The Rukka R-Star gloves are a two-for-one (or “2-in-1”) with a two-compartment liner giving you warm and extra warm. Wear them with the liner divider on the top for better heat transfer from heated grips and more protection from the elements. Or use the inner liner for more palm warmth (and more bulk).
The leather is buttery-soft and the overall build quality is good, but the R-Star gloves are missing a few features. For example, the knuckle protectors on the fingers don’t seem appropriate for a glove of this caliber of glove. And the zip-up gauntlet design doesn’t work very well and doesn’t open the gauntlet wide enough wide enough to fit over heavy winter motorcycle jacket sleeves.
But, the R-Star gloves are definitely waterproof, they do offer more protective features than the Rukka Lobster Gloves (review) and they are about as warm as you’ll get with a pair of non-heated motorcycle gloves. Next up in our 2013 Rukka glove series is the Rukka R-Star, the top-of-the-line Rukka gloves for winter and cold-weather riding.
So what’s different about the R-Star? It’s biggest selling point is the “2-in-1” liner, which is effectively a dual internal chamber for your hands. Slip your hands in the lower chamber and you’ll have more insulation on the top with less on the bottom. I found that this provides a better feel for the hand grips on the motorcycle, plus it allows more heat transfer from the heated grips. The difference is definitely noticeable compared to using the upper chamber.
If the top chamber is used, there’s more padding and insulation in the palm side, which decreases the feel slightly but provides better all-around warmth. We’ve reviewed a couple of pairs of motorcycle gloves with this type of feature on webBikeWorld…but I’ll be crimped if I can remember their names.
The point is, you don’t find this “dual chamber” design very often and that’s a shame, because it does work and it’s the gnat’s bollocks when it comes to using heated grips. One thing’s for sure: the R-Star gloves keep out the cold!
First, the “Bucket Test”
Let’s discuss this first, because the R-Star gloves excel at keeping your hands warm and dry, no doubt about that.
Besides the “2-in-1” liner (you’d think they’d have come up with a catchy name for that feature?), the R-Star gloves have a Gore-Tex liner, which makes them waterproof and breathable.
We put them to the webBikeWorld “Bucket Test”, filling a bucket with (in this case) ice-cold water and held them under (while wearing them, natch) for 4 minutes to see what would happen. The boring answer is…nothing.
Not only is this pair completely waterproof, I have to say that the lining (upper chamber) works better than my expectations and beyond the simple ingredients list on the hang tag.
I have been very impressed at how warm the R-Star gloves feel when riding in the admittedly not Frigidaire-cold 4C (40F) weather we’ve been experiencing lately.
This was also reinforced by the bucket test. Typically, the ice-cold water we use will really make itself felt through the gloves we’re evaluating, no matter how much insulation they have.
Yet, the R-Star gloves kept my hands amazingly warm in that cold water, even after several minutes of drowning.
I can honestly say there was no difference between wearing the gloves at room temperature and holding them under the bucket of ice-cold water for all that time and that’s a first, as far as I can remember.
So this tells me two things: first, the Gore-Tex liner was assembled very carefully inside these gloves and it definitely works.
Attaching a waterproof membrane inside motorcycle gloves is one of the trickier manufacturing procedures.
It’s hard to do without catching a stitch through the membrane…and one tiny hole is all it takes to burst the bubble (as we have discovered on many occasion).
Second, the insulation in the R-Star gloves is very efficient.
I don’t know why it should be actually, because it doesn’t have any special characteristics, according to the label (which also does not list the country of origin, in what is apparently typical Rukka practice). Just “100% polyester lining” is all it says.
But the combination of the dual chamber design — which provides extra insulating air space on either side for better insulation — and the soft and comfy liner fabric really make these gloves retain the warmth.
It does bulk up the gloves a bit, but these are winter motorcycle gloves, after all.
I’m sure the expensive-feeling leather and the Gore-Tex liner (with the “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” performance tag) add to the cost of these gloves.
