Nankai Pro Racing Gloves

Exotic Reputation - Questionable Quality


It's only natural to grasp at the stars.

King Kenny, Fast Freddie, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Mick Doohan. These are the people normal riders often wish they could be, even if it's just for a day. In true Walter Mitty fashion, you might have even envisioned yourself being King Kenny wobbling into turn one at Daytona on a fiercely fast Yamaha TZ750, while you're actually just entering the on-ramp that is part of your daily commute. It's only natural to grasp at the stars.

Although this shouldn't be your reasoning when purchasing protective gear, I had to admit it did run through my mind when I saw the Nankai Pro Racing gloves. Nankai is a name familiar to American consumers from watching GP stars on television; they aren't stocked in many local shops around the proverbial corner -- Nankai goods have achieved a certain status because they seem exotic and are somewhat rare. Sure, there are several distributors in the States that import Nankai products, but nowhere near the scale of companies like AGV or Dainese.

At first sight, the Nankais definitely live up to their exotic reputation. The leather is smooth and supple, with a very luxurious feel. Intricate patterns and delicate stitching are visually pleasing; the top of the glove has a three-layer design over the back of the knuckles and fingers, with each layer incorporating a different color. Underneath this pattern is subtle padding that promises to save your fragile knuckle bones if you smack your hand in a fall or punch some geek that tries to steal your line. Nankai's logo lives on the cuff, right above an adjustable Velcro wrist strap. The gloves also have an adjustable Velcro closure on the underside of the cuff.

 Underneath, the palm is solid white, with padded "heel" areas. A nice feature of Nankai gloves is that they also have a continuous leather strip over both thumb and forefinger -- prime throttle area -- where it would be cumbersome to have multiple intersections of stitching and leather. A smooth lining on the inside top of all their gloves compliments the comfy feel of the leather.

Unfortunately, while they were very comfortable and allowed me to retain a high sense of feeling, my Nankais started to deteriorate almost immediately -- the gloves pictured here have less than three months riding time on them. They started to discolor after my first ride, which is not that unnatural for white-palmed gloves. What concerned me most was the amount of split seams and worn areas that developed in the gloves. Not only did the gloves wear through four seams and five holes -- with one of the holes over an inch long -- but the areas that wore through were quite uncommon. That is, the sides of two fingers wore out, as well as the left palm. Pinholes in the center of several fingers developed, and in multiple areas the seams split, or were starting to unravel.

Needless to say, I was disappointed with the Nankai Pro-Racing gloves, indeed, I'm pretty angry that I dropped over a hundred bucks on these. With less than three months riding, and no contact with the pavement, the durability of these gloves can only be rated as poor. It worries me to think what would have happened to my hands had they come in contact with the road. At a suggested retail price of $139.95, I cannot recommend Nankai Gloves.


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