wooly curls give it a wonderful warmth and springiness, although it lacks the extreme softness to which modern styles of fleece and micro-fleece have accustomed us.
There's a size label inside each glove and, in one, a larger label with washing instructions and manufacturing information, but these don't rub or scratch the hand and I wouldn't have known they were there if I hadn't looked.
I've worn the gloves whilst riding at a variety of speeds and temperatures, and they have remained comfortable throughout.
These aren't hot weather gloves, but although my hands were perhaps a little too warm when the sun came out, the gloves didn't become unpleasantly sweaty and sticky, and I had no trouble removing them (some pairs have to be practically peeled off).
There's never a total downpour when you actually want one.
I have, however, been blessed with the opportunity to test the Aviatore gloves in a number of light and heavy showers, and on one occasion made a two-hour motorway journey through continuous rain.
The gloves not only keep the water out, but the associated chill factor too.
That thumb-mounted wiper blade works nicely in continuous rain, but is less effective when it's just a few drops; dry, the blade won't travel smoothly across the visor. I was impressed by how quickly and well it works for such a simple, tiny widget. It's good on external misting, too.
Plenty of gloves look as if they ought to withstand the cold brilliantly, but prove unable to "walk the walk". Proper winter is not yet with us, so I've not had a chance to try the Aviatore gloves in truly bitter conditions.
I will say, however, that I usually turn my heated handlebar grips on for any journey that lasts longer than an hour at 70 mph, and often for shorter ones (I'm a wimp where cold hands are concerned).
Since acquiring the Tucano Urbano Aviatore gloves, I've not needed the hot grips, even on long, high speed motorway journeys after nightfall. Maybe the mere thought of that lovely fleece acts as a placebo? Even if that's the case, I'm not complaining.
Because we want to get product reviews to you as soon as possible, we're not usually able to report on how well the gear we test bears up over months and years of use.
Spiffy-looking products can lose their gloss quickly, while more basic goods can be surprisingly hard-wearing.
All we can do is take a best guess based on the overall quality of materials, stitching and design, and any deterioration over the testing period.
The soft leather of the Aviatore gloves gave me some cause for concern. I do not handle my gloves with kid gloves, stuffing them into my helmet when not in use and yanking them carelessly off.
They have held up very well so far, and if the leather does start to look a bit scuffed further down the line, it will only add to the dashing ace pilot look.
From previous experience with this style of glove, the fleecy lining eventually packs down, losing its insulating properties. After a number of years, it even starts to crumble and fall out. I wouldn't expect this to happen for a good long while, however.
Although they sport modern technology and protection, the classic appearance of the Tucano Urbano Aviatore gloves means they wouldn't look out of place on a vintage motorcycle (I couldn't resist taking the photo at the top of the page at a recent rally).
The good looks are matched by equally fine performance, even in rain and cold. I will certainly be wearing these all winter, and hopefully for several winters to come.
If Tucano Urbano fancied making a version specifically for women, perhaps called the Aviatrice, I suspect they would go down very well indeed.
From "R.B." (November 2013): "There is (Editor's Note: Was? It isn't listed on the Tucano Urbano website) a brown bike glove made by this company called the "Dunker", so maybe that's the one (B.P below) is thinking of? It does look entirely different."
From "B.P." (November 2013): "Looks like a fine bad-weather glove -- nice review. I've had some waterproof gloves that have separate liners that always stick to my fingers on egress, and so these look like a much better system (if a bit more expensive).
A question: Are these available on our side of the pond? (Also) It looks like these come in brown, as well as black. I'm looking at (another UK store) for this info."
Editor's Reply: Tucano Urbano is interested in finding a distributor or retailer(s) in the U.S. but as far as I know, so far the gear must be ordered from the UK. The Tucano Urbano website lists the Aviatore gloves in black only; perhaps they once came in brown and there's some leftover stock?