We expect a lot from a pair of gloves that shows up wearing a $235 price tag. When they're the fifth generation of Kushitani's GPRs, we're expecting perfection. After all, these guys have been saving motorcycle racers' skins with high-end leather since 1968. So if the Hamamatsu-based maker's latest, greatest looks complicated, it's because every part of the glove is there for a reason.
Palms are cut from kangaroo skin for better feel, while the rest of the gloves use more durable cowhide. That's top-grain, uncorrected cowhide, which is more expensive than stuff with a grain pattern pressed into it as used in lesser gloves, but much tougher. Inside there's a full Kevlar knit liner for extra abrasion resistance. Kushitani's proprietary K-Foam adds impact protection where hands are likely to smack down: the knuckles, the edge of the palm, the top of the forearm and elsewhere. Why no hard carbon-fiber armor? K-Foam is more comfortable-especially with the elastic thread used in the GPR5's pleated panels across the back of the hand-and it can't shatter or cut you in a nasty crash.
Strategically placed K-Foam and articulated leather panels add extra protection to the back of the index and middle fingers. The pinkie and ring finger-more likely to hit the ground first in many crash scenarios-get a layer of flexible Zylon armor, originally developed for use in bulletproof vests. Kushitani says it's five times stronger than carbon fiber and seven times tougher than Kevlar.
Despite all their protection, the latest GPR gloves are among the most comfortable we've tried. They fit meatier American hands better than the GPR4, and feel is exemplary. Overlapping leather panels secured by the usual hook-and-loop material keep the gauntlet snug. A stout flap of leather-wrapped K-Foam protects the hook-and-loop-secured wrist strap, so getting in or out can take a few extra seconds. But they're not coming off unless you take them off. Detailing is just what we expect from Kushitani's best: flawless. Ours are holding up fine after two months of solid use. And if they're anything like previous generations of this glove, we won't need a new set until early '08. Expensive? Very. But $235 doesn't go very far in the local emergency room these days. So even if you've never tried typing with asphalt-ravaged paws as some of us have, Kushitani's GPR5 gloves are a bargain.
Kushitani GPR5 Roadracing Gloves
Four-star pavement protection and comfort to match
U.S. Kushitani Inc.
4509 Lincoln Blvd. #E
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292