Review and pictures by Johan Hjord
Gloves have been part of the offering from Royal Racing for many years, and for 2013, the range is wider than ever. There’s a glove for every condition and every personal preference. The Signature Glove has been around since 2011 - it's Royal’s go-to glove for riders who prefer a very thin and lightweight glove. We laid our hands on (and put them in!) the 2013 edition to see how it would hold up to a couple of months’ worth of abuse.
For 2013, Royal has taken a step back towards somewhat calmer styling on many of their clothing items, which carried over to the Signature Glove design, too. They come in either white or black, with inverted highlights respectively. They look simple, but there are quite a few well thought-out features that complement the clean design:
Royal Racing Signature Glove Highlights
- Ultra-thin and light 2.2 polyester mesh back of hand
- Weightless sublimated graphic
- Low profile slip on Neoprene cuff with expander v-panel
- Micro direct inject logo
- 0.5mm digital Clarino palm
- Micro fiber thumb wipe
- 2/2 mesh fourchettes
- Sticky silicon print finger tips
- MSRP $34.95
On The Trail
The most important aspects of any glove to consider are fit, function, protection, and durability. In terms of the first two, these gloves are very comfortable and certainly have that “second skin” feel to them. They are preformed, which means they are curved towards the shape of the handlebar when you grip it – there is no excess material in the palm area that could bulk up and become bothersome. Because the palm material is very thin, the glove offers excellent feedback through the hands, and the grip is also very good – even when soaking wet.
The snot/sweat wipe areas on both gloves (on the thumb area) is a welcome feature, often overlooked on many gloves – it only becomes obvious how useful this feature is when you end up riding a glove that DOESN’T have one. In keeping with the overall lightweight design of this glove, this feature is also made as thin as possible – but it still works as intended.
In terms of protection, the glove offers adequate protection against the grips rubbing and causing sore hands, it feels comfortable even on all day rides. It will also protect your palms if you use your hands as landing gear a little too often. In fact, the palm area is a lot stronger than you’d think just from looking at it – it may be very thin, but this is high quality material and after two months of riding (at least three rides per week), and some impromptu trail work now and again, there is still plenty of life left in our gloves.
As for the back of the hand, there is little to no protection. The material used is thin and breathable, which translates to not a lot standing between you and that pesky tree branch. We did our best (worst) to test this particular aspect, and yes, if you ram your hands straight into a big old branch, the fabric will rip. The good news is that the hole has not gotten any bigger with time, so the glove remains perfectly usable (the thread will not run, probably because of the weave used).
In terms of longevity, after two months of intensive testing, we’d say these are about on par with many other gloves. We have not had any problems with the seams, and apart from a little bit of overall stretching in the materials, the gloves still feel like they did when we got them. Wash them in lukewarm water, let them hang to dry, and they're good to go again. The graphics are a pleasant surprise – contrary to most Royal gloves we have ridden previously, the graphics on the Signature Glove seem to not want to fall off at all.
Things That Could Be Improved
The graphics may not come off, but the same cannot be said for the silicon gripper prints on the index and middle fingers – they start to come off after the first couple of rides, and they are completely gone not long after. Luckily, this doesn’t really affect performance, as there is enough grip left in the basic material to still offer good performance on the brake levers.
It also feels like the fit is just a slight bit looser on these compared to other gloves in the lineup. It’s not half a size, but if you’re usually between sizes, you might want to go for the smaller one (if you like a tight fitting glove).
What’s The Bottom Line?
Royal gloves have been steadily improving over the years, and the 2013 Signature Glove is a well-rounded offering. If you like a glove that lets you really feel the handlebar, but will last longer than a few rides, then the Signature Glove should definitely be on your short list. If your regular ride involves bushwhacking with your knuckles, these won’t be up to the task, but for anything else, you’re good to go. The Royal Signature Glove feels good, looks good, and is tougher than you think.
More information at www.royalracing.com.