If you ride in all weathers, you’ll be familiar with the motorcycle glove conundrum. Race gloves provide huge levels of protection and intuitive feel, but your hands will get frostbite if the ambient temp drops below 60. Winter gloves are occasionally capable of keeping your hands a tiny bit warmer, but they tend to lack impact protection and bulky insulation removes all feel. Is there a third way? That’s what these Alpinestars 365 GoreTex gloves set out to achieve, employing new laminated membrane technology and ditching the insulation to enhance feel, while adopting the knuckle protectors off the flagship Astars GP-Pros.
May might seem like an odd time to be reviewing a set of winter gloves. I’m doing it now because I’ve been using these all winter. The 365s, as the name suggest, aim for versatility beyond winter too. That’s because they don’t have any insulation. Instead, a GoreTex membrane is laminated to the gloves’ shell. They call that “X-Trafit” technology and it’s supposed to reduce bulk, enhance feel and keep water outside the whole glove, not just trapped between the shell and the membrane.
There’s no ventilation on the 365s but, sans insulation, they’re comfortable up to temperatures in the 70s. The neat thing is, I’ve comfortably ridden in them for hours at a time, at highway speeds, in the low 40s. That lack of insulation also makes them an ideal pairing for heated grips, which are free to transmit their heat to your hands without having to pass it through bundles of polyester or whatever cost-cut, ineffective material they stick in winter gloves. Riding up to Laguna Seca in early January, temps dropped to the mid-30s, but the Triumph Tiger 800 XC’s heated grips and these 365s were enough to keep my hands warm. I’ve used them in torrential downpours too, my hands were kept completely dry.
When I’ve needed a little more warmth, a cheap pair of silk glove liners has proved a great addition, adding appreciable insulation without bulk. The two together are now my preferred solution for cold-weather riding, giving me equal warmth to dedicated winter gloves with much more feel.
Pull the gloves on and they are stiffer and thicker than race gloves. Instead of a single layer of leather, goatskin or kangaroo, your hands meet a soft cloth liner inside sturdy leather with that Gore-Tex membrane laminated to it. Feel is nowhere near as good as a set of race gloves, but nowhere near as bad as most winter gloves either. Once broken in, it’s a happy medium that still allows you to achieve fine control for things like trail braking or delicate throttle inputs.
Very long gauntlets, the 365s also do a great job of sealing out the elements. A two-part wrist closure and the relative lack of bulk mean you can easily cinch the gloves inside a jacket, or loosen them up and wear them outside. That two-part flap is actually an awesomely versatile solution we expect to see trickle down to more gloves in the Astars range. It works extremely well without adding awkwardness, time or volume.
Quality too is up there. Alpinestars now has something of a segregated product range — extremely high quality, technically innovative products on one side, cheaply made, but overpriced on the other — with no real way to tell on which side a product falls unless you can get your hands on it. These gloves definitely fall into the high quality, technically innovative category, still looking and functioning as brand new after a full winter’s riding. Looking at the materials and construction, we expect them to last a long, long time, easily justifying the lofty $230 price tag.
So decent feel plus functionality across a broad range of real-world riding conditions. Winners right? There’s one area where we feel the gloves are a let down: protection. Those knuckle protectors are great, but are the only real weapon against impact on the whole glove, fingers, palm, scaphoid and, most importantly, wrists are left to fend for themselves with the occasional smattering of foam in place of the plastic sliders and armor on a proper set of race gauntlets. As a truly versatile, practical piece of riding gear, we’d like to benefit from real impact protection while riding in dicey conditions. At least protection for the vulnerable scaphoid and wrists. Taking a look at the entire range of waterproof Alpinestars gloves, there’s nothing there that truly brings GP-Pro-level protection to a glove you can wear while it’s raining. Until there is, we’re left choosing between comfort or outright safety. That’s a shame, because these 365s come very close to perfection.