The Knox Handroid Pod Mark IV is the latest version of the Pod—released in the Spring of 2019 and based on the Knox Handroid Gloves that debuted in March 2010. The original full-length Handroid has gone through three versions and is the glove of the sport bike and track day crowd. Like the Tesla Cybertruck, the Knox Handroid gloves are polarizing. People seem to lean toward one of two camps: “Wow I love those and would get a pair”, or “You’ve got to be kidding me right? Fugly and weird, a total gimmick.”
As much as motorcyclists think of themselves as rebels and outcasts, we are some of the most conservative regarding change. So it’s no surprise that the Knox Handroid Pod Mark IVs (pods from this point forward) are controversial. Fortunately, these gloves are extremely well-built, offering high levels of comfort and protection in an innovative package. They’re worth the admittedly-high price—as long as you don’t need water resistance and don’t mind taking the time to break them in.
Comfort and Fit
Excellent quality materials
Very good stitching
Fit is as described
Innovative scaphoid protection
Index fingers allow touch screen manipulation
BOA closure system guaranteed for the life of the glove
The Knox Handroid Pods Mark IV is not the first product I’ve purchased from Knox. I own their Men’s Urbane Pro MK2 Armored Shirt as well. Having experience with the quality of that product, I felt comfortable purchasing the pods when I was looking for a new pair of short-cuff summer gloves.
The most obvious standout in the pods—or, for that matter, any of the Handroid gloves—is the patented exoskeleton system. Many have compared the look to the Predator or Alien Movies. I too feel that way and was reminded of the legs of a tarantula or black widow spider—hence my silly images below.
I was very impressed that KNOX included a nice drawstring bag with the pods. It supports my never-ending bag addiction. I have not seriously searched for a 12-step bag program…
I was not familiar with the BOA system, and my first impression was that it seemed a bit hokey, but after researching BOA, I was impressed with their list of applications and clients. They currently share 300 brand partners who utilize the BOA system in their products. You can read the story of BOA here.
The fact that KNOX opted to partner with BOA impressed me simply because it’s proof that they keep up with innovations in new motorcycle gear. For more years than I care to share, my gloves have always used hook and loop fasteners at the wrist and gauntlets.
Like anything else, there are drawbacks to the old style, but I’ve acclimated to those things over time. The most common failure over time is one side becoming less receptive to attaching than the other side. I’ll talk more about the BOA system in the Fit and Comfort section of this review.
High Tech vs. Oldschool: A Note on Modern Glove Design
In my dirt days in the desert and on motocross tracks when I fell (which was often), my fingers smashed into rocks, dirt, and sometimes cactus (OUCH). These were the ‘trick gloves’ we wore back in the day:
Back then, these gloves were considered revolutionary. Before these, most of us wore leather garden or work gloves. Guys like Roger DeCoster and Brad Lackey wore these trick gloves. Foam padding on each finger and thumb meant that during a crash, the clutch or brake lever wouldn’t break a finger when it smashed against your finger. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much with cactus spines, though…
The pods replicate that concept, but KNOX uses modern materials and technology. And just like my vintage MX gloves, no hook and loop fasteners!
Anyway, let’s get into what I like about these gloves—and some things I’d like to see in v5.0.
Construction of the Knox Handroid Pod Mark IV Gloves
I’ll start with the most visible part of the pods, the exoskeleton system. The Mark IV version has reduced the height of the exoskeleton spines by 40% over previous versions. I believe this was in response to feedback that the height of the spines can prevent a clutch or brake lever from attaining full travel. Misshifts—or, more importantly, the inability to brake effectively—can produce a pucker moment or worse.
I have small hands so this was the first concern of mine after receiving the pods. It was one of the first things I tested to determine if I’d keep the pods or return them. I’m happy to report that even with my lever adjusted to the closest to the hand grip the pod’s spines do not hinder full compression of the brake lever. I ride a Zero DSR electric bike, so there’s no clutch lever.
In this image, I am pulling the brake lever enough to stop the bike—even in an emergency. There is plenty of room between the lever and my right ring finger. Like most, I use a two-finger grip on my lever. Sometimes only one.
In this image, I have pulled the brake lever as far as possible. At this point, the lever contacts my ring finger. I have never had to use this amount of force during any ride. And even if I did, ABS would prevent a slide.
The following images will help you assess the exoskeleton clearance based on your finger and lever pulls. Again, because I have small hands, my lever is adjusted closer to the grip than those with larger hands.
Examining how KNOX constructed the knuckles in these gloves, I began by closely looking at what resides underneath the plastic knuckle housing.
The knuckle guard has two separate pieces. One is a shiny plastic portion that mates to an outer plastic shell. I’m not familiar with what materials make up those parts and was not able to locate any information about their composition.
A close examination of the area under the knuckle guard revealed two forms of foam protection, one attached to the upper knuckle and the other on the glove portion of the pod.
I wanted to more closely examine the spines of the exoskeleton, so I just pulled them out from under the knuckle guard. They came out easily and I was able to examine them closely.
