They look like the ultra-classic motorcycle gloves from the 1930’s…and ’40’s…and ’50’s. The deerskin is soft but feels paper-thin and the gauntlet feels like cardboard. While most of the stitching isn’t bad, the 144 Deerskin gloves feel much more like a pair of dress street gloves than anything that will protect your hands in a crash. Look at just about any black-and-white photo of a motorcyclist from 60, 70 or 80 years ago and you’ll probably see a pair of gloves with this style.
The world just didn’t have the incredible number of niche products there are today; people had maybe two pairs of shoes, one for Sunday and the other for work. A couple of shirts, maybe two pairs of pants and a winter jacket. That was it. You want motorcycle gloves? Wear a pair of farm gloves or, if you’re lucky (and can afford it), buy a pair of these purpose-built, long-gauntlet gloves — the latest and greatest for your two-wheeled adventures.
Owning a pair of these was probably like owning a pair of Kushitani GPR 6 gloves (List Price: $310.00) today. The Olympia 144 Deerskin gloves look the part — sort of — but I bet they’re nowhere near as thick and heavy-duty as their forebear back in the day.
Since we bought these gloves as many motorcyclists do — online and sight unseen — all I had to go on was the very limited (nearly nothing) description in the Olympia .pdf catalog (their only source of information) combined with online retailer descriptions, along with the stock photos.
The 144 Deerskin gloves looked thick and heavy to me in the photos and I expected them to fit correctly for a size large, which is what I normally wear.
I realized the gloves did not have protectors, but I did expect perhaps some added deerskin or leather abrasion protection on the palms or outside of the hand.
The stitching on these gloves around the fingers is all hidden underneath the seams, which is very nice. The deerskin is actually pretty good quality — for a pair of dress street gloves (does anybody wear dress street gloves in 2011?).
The gloves have a hook-and-loop cinch strap on the back of the wrist, a potential safety factor.
Unfortunately, the cons far outweigh the pros for the Olympia 144 Deerskin gloves. The deerskin leather feels soft, but it also feels paper-thin. I estimate it to be slightly more than 1 mm thick, based on my measurements of the dart used in the gauntlet.
The 144 gloves are completely unlined, although one of the benefits of using deerskin is it’s pretty soft inside. Olympia makes a lined version of the Deerskin gloves (Model 146).
These gloves have no armor, nor do they have any extra leather sections added for abrasion resistance or protection.
I’m not sure what type of last they were made on, but they have a very flabby shape. The size L feels at least one, if not two sizes too big; my size large hands swim inside these gloves.
The soft deerskin doesn’t help here because the gloves have no structure at all; these are pure deerskin with nothing else added.
The thumb is simply two pieces of deerskin sewn together with hidden stitches. There is no structure or “tube” to stick your thumb into; just two flat pieces of leather sewn together.
I’m also not sure about the gauntlet; it may be some type of synthetic leather, because it doesn’t feel like the body of the glove and it has a different texture, giving the gloves a strange look.
The gauntlet feels like cardboard, but probably isn’t. It’s sewn on with an external double row of stitches that give me the feeling like the gauntlet will pull loose from the gloves at any minute.
The stiffness of the gauntlet is at odds with the super-soft deerskin. Perhaps if they made the entire glove out of deerskin, it may have a different look and feel.
The Olympia 144 Deerskin gloves just don’t have any redeeming qualities for me, and the fit seems way out of the norm, so there’s not much here for me to recommend.
I guess I’ve been spoiled by wearing too many better quality motorcycle gloves…
Although I like the retro styling of the 144 Deerskin gloves, there’s just no way I’d feel comfortable or safe wearing them.