It’s almost summer again, and that means it’s time to start riding. Or, in the case of some of our more fortunate fair-weather friends, time to switch gear to continue riding. If you’re like us, your closet is overflowing with gear, some of which you use… and some of which winds up as a chew toy for the dog.
We, recently, had the opportunity to test out a pair of gloves from Icon, the Tarmac V2.0. This second generation Tarmac glove is designed with a motocross influence, but for the street rider. Specifically, the warm weather street rider! In fact a lot of warm weather riders actually ride with motocross gloves because of their comfort. If you’ve ever worn leather gloves in summer, you know it’s not the most comfortable way to enjoy your two-wheel machine. Almost all riders are looking to increase their comfort level, without sacrificing the safety a leather glove can provide. It’s this niche the Tarmac V2.0 targets. The short-cuff design and “streetfighter” styling won’t unnecessarily cover anything that doesn’t need to be covered; read: it’s cooler.
First Impressions Are Everything
Our first impression of the Tarmac hanging on the included clip/chain was that it resembled the post-mortem effects on a spider after a hit of insect spray. The fingers curl toward the palm creating this buggy appearance. Beware arachnophobics! Rest assured this is by design.
The idea behind the precurvature of the Tarmac V2.0 is to alleviate some of the fatigue often felt by riders as they “fight” with their gloves while riding. Think about it. When riding, you’re gripping the handlebars; shouldn’t this be the inherent shape of the glove? In fact, if you try to straighten your hand out while wearing the 2.0, it’s actually then when you are working against the glove. Since riders spend 90% of the time with their hands on the grips (or should, anyway), this makes sense.
We found material construction to be excellent, no stitching issues or wayward threads. The palm is made from genuine goatskin to aid in abrasion resistance, and also includes a bit of foam for cushioning. There are the obligatory knuckle pads, constructed of polyurethane and spell out “ICON”. The finger knuckles are made of an accordion or ribbed design, which makes articulation of the fingers easy. The non-black portion of the gloves is a breathable mesh, which Icon calls “T-Span”. The cuff is a neoprene design covering perforated foam, a nice feature for a part of the glove likely to rub your wrist constantly since this isn’t a gauntlet style glove. Between the fingers is a thick micro-net material. If you stretch it out, you can actually see through the holes in the “net”.
Icon added “tackified” fingertips to the Tarmac V.20 for a little extra grip while opening your windscreen or reaching for that gas card. The backside of the glove has vents, holes, at the knuckle. They’re not exposed, but are covered by the somewhat odd looking pull tab. The rubber pull tab aids in getting the gloves on quickly and tightly, and they succeed in their purpose despite their somewhat peculiar appearance. On the flip side of the glove is a palm pull-tab which folds over the Velcro strap and snaps into place. The Velcro is the variety that will not catch on everything in your closet, it’s a more rigid type, a nice plus. The snaps can be used to attach the two gloves together. No more searching for the missing glove!
The underside has snaps to keep the gloves attached to one another for storage.
So, how did our test pair of Tarmac V2.0 gloves fare in real life? First off, we should mention we did not perform a real-life crash test; for some reason we couldn’t find a staffer interested in laying down their ride or sacrificing an appendage. We know our readers will understand the absence of this performance test. We did, however use the Tarmac V2.0 gloves in all sorts of riding extremes.
One sure way to test how well the airflow is on any of your gear is to ride it on the cool weather. That’s right. Leather isn’t made to breathe, unless it’s perforated, which is why most riders choose it in cold weather. It’s the safest in regard to abrasion resistance and it’s just plain warm. That said, testing textile gear in cool weather will really show you what parts get cold and what parts get really cold. What vents work, and what vents don’t etc.
Our cold testing of the Tarmac V2.0 confirmed, these gloves breathe! One of our testers noted, particularly, that the airflow between the fingers was exceptional. After a short ride in 40 degree weather, it was confirmed: ventilation is what these gloves are all about. We were certain an extended cold weather test would result in a loss of a digit or two due to frostbite, so we went easy on the cold testing.
Our warm weather test concluded with the same results. After starting to sweat sitting a red light on a warm and sunny day, the airflow through the Tarmac V2.0 gloves was very apparent. It should be noted that back of hand tends to get a little warmer that the rest of the hand. We assume this is due to the polyurethane knuckle guard and the pull-tab. Also, we weren’t able to scientifically verify the claims of lower fatigue as a result of the pre-curvature of the glove, but we can say that it makes the riding experience more comfortable overall. If it’s this comfort (or discomfort) that leads to fatigue, then we can’t walk away saying the claims are unfounded.
The overall fit of the glove was good. One of our testers felt the thumb was a bit short, but when it was not noticeable when riding, only when flexing the hand. This is probably due to the pre-curvature of the glove. Unless you intend to wear these gloves off your bike, this probably doesn’t matter to most riders.
And We Conclude...
There are a myriad of options available in the warm weather street glove category, and many will do the job. Our Tarmac V2.0 gloves performed admirably and will most certainly enter our summer gear rotation schedule. They're small, lightweight and engineered with rider ergonomics in mind. The Icon Tarmac V.20 glove retails at a reasonable $35, and we were able to locate it on the internet for less. Riders do not buy a $35 warm weather street glove expecting the protection of an expensive leather track glove. Riders do, however, buy warm weather gear expecting protection, ventilation and affordability. The Tarmac V.20 fulfilled all of our expectations, and at a price point even we can afford!