Review: New Alpinestars GP Plus performance riding/racing glove
Alpinestars GP Plus in black - Give 'em a hand!
When we received the latest incarnation of the GP Plus glove from Alpinestars in the mail, we figured we knew what we were getting. To a large extent, we were correct. The GP Plus is one of the most popular performance riding and racing gloves on the market. The reputation of Alpinestars, relationships to MotoGP and World Superbike riders and a proven track record also have a lot to do with that; as do years of development work and refinement. Truth be told, our experience with this line of glove from Alpinestars is not entirely new. We have a well-worn pair floating around the office that has had its share of abuse, sans the scrapes and scuffs of a two wheel adventure gone awry. In fact, our older pair of GP Plus gloves is a favorite around here, which added to our enthusiasm to test out this newest breed.
Visually, the glove is very similar to our older version. It still incorporates the tough looking and “race proven” carbon knuckle system. The gauntlet style and generous use of carbon inserts really inspires confidence and also gives you that “don’t mess with me” look. In fact, one comment likened the glove to something Darth Vader would wear; if that’s not cool what is? Our all black glove is now all black. Our older pair used a lighter color stitching throughout, and that is now gone replaced by black stitching. The shape of the some of the wrist padding has changed, the kangaroo palm is larger and the graphics are new as well. Another item that was quickly noticed was the use of perforated leather on the gauntlet. Considering the gauntlet typically covers the sleeve of your jacket, we’re assuming it provides more sex appeal than real life function. The ring and pinkie fingers are still sewn together (a safety feature) and the placement of the carbon abrasion pads on the fingers has now shifted from the middle, ring and pinkie finger (on our older pair) to only the index and middle finger on the new design; more on that later.
Comfort and fit
One of the first things we noticed about the new GP Plus was our inability to discern the feel and comfort from the old glove. That is, the new GP Plus was just as comfortable out of the package as our pair that has seen years of spirited riding. There appears to be no break in period required with these gloves, they fit… well, like a glove. The kangaroo leather palm, and the rest of the leather, is high quality and affords adequate flexibility. The stitching and supplemental padding throughout the glove is ergonomically redesigned to allow more movement than before and it accomplishes this task with flying colors.
The dual wrist closure on our new GP Plus gloves was virtually identical to our old pair. In each case a Velcro strap tightens just under the palm and is then covered by a padded leather flap to avoid the strap interfering or anything interfering with the strap. In the event the large Velcro gauntlet closure becomes detached, the wrist strap should keep these gloves on your hand. The gauntlet closure is also largely unchanged, fold the slack away from the Velcro and tighten it down.
The fingers feature external seams on the inside (palm side). This is a nice comfort feature because you don’t have a lumpy mass of leather sewn under the glove liner. Alpinsetars has also reevaluated the positioning of the carbon pieces on the fingers. According to Alpinestars, in order to afford more flexibility, “The carbon pieces on the pinky and ring finger were removed to reduce the discomfort and stiffness created by the carbon pieces positioned in a small area.”
On the old glove, the middle, ring and pinkie fingers used the carbon pieces taking up valuable real estate creating some stiffness in comparison to the new design. There is a difference in the flexibility and we could tell right away wearing one of each on either hand.
All of the stitching that relates to the structural integrity of the glove is double reinforced, providing more insurance that the GP Plus will not come apart at the seams during duress. In addition, the rest of the palm is ergonomically curved to the form of your hand while riding. The kangaroo leather “suede” sewn to the palm has been enlarged for more grip potential as well.
The new GP Plus also feature a non restrictive open back knuckle construction designed for maximum flexibility, a new feature. Our contact at Alpinestars stated, “The opening was added for better comfort and to reduce the stress caused at the top of the glove when gripping the controls.”
With the old glove, you may have felt pressure inside the glove on your knuckles while handling the grip. The new open design prevents this situation and also serves to provide some, albeit small, bit of ventilation. Our older pair of gloves used three parallel stitches of leather strips sewn closely together to provide flexibility in an accordion style.
