Date reviewed: December 2019 | Tested by: Steve Rose | Price: £109.99 | www.richa.eu
Not everyone gets on with two-fingered ‘lobster claw’ gloves. And not all two-fingered gloves are as warm as you’d expect. The upside of the design is obvious; half mitten, half traditional bike glove should mean less surface area for heat to get out of and closely-bonded pinkies should stay more pink than blue.
The downside is that most manufacturers seem to prefer fabric construction to leather and close-fitting decent armour seems less of a priority.
Richa’s Nordic GTX gloves are a Gore-Tex lined leather and fabric mixture with a smart ‘two-chamber’ design (used by some other Gore-Tex gloves) for your fingers that allows you to choose extra grip or extra warmth. I’ve done 2000 miles in them so far on bikes ranging from KTM’s Super Duke GT, BMW F750/850GS, Honda X-ADV, Yamaha FJR1300 and my own Yamaha Fazer 1000.
They’ve been absolutely soaked on many occasions and done a few long trips in temperatures around freezing too. I haven’t done a really big ride in sub-zero conditions yet, but so far their performance looks promising.
Fit is comfy, without being too tight
Winter gloves always have a slightly looser fit than summer ones because they have more layers and thicker lining. These are comfy, but still have enough feel on the controls. I haven’t used them in the ‘feel chamber’ yet because I only use them when it’s cold enough to need the ‘warm’ one. There’s no intrusive internal seams that start to annoy 300 miles into a 500-mile day. They’re long enough to keep wrists warm, but fasten tightly enough to fit under the not-too-wide cuffs on my Oxford winter suit.
Don’t be taken in by the marketing claims. Even the best winter gloves get cold after 30 miles in freezing temperatures. The difference between good ones and bad ones is that the good ones never let your hands get to the point where the cold is painful and unbearable. The Richa Nordics are like that. On an unfaired bike without heated grips I’m feeling the chill after 35 miles, but even after 145 miles my hands were still functioning and, once arrived didn’t take too long to warm up without going through that ‘burning’ sensation you get after being really cold.
A mixture of leather and textile construction means crash protection could be better, but this seems to be a common factor in winter gloves where warmth is prioritised over protection. Thin, soft padding on the knuckles feels like a token gesture and the double leather on the palms doesn’t extend around the side of the fingers.
The saving grace is that the cuff and wrist fastenings are secure so the gloves will at least stay put in a crash, but protection is their weakest feature.
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Simple-but-effective fastenings that keep the glove secure
The wrist fastening is secure but comfortable after a long day in the saddle. Cuff fastener has enough adjustment to fit snugly under textiles with a smaller aperture cuff fastening.
They haven’t leaked yet and even when soaking wet can be removed without the Gore-tex liner coming out as well. A single small rubber visor wipe on the left glove index finger is largely ineffective – struggling to clear even half the visor most of the time. This is a major oversight on a winter glove where you need to shift large amounts of salty, muddy gloop on a regular basis. A large suede pad on the thumb or forefinger (or both) would be much more effective.
Soft lining is very comfy, but secured in place in a way that doesn’t ever feel like it will come out when wet. The dual chamber feature would allow these to be a summer glove too although you might want a bit more feel on a sports bike in July than the two-finger design allows.
Superb construction, comfy, warm and waterproof too. Needs a better visor wipe for winter use.
I’ve long been a fan of this two-finger lobster-claw design for winter gloves and these Richa Nordics perform well for comfort, warmth and waterproofing. They appear to be very well made too with some considered design and careful construction.
Crash protection doesn’t seem to be high on the design priorities but it’s on a par with many other winter gloves and I’m confident they’d survive a slide if not a serious impact.
If I were Richa and looking to improve the glove for next year I’d focus on the visor wipe, which is an essential part of any winter glove and disappointing on this version.
List price is £109.99, which might seem expensive for a textile glove with not-quite-enough crash protection and a deficient visor wipe.
The flip side of that is that their cold/wet weather performance, ease of use and comfort make winter riding a lot more enjoyable than many more expensive winter gloves and that being warm and dry offers additional passive safety (you’re less likely to crash in the first place) that offsets the lack of crash protection because you’re much less likely to need it.
I can live with protection issues because the cold-weather performance is so good and, the build quality is such that they’ll last enough winters to pay for themselves many times over.