Each end of the protective spines is tapered, which allows for smooth movement when gliding underneath the knuckle protection. The holes in the spines that correspond to notches allow some airflow to the fingers.
The underside of each spine is hollow and flat, yet reinforced with individual cross members—which are meant to support the spine in the event of a crash by disbursing the force along the length of the spine.
I compare the construction of the spine to an I beam. I beams are very strong based on their geometry, thus saving weight while maintaining strength. Very clever.
A very curious foam tube that runs the entire length of the upper inside seam of each glove is something I have not seen before in other gloves. I will explain its benefits in the Comfort and Fit section of this review.
BOA Retention System
The incorporation of the BOA retention system is well executed in the pod. When companies use “Military, Aircraft, or other” materials, they love to announce those components in their products. KNOX is not different. The wire used in the BOA system is listed as aircraft quality. How KNOX has built the BOA system into the glove closure system is very well executed.
The operation of the BOA system is very straightforward:
Lift on the dial to release the wire closure tension. The release of the wire’s tension is immediate.
To tighten down the wrist, push the dial down until it clicks.
Rotate the dial until your level of comfort is achieved.
Each small rotation produces a satisfying clicking sound as you turn the dial.
The stitching of the pod is excellent. I had read that an early user of the pods experienced some failures in his stitching; KNOX was aware of it at the time and offered to replace those gloves.
The user never sent his gloves in for exchange, but it shows how KNOX stands behind its product. They have since resolved the stitching issue. The pods also include reinforcement in all of the usual hand areas; in this example, between the thumb and forefinger:
The small KNOX logo on each forefinger allows you to operate your phone screen. Please note this does not allow you to operate your gloved finger with the fingerprint reader.
The inner palm area is made of kangaroo leather. The feel of kangaroo hide is much softer and less prone to abrasion than cowhide.
Based on the size guide and my measurements, I ordered the small pods. After putting them onto my hands for the first time, I was pleased with the fit.
The only area that was longer than my digits was the thumb. It was about ½ inch longer than my thumb. There was also a fair amount of tightness around my fingers. The width of the palm was very comfortable—however, the snug fit around my fingers made me question if I would return the gloves.
After searching online, I found that others who purchased the gloves said ‘they fit like a glove’ with no mention of tightness around the fingers. I don’t have sausage fingers; mine are proportional to the size of my hands. This was confusing.
For a full ten days, I wore them both on and off the bike. At one point, my girlfriend said, “It’s time to take those off, Mark” (wink wink), so of course I did. After that, I went for a ride, and—lo and behold—the pods fit like they were made for me. So for anyone who decides to purchase a pair, my advice is to wear them to break them in or until your significant other suggests you remove them.
I have previously discussed the possibility of the spines preventing full operation of the bike levers, so I won’t go over that again. One of the other things I was worried about was the scaphoid protection pads preventing a comfortable grip on the bars. I’m happy to report that whether standing or sitting, my hands never felt the KNOX-patented scaphoid protection pads interfere with my grip from either comfort or position standpoint.
The thumb reinforcement on both the left and right pods is positioned precisely where they need to be to prevent any blisters caused by rubbing the interior of your hand against the grip.
I had mentioned previously that KNOX includes a rubber tube that I have not seen before on other gloves I have owned.
The foam tube is cleverly placed in a position where the inside of my hand can and does rub against the inner flange of the right and left side grips that are different from the ‘normal’ glove reinforcements. Placing this strip of foam tubing along the inner and lower seam of each glove protects chaffing on the upper portion of the index fingers.
I have no idea why KNOX incorporated this feature, but I find it well worth it. I can say that during my road race days when hanging off the bike, my hands would not be in ‘normal’ positions as I was shifting my weight from side to side to move my butt off of the seat and get my knee down. I do find that standing alters my hand position, and the foam tube is comfortable.
I also noticed that KNOX constructed the pods with a varying sew pattern in the fingers. The fingers are not box-pattern cut but tapered. And the seams are both inside and outside of the fingers (as shown below).
As you can see from the inside seam in the midpoint of the pinky finger to the midpoint of the middle finger, the seams are on the exterior of the fingers. At no point in any of the fingers do I feel any seams, except for the thumbs. The seam on each thumb that faces the index finger can be felt. It does not mean it is uncomfortable, but compared to the fingers, it’s noticeable. Once broken in, the pods are very comfortable and fit much more snugly than my other gloves.
I consider the pods a summer glove. In the summer, I prefer to wear the cuff under my jacket sleeve to allow air to flow up into the sleeve. This is how the pods fit under or over the cuff of my KLIM Marrakesh jacket:
I can even wear the pod partially over my watch, which is a Samsung Galaxy on a Leatherman Tread band—not a thin combo.
Here, I’m wearing the pod over the cuff of my Knox Urbane Pro MKII Jacket and would not consider wearing them under this jacket’s sleeve cuff:
I covered the BOA system in the Construction section of this review. In terms of comfort and fit, after using the BOA retention system, I now wish all of my gloves used it. I find it much more effective and efficient than the tried-and true-hook and loop fasteners.
