By October 19, 2005

Held Ninja Motorcycle Gloves Review

Like other aspects of motorcycle protective gear, there are roughly 10 hojillion different kinds of gloves out there. There are lots of combinations, but the basic attributes are variations on the following themes:

  • Color
  • Material — often tied to the different riding seasons; mesh, textile, leather, or a combination of these
  • Heavily padded/armored or not
  • Cuff/gauntlet length
  • Insulated or not
  • Water resistant, waterproof, or neither
  • Heavily padded palms and fingertips or not
  • Style — mostly broken up into cruiser, sport, and dirt
  • Price

My requirements for a daily use glove were: heavily armored, leather gauntlet glove with a padded palm, good ventilation, no insulation, and would match my bike. For under $100. Oh yeah, it had to fit. Like a glove.

Believe it or not, despite the tons of gloves out there, it was hard to find a glove that fit all of my requirements.

Let’s take a quick sample of what’s out there, above and below the $100 target price point.

Most sport gloves do not have a full cuff, let alone gauntlet length. With a full cuff, if your sleeves retract from your gloves during a ride, your wrist is exposed. If you don’t have any cuff at all, then you’re even more exposed.

For example, here’s a very popular glove, the Alpinestar Air Carbon. Note the reinforced knuckles and the decent venting, both requirements of mine:

However, the Air Carbon lacks a cuff, and would leave your wrist exposed in the event of a dump if your jacket sleeves rode up.

Here’s the Joe Rocket Highside.

At $50 it’s a pretty good glove — full gauntlet, all leather. But it’s lacking a lot of the key features I needed. There’s no venting on these gloves. These gloves are padded, but not armored. Comfort and protection were my top two requirements, followed by price. I passed on the Highsides.

The Teknic Lightning Pro looked like a great glove for $80:

It’s an incremental step up from the Highsides — armored knuckles, full gauntlet, all leather, good padding on the palms. But no venting!

I rejected the MotoGP RPM gloves ($80) for the same reason.

Next, please!

The Teknic Violator Pro gloves are highly recommended by various motorcycle gear review sites. I almost went out of my budget by a mere $25 to get these gloves, widely regarded as very comfortable. But given my gripe about the last three gloves, can you pick out why I discarded these as an option?

That’s right, no vents.

Was I stuck with a mesh and leather glove that didn’t offer full protection? Would I have to give up my gauntlet requirement to get a full leather glove with venting?

I read a review of the Ninja glove online. The Ninja is made by a company named Held, and they weren’t sold through my usual suspects of Web gear sites or local shops. I found them at New Enough, whom I also bought my perforated leather motorcycle jacket from. But that’s another review. I placed my order.

So, how do they feel?

After almost 300 miles of wearing my gloves, I have to say I am extremely pleased. I haven’t fully tested the ventilation during the hottest weather, but it was in the 80s with high humidity the day our windows were installed and they did just fine. I have worn them for over two straight hours without any discomfort or sweat buildup. Granted, these were overcast days, but I was sweating elsewhere nonetheless.

Thanks to the numeric sizing scheme (typical for expensive fashion gloves, not so typical for protective gear) they fit me very nicely. Just a little hard to tug off of my fingertips, which I appreciate. I wear a 9, my friend Bond probably needs a 9.5 or a 10. We both wear a size “L” in the less-exact letter sizes, so you can imagine the importance of these more finely-tuned sizes.

Luckily for me, I haven’t taken a fall in these guys yet. Unluckily for the review, I can’t post any crash data to see how all the uber protection technology performs.

I definitely believe I’ll wear these gloves for three seasons at least: spring, summer, and fall. Who knows if they’ll make it into winter use, but I did buy some less expensive and less feature-filled winter gloves (more on those later).

Fist of Legend:

  • Venting: Check. The first thing you’ll notice is that there’s not a ton more venting on these than the other models. But especially compared to the Violator Pro, the finger vents on the Ninja allow for a lot more airflow. Their positioning is ingenious — when you’re riding the bike the air zooms right into the vents.
  • All leather: Check. The Ninja is made out of Pittard’s WR 100X special sheep leather, which is specially selected and treated to withstand rain and sweat. Normal leather gloves will shrink and contort when wet, and will not retain its original shape when dried. The sheep leather is also 27% more abrasion resistant than cow leather.
  • Armored: Check. The Ninja has hard shell knuckle protectors made out of carbon fiber and Aramid Kevlar with padding underneath.
  • Heavily padded: Check, with the bonus of a padded gauntlet cuff. Check out the little pads on the tops of the fingertips!
  • Two adjustment straps at the wrist and at the gauntlet help to keep the gloves on. The strength of these ties was criticized in the review I linked, but I haven’t had this problem, despite having to cinch the straps all the way down due to my little bitch wrists.
  • Price: Check — just barely skated in under the wire at $98.

Weak Grips:

  • None, although given the permutations of what someone else is looking for in a glove they may choose one of the other (otherwise fine) gloves I rejected.
  • Wish it was a little less expensive, but I did stay within my budget.

Held Ninja Gloves, I throw my hands in the air, wave them like I just don’t care, and give you:

Five out of five STFU mugs!

Posted in: motorcycling, review

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