The first pair of riding gloves I ever bought were a pair of old Alpinestars SP-Ss. I thought they were pretty cool and the price was right. After crashing in them (and getting lucky), I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something inherently un-safe about short gloves. What’s unsafe about short gloves? The simple fact that they almost always leave the pointy part of the Ulna exposed. If that part gets ground away or crushed, riding motorcycles would be just about impossible. Enter the Dainese 4-stroke. Dainese understands that people need this bone to ride, so they designed a plastic slider and padding to cover it. Awesome.
There’s more to the 4-Stroke than just wrist protection. From the wrist forward, the four-stroke is basically the same Full Metal Pros that Rossi wears. The hard parts protecting the knuckles and back of the hand are stainless instead of carbon and titanium, but they had to do something to get the price down to $169. Black leather ovals on the fingers have large pieces of hard armor with padding underneath. It never limits your range of motion, but if you like to use two fingers on the clutch lever, the the one on your left ring finger will probably get pretty beat up.
The micro-elastic panels are more than just another cheesy logo and because of them, one ride is all that’s needed for break-in. In a size large, the tips of my finger just barely come into contact with the end of the glove. Again, the stretch panels have just enough give for a perfect fit. In addition to stainless knuckles and a plate on the back of your hand, there’s a hard plastic slider that wraps around the outside of the palm. It’s not a CE-certified Knox scaphoid protector, but its position, shape and size give you the feeling it can take a pretty big hit.
But wait, there’s more! Hard armor that lives underneath the silver print and black suede on the pinky and a plastic slider form what Dainese calls distortion control. While its ability to control hyperflexion is questionable, more hard plastic between you and the ground is always a good thing, especially in such a commonly injured area (Jorge Lorenzo, Roger Hyden and many other racers end up with torn-off or ground-down pinky fingers).
It’s scary to imagine riding with hands protected by anything less than a fortress of leather and hard armor, but short gloves go on and off quickly and that makes everyday riding just a little bit more convenient. I’m glad someone finally made a pair of gloves that lets me have my cake and eat it too.