Knox Handroid Pod Mark IV Gloves Protection
I have not used these gloves in a crash, and I judge how effective any gear might be based on my own experience crashing at speed. I’ve mentioned in other reviews that I’ve crashed only at the racetrack and not on the street (except for a stupid tip-over where no real abrasion occurred).
Based on comparing my gloves to where KNOX places protection on the pods, I feel confident that they are effective gloves for two reasons:
The quality of construction
The areas of coverage
For contrast, here are the Held racing gloves I wore as I low-sided to my right at 92 MPH:
My right hand hit the tarmac palm up, and then it rotated to a palm down position until I came to a stop in the run-off area. In the photos below, you can see the resulting damage.
These Held gloves are the ones made before Held moved their manufacturing to Pakistan. They are my second pair. For the first pair, I low-sided at Laguna Seca turn 3 and had my right hand stuck underneath my grip. I could not get it out until I slid into the kitty litter. The abrasion completely flattened the carbon fiber knuckle guard down to the Nomex layer.
The Price of Protection
In my Cons section, I mentioned that the pods are expensive.
The Friday before my Sunday low side in turn three, the shop that I trusted because he made our team’s leathers showed me the Helds. When he said in his thick German accent “They’re 450.00” back in 1999, I spit out my coffee. When I balked at the price, he replied: “Well Mark, it’s only your hands.” So I bought them. The following Tuesday I went back and maxed out my credit card and got another pair. Those are the ones you see here.
A high-side I had six months earlier at Thunderhill Raceway resulted in my magnesium rim having a hairline crack, which resulted in a complete failure of the rim. I had visually inspected the rims but found out after the fact that magnesium must be x-rayed to find hairline cracks.
I realize that the images show my left hand on the pavement. But the initial fall was to the right, and after examining my gloves, the Held’s right knuckles took an impact, after which my right palm slid on the ground.
Below, I’ve overlaid the pods to my Helds to show the location of the protection compared to where my Helds suffered damage.
My main goal was to line up as well as I could the wrists of both gloves. For me, this is the most accurate way to determine whether I trust where KNOX placed its protection. And I do.
Two-hundred-and-some-odd dollars is not a small amount of cash, but after having survived WITHOUT ROAD RASH OR BROKEN BONES (not counting concussions of course) two low sides at over 90 MPH and one high side at 140, I believe in not being penny wise and pound foolish.
The patented scaphoid protection on the pods is well-placed based on my own crash experience. Because my Held gloves have metal studs, they served the same purpose as the KNOX SPS material, allowing my hands to slide upon impact rather than grab the pavement.
In neither of my low-side crashes did I ever suffer any scaphoid injury. I feel confident that the pods will offer me the same protection.
I also appreciate an often neglected piece of protection on gloves. It is what I refer to as a lower-hand skirt. This small added piece of protection guards my wrist against abrasion in an area that needs as much flexibility as possible.
Some gloves have this little skirt, others do not. I originally thought it was to protect the hook and loop straps that hold the glove onto the wrist, but after talking to glove makers, I found out its actual purpose.
Although none of my crashes resulted in a slide of the outside of the pinky finger on either hand, it’s nice to see that like most other highly protective gloves, the pods include that additional reinforcement material.
Because I’ve never suffered a scaphoid injury, I felt compelled to learn more about it by doing some research.
After talking to some people who have had that injury resulting from a fall (including some not on a motorcycle) I am very glad to never have suffered the injury. I’ve included a link to an informative article about what the scaphoid entails.
KNOX developed their armor (named Micro Lock Armor) which is used in their garments as well as the pods.
“What makes Micro-Lock different?
There’s loads of armour out there but at Knox we know there is always room for improvement. There’s soft armour, hard armour, hybrid armour, plastic armour, moulded armour, flat armour… But out of all of these, not one of them is super soft, highly protective and MOST importantly, STABLE across all climates and environments.”
Here is a video that demonstrates the protection under heat and cold conditions:
The Micro Lock is used under the knuckle hard armor, and I’m confident it will keep the back of my hands safe in a crash or slide.
Labels & Literature for the Knox Handroid Pod Mark IV Gloves
Final Thoughts about the Knox Handroid Pod Mark IV Gloves
Gloves are very subjective when it comes to motorcyclists’ tastes. For me, protection is number one; I consider protection first before appearance with all of my gear.
I consider the KNOX Handroid Pods Mark IV Gloves to be safe for how and where I ride. The look is different, which means they will naturally be controversial. Anything new or different has the same reaction—gloves, tires, helmets; you name it.
A couple of things I’d suggest KNOX consider with their next version: first, add a small pull tab onto the heel of the glove. It would make putting the glove on much easier. Second, even though the pods may be considered a summer glove, add a small wiper on the left index finger. Even during the summer months, moisture can be in the air, and the ability to wipe away water from my shield is handy.
Applying different methods and materials to safety gear is something that I appreciate, but it must pass my methods of evaluation. And in this case, the KNOX Pods pass my muster.