In German, these are motorradhandschuhe – motorcycle hand shoes – and really nice ones (as they should be for $279). (Another favorite German word is auspuf, which is just what it sounds like, exhaust system.) Actually these gloves are designed in Austria and made in China, where they’ve been cranking them out for two decades now.
With gloves, it seems like it’s quality materials and meticulous construction that make all the difference between an okay product and a really outstanding one, and the Racer High Speed gloves are really outstanding. The backs of the hand and fingers are medium-thick but very supple cowhide, double-layered and bolstered on top of the fingers with plastic sliders, and atop the knuckles with a strong, light SuperFabric armor plate/slider. Knox armor plates protect the scaphoid and base of the thumb, both to absorb impacts and because it’s almost always better for your palms to slide than to grip when you hit the ground at speed. To keep your pinkies extendable when drinking tea, there’s a little leather bridge on top that connects pinkie to ring finger. A good idea, judging from the number of missing fifth digits in the racer fraternity.
The gauntlet portion, which can be bulky on some gloves and a PITA as a result, is made of slightly thinner hide, since its real job is not to protect but to keep the glove on your hand and to cover the sleeve of your leathers beneath. On the outer gauntlet, there’s another piece of strategically located armor. As a result, these are really easy to get on and off over every jacket I tried them with: One simple Velcro flap over each sleeve is as simple as it gets, and another smaller strap atop each wrist keeps the Racers securely on your hands.
I asked for size M and that’s what I got. Racer seems dedicated to making sure you get gloves that fit, which largely determines your satisfaction. If you return them (free return postage) in new condition with the tags still attached, they’ll send you the next size up or down; six sizes range from Small to 3XL. There’s a handy sizing chart on the website. Racer offers women’s gloves as well, but nothing quite as serious as the High Speed.
For street use, these are overkill. But if you really are a “racer” looking for every possible advantage, the $279 is justified because they offer a level of fit and control feedback through your fingertips and palms that cheaper gloves don’t. Thin, supple and strong kangaroo hide is used in the palms and bottom surfaces of the fingers, which use external stitching for maximum control feel; of course, the fingers are pre-curved. At the critical juncture between palm and fingers and the crotch of the thumb, where lots of people get blisters from twisting the throttle like madmen at the end of a track day or two, the Racers have another layer of thin, grippy, tough Pittards leather. Overall, it’s obvious these were designed by people who ride hard and are intimately familiar with the vulnerabilities of the human forepaw.
What we can’t determine is how long they’ll last. Judging from how the Racers emerged from the (mail)box, with no loose threads or any sign of shoddy workmanship, and examining them alongside a pair of Kushitani GPRs I’ve had since Bush 1 and wouldn’t hesitate to wear on the track tomorrow, I’d say the High Speeds are one of those instances where you get what you pay for. If the other 15 gloves Racer sells (ranging down to $69.99) are as nice as these, they are definitely worth checking out when it’s time for new hand shoes.
For more information, visit Racer gloves USA.