A word of caution for you cold weather riders: Like most riding gloves not designed for cold weather, these gloves will not protect you from the cold! In the summer you’ll sweat in them, but we’ve never had a great discomfort issue with heat and our older pair of GL Plus gloves. Also, sizing on the GP Plus seemed to run a little on the small side. Ideally you should try a pair on, but if you’re ordering online we recommend you biggie-size your order by purchasing the next size up.
Long Term Durability
How long these gloves last is directly attributable to the amount of abuse to which they’re subjected. The design changes were not terribly dramatic, therefore we have no reason to believe the longevity of our new GP Plus gloves will not meet or exceed that of our old test gloves. With either glove, thus far we have not experienced any leather fading, nor the ever attractive leather dye transfer when some gloves become wet. Unless you went swimming with the GP Plus gloves, there is no exposed leather on the inside, thereby making the possibility of turning your hands anything other than their natural hue a rare possibility.
Under normal use, and even intense use, neither pair indicated any signs of self destruction. There were no frayed or loose threads and we have yet to wear a hole through them. We’re well aware of reports that some GP Plus gloves experienced both maladies, but that has not been our experience. That said, any material with enough abuse will eventually wear to the point of failure. If you do a lot of track riding, you ought to consider GP Pro and GP Tech line from Alpinestars. Our gloves have not failed after considerable street and light track use. Unlike helmets, there is no generally accepted shelf life for a pair of gloves. You should carefully inspect your gloves periodically and replace them when the wear becomes apparent.
While we believe there is no need for a break-in period with the GP Plus gloves, you may find them stretch with extended wear. Constant flexing and use is sure to do this with most materials, but our gloves remained within our desired specifications.
Let’s get down to what these gloves are all about: safety. How will the GP Plus protect you in a crash?
Perhaps one of the most identifying characteristics about the GP Plus is the generous use of molded carbon fiber. The knuckles display the most generous use of carbon fiber and the index and middle fingers include sewn-in carbon pieces. Generally speaking, carbon fiber is stronger, stiffer, less dense and less prone to thermal expansion when compared to fiberglass, aluminum and even steel. These characteristics earn carbon fiber a spot in the GP Plus gloves. In addition to superior impact protection, carbon fiber also offers exceptional abrasion resistance. And aside from that, it just looks cool! In addition to the carbon fiber, there is plenty of protection not visible from the outside.
The GP Plus strategically integrates Schoeller Keprotec® fabric inside the glove. That’s great, but what is Schoeller Keprotec® fabric you ask? We’re glad you did. A Swiss company, Schoeller manufactures Keprotec®, a synthetic material, that integrates Kevlar, an aramide fiber five times stronger than steel. [For a more detailed look at Kevlar, check out our Icon Anthem review]
The Keprotec® fabric works in concert with the outside leather and carbon knuckle system as a safety feature. By providing high levels of tear resistance, rub-proofing and heat-friction resistance they create a very durable glove.
Alpinestars patented ring and pinkie are sewn together, a “finger-bridge”, which protects against finger roll and separation during impacts. Finger roll occurs when a finger is bent to the point of breaking. The pinkie finger is particularly vulnerable if your hand is caught while tumbling from your bike. The finger bridge is also supposed to prevent seam bursting on impact.
On the palm is sewn a double stitched patch of kangaroo leather. Kangaroo leather is 40-50% lighter and, purportedly, provides greater strength and increased abrasion resistance due to its density, as compared to cowhide. There is also extra padding sewn into the impact areas. And, inside the palm and wrist flap is more Schoeller Keprotec®.
The Alpinestars GP Plus glove retails between $149 -$169. This puts it in the mid to the upper price range for a riding glove, but we still consider it a good value. The glove is available in Black, Gray, Red and Blue.
The GP Plus is labeled by Alpinestars as a performance riding/racing glove. Use them on the track, use them on the street… the glove is versatile enough for most applications which has made it a favorite for us. The GP Plus gloves are comfortable out of the package, attractive, include many safety features and have a proven reliability and track record. Alpinestars makes other gloves for the racers at heart (GP Pro and GP Tech), but if you’re an occasional track rider or strictly a street rider, we believe you can cover most bases with the GP Plus.
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