Talk to racing superstar Alex Criville about the '97 Dutch GP and you'll hear a story about as nasty as it comes. It all happened in practice as Criville struggled to match the pace set by teammate Mick Doohan. Crossing the crown of the track in a slight kink at the head of the circuit, the back end stepped out and the bike flipped onto its left-hand side, with Criville's hand trapped between the bars and the asphalt. Traveling at more than 100 mph, the bike slid over the tarmac grinding Criville's hand into the surface.
The leather and padding of the glove tore immediately and then the asphalt started on his hand, tearing the skin, muscle, tendons and bone of Criville's left-hand in the few seconds it took to come to rest. When the bike finally released Criville from it's grasp, all he could do was sit, dazed, in the middle of the track staring at a bloody smashed mess that used to be his left thumb. With blood pouring from a torn artery, he staggered off the track into the arms of a doctor at the trackside, who frantically performed some emergency work to stem the flow. Initially, it seemed to be a career-threatening injury, with the GP paddock doctor claiming never to have seen such a shocking hand injury in the 20 years he had been treating the crushed and broken bodies of GP riders. Fortunately, it turned out better than anyone had expected and after $250K worth of surgery and skin grafts, Criville was able to rejoin the GP circus, even managing to win a race before season's end. It did put a damper on his season, though.
Hands are very vulnerable in crash conditions, as witnessed by the gnarled and scared hands of many of the top road racers. Damage is caused by a combination of initial impact forces and friction through the slide down the road, with crash victims as often as not trying to slow down with an outstretched gloved hand. A well-designed glove needs to have a number of important features, including padding to absorb the impact, abrasion-resistant palm surfaces and tough stitching to prevent seams bursting under crash stresses. Almost as important is that the glove must be comfortable, as an uncomfortable glove won't be worn, providing the least effective protection of all.
Held has an unparalleled depth of experience and insight into the design characteristics of an effective glove. The 273 represents the pinnacle of their own development of a comfortable but safe glove.
The whole impression is that these gloves have been designed for bikers by bikers.
Having been in the glove business for over 50 years, Held has an unparalleled depth of experience and insight into the design characteristics of an effective glove. The 273 represents the pinnacle of their own development of a comfortable but safe glove. The inner hand is made from silky-smooth thin Kangaroo hide, which offers significantly better tear resistance than cowhide, without losing the sensitive feel of the inner palm. A thick layer of high-density Polyurethane foam material covers the ball of the hand, topped with 15 metal rivet studs that protects the leather surface from abrasion and failure. The back of the hand is also protected with generous layers of foam, topped with a layer of Kevlar. The glove is full-length, slipping over the end of the rider's leathers and fastened with a Velcro-strap to prevent drafts. An additional wrist-strap ensures a snug closure at the base of the hand. Another nice touch is the visor wiper on the outside of the index finger on the left-hand glove. The whole impression is that these gloves have been designed for bikers by bikers.
After a year of use, the gloves have performed well, although the natural color of the inside hand is soon dirty and discolored. The quality of the glove is excellent. The seams have not loosened up and the leather dyes don't seem to run when the gloves get soaked with rain. The gloves do give a little with use and the initial excellent fit became a little sloppy over the course of the year. The extensive protection features might have made the gloves bulky and stiff but this is not the case. Fortunately the gloves have been spared the ultimate test of a trip down the road, but when it happens, I'd rather be wearing the 273s than any other glove I've owned. I figure my hands are worth the recommended retail price of $129.95.
Motorcycle Online Rating: ****
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