Gear: Roland Sands Design Diesel gloves

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I’d been hankering after a pair of these since Roland Sands’ new clothing range debuted last October. Drawing design inspiration from performance motorcycle gear, the Diesels (and other pieces in the range) manage an unprecedented trick: making motorcycle function genuinely stylish. Then, when we visited RSD on Tuesday to shoot an upcoming episode of RideApart, I managed to snag a pair. Score.

My favorite thing about these gloves is the way Roland’s been able to draw aesthetically appealing performance features from traditional motorcycle apparel — the accordion stretch panels, perforated leather, padding, reinforced stitching — and use them in completely new ways that manage to both subvert the whole performance motorcycle thing and make the gloves totally striking. Zipping the understated, nearly logo-free gloves open to reveal a bright red perforated panel is just the right kind of flashy.

The problem with the gloves is obviously going to be protection. The flimsy foam in the fingers is there to look good, not reduce the forces of an impact. There’s no knuckle guards. The leather does feel sturdy and is reinforced in critical areas — the heel of the palm and side of hand — but without a solid retention strap around the wrist, stand little chance of staying on your hands in a medium to high speed slide.

I asked Roland about this and he was totally honest. “These aren’t race gloves,” he explained. “I wear them cruise to and from work, not to ride fast in.”

“Did my handlebar go over the cameraman’s head?” Roland doesn’t fuck around.

And while there’s plenty of people out there prepared to compromise a bit of safety in the name of looking good, there’s other gloves out there that fill a similar role with more protection. The Icon Rimfires aren’t quite as stylish, but employ D3O knuckle protectors that give them race-like impact protection in a glove that remains subtly appealing and luxurious. At $90, those Icons are just $9 more than the RSDs. It’s very clear which pair we’d rather crash or punch a wing mirror in.

So what role will the Diesels fill in my arsenal of riding getup? Well, I’m in love with the looks, so I’m occasionally going to sacrifice a bit of safety to wear them. I guess they can be my date gloves, for nights when I leave the back protector at home and ride slowly and carefully around town with a girl on the back. Thin and supple, I’ll probably end up wearing them off the bike too. That’s a major win for Roland, who hopes the range will have crossover appeal to a non-riding audience too.

  • DavidMG

    No back protector? What!? Oh, girl on the back. Got’cha ;-)

    • R__M

      And does “thin and supple” refer to the girl or the gloves?

      • smoke4ndmears

        and what was getting ridden slowly and carefully?

        • Sean Smith

          Obviously the bike. Wes is never slow and careful with the ladies.

          • FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

            Siler swag. Just the right kind of flashy.

  • Jake

    I bought these last winter when I got tired of waiting for the Rimfires to be released. Having since gotten the Rimfires, I rarely use them anymore. The D3O is pretty amazing. You’d never guess the Rimfires had any benefits over the Diesels just by handling them. Reading HFL has guilted me into slowly transitioning from S(ome)TGATT to ATGATT, but the second we get over 100 here in sunny Las Vegas, I backslide.

    • Devin

      I know what you mean about going full ATGATT because of HFL. I hadn’t heard of back protectors before HFL, and the local moto stores didn’t carry any that weren’t for motorcross. They also got me off my but to order some decent crash pants. Mostly by providing inspiration via crashing.

  • WhoDey

    made in china? zomg lol jk bbq

  • Triman023

    I tried to like the Rimfire gloves but the ones I tried on all were a half inch too long for my fingers, also the stiching was sloppy looking. They looked cheaply made. Perhaps a bad batch.

    • Michael

      Agreed. I sent back my Rimfires because the fingers fit poorly, especially the pinky which was at least a half inch too long and just projected at a strange looking angle. I will look at them again in a few months to see if they are improved but in the meantime I’m trying to actually break in my long gloves vs the short ones I’ve been wearing. I would like to try some Held gloves but can’t seem to find anyone that stocks them nearby.

  • paul redican

    I kind of have a two tier system with gear, the stuff I wear if I go touring or know I’m going to be riding hard, leather armored pants leather armored jacket, gauntlet gloves proper boots etc, and then I have the gear I wear which is not as high spec but is still a lot better than wearing nothing like dragon jeans, work boot and shorty gloves etc. This gear is a compromise when I’m say going into town to a movie just to the shops, These gloves fit nicely into that second tier. Sometime you don’t want to look like a spaceman, It’s a calculated risk but compared to the kids on scooters with t-shirts and shorts and flip flops I’m still a lot safer.

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    Roland Sands episode? nice.

  • Tom Fiegener

    Would pick up a pair of Dainese Sickle’s over the Icons. Look better, I think they are slightly more technical, and you won’t see a guy with a mohawk on his helmet wearing your gloves.

  • Coreyvwc

    I REALLY like how these look, but sadly the smallest size available is medium. Not all of us are Merica! sized…

  • Kathy Jo

    Roland Sands is the next Ed Hardy.

    • guest

      Nailed it.

  • mike

    I like my Revit fly gloves, kind of knuckley with the protector but feel safe even though shorty style.

  • oldblue

    ‘The problem with these gloves is obviously going to be protection.’

    Typing gloves, then.

  • adam Hoff

    I was wondering about the part of the article that questions the amount of protection these gloves provide based on the fact that they don’t have the same knuckle protection as the Icon Rimfires. I have crashed a handful of times in my 13+ years riding motorcycles. On the street, race track, off road, on frozen lakes, and in front of my house, and a few times the crashes were pretty nasty. Most times I was wearing gloves, one time I wasn’t (it was in front of my house and I ground the palm of my hand down to almost bone. Embarrassing…and painful) I have to say though, never once did the tops of my knuckles ever suffer any damage. Are there any tests or anyone out there that can attest to knuckle protectors in gloves being actually useful in any way?

    With that said, I do love my new Alpinestar SP-1′s and the protection and feel they have.

    • adam Hoff

      I answered my own question this weekend. My friend lowsided while racing this weekend and his hand was stuck under his handlebars. He ground down the knuckle protector pretty good.
      Glove makers also take note: He also busted the stitching in his ring finger. His finger then popped out and he shaved off the end of his finger.