by "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com
Riding a motorcycling is a fantastic sensory experience that never ceases to amaze.
We rely on our eyes and ears, the seat of our pants and the feel of the air pressing against our bodies, but our hands serve as the primary interface to the motorcycle.
Motorcycle gloves act as a barrier to the inputs we receive through our sensitive fingertips. Thick leather, padding, armor, Kevlar and metal knuckle protectors are not the types of materials that one would associate with enhanced feel.
Since motorcycle gloves do have an impact on the riding experience, it's imperative to find the "perfect" pair.
The word "perfect" is subjective, but, it's probably safe to say that the perfect pair of motorcycle gloves would fit comfortably when the hands are wrapped around the grips.
They would keep our hands dry and they would protect us in case of an accident.
Sounds simple, right?
But developing objective criteria from these very subjective statements is nearly impossible. For example, we're at the mercy of the glove manufacturers' advertising copy when it comes to evaluating glove safety.
There is virtually no scientific data that we can use to analyze or compare the relative safety of gloves or any other piece of motorcycle apparel.
The sensitivity of our hands means that even slight problems with fit can make us uncomfortable. For example, the internal stitching on some gloves really bothers me for some reason.
This problem isn't always noticeable when trying the gloves on in the local shop; it usually only becomes apparent after a few minutes of riding with my hands tight around the handlebar grips.
Finding the perfect fit is especially difficult for the average motorcycle rider, who normally doesn't have the resources to purchase several pairs for evaluation.
It's been hard enough here at webBikeWorld, where we get to evaluate many different motorcycle apparel items over the course of a year.
I'll admit that with all the gloves we've reviewed, my old standby favorite pair are the original Teknic Violator Pro gloves that we first reviewed several years ago.
Maybe it's because they're well broken in, or maybe it's force of habit, but I find myself reaching for the Violator Pro more frequently than any other pair.
But this hasn't kept me from a continual search for something better. And except for one problem, as we shall see, I think the Held Ninja gloves may just become my next all-time favorite.
Held has developed a rather extensive line of gloves over the years, especially now that most of the production has apparently moved out of Germany.
Remember when Held had live photos of the old German women making gloves in their local factory? Now their gloves don't even carry a country of manufacture label.
But the quality still seems to be up to Held standards, while the prices on some of the models have become more competitive.
The Held Ninja gloves are a good example. They have nearly all of the features that I look for in a motorcycle glove, and the $99.95 list price is not bad (although we paid about $110.00 for this pair, which seems to be the going rate for the Ninja gloves).
They're very close in design to the Violator Pro gloves I like so much, and that's what attracted me to them.
One of the nice features of the Held Ninja gloves is that they apparently come in numerical hand sizes. I say "apparently", because although the Held USA website only lists size M through XXL, the Held Germany site lists sizes 7 through 11.
Numerical sizing can sometimes allow a more custom-tailored fit.
Maybe I'm dreaming, but I tried on several pairs of much more expensive gloves in the motorcycle store before purchasing the Ninja gloves.
The result? My hands seemed to fall somewhere between a medium and a large in the "S, M, L, XL" sizing selection, while the size 10 Held Ninja gloves fit perfectly.
I also sat on a motorcycle in the shop to evaluate the gloves with my hands around the grips and the Ninja gloves have just the right amount of room in the fingers.
My opinion on the way they fit hasn't changed over the last month or so of daily use.
The Held Ninja gloves also seem to be very well made.
They are double stitched throughout and the stitching is not only perfectly executed on my pair, the contrast to the black leather adds a touch of class.
The gloves have all of the requisite safety features, with lots of extra padding and leather sections on both the palms and the back of the gloves and Kevlar panels on the backs of the fingers.
They also have carbon fiber knuckle protectors, curiously for only the second through fourth knuckle. The palms are made from Pittards WR-100X "high-performance extreme use" leather.
This leather is also used in the Held "Steve" glove (see the wBW review), and it's usually not found on gloves at this price level.
Pittards claims that the WR-100X tanning process helps make the leather resistant to water and sweat, which, as we mentioned in the Held Steve review, is ideal for motorcycle gloves.
So what's the problem?
A good safety test for motorcycle gloves is to tighten the wrist strap(s) and see if the gloves can be pulled off the hand. If they can easily be removed, then they are also more likely to come off in a crash.
The Held Ninja gloves only have a single retaining strap on the back of the wrist, but the Velcro fastener under the strap is not long enough for me to get the glove tight enough on my hand.
I can get them about 80% of the way, but not tight enough to prevent me from pulling the glove off my hand by the fingertips, although I will admit it takes a strong tug to do so.
The retaining strap also has an extra large pull tab, which is good, but the downside is that the tab hangs off the side of the glove.
I'm afraid that in a fall the tab would catch on something, releasing the strap, which could cause the glove to come flying off.
This is really a shame, because I like everything else about these gloves, especially the way they fit my hands. I also like the big gauntlet cuff, which fits over all of my motorcycle jacket sleeves with no problem.
One of the other features that attracted me to the Held Ninja gloves is the unique finger vents, located on the back of the fingers, between the knuckles and the first finger joint.
Unfortunately, they don't really seem to allow much air flow, at least that I can feel. But at least they look good!
The fingers of the Held Ninja gloves are tapered towards the fingertips. I've learned that motorcycle gloves with tapered fingers fit me much better than gloves with box section fingers, like the aforementioned Held Steve gloves.
The box section design provides too much room for my admittedly narrow fingers, making it harder to find the correct fit.
Held Gloves are known for high quality and leading-edge safety features, but many of their gloves are also relatively expensive. The Held Ninja gloves bring Held quality and features at a very reasonable price.
Although I'd prefer a double strap retaining system, the comfort, fit and style of the Ninja makes them my current "perfect" motorcycle glove.