My Quest for the Perfect Riding Gloves
For motorcyclists, living in San Diego is a pure blessing. The climate is pleasant and mild throughout the year with only a handful of rainy days. To the west are scenic routes by the Pacific Ocean, to the east twisty mountain roads and the desert to explore. I take full advantage of this and ride year-round, often racking up more than 15000 miles a year. Searching for good gear is a necessary habit.
In my experience, many motorcycle gloves wear out after about two years of daily use (not involving a crash). Seams break open or leather gets faded and worn out while losing its suppleness.
Durability is not the only issue. As a daily rider who commutes on a motorcycle a few hours a day, comfort is also a deciding factor. After doing some research on durable yet comfortable motorcycle gloves, I decided to try Lee Parks DeerSports Gloves.
Lee Parks is an author of one of the best selling motorcycle training books, “Total Control – High Performance Street Riding Technique.” His courses are taught at numerous locations in the US and in Europe by well-trained instructors. He founded his motorcycle gloves and accessory company after years of working as an editor for Motorcycle Consumer News testing motorcycle gear.
They are made in the USA, and the construction of the gloves is good. They use two nylon threads instead of Kevlar thread for the elasticity, and there is less stitching overall meaning less chance of breaking at the seams.
Stitching and hems inside are smooth, and I do not feel any pressure points or anything rubbing against my hands. However, the shape of the knuckle protection patch is a bit irregular and cut unevenly.
The stitchings on these patches are also not in the same shape. The left one is more rectangular and stitched along the shape of the patch. The right one is more of an egg shape and there is more space between the stitches and the edge of the patch.
Having said that, I don’t think these irregularities affect the functionality of the gloves. I would prefer uniform stitching because it looks better and distinguishes it as a premium product.
The gloves have deerskin on the palm side and elkskin on the backside. Both deer and elk hide are premium choices for gloves, particularly when it comes to durability. They are stronger than cowhide and highly abrasion-resistant. The distinctive grain of elk hide gives the gloves a sturdy look, yet they are very soft and supple. They didn’t require any break-in period at all.
Both elk and deer hide is also very breathable. I rode on an 80F winter day (Thank goodness for Southern California weather!), and my hands were never clammy. They also provide surprisingly good protection for the cold.
I was able to ride comfortably down to 40F with silk liner gloves underneath. So far, I have ridden about 1000miles in two weeks wearing these gloves in a wide range of temperatures, and my hands were always comfortable in them.
They are not waterproof but hand washable because these hides stay soft after drying. That is great news if you purchase two-tone pairs with tan color leather that may get grimy.
These are fairly expensive at $135 ($134.95 on Lee Parks Design website) but considering the durability of these materials, they pay for themselves.
The size range is quite expansive. You can choose from XXS to XXXL. Kudos to Lee Parks Design for making these gloves in smaller sizes. From what I’ve seen, many companies do not provide the same models or designs in smaller women’s sizing. And making things in pink doesn’t mean you are designing gear for women!
I usually wear women’s Small motorcycle gloves, but after looking at the unisex glove size chart Lee Parks Design provides on their website, I chose a size XS. The width is spot on around my palm (7.5inch), but the fingers are slightly long.
Because the tips of the glove fingers are empty, they fold over a little, and sometimes I have difficulty pressing buttons on the gas pump keypad. The Lee Parks site mentions these gloves stretch quite a bit so maybe I could have bought one size smaller.
That being said, I do not have any problems manipulating switches on my bike or vents of my helmet wearing these gloves, so I am not planning to exchange them for a smaller size.
My Hand Measurements for Reference
- My hand circumference 7.5“
- My palm measures 4”
- My thumb measures 2.1”
- My index finger measures 2.7 ”
- My middle finger measures 3”
- My ring finger measures 2.65”
- My little finger measures 2.1”
The fingers and palms are not pre-curved but don’t feel bunched up on grips. They are unlined, but the inside feels soft and smooth. Tactile sensation is very good which is not surprising given the softness of the leather and simple construction.
I love the length of the cuff. It measures five inches from the wrist and is two inches longer than my Women’s Alpinestar Stella SP-8 gauntlets. With two velcro closures at the wrist, the opening of gloves are easily adjusted even to my skinny wrists and completely covers the jacket sleeve.
No wind gets up in the sleeve which is nice on a chilly night ride and may protect against light rain also. But as I mentioned above, they are not waterproof so I won’t wear them in the heavy rain.
Upon seeing the long cuff that comes up almost half the length of my forearm, my friend commented how these all-black gloves look like something Darth Vader may wear.
Sure, but they don’t look like over-embellished Transformer robot hands because they don’t have gimmicky TPU parts which are all so common these days. I just took the comment as one of many compliments I received for the classy look of these gloves.
And besides, Star Wars is cool.
Extra patches of leather on the palms and knuckle areas. No TPU, No carbon fiber.
The major difference between Lee Parks Design DeerSports and the current mainstream motorcycle gloves is the absence of carbon fiber or TPU protection parts.
Their website points out that carbon fiber protection pieces can break into shards and present safety hazards. While the information about the actual prevalence of such protection component failures is not readily available, injuries with carbon fiber shards or splinters can be awful. Those who want more impact protection can opt for their newer and more expensive SUMO gloves, which come with TPR(thermoplastic rubber) on the fingers, knuckles, and wrists if the budget allows.
Photo credit: Lee Parks Designs
They have an extra leather patch on the palm and knuckles to provide good abrasion protection. I have what I would call bony wrists, so I wish there was better protection for my ulna also. For obvious reasons, I am not going to run an impact test or abrasion test on these, and I cannot verify if they are suitable for track use as they claim.
When it comes to comparable products from competitors, the closest I could find was Aerostich Elkskin Gauntlets.
They are much more reasonably priced at $87. The Aerostich gauntlets are shorter than these DeerSport ones. Aerostich uses elkskin on the palm side and deerskin on other parts which is strangely the opposite of Lee Parks DeerSports’ design. They have protective pads on the knuckles and an extra oval shape patch on the palm.
They are pretty similar, and as a matter of fact, Aerostich sells Lee Parks DeerSports on their website. From what I read from various websites, the main difference is that the Aerostich one is thicker and not as pliable. As for durability, the opinions were split. Unfortunately, Aerostich doesn’t make these gloves in my size.
I can’t express enough how comfortable these gloves are. They feel like a second skin and protect my hands from a wide range of temperatures. I like their long cuffs which cover the jacket sleeves completely.
They are good looking gloves. I appreciate the simple yet well-thought-out design and construction. They are expensive but I do not mind spending extra money for quality, durability, and comfort.
If you are an aggressive rider or looking for maximum protection, they may not be the best choice.
I rode about 1000miles in these gloves so far, and they are my favorite to date.
- Soft and super comfortable
- Great breathability
- Long cuffs. No wind going up your sleeve
- Hand washable
- Wide range of sizes
- $135 is fairly expensive
- Uneven cuts of leather, uneven stitching
- No armor. Only extra leather patches
- Manufacturer: Lee Parks Designs
- Price: $$134.95
- Made in: USA
- Sizes: XXS – XXXL
- Colors: Black / Black & Tan
- Safety Designations: None
- Review Date: December 2020
Lee Parks Design Image Gallery