Pre-curved fingers and thick leather protectors with stretch material to keep everything together, the Shift Carbine gloves are another worthy alternative to the old Teknic Violator gloves. This is the second of a two-part series comparing modern alternatives to an old favorite, the original Teknic Violator motorcycle gloves. I described the MTech Racer Gloves in Part I.
And although the Shift Carbine gloves are probably closer to the original Teknic Violator concept, these also have some pros and cons. I can’t decide on a favorite — I like them both — and that doesn’t happen very often! If I had to sum up our experience with Shift Racing motorcycle clothing based on the items we’ve reviewed so far, it would be simply “Good products at reasonable prices”.
The Shift Carbine gloves are no exception; while they list for $99.95, which is $11.00 more than the MTech Racer gloves I described in Part I of this comparison, they’re still about $50.00 or so cheaper than full-on race gloves. Yet the Carbine gloves have all the right features and they offer plenty of protection. The Carbine gloves are not the company’s top-line product; that distinction goes to the Shift Vertex and SR-1 gloves, which both list for $129.95.
I haven’t tried either of those, but I picked the Carbine gloves because their price is closer to the MTech and to the original Teknic Violator gloves that are the benchmark for this comparison, and also because they look pretty cool in this silver and black design.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Carbine gloves is the use of fabric in the sides of the fingers, the back of the hand under the main knuckle protector and in the gauntlet.
Shift says it’s DuPont Cordura, but the material has some stretch and I didn’t know that Cordura was available as an elastic.
The stretchy fabric makes the gloves keep their shape, and the fingers are definitely pre-curved and will probably stay that way.
This is both a plus and a potential minus — the stretch fabric in the sides of the fingers has a strong elastic action, which mildly forces the fingers into the curved position whether you want it or not.
The elastic material is slightly thicker than you might expect, consistent with Cordura, but it’s stiffer than a very elastic material such as Lycra.
The fingers seem larger than the MTech gloves, but the stretchy fabric gives the fingers a rather snug fit; this can be felt when my hand first slides into the gloves — it takes an extra push to get them on.
Similar to the MTech Racer gloves, there are features in the Carbine gloves that may be viewed as either pros or cons, depending upon your preferences.
For example, the use of the stretch fabric isn’t necessarily a bad thing — in some ways, it’s beneficial.
It seems to help reduce fatigue when the hands are wrapped around the grips.
I ride with my first two fingers covering the front brake lever and the relatively strong stretch force makes this a bit more difficult than it is when I’m wearing, say, the Teknic Violator gloves, which have no stretch material included.
There are two other challenges, if you will, with the use of a synthetic stretch material: it will pretty much remain as it is, because it doesn’t go through a leather-like break in — it won’t get softer or looser over time.
Also, the synthetic material doesn’t absorb moisture, nor does it have a natural ability to breathe, as does leather.
So the Shift Carbine gloves do feel slightly warmer than the MTech Racer gloves, although it’s been warm enough around here lately that just about any full-gauntlet, non-perforated glove is going to feel too hot at times.
OK, so the use of non-natural fabric may be the most controversial part of the Shift Carbine gloves, but again — the stretch feature isn’t necessarily a drawback, it’s just there.
Some riders may really appreciate it; others may not notice it; and a few may not care for it.
The remaining features of the Carbine gloves are right on the money, and overall I’d say these gloves are closer to the original Teknic Violator concept than any others I’ve worn so far, including the “higher-tech” MTech Racer gloves.
The Carbine gloves don’t have a lot of carbon fiber or other flashy material for their knuckle protectors. The only thing you’ll see here are big, thick honkin’ slabs of pure cow hide.
The stuff is stitched on to the gloves 8 ways from Sunday, literally, and if the generous use of leather on these babies doesn’t protect your digits, nothing will.
And there’s a surprise — hidden underneath the leather protectors on each finger that covers the middle phalanges between the top knuckle (closest to the fingertip) and the middle knuckle, Shift has added a type of hard armor as added protection.
The armor can only be felt if you squeeze the leather overlays, when you’ll notice the little oval shaped protectors underneath.
The finger segments between the base (largest) knuckle and the middle knuckle of each finger (including the thumb) are also covered by leather protectors.
These are sewn to the gloves separately from the tip segment protectors, which gives added flexibility to the fingers, and the leather extends up under the tip segment protectors to provide a double layer of leather for added abrasion resistance.
The middle and ring finger also have a thin rubbery-feeling “V” shaped protector on top of the section between the base and the middle knuckle.
I’m not sure how much these add to the abrasion resistance equation, but they do add a bit of flair to the styling.
The big base knuckles are protected by a large and wide hard plastic armor section.
There are some small vents molded in that open towards the front, but they don’t really allow much air to get through, as they are backed with a lining material.
The base knuckle armor is attached to the back of the glove with 10 small metal (I think) rivets.
And the entire assembly is mounted on a separate section of floating leather, with stretch material at both sides, so there’s plenty of flexibility here, the most crucial area for comfort in a motorcycle glove.
The back of the gloves have enough flex to prevent the base knuckle armor from binding when the hand is gripping the bars, unlike the painful Teknic Speedstar or the Hurt (aptly named) Schizo gloves, both of which are much, much more expensive than the Carbine gloves.
On the palm side, the Carbines have the full array of protective features found in most race gloves, with extra padding at the heel of the hand, something that looks like Kevlar at the outer edge of the palm and a lot of double-stitched leather all around.
Additional leather patches are sewn on to the area between the thumb and forefinger and under the hand, which provide extra wear resistance.
The Shift Carbine gloves have a large gauntlet, which is very nice (too-short gauntlets are a constant complaint) and there’s a separate strap that closes underneath the wrist to keep the gloves on the hand.
The under-the-wrist strap is covered by an additional leather flap, which is the preferred method for this type of closure.
This strap keeps the gloves firmly in place and I can not pull the gloves off when the strap is secured.
This is exactly as it should be to ensure the gloves are going to stay on in a crash.
Too many gloves have poorly designed closures — you should not be able to pull a glove off your hand once it’s secured; it makes no sense to wear a pair of gloves whose purpose is to protect your hand during a crash, and then have the things come flying off at the first sign of trouble.
The Shift Carbine gloves have, in my opinion, just about every feature required for a “race” type motorcycle glove and they’re about half the cost of the MTech gloves.
These come closest to the original Teknic Violator motorcycle glove concept and they are a worthy replacement.
While the snug fit that results from the use of stretch material in the fingers may not please everyone, it certainly helps ensure that the gloves will stay put.
The large gauntlet and secure attachment system, along with the thick leather and armor on the fingers and hand, make the Shirt Carbine gloves a winner and a relative bargain.