The safest race guantlets you can buy? We review the Racer R-Safe motorcycle gloves.
The Racer R-Safe Motorcycle Gloves are the Austrian companies fanciest racing gloves, designed to provide the maximum possible protection for your hands and wrists, while still delivery excellent feel and control.
Made from goat skin (stronger than cow leather) chassis and a Kangaroo skin palm (stronger and thinner than cow leather), these race gauntlets are equipped with plastic armor on the knuckles, fingers, outside of the wrist and on the heel and side of the palm. Highly abrasion-resistant Superfabric is added to the heel and side of the palm, running all the way the outside if the pinky fingers.
These aren't hugely ventilated gloves, but there are small air intakes in the knuckle armor and the top of the hand and bottom of the wrists are perforated.
Suede inserts with a rubberized pattern are included at the base of the fingers and on your pointer and middle fingers, aiding grip on the controls.
Where the Racer gloves differ from products offered by more established brands is in the fitment of three Knox scaphoid protectors and palm sliders to each glove. While both the GP-Techs and Full Metals have some plastic in this area, they provide nowhere near the coverage of the R-Safe's palm armor.
Now, I've crashed quite a few times and, in each incident, my hands have been the first thing to touch the ground. I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two about glove safety in the process.
In none of my crashes has knuckle or finger armor done anything for me. Why? Well, it's not like you're punching the ground when you fall off. Instead, you (or at least I) reach out instinctively to break the fall, impacting the ground first with the base of your palm.
That's potentially very bad, a) because it directs impact forces straight into your wrist (which is why I've broken mine five times) and b) at the base of your palm lives a little bone called the scaphoid, to which the body provides very poor blood flow. Should you break it, at best it's going to take a very long time to heal. At worst, it wont' ever heal at all.
Racer's heavy use of palm sliders goes farther than any other race glove to attenuate impact forces to that area. The thick plastic sliders shouldn't just protect the scaphoid, by preventing the base of your palm from "grabbing" the pavement, they could turn a hard impact into a soft slide, reducing the odds of injury further up the wrist and arm. In my opinion, that's a far better solution to injury prevention than a bunch of hard plastic on top of your hand, an area that's far less likely to sustain heavy impacts in an accident.
Racer R-Safe Motorcycle Gloves in action at Imola.
Impact protection where you need it most, and everywhere any other glove provides it too.
Racer pushes "fit" as its USP and like all the other Racer Gloves we've tried, the R-Safe fits exceptionally well, holding your fingers tightly with no bunching and no "webbing" between them.
While all that palm protection initially feels like it may impede control, you stop noticing it once you climb on the bike, grip the bars and start riding. It doesn't get in the way at all.
Feel through the thin kangaroo skin palms is excellent.
Quality is superb. Matching, if not even exceeding that of the more expensive Italian alternatives.
Like the Racer Sicuros, the R-Safe gloves are subject to Racer's gross overuse of branding. In this case, a giant chrome 'R' adorns the wrist cuffs.
When unsecured (as when putting the gloves on), the wrist retention strap falls out of its holder and it can be difficult to re-locate while now wearing clunky race gauntlets.
Summer ventilation won't be the best.
In our opinion these are the safest set of race gauntlets available. The R-Safe also offers excellent comfort and control, all at a lower price point than the competition. We'd feel confident crashing a motorcycle at high speed in these.
More Affordable Racers: Racer Sicuro Motorcycle Gloves Review
Pick the Right Pair: How To Find The Right Motorcycle Gloves
Start Here: A Beginner's Guide To Motorcycle Gear