Consumer editor John sent me these Richa Arctic gloves to review way back in April, but the weather was already warming up and I didn’t feel I could give them a fair review as winter gloves, having not ridden in wintry conditions. The past couple of weeks though have had frosty days that have tested my cold weather gear, and I’ve covered around 1,000 miles in these chilly conditions, plus about another 1,000 in milder, yet wetter weather. A much sterner test of the Richa’s abilities…
I work 50 miles from home and, come rain or shine, commute on my Kawasaki Versys 650 and Zero DSR workhorses; a real mix of rural, fast single carriageway, dual carriageway and urban roads, so a proper test of any kit I’m riding in. I also enjoy pottering along single-track country roads with grass growing down the middle, and some gentle byways.
I’m usually a medium glove size, but at first the Arctics were pretty awkward to get on, to the point I considered changing them for a large.
Especially with sweaty palms (from wearing them while loading the bike) they were tough to get on and off, feeling like I’d pull the lining out if I didn’t pinch the fingers while sliding my hands out. For those of us that have done that, it’s a real pain in the backside getting the liner back in and sat right! However, after a week or so, the gloves had bedded in and were much easier to get on and off; just a case of being a bit snug to start with.
From the outset the Arctics are really comfy with a plush cushioning lining, and unlike most winter gloves that can make toggling switches and feeling controls awkward, they maintain a good level of dexterity. Unusually for winter gloves they also have an induction pad on the forefingers that allows you to use a touchscreen device (or dash in some cases) without taking the gloves off.
In warmer weather – above 12⁰C – the Richa Arctics quickly, and understandably, start to feel stuffy if not on the move. These are certainly designed for use in the depths of winter, not as a three-season glove!
Once riding they feel fine, and although there isn’t a draught or noticeable drop in internal temperature, the Hipora lining allows the moisture to wick away. In cold conditions they really shine; I’ve ridden recently in temperatures as low as 2⁰C and after over an hour of speeds in excess of 50mph (so around -12⁰C with windchill) my fingers were merely cool. Comfortably cool, not cold and certainly never painful or numb.
To compare the Richas with my regular winter gloves – RST Paragons – they are simply superior when the RSTs have the built-in heaters turned off. My hands were getting on for being numb after 45 minutes wearing the RSTs, but with the Richa Arctics I got all the way home without even needing to wiggle my fingers to keep the blood flowing. Of course, the RSTs are designed to have the internal batteries heat them up, but it was a useful comparison for me. Add handguards or bar muffs into the equation and my hands stayed toasty for the whole commute. Full marks for the Richa’s performance in the cold!
The Richa Arctic gloves conform to EN13594:2002, the test standard for protective motorcycle gloves, achieving Level 1 with an added rating for the hard knuckle protectors. They’re constructed of cow and goat leather, with ‘Teramid Superfabric’ on the palms and along the little finger for increased abrasion resistance. I cover the fastenings in the section below, but they keep the gloves snug and secure.
The combination of leather and textile feels reassuringly rugged yet flexible, and after a few thousand miles of use are still in good condition with no frayed stitches or worn panels.
For everything you need to know about the safety labels in your motorcycle kit, click here.
The Richa Arctics have a hook and loop fastening across the back of the wrist, and a broad flap at the cuff. Even fully bedded in I haven’t needed to cinch them down, and at the outer limit of adjustment they’re still snug, comfortable and secure. The cuff is wide enough to fit a jacket sleeve inside it, yet will also strap down enough to fit sleeves over the top. Whichever way you prefer (an argument not for this review) they comfortably allow both.
Many gloves on the market claim many things. The Richa Arctics have an LTZ Aqua waterproof outer shell with a Hipora breathable membrane underneath. In combination the layers work exceptionally well. Richa claim them to be waterproof and they absolutely are.
In the past fortnight I have ridden through some real squalls, proper deluges endured for over an hour and my hands stayed dry. In past experience, my RST Paragon winter gloves (which are much pricier) were soaked within half that time. If you don’t want cold wet hands while riding in winter then these gloves are for you – full marks for wet weather ability. They also have a rubber blade on the left index finger for clearing your visor of rain which works well enough, though I found its location a touch out. This may be because I’m used to having the blade on the thumb though.
Note that these gloves have been replaced with a Gore-Tex version that costs £134.99, but they are still readily available in all sizes.
The Richa Arctic’s lining is lovely. Plush, comfortable and warm. But a touch stuffy when not riding as mentioned above.
After the initial break-in period they already feel like a pair of well-worn slippers. But for my hands. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures pushing the bike out of the garage on a cold dark morning when your hands are already warm and you know they’re going to stay that way.
The Richa Arctics are great gloves, but here are some others you might want to consider…
These are just three of many alternatives – you can find all the gloves we’ve tested here and be sure to regularly check for the discounts available through BikeSocial membership.
Over the years I’ve owned a variety of winter gloves (including the Hein Gericke “lobster claw” ones, if you remember those oddities) and none of them have been particularly effective fending off both cold and wet at the tail end of the year.
I used to say heated grips are a must.
I used to say that if you can face the mockery, bar muffs make life riding in winter more bearable.
I used to think that my RST Paragons were the pinnacle of winter toastyness with their battery-powered heated lining.
But now, as the days get increasingly shorter and the commute steadily colder, I find it’s the Richa Arctics I’m slipping on after doing up my helmet. Simply put, they are fantastic winter gloves and I think set the benchmark for anyone who rides at this time of year.
Comfy, warm, waterproof and with a good level of feel they sit firmly at the top of my recommended list for anyone in the market for a new pair of mitts.
Do you have a pair of these gloves? Email us at email@example.com to tell everyone what you think of them…