It’s happened before – many times. Your brain senses that the body is going too far from the vertical, heading rapidly to the horizontal and a reflex action takes over, extending your arm and hand out to arrest the movement. The venue or circumstances don’t matter, whether it’s an uneven sidewalk, tripping over the dog — or an unceremonious separation from your motorcycle. The first two scenarios have little need for gloves, and you’d look funny wearing them at those times (although the protection would not be questioned), but the last scenario, well, a good set of gloves would be a very welcome layer of protection, which is where Alpinestars comes in.
On racing grids across America and around the world, from club level to MotoGP, you see Alpinestars protecting the likes of World MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden, World Superbike’s Noriyuki Haga, AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies, and the backmarker writing this article. At least I’m in good company here, and I probably ‘use’ my gear a bit more than they do, if you know what I mean………
At first glance, the glove strikes a positive visual note, the red, white and black color layout combining and contrasting nicely, with the areas of the knuckles, and finger joints of the index and middle fingers also covered by carbon fiber. The last two fingers deliberately do not have this feature because on the previous GP Plus iteration, complaints about flexibility were traced to these carbon fiber pieces.
An open back construction just behind the knuckles allows additional flexibility when gripping the bars compared to the older version. The palm of the glove is pre-curved, to prevent bunching of the leather around the hand grip in the glove’s working position, like a proper fitting set of leathers – tight when standing up, but comfortable when on the bike.
The ring and pinkie fingers are sewn together, so they move as one, the idea of this is to help prevent what’s referred to as “finger roll”, where the pinkie finger gets bent in unnatural and painful ways.
Invisible to the wearer, there is a Schoeller keprotec fabric that intergrates Kevlar, augmenting the leather to create a glove high in resistance to tearing, abrasion and heat friction resistance.
On top of the wrist, you see two pads, they are there to protect the ‘little bones’, or carpus and notably for me, the scaphoid, a small but critical part of the functional wrist equation. Another pad located on the outer portion of the gauntlet is there for the head of the ulna, the ‘pointy’ piece you see on the outside of your wrist.
On the palm, a padded, double layer of leather covers the outside and heal of the palm. A layer of kangaroo leather added to the palm, and extending to the thumb helps increase grip levels without added grip pressure.
All of the fingers have external seams on the palm side, making the glove more comfortable, but exposing the seam to direct threat of abrasion. To help allay fears of seam failure, all structural seams are double-reinforced stitched.
A glove that flies off the hand while you’re rag dollin’ down the road does you no good at all, and so it is good to have a wrist strap closure, which these gloves do. In addition, a leather flap covers the strap to protect it from damage (read – failure) in a crash. The gauntlet, also the second wrist closure, provides plenty of adjustment for various diameters of wrist and sleeve combinations.
The glove is perforated at various places – inside base of each finger, and the inside of the gauntlet directly behind the knuckles.
So, how do they work? Quite well. Right out of the package, they feel broken in, with no ‘hotspots’, and the leather feels very supple. The pre-curved palm has no extra material to bunch up and cause discomfort. All the padding is well placed and the carbon fiber sits exactly where it should, so there are no edges of the carbon fiber digging into your knuckle, and you know they’ll be well placed, should you really need them. The wrist closures securely fasten the glove, although the leather flap covering the wrist strap can be a little fiddly, getting in the way of a good adjustment of the strap. It helps to bend your wrist back to move the flap out of the way.
Once securely on the hand, it fits like . . . well, a glove. The fingers and thumb are all the correct length, with my finger tips lightly touching the ends while gripping the handlebar. Because the leather is not unnecessarily thick or bulky, there is good flexibility and dexterity. As far as the ventilation goes, the only time I felt any air moving is when I was on the freeway and I purposely separated my fingers. Otherwise, I felt no noticeable air flow.
If you’re a rider who uses two fingers on the brake lever, and two fingers on the clutch lever, you’ll get along well with the glove’s finger bridge (I did). If not, you may end up breaking out the scissors…….
And finally, I didn’t just wear these gloves and get them all dirty and sweaty, no siree. A front end tuck in a low-speed corner (about 45 mph) saw my right hand trapped between the asphalt and handlebar (I was still trying to ‘save’ it – ahem). An instant later, I had the good sense to admit defeat and let go of the bike, after which I slid to a stop.
I could feel the carbon fiber knuckles scraping against the pavement, but no heat transfer. The pad that is placed to protect the head of the ulna bone was lightly abraded, as was the pad for the scaphoid. Not a heavy impact, but plenty of abrasion, enough for me to know my hand would have been a mess had I not been wearing these gloves. Good enough for me – sold!
Alpinestars’ application says they’re for street and track. If you are racing, or a trackday junkie, I’d opt up for the GP Pro or GP Tech. Retail price for the GP Plus is $149-$169.