Thursday, October 6, 2011


IN THE BACK OF MY MIND, I knew it was bound to happen. Every day brings one closer to a day of reckoning. And mine was upon me. I could tell because things had started to deteriorate – you know – get fuzzy; and that speed of deterioration was accelerating. Plus, there was that unlaundered gym sock smell.

The ads in both Rider Magazine and MOA Owner’s News say: “The Best Gloves. Period.” And I knew neither of these august publications would ever promote something false. I mean it’s not like anyone’s running for Congress here. So if the ad said it, it must be true. Besides, the day of reckoning was nigh.

It happened just outside of Oakdale - near Modesto, CA - toward the end of the first charity poker run I’d ever attended. I should have known something was up because all day long, the inside of my Shoei smelled a bit too much like the boys locker room at Chico High circa 1968. You see, I stash my riding gloves inside my helmet between rides and I guess, under certain circumstances – warm air, moist and somehow trapped – anything can ferment.

Fermentation is that odorous process by which something that was once a living organism begins to decompose or rot. It seems my beloved Tour Master gloves, after many years and tens of thousands of miles of sweat, wind, heat and dedicated service, did exactly this – rot.

I knew because I felt more breeze than normal whipping the flesh on my throttle hand, looked down and discovered a long black wisp of whatever that indestructible nylon stuff is had, well, destructed. A sixteen-inch thread was gracefully sailing beside me as I rode the six-lane and the outer-most portion of my right palm was naked against a seventy mile per hour gale. The left one would follow shortly.

“Forty bucks for four or five years service,” I thought, “not bad.” But I’d convinced myself that in have a stable including a Beemer and a Goose, I should ready myself for something more sophisticated, like: The Best Glove. Period.

EACH OF US UNDERSTANDS that the day of reckoning will not be avoided. That’s why we act nice even when others might not be looking, say an occasional prayer and write wills. That’s why we plan ahead. I’d planned ahead regarding the best gloves by using the dealer locator on the Held USA site. To my surprise, the closest retailer was in Modesto some fifty or sixty miles south-southwest of my home. I diverted to said dealer before blasting north.

Cycle Specialties of Modesto floors a nice supply of BMWs, Triumphs and Piaggio products. They also stock higher end clothing and gear. I wandered in and out of the bikes and circled past the end caps where a collection of gloves hung. The selection of Helds was limited enough that I finally had to acquiesce to the nice gentleman at the counter who offered assistance.

“These are dead,” I said, holding my tattered Tour Masters a distance from my nose. “I’m looking for some Helds, if you’ve got ‘em.”

Turns out, mixed in with a good selection of other gloves, samples of the German manufacturer’s product hung from four or five pins. “Best glove in the world?” I asked.

“So they say.”

Initially the “Air Stream” model looked like something a troglodyte might wear in one of those contemporary movies about the world being destroyed. I was particularly put off by the hard plastic vents atop the knuckles. I like something more traditional in style. (Long time readers will note the “traditional style” of the GSA oft pictured in the sidebar.)

I did, however, appreciate the Kevlar enhanced gel-type padding at the heel of the hand – and in other places – and the precise stitching that blended fabric and leather. Quality.

“Try ‘em. You’ll love ‘em.”

I slipped the right one on. It felt you-must-acquit tight. The next size up was perfect. Soon both hands cried out to me: “Don’t stop…”

“Walk around in ‘em.”


The young man motioned me around the show room. In moments, I became aware of two things: a) the very smooth Coolmax lining inside the sweet smelling kangaroo hide that caressed my hands, and b) the lovely Aussie pop-star-of-my-youth, Olivia Newton-John was somehow in the background singing I Honestly Love You from her Have You Ever Been Mellow album of 1975. I wiggled my fingers, sat on a Vespa and wrapped my hand around a throttle. Boy these felt good.

After telling the young man I didn’t care for the plastic knuckles and being told, “Oh, you will,” I was back on 99 heading north in – coincidentally – ninety-nine degree summer heat. As I acclimated myself to this purchase, I became aware of tiny jets of air passing atop my hands. Cooling them. Keeping them dry. I flexed my fingers enjoying the fresh softness of two familiar things – that pliant Coolmax lining and Olivia again singing. This time: All I need is the Air that I Breathe… from the aforementioned album.

Gob-smacked by this coincidence, I knew I’d made the right purchase.

SEVERAL WEEKS and several thousand miles on, the Held Air Streams have proven to maintain their cool. Their medium length gauntlet accommodates sleeves on my Tour Master leather jacket, my BMW three-season and my Vanson summer mesh. They are comfy enough to wear for days on end from coastal fog to high desert heat. I know, because I’ve done it. Pricy at $130.00, I believe the value is there, the quality is there and a good argument could be made that Held is fully justified in their advertising.


Held USA may be accessed at: Their website provides a fascinating look into company history and the construction of their product.

Modesto’s very nice BMW shop may be accessed at:

© 2011
Church of the Open Road Press

1 comment:

  1. I bought the same this summer in Germany, and paid only ( converted ) $ 89 :) And I love them, especially the mesh between the fingers. In the cool morning, it's just a regular glove, in the heat of the day, just spread your fingers a bit and you feel the cool air flowing thru. Brilliant !

    Ralph aka PongoUSA