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July 3, 2017

Austrian High Racers are as good as good gets

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Best. Gloves. Ever. Were it not for the fact that I get paid by the word, that would be my entire review of Racer’s High Racer gloves. Darn near perfect in every regard, my advice is to simply buy them (ironically, that “simply” turns out to be one of their few imperfections; more on that in a minute). Indeed, those looking to not buy these gloves are best to skip the rest of this review, so chock-a-block will it be with superlatives.

First off, let’s start with the look, just purposeful enough to say I’m serious about this sportbike thing, not so jangled with add-on metallic plates that one feels you’re auditioning for the new two-wheeled Power Ranger. Available in basic black and a white/black combination, there are no chartreuse/day-glo green combos to try to colour co-ordinate with both bike and leathers. Basic black goes with everything; if one must be stylish, you can throw in a little white overlay.

Then there’s the comfort, which, in a word, is nothing short of amazing. Racer USA claims these are “the best fitting motorcycle gloves you can buy,” a heady statement, to be sure, but in my opinion, a marketing slogan wholly justified. At the very least, they are the best fitting motorcycle gloves my money has bought in 46 years of motorcycling. Part of the reason is the soft, luxurious cowhide used in the glove’s uppers. Even softer, more luxurious and incredibly pliant is the kangaroo leather used in the palm. Yes, I know, that other high-end glove manufacturers incorporate Australia’s favourite marsupial into their construction, but Racer must weave some magic that its competitors have failed to grasp because their hide is softer, uhm, more luxurious — egads, that’s me running out of superlatives already! — than anything my hands have ever had the pleasure to fit in. They even break in quickly!

They would also appear — having only crashed once in them, I cannot be unequivocal about the following — safe, individual fingers sporting small carbon fibre protectors while the knuckle area’s carbon fibre protector is sufficiently robust to make brass knuckles unnecessary if you ever happen to be in a dust up (this last is, of course, backed by some soft foam to soak up any blows, accidental or pre-meditated). There’s more carbon fibre over the back of the hand, a little dot covering the pisiform bone and even two more little slidey bits on the outside of the thumb. All in all, there are 12 bits of carbon fibre on each High Racer.

Unfortunately — actually, fortunately — I cannot attest to their efficacy. The bit I can vouch for are the plastic Know SPS slider built into the bottom of each palm. Having fallen, palms first, onto some grippy pavement, I can attest that they prevent gloves from catching and rending scaphoid and other wrist bones asunder. Throw in some perfectly placed wrist straps and some leather that binds pinky and ring fingers for more support and you have as much protection as one is likely to get short of an air bag mitten. And the Racers have also proven extremely durable. Besides, the aforementioned get-off, the High Racers have been my de facto hand wear for the past four years and the leather, straps, Velcro and carbon fibre have stood up incredibly well.

Not so the strips of silicon built into the upper palm area and the index and middle fingers. The only part of my aging Racers that looks tatty, the silicon strips are designed, I presume, to give you more purchase on the grip/throttle. Never having had a problem with, er, gripping said throttle, I could easily do without them. All they’ve done for my old black High Racers is make otherwise still pristine looking gloves look old.

But that’s my one complaint about the High Racers’ performance. More troubling is the fact that the current distributor is winding down its inventory of High Racer gloves because, says Matt Dynes, CEO of Motorcycle Innovations, “Canadian dealers were a little resistant to what is, after all, a niche Austrian brand.” In other words, you just can’t walk into your local dealer and order a pair of High Racers.

High Racers are still available through Racer Gloves USA and the sizing chart is pretty accurate.