Date reviewed: March 2020| Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £134.99 | bikerheadz.co.uk
Racer is a relative-unknown French glove brand within the UK motorcycle market, but those who’ve tried the French-brand gloves often speak highly of them – the Racer High Speeds are some of the best summer gloves I’ve worn, and after two years continue to be my favourites.
I’ve been using the Pilot Gore-Tex Eska gloves on the Kawasaki Versys 1000 for touring and commuting to find out if they’re the best option for all-weather riding in the UK…
I typically take a large (9) glove, yet while my Racer High Speeds are large, I needed XL (10) for these Eskas. But once I’d upsized, like the Racers, the finger and thumb length is perfect for me, giving a superb fit over the entire hand.
While these are winter gloves, they’re far less bulky than many others, which means they’re easy to wear and there’s very little compromise in feel at the bars.
Despite the relative thin build of these Racer Eska gloves, they’re surprisingly warm; the Versys 1000 I’m riding has hand-guards to keep the wind at bay, but no heated grips – over a two hour ride at a maximum of 8°C they were fine. Shorter commutes at 2-3°C are also not a problem – thanks to the water-resistant synthetic Primaloft insulation your hands stay surprisingly snug; Racer’s struck a good balance here between feel and warmth.
Obviously as we get into hotter weather these gloves will start to get a bit too warm, but they should be fine over a good two to three seasons in the UK before getting too uncomfortable for a good number of riders.
The knuckles have a thermoplastic protector, and there are reinforced sections on the outside edge of the hand and the palm. As you should expect, the Racer Eskas are CE-certified as PPE.
From April 21 2018, all new motorcycle clothing is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. For more information on the new laws, click here
A wrist strap keeps the gloves very securely on the hand, though while its reasonably long, it can occasionally flick out of the buckle, which is annoying when it happens with both gloves on – it’s a shame there’s not a flared end or a raised piece of rubber to keep it in place.
The cuff has a water-resistant zip to draw it tighter but I’ve never needed to use it – the gloves fit over my jacket sleeves easily with it already shut.
It’s the cuff that lets these gloves down. While the Gore-Tex membrane is extremely effective at keeping water out, the fact that there’s no fastener at the back of the cuff – to draw it tight – means it’s really awkward to tuck the gloves under your jacket sleeve (which is the best way to keep dry). If your jacket’s sleeves open up wide, you should be okay, but for a lot of kit these sadly just don’t work very well.
It’s a failing of many jackets that the sleeves can’t be opened up properly, but being able to pull the cuffs of these gloves tight around your wrist would have made them absolutely brilliant.
Wearing these gloves outside most jackets leaves space that can’t be closed up, into which water can easily pour, soaking quickly into that soft lining.
Where these gloves really score is with the visor wipe – three blades on the thumb mean that whichever direction you wipe, there are always two blades sweeping across your view. And the wiper is properly integrated into the thumb, rather than stitched into the forefinger seam like an afterthought that creases up to readily; this really is an exceptionally good wiper.
While it’s dry, the lining is luxurious on the Eska gloves; never slick or sticky, but always comfortable. If your hands are damp – or water has got in – like all gloves you’ll struggle to get them on, but these really are a comfortable place to put your paws.
As with most other gloves, the lining is held at the tips of the fingers and thumbs, so always grip these areas when taking them off.
The zip on the Racer Eska gloves seems pretty irrelevant, but if there had been a Velcro patch to tighten the cuff they’d have been among the best waterproof gloves I’ve used.
As it is, if you have a jacket with a sleeve that opens up to easily tuck gloves under, then these are a good buy thanks to great feel and surprisingly good warmth; just make sure your jacket’s compatible…