Ever since I re-entered the motorcycle-ownership club in late 2020, there’s one activity I’ve been wanting to scratch off my bucket list: winter riding. I can’t explain it; I just find the concept of riding year-round tremendously appealing. Plus, the idea of bundling up and riding off into the 4 pm sunset suddenly makes winter so much more interesting.
There are two reasons why I haven’t checked that box already. The first one is that I currently don’t have a garage. That means that the motorcycle has to sleep outside, which isn’t great when the temperatures remain consistently below the 20-degree Fahrenheit mark. Riding in the cold isn’t scary—letting the bike sit in the cold is. So, I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for the temperatures to climb back up just a little before taking the bike out of storage.
The second reason (excuse?) has been my gear. I wanted to make sure I had the right equipment to actually enjoy my winter fantasy. When Hippo Hands reached out and asked us to review its hand covers, as the Northernmost dweller on the team, I was the logical choice to put their products to the test. Getting handguards and covers was on my to-do-list anyway.
I saw this as a sign: It looks like I'll scratch that item off my list a lot sooner than I anticipated. Especially when you consider that Hippo’s whole branding revolves around the “Warm Hands Revolution” and making winter riding more accessible to more people.
Let’s find out whether hand covers can make a big enough difference that winter riding won’t be a problem anymore.
A Little Bit About Hippo Hands
Would you believe me if I told you that the first Hippo Hands “prototype” was actually a sleeping bag duct-taped to a handlebar? You should, because that’s exactly how the Hippo Hands concept was born for creator and famous designer Craig Vetter. That was over forty years ago and hand covers have come a long way since.
The company now offers three types of hand covers, adapted to different types of riding:
- Alcan: This model provides maximum coverage in all sorts of weather. It features 12-inch-deep neoprene cuffs designed to fit most adventure and sport-touring bikes. The outer HippoSkin shell is waterproof while a layer of HippoFat (hah), a warm, flexible, closed-cell foam, provides the insulation.
- Rogue (see featured image): This is the mid-range product that can also fit most adventure and sport-touring motorcycles as well as scooters. It has the same features as the Alcan, but in a smaller format with a pair of 10.5-inch cuffs.
- Backcountry: These are the smaller cuffs Hippo Hands has to offer and are specifically designed for off-road and enduro applications, though they can also fit cruisers, for instance. The cuffs are 9-inch deep and get the same layers of HippoSkin and HippoFat as the other two products.
The company recently announced that it updated all three products to improve the materials’ performance and durability as well as the fit. Note that Hippo Hands recommends installing the cuffs over handguards for a better, safer fit. Looks like I’m going to have to expedite my purchase of handguards for the CB500X.
Put Them Through Their Paces
Hippo Hands sent me the Alcan cuffs to test. Lucky me, since winter has finally landed in Toronto and the cold has settled in. This is going to be the ideal environment to put Hippo Hands' claims about wind and cold protection to the test.
Because I had heated grips installed on my motorcycle, I’m also curious to test different settings and find out how big of a difference the covers will make with and without having the heat on. How do they protect from the wind on the highway? Considering how quickly my hands get cold when the temperatures dip, it won't take me long to find out how efficient they truly are.
I also want to find out just how waterproof the cuffs really are because not all claims about waterproof gear turn out to be true. Are they more water-resistant than proof? How long do they stay dry on the inside—after prolonged exposure to rain, is water going to start seeping in and how long will it be before that happens?
The bottom line is that I plan to put the cuffs through their paces to give you guys the best account of their performance and help you decide whether they’re worth your money. Feel free to share any questions you might have about the Hippo Hands covers, I’ll do my best to get you the answer!