In April of this year I said farewell to my Teknic Speedstar gloves, a pair of excellent motorcycle gloves that served me well for over two and a half years. The Teknic gloves had a lot of features I came to appreciate, and I knew finding a replacement pair for the same price was going to be difficult.
Compounding the problem was my drastically reduced riding season due to the Minnesota weather. I rode close to 280 days last year, and will probably ride less than half that now that I’m here in the frozen north. I bought my Speedstars on clearance for $100, and a replacement pair would cost $160+. I didn’t feel comfortable spending that much money on a pair of gloves when I knew I wasn’t going to wear them as much.
I made a list of features I wanted and started shopping for alternatives. I was very surprised to buy a pair of Joe Rocket Speedmaster 8.0 gloves. Here’s my review after owning them for four months.
I knew I wanted the following attributes on my replacement gloves:
- Full-length gauntlets
- Armored knuckles and the tops of my fingers
- Armor on the side of the pinky finger
- Leather (or mostly leather) construction
- Armor on the wrists
- Palm sliders
- A wrist closure and a gauntlet cuff closure
- A price point of about $100 shipped
Bonus features included kangaroo leather instead of cowhide, vents, and Kevlar stitching.
The Speedmaster gloves, on paper, covered most of these. I knew I was going to have to make compromises going with a Joe Rocket product, which has a reputation of being more fashion oriented than safety oriented. For example, instead of KNOX-brand palm sliders, the Speedmaster gloves had soft plastic sliders instead. The product documentation isn’t particularly great, and while the glove lists Kevlar in its construction, it doesn’t specify where. I am guessing the stitching, but I am unclear if that is stitching for the entire glove, just the fingers, or somewhere else.
I had to settle on the leather; it was just too hard (especially during late Spring, the height of gear-buying season) to find a softer kangaroo leather glove in the price point I wanted with all of the other features.
Like most sport-style gloves, the Joe Rocket Speedmaster 8.0 glove is obviously and heavily armored on the top of the glove. I think the presence of armor on the top of the glove has more to do with marketing and looking cool than providing realistic protection. Yes, knuckle armor is important, but many gloves use it as a design focal point. After all, it’s what a motorist may see as a sport rider hurtles by, throttle gripped by a massive armored fist.
However in thinking about hand position during and after an immediate impact, the top of the hand may not be as important as other, oft-neglected areas. In the event of a low-side (where the rider falls immediately to the ground and slides), the palms, blade of the hand, and wrist will probably maintain contact more with the ground than the back of the hand. Imagine the impact: bike begins to slide out from under the rider, the rider sticks an arm out to brace for impact and/or leads with the elbow. The rider will either most likely roll to their stomach or side; arm outstretched. If the rider tumbles or rolls to the back, then the back of the hand will be in contact with the pavement.
So, the majority of the armor on sport gloves are in areas that will be of little benefit in the case of a slide. I am not sure how much protection is necessary on the top/back of the hand during impact, as I don’t know any riders who have smashed into something with their hand — they’ve all slid.
The blade of the hand has no armor on it. The pinky does have two armor blisters, which is better than nothing. In making my purchase decision I knew that I’d be giving up something here against the Teknic Speedstars. I did the best I could, accounting for my other parameters.
The ABS plastic palm sliders are better than nothing, but not nearly the quality of the KNOX armor on the Teknic Speedstars.
The wrist sliders were a big disappointment in the armor department. My expectations were high: the Speedstars had legitimate, hard armor on both sides of the gauntlet. The Joe Rocket Speedmaster 8.0 just has a thin slab of something, probably ABS plastic, with a fake carbon fiber detail. I’m not confident that the wrist armor will provide any impact protection, but may suffice for a slide.
Construction and Durability
The stitching on the Speedmasters was better than I expected. I have some lower-priced gear relegated to “loaner” status that had frayed stitching out of the box, or within a short period of use. The stitching appears to be tight to the glove and uniform and straight on the fingers. The “box” construction fingers are comfortable — once the gloves stretched to the form of my hand.
I’ve only put two thousand miles or so on the Speedmasters, so it’s hard to say how long the gloves will last. I hope to get two seasons of moderate use out of them, compared to the almost three seasons of very heavy use with the Teknic Speedstars.
This is where the all-cowhide leather construction got me at first. The gloves were stiff and tight for the first two weeks of wear. My hands had severe pinch points around the wrist and the finger areas were cramped. I knew I had to endure some break-in time, as one should never trade comfort from loose gloves for the protection from a good fit. After approximately 10 hours of use the gloves started to break. The finger areas were the first to give way, and by the end of the month the gloves were good to go.
The gauntlets straps need to be a little bit longer, maybe 1″ on each side. They are just long enough to go over my Fieldsheer Corsair jacket with the rain liner attached, but not nearly long enough to go over my Rev’It Cayenne Pro with the rain and thermal liners installed. I wound up putting the cuff over the Cayenne Pro over the gauntlet, which I don’t care for. It feels weird to work the throttle when the gauntlet is snuggled down inside of my jacket.
I have really thin wrists, and the wrist strap was too long for me. Unlike the Speedstar, the Joe Rocket glove has a strip of loop near the cinch point, then an exposed piece of leather, and then another patch of loop. It’s an odd choice, but the bottom line that there isn’t much contact between the hook and loop velcro for people with small wrists. The strap itself is too long for me, and I’ve come home from a few commutes to find that the wrist strap has come loose. I am afraid that things will only get worse with time.
Good enough … considering
I knew that I wouldn’t get a superstar glove when I bought the Joe Rocket Speedmaster 8.0. I expected to trade off build quality, features, and materials for a lower price point. I feel like given my parameters and budget, the Speedmaster 8.0 is good enough. Yes, I wish I had another pair of Speedstars or other race replica gloves. I also wish the riding season was long enough to justify the additional cost.
If you aren’t into full-time riding, or if you are just starting out and need to “check the box” for different pieces of protective gear, the Speedstar 8.0 is good enough. If you keep “good enough” in mind, you may be satisfied with the Joe Rocket Speedmaster 8.0. I am — for now.