Modern Gore-Tex formulations really work, based on our experience here at webBikeWorld, and this one is no different. It provides excellent waterproofing but has good breathability.
Unfortunately, there’s not all that much else in the way of high-tech features on the R-Star gloves to rave about.
To be honest, after now wearing and evaluating both the Rukka Lobster gloves and the R-Star gloves, I’m a bit underwhelmed at Rukka’s efforts, especially considering their ultra-tech clothing reputation.
I figured Rukka would have some kind of lock on high-tech additives for their gloves, with designs that were far and above any of their competitors.
But both of the gloves I’ve tried so far are about what you’d find in any high-line motorcycle glove manufacturer’s lineup. Kind of like the Toyota of gloves, rather than the BMW.
And they’re not cheap at 230 bucks the pair… Not that they’re bad, by any means, just that they don’t meet my (probably unreasonably) high expectations of what I think of the Rukka brand and products.
The leather used in the R-Star gloves is super-soft and obviously of the expensive variety. Again, the hang tag gives us no hint at anything special — perhaps Rukka is shy about bragging?
The soft leather — which feels almost like something you’d find on dress gloves — makes them feel completely broken in right from the get-go. It also keeps the gloves feeling flexible, which adds to the comfort.
Almost all of the stitching on the body of the gloves is double rows, although Rukka doesn’t say what type of fabric is used for the stitch material. The stitching on the fingers is hidden under the seams and that gives the fingers a “clean” look.
It’s all very nicely done, no doubt about it, especially along the sides of the fingers, where the seams are straight and even.
The fingertips use the “two walls, ceiling and floor” construction technique, which is appropriate for this type of touring/street glove and gives plenty of room in the fingertips, despite the added insulating layer and the Gore-Tex membrane.
Fit and Sizing
After trying the Rukka Lobster Gloves (review), the Rukka Argosaurus race gloves with Gore-Tex (review coming next in the series) and now the R-Star gloves, my opinion is that Rukka-style glove fit can vary.
Of course, it’s difficult to say with confidence regarding the Lobster gloves, due to their unique design.
But the Argosaurus gloves in size 10 do feel tight, like a hybrid medium to large, while the R-Star gloves in size 10 feel roomy, like a cross between an L and XL.
The fingers in the R-Star gloves are longer than they should for a size 10 (L) glove; more like the fingers on an XL. I don’t have a pair of 9’s to try so I don’t really know, but based on this one example, I’d have to say the size 10 runs about a half-size large.
Safety and Protection
The main knuckle protector on the R-Star gloves is listed as “carbon” on the Rukka website. It’s comfortable and nicely contoured and covered with leather…looking very much like a technique found on some Rev’it gloves.
The outer part of the glove features three SuperFabric protectors, according to Rukka, but it’s different from any SuperFabric I’ve seen so far.
This one has “tiny little balls” rather than the “tiny little shields” used for what is supposed to be the ceramic protector nubbles on the SuperFabric product.
SuperFabric is supposed to be cut-resistant, so I tried cutting one of the tiny balls with a knife edge and I can easily make a cut in it, which seems strange and shouldn’t be the case for SuperFabric?
The “balls” look more like plastic to me, but I’ll have to take Rukka’s word for it.
The finger protection on the R-Star glove is mediocre, to give a frank opinion. The fingers have thin Good ‘n’ Plenty shaped slivers of rubber instead of something stronger.
I’ve seen this type of rubber used on some pretty cheap gloves, so I’m surprised to see it on a Rukka product.
There are two “protectors” on each of the four fingers; one on the fingertip knuckle and one on the middle knuckle. Plus one on the thumb.
The palm has an extra section of leather sewn over what appears to be one of those Pittard’s-or-something finger and palm leather exterior cross-hatched leather types.
It’s nicely done but again, Rukka doesn’t go out of their way at all to describe what it is, of what benefit it might be and how it justifies the cost, so I don’t know if this leather is anything special or not.
It looks good and feels comfortable though. There’s a spot of padded raised leather on the heel of the hand where there should really be some type of hard slider as a scaphoid protector (like on the Lobster gloves).
