I'm not sure I can remember the last time I discovered a revolutionary product in motorcycle gloves. I mean, the first time I saw some with metal on the knuckles, I thought that was cool. Then there was the first time I got myself a winter glove that had a visor wiper on it, that was pretty natty. But all in all, a glove is a glove, right? Wrong. Some gloves can be two damn gloves, and the Air n Dry from German company Held is here to prove it.
The idea is simple enough: picture each glove as a three layered sandwich. The bottom layer is beautiful, thin, perforated kangaroo leather, and the middle and top layers are waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex.
On a dry day, you want the best possible feel through to your levers, so you stick your hand in the lower chamber. There's nothing but leather between you and the bike, and there's plenty of airflow to keep you cool and stop your hands from perspiring.
If the weather turns wet – and lord knows, that's possible at a moment's notice where I ride – you whack your hands in the top chamber, and it's waterproof Gore-Tex all round.
It's just about one glove to rule them all. A touring, commuting and sport riding glove that leaves you ready for anything if the weather changes, and I think it's a brilliant idea.
It's well executed, too, for the most part. With my hands in the "breezy" lower chamber, I'm barely aware that there are two layers of Gore-Tex on the back of my hand. Fit, feel and comfort are great, and the airflow is so effective that I'm genuinely surprised how bone-dry my hands are when I get where I'm going. Normally there's at least a slight film of sweat on them, but not in these things.
Airflow is limited on the back of your hand, but take it off the bar and "grab" a bit of the breeze and it circulates well. I'll still be reaching for my Racer Mickey gloves on hot days though.
In the waterproof chamber, you do sacrifice some feel, and the Gore-Tex liner is a bit lumpy and noticeable. But certainly no worse than other Gore-Tex gloves I've used. I've had them in a couple of downpours and stayed completely dry, inside and out, thanks to that famous Gore-Tex breathability.
Don't expect them to be super warm in the winter though, when it was cold and wet I did find my fingers getting chilly. They'd freeze on a long, cold ride. A result of the breathability and air flow, I suppose. The leather palm can take a while to dry out when it gets wet, too.
And the "clear vision" visor wiper on the left index finger didn't work very well for me. It's flexible and curved, and seemed to take two or three wipes to do what my old AlpineStars and RST winter gloves managed to do in one.
But the overall build quality is superb. Held gear comes across as obsessively engineered, using bits of Cordura, stretch panels, foam shock absorbers, meaty plastic knuckle guards and chunks of SuperFabric on the slide points of the palm and outer fingers.
They're longish gauntlets, happy on the inside or outside of the jackets I've tried them with, and the Velcro fasteners on the wrist and cuff are beaut. I don't know who exactly it is that would use those dangly fasteners that hang out of these things to clip the gloves together, they just annoy me.
At AU$265 in Australia, or around US$220 in the United States (wait, really? No Australia tax? Outstanding!), these are an expensive set of gloves. Not a great deal more than any other decent set of Gore-Tex mitts, though, and within their temperature limits, they're just a wonderful thing to have.
BMW riders can pay a little extra to get them re-branded with the Motorrad logo, but they're still made by Held, and that's what counts.