This review first appeared on Return of the Cafe Racers in June 2017.
I’m not sure about you, but I seem to have collected an assortment of gloves in my twenty years of riding. I’ve bought cheap ones, expensive ones, brand-names, and no-names. Despite this, for some reason I’m never satisfied with the gloves I’ve bought for one reason or another.
So when Revzilla offered to supply us with a set of Roland Sands Barfly gloves to review, I jumped at the chance.
I checked out the sizing chart, measured up my hand and selected the extra large gloves. In black, of course. The “Sand” color looks rather white in the product photos, and when I first saw them I thought “golfer’s glove”. I’m not a brown gear sort-of-guy so I gave “Tobacco” a miss.When the Barfly gloves arrived, I was immediately taken by the soft feel of the leather. According to the RSD website, this is top grain cowhide. I couldn’t wait to get them on.
Before I tore them off the packaging, I took a closer look. Peeling back the velcro wrist enclosures revealed a red trim beneath. There’s also some red felt inside the glove that ends up covering my wrist watch. Is this to prevent scuffing, scratching or tearing the leather inside the glove on my metal watch? I don’t know. But it’s a nice touch. And I love red almost as much as I love black. The Barfly gloves are beautiful.
On the palm, there is a layer of extra leather along the outside edge, running the length of the pinkie finger. If you are going down and put your hands out, this is where you’ll touch down first. Don’t ask me how I know this. In addition to this there is another additional leather panel sewn into the palm that runs across the base of the first three fingers.
RSD have incorporated an ergonomic curve into the fingers of the Barfly glove, which helps to reduce muscle fatigue. On the tops of the fingers, they have punched in some ventilation holes. The red felt you can see in the glove opening runs up inside the top of the gloves and fingers and it’s visible through the ventilation holes. Nice touch. The inner palm is covered with a more subtle black felt lining. To be clear, the lining is 50% polyester while the outer is 100% leather and the polyester probably provides some of the insulating properties that I discovered later. There are a bunch more ventilation holes punched into the top of each glove behind the fingers, along with some padded ribs. I’m not sure the protective value of the ribs in this location; perhaps it’s more of a styling detail.
On very close inspection over all the seams and leather patches, I couldn’t find anything that looked like a manufacturing defect, such as crooked stitching or any marks on the leather. When I turned one glove inside out to inspect the inner, there were a few loose black threads inside, but I gathered they were remnants of the sewing process. No big problems there. +1 for Barfly manufacturing quality.
Okay, enough looking, more riding. Stuffing my hands in, I could definitely feel that soft (polyester) felt lining. These gloves feel great when you are wearing them. The sizing chart uses your hand circumference to determine the sizing, and it worked well in my case – the fit seemed just right.
Based on their construction, and the short cut of the Barfly’s, I wasn’t sure how they would hold up in our winter. I wheeled the bike out late on a Saturday afternoon. It was around 11 degrees celsius, which is roughly 50 degrees fahrenheit. Not freezing, but you need to rug up a little to be comfortable. I tucked the gloves into my jacket cuffs and took off, hitting some suburban streets and then onto the highway.
After 40 minutes on the bike I was pleasantly surprised. Comfortable and definitely not frostbitten.. Granted, I didn’t spend six hours on a frozen cross country jaunt, or wear them for hours in pouring rain. But the RSD Barfly gloves had performed better than my AlpineStar winter gloves that were double the price, and they were far more comfortable too. Unsurprisingly, I also didn’t deliberately crash my bike to test the Barfly’s EN13594:2015 certification, so I’ll have trust the RSD guys that I have some measure of protection if things go random.
I was really looking for something to knock about these gloves, but I’m at a loss. They feel beautiful to wear, the leather is supple, the details seem well thought out, and the construction looks sound. Also, in black they don’t draw any attention, and that’s fine with me.
I’ll happily recommend these gloves. For the price, I think you get a beautiful, well-made pair of gloves. But you wouldn’t expect anything less from Roland Sands Designs, would you?
- Not sure about the colours other than black
- The leather, styling, fit and finish is great
- Construction seems sound
- Comfortable lining makes wearing these gloves a pleasure