One other safety feature is the underside wrist strap, which can be secured tightly enough to keep the gloves on the hand.
It makes for a bit of a tight fit, so you’ll have to release the strap and tighten it again to put the gloves on and take them off and if my hands are damp, it can be a bit of a struggle to wiggle them past the restriction at the wrist, but this is actually a good thing, all in the name of safety.
The feature that is most disappointing on the R-Star gloves is the gauntlet.
I’m not a big fan of zippers on gauntlets to begin with, preferring instead a proper design with a large hook-and-loop flap and a deep dart in the fabric to do my adjusting.
With the water-resistant zipper closed, the gauntlet is pretty tight (140 mm across), barely able to fit over most jacket sleeve cuffs. Open the zipper and you’ll find only 25 mm of release in the gauntlet, which opens to 165 mm.
Even when fully opened, the R-Star gauntlet is not big enough at all to slip over a heavy winter jacket with the liners inserted, such as the original Rev’it Cayenne (review), my favorite jacket for when the weather is really cold.
Also, then you have to ride around with the zipper open and the too-small hook-and-loop tab that holds the notch closed isn’t long enough to do anything with the zipper open, so it sort of just hangs there also.
This fitment varies, of course, depending on the jacket design.
The gauntlet will fit over some jackets — the more modern designs that have thinner insulation and the internal liners that end several centimeters above the cuff, which allow a closer fit of the sleeve cuff. But it’s tight.
Also, some jackets like the Cayenne have both a zipper and a hook-and-loop cuff adjustment strap, which can add bulk to the sleeve cuff, making the problem even worse.
So it pays to consider the type of winter jacket you’ll be wearing with the R-Star gloves before you buy.
Note also that my experience may be completely different from yours…but I can only report on what I have experienced.
I’m pretty surprised at this gauntlet design faux pas by Rukka, especially considering the company is based in Finland and you’d think they know about needing a big giant gauntlet to fit over a winter jacket.
I know — somebody will write to say “You’re supposed to wear the sleeve cuff over the gauntlet.” Yeah, right.
Who wants to disassemble a jacket sleeve to do that, then have to do it on the other hand with one hand in a glove, then do it all over again when you stop for a quick shot of Lakka to warm you up?
And how many times really have you seen a motorcyclist wearing a jacket sleeve over their gloves?
In any case, with the zipper, Rukka should have given us the choice.
Want it under? Zip it up.
Over? Open the zipper (or better yet, a big hook-and-loop flap) and you should have tons o’ room. So bottom line here, this feature deducts serious R-Star glove prop points for me, since I can’t fit them over my favorite winter jacket.
Additional Features of the R-Star Gloves
Rukka added a visor wiper to the forefinger on the left glove, but as you can see in the photos, it’s very short and doesn’t work very well.
Also, the thumb has an accordion pleat in the leather, which is a nice design detail, probably difficult to sew and works well. And finally, there is a small section of reflective material over each fingertip, as illustrated in the photo above.
The Rukka R-Star “2-in-1” gloves are nicely made and very warm. This pair has also proven to be completely waterproof and just as warm when wet as when they’re dry.
I’m disappointed, however, by what I consider flimsy slivers of rubber used for the knuckle protectors on the fingers. I’m also not happy at all with the shape, size and design of the gauntlet, which I can’t fit over my Cayenne jacket.
But on the other hand (!), the R-Star gloves are probably the warmest non-heated winter motorcycle gloves I’ve tried, due to the “2-in-1” dual liner design. Warmer than any of the Rev’it winter gloves reviewed in 2011.
Also, the quality of the leather and the construction of the R-Star gloves is very good and don’t forget, this pair is completely waterproof also. The price, however, is a bit high.
Bottom line is that these are very nice, warm and dry winter motorcycle gloves.
If Rukka would change the gauntlet design, I’d be much happier. If they added some better hard protectors on the fingers, I’d be ecstatic. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from Rukka R-Star owners to learn about their experiences.
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