Gear Up: Aerostich Elkskin Gloves Are A Great Fit

Illustration for article titled Gear Up: Aerostich Elkskin Gloves Are A Great Fit
Photo: Aerostich

One great aspect of motorcycle riding we don’t often hear about is the never-ending search for gear. I’ve sampled a lot of gear to find my perfect setup for a given ride or commute, and I want to share brief overviews in this ongoing series.

I’ll focus on gloves here because they’re a vital piece of any rider’s arsenal, yet I’ve met a few riders who don’t give them much thought. Some ride in mechanic’s gloves or cold-weather gloves from department stores. I’ve seen riders refrain from using gloves altogether. One pair that’s earned a permanent place in my kit comes from Aerostich. The company is famous for its riding suit, the Roadcrafter, but Aerostich makes a good elkskin glove, too.

These are not the gloves.
These are not the gloves.
Screenshot: Aerostich

I’m referring to the Competition Elkskin Ropers (starting at $70). The company sells a range of gloves but they all seem to be riffs on the classic roper. That may sound like a criticism; it’s not. The roper has a long history as a work glove due to its durability and feel, and Aerostich broadened the ropers’ usability with versions for different riding conditions. The Competition Ropers are my all-around glove but they would not be great in cold-weather riding.

Tactility is important in the cockpit of a bike because riders rely on muscle memory to adjust controls whose location is communicated through feel. A pair of ill-fitting gloves hampers that, and I find that a shoddy, loose pair can make the cockpit seem vague.

Unlike a lot of other companies, Aerostich sizes their gloves like shoes rather than t-shirts. You get a wider numeric range than the usual small, medium or large. The elkskin has a little give, too. You can mold it to your hands or let it happen in the course of ownership.

The Competition Roper has an adjustable strap that tightens the glove just above the wrist. I preferred its strap to the snap on the classic roper. And the Competition Roper has padding on the knuckle to provide a little more protection than that of the classic glove. All Aerostich ropers have a thumb squeegee, which is meant to wipe rain off your helmet visor but I never had the pleasure of using it.


These are not the most technical or high-tech gloves, but the material is buttery smooth and durable. It provides great abrasion resistance without sacrificing feel, and the ropers’ knuckle padding provides some impact resistance. They’re also reasonably priced.

It’s fine that not everyone wants a full-length racing gauntlet. Maybe an expensive glove is not something you consider necessary. But whatever the case, please, for the love of riding, protect your hands.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. Periodista automotriz, Naturally Aspirated Stan.

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Half-track El Camino

Keeping your hands and feet warm is like 90% of being comfortable in the winter. The other 10% is your nose and ears. Other than that, you can pretty much be naked and it won’t matter.

If you do things outside in the winter, good gear will pay for itself ten times over. With gloves there’s always a tradeoff between warmth and dexterity, though. Are there any plug-in heated motorcycle gloves out there? I know there are heated grips, but I’m talking about a glove that is fairly thin, with a wind-and-waterproof shell, a small amount of comfy insulation, and then heating elements that wrap all around your fingers. I know there are battery-powered gloves that are supposed to do this, but I hear they all suck. Plug-in seems like it should work though.

Shit, some manufacturer should do a grip that pairs with a glove and provides inductive heating! You could have a very thin glove that would instantly become all-over toasty as soon as you grabbed the handlebars. No wires, no plugs, just warmth. Honda, give me a call.

Anyway, some advice from someone who doesn’t ride but does work up on roofs all winter:

  • Buy a boot dryer. Never put your feet into boots that aren’t dry and toasty ever again.
  • Buy hand warmers by the case. Wear them every day.
  • Buy toe warmers by the case. Wear them every day.
  • Invest in several sets of long underwear, top and bottom. L.L. Bean has some good ones. Wear them every day.
  • Invest in many pairs of the heaviest over-the-calf socks Darn Tough sells. Yes, over-the-calf. Darn Tough: accept no substitutes.
  • Change your socks every day around lunchtime, or whenever they get clammy. Dry socks will do your feet a world of good. It’s not weird to go through three pairs a day in the winter, it’s just good sense.
  • Smartwool’s glove liners are excellent. Wear them inside your gloves or mittens for extra warmth, and for a bit of protection when you need to take your mittens off to do something delicate. Expect to replace them every year.