Glove’s for your Cafe Racer: Ranchers and Ropers.

While the existence of Mapel motorcycle jeans may go some way towards tackling the difficulty of finding quality gear that looks as good off the bike as it does on, while still offering decent protection, it’s sadly it’s not just a problem in the trouser department.

There is a huge range of motorcycle gloves on the market offering varying degrees of protection. The trouble is most of them make you look like a power ranger, which seems somewhat out of place on a vintage bike or classically styled cafe racer but thankfully there are one or two alternative options. A favorite for cafe and classic riders alike over the yeas have been rancher or roper style gloves. With their simple and utilitarian design they are arguably the glove equivalent of the cafe racer jacket and also evoke the idea of the rugged working man. As they are generally unlined they’r more of a summer glove, but since summer’s on its way here’s a of a few options for your perusal:

1: The Aerostich Elkskin Roper

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Aerostiche’s Roper glove is probably the most popular option here, they certainly have a big following among riders of all ilks and its not hard to see why.

The Aerostich Roper’s have a reputation for being hard wearing long lasting and very very comfortable, once they’ve been worn in. They are constructed of  heavy elkskin which is favoured for gloves by many riders because of it’s unique qualities. It’s thick and stronger than cowhide while still remaining relatively soft and supple.

The Roper’s are based on a traditional ‘roper’ or ranch style gloves, as such they are a no nonsense, heavily constructed, unlined and work glove. That said they have a few added features such as a wipe on the left thumb for removing rain or mist from your visor or goggles. The pair pictured above also have metal fibers sew into the fingertips to allow you to use your smart phone without removing you gloves (should you ever have a need to?). There is a gauntlet version available to.

They come in standard glove sizes (just measure around the thickest part of your hand) and are designed to be close fitting. Aerostitch will happily advise you on sizing and have an excellent track record when it comes to customer service. There is a draw back for us based in the U.K: they’r not available over here. This means ordering them from America which can get pricey in terms of shipping and customs costs.

2: The Grier 448

 photo elk-448_zps0d4f7766.jpg

As mentioned earlier, The Aerostich Roper is based on a traditional work glove,  specifically the Grier 448, Grier actually initially produced the Ropers for Aerostitch. Grier is an old American company who’ve been making gloves in the U.S.A. since 1927.

The 448 is very similar in design to the Aerostich roper: Both are made of heavy elkskin, both have the same build quality and share a similar fit and profile. However there are a few differences; The 448s lack the thumb wipe and smart phone finger of the Aerostitch’s (though you can get separate wipes so not a big deal really). The main difference is that the 448s have exterior seems on the fingers while on the Aerostiches they are turned in. While this might look a little less neat, what it means for an unlined glove is that the 448s have a smoother more comfortable interior, with no thick seam to rub against your hands. They are also slightly cheaper than the ropers.

Like the Ropers the 448s are not readily available in the U.K. but can easily be shipped form the U.S.A.

3: The Grier 445

 photo grier445_zps17b06c72.jpg

The 445 is made of a slightly lighter weight elk hide than it’s sister the 448. It’s also closer indesign to the Aerostich Roper having internal finger seems.

4: The Revco Black Stallion 17A.

Another thick elkskin work style glove, this time more closely based on driving gloves. They are made of premium elkskin and have a nice looking cinch strap across the back, useful when ridding to ensure your gloves don’t fly of  in the event of hitting the tarmac. They also feature a keystone style thumb, which offers greater ease of movement.

 photo rev_zps8c25ef02.jpg

These are sold as a welding glove, and produced by Revco who are an U.S based company. I have to be honest here, I haven’t been able to find a single review of this product and I haven’t handled them so while on paper they tick all the boxes I cannot vouch for the thickness of the hide, their quality or their fit.

Again, only available from the U.S.A.

5: Corazzo’s Cordero Glove.

 photo CorderoGloves_zpsed6f71f2.jpg

These are simple leather riding gloves with leather pull cords that tighten around the wrist. They’r great looking little gloves and another plus is that they are available in the UK. However, they look to be much thinner an lighter weight than the options above. They’r designed for the job and may be more comfortable from new than the others, no not a bad option but not as much protection.

There are of course many more options than those listed above, in everything from deerskin to horsehide, and a few versions with subtle armour.

This entry was posted in Cafe Racer, Clothing, gloves, Heritage, Leather, Makers, Motorcycles. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Glove’s for your Cafe Racer: Ranchers and Ropers.

  1. Alec H. says:

    Took a chance and picked up the Revco gloves on ebay. I also couldn’t find any online reviews, so I wanted to give you a shout as you’re the closest I could find to anyone discussing them online. My expectations were pretty low as I only spent $25 on them. They just arrived and I’m pretty impressed thus far. They seem quality and the fit is pretty good. I purchased a large and they are a little short in the fingers, but spot on otherwise. i expect this will change as the gloves mold to my hands over time. I have a pair of the aerostich elkskin gauntlets at home and my first impression is that these seem of comparable thickness and quality. My plan is to use the Revco’s for San Francisco around-town riding and the gauntlets for higher speeds and longer trips. Note that the color in the pic above isn’t accurate. They’re the exact same yellow elkskin color as teh aerostich or Grier elkskin gloves. I’m happy to share additional info/pics if there is interest. The Grier and Stich gloves go for twice the price, and I really doubt you receive anywhere near twice the benefit.

    • Tony N says:

      Hey Alec,

      I’m thinking of picking up a pair of revco’s on ebay as well. I too need another pair of riding gloves for SF. How did they end up breaking in and how have they held up since you’ve picked them up?

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