Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves Review

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Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves

Of all the products in the Aerostich catalog, its the traditional “Roper” style gloves at which I was the most skeptical. So, offered the chance to review them, I jumped at the chance. Can these classics work in the modern world? Find out in this Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper review.

The Gear
The Roper’s are an OG “cowboy” work glove that’s “tough enough for barbed wire fencing, yet sensitive enough to accurately handle a lariat.” Yeehaw!

Aerostich’s Andy Goldfine found a pair in a roadside store while out riding one day and decided they were the perfect riding gloves. He contacted the manufacturer, made a few modifications to make them work better for bikers — most notably the squeegee on the outside of the left thumb — and they’ve been a staple of the Aerostich catalog ever since.

Elkskin is thicker and stronger than cow or deerskin and is extremely supple. You’ll see the “buttery” adjective applied to high quality leather, but I’ve never come across a material more fitting that description. While wearing them, your body heat will form the gloves to your individual shape, a process aided by the soft, unfinished interiors soaking up your sweat. Putting these gloves on becomes like going home for your hands.

Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves
Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves

To the basic Roper formula, this Competition Touchscreen adds Velcro wrist retention straps, a strip of TF3 viscoelastic foam across the knuckles and conductive thread sewn into the thumb, index and ring fingers. The first two features aid safety, holding the gloves on in a crash and providing impact protection, while the latter enables you to use touchscreen devices without removing the gloves.

Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves
Andy Goldfine’s own Aerostich Roper Gloves.

The Good
The patina they develop when worn is unique to you and well, this nerd thinks its the coolest looking thing ever.

American-made quality is unrivaled. They’ll make your $300 Italian race gauntlets feel cheap.

A treat for your hands, there’s probably not anything more comfortable (at reasonable temperatures) out there.

Like other Aerostich products, the clever design features are extremely well executed. The conductive threads on the fingers are offset, a position Aerostich found to be optimal for pinching and swiping an iPhone after, you know, actually testing such things. The squeegee is positioned so it doesn’t interfere with your grip on the bars, while still providing good contact with your visor.

And that squeegee works, too! It’s great wiping free the droplets of moisture that accumulate on a visor during a fine mist or while riding in fog. Why don’t all motorcycle gloves have one?

You’re never going to be able to type out a legible text message, but you can pinch and swipe to see a map on your phone from a different perspective or hit large buttons to progress step-by-step directions and use other basic navigation controls. That’s handier than it sounds, enabling you to quickly confirm directions during a momentary stop rather than go through the time and effort of removing and stowing gloves just because you forgot a street name.

The elkskin is reassuringly thick and strong; it should provide excellent abrasion protection.

Sizing is by half glove size — 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5 etc — rather than the usual Small, Medium, Large you see in most motorcycle gloves, giving you an even more accurate fit.

The Bad
While the unvented gloves work surprisingly well on hot days, they’re not ultimately going to be as cool as special purpose hot weather riding gloves when temperatures climb north of 100 degrees.

And then there’s the biggest sticking point: safety. Modern motorcycle gloves are covered in carbon and plastic armor for a reason. While that little strip of TF3 is going to provide some knuckle protection, there’s no hard armor on the palm, no sliders to prevent the heel of your palm from catching the pavement or any of the other add-on protection parts we’ve grown accustomed to. As such, these gloves are going be mostly applicable for touring and cruiser riders.

Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves
The Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves can look a little out of place on modern bikes like this Honda Grom.

The Verdict
The Ropers provide a welcome counterpoint to the modern motorcycle glove, bringing a level of comfort and quality that’s absent from most contemporary products. With the Competition Touchscreen Ropers, you gain the ability to operate a smartphone or GPS navigator and safety is somewhat increased. Unfortunately, while they do provide excellent abrasion protection, the Ropers do not provide the same level of impact protection as most rivals.

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    Looks like gardening gloves with conductive thread sewn into them. You can buy conductive thread and stitch them to your gloves, but if your hands are warm you usually don’t need it, and by stitching in thread you’re effectively perforating your gloves, making your fingers colder.

    • sdyank

      Gardening gloves? Leather gardening gloves? Elkskin leather gardening gloves? Elkskin leather gardening gloves sold by a small company with a huge pedigree for selling quality, long (if not life) lasting products designed specifically for the motorcycle community with great customer service?

      • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

        Sorry, I’m not a brand whore.

        • Piglet2010

          I have bought plenty of deerskin gloves at the hardware store, and they are no way comparable to the Aerostich product – but hey, why not trash a product you have no experience with?

          • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

            Funny, considering all I said was they look like gardening gloves. My point was about the conductive thread they used. You’re an idiot if you don’t think so. You’re also an idiot if you think short gloves are for anything but looks, and in this case, the looks are of gardening gloves.

            I’ve got nothing bad to say about aerostitch. The brand-whores on the other hand…

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              Guys, you’re both valuable contributors to the RideApart community, so I don’t want to ban either one of you, but if you keep getting in petty squabbles, I’ll have to do so. Shape up.

        • sdyank

          Nice edit.

          • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

            Originally i corrected you, stating that gardening gloves are also made of deerskin and elkskin. And that the difference you were pointing to between these and gardening gloves, was that one had an aerostitch label.

            Do you have a point?

            • sdyank

              My point was that you edited your comment quite nicely. Have an awesome day!!

              • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

                Usually when people say “nice edit” it’s because they wanted to respond to what the person wrote before they edited it. So i did you the favor of rewriting my original post, thinking you were going to contribute something.

                • Justin McClintock

                  If it makes you feel any better, I completely agree about the gardening gloves look. They might be put together better gardening gloves (although they might not if you spend as much on a pair of gardening gloves as these cost), but they still look like them. I’ll personally stick with something with a little armor in them.

                • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

                  Thanks bud. And i think they’re a nice looking glove too. But I just see these gloves as a solution looking for a problem. Kangaroo isnt all that hard to clean. And it’s thinner, so it doesnt have quite the same conductivity problems as thicker deer and elk hides have. Plus it offers better abrasion resistance.

                • Piglet2010

                  While initially stronger than elk or deer leather, kangaroo leather gets brittle after a few years. Fine if your sponsor pays for your gear or if you have money to burn, otherwise not so good.

                • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

                  if you let any leather dry out and lose its oils it gets brittle.

                • Piglet2010

                  I never claimed it was a problem specific to kangaroo leather, just that it happens much sooner.

                  But hey, if you like knocking over straw-men…

                • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

                  Again false. Like I said this is not a special attribute of kangaroo. Kangaroo does not require special treatment.

                • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

                  Also, knocking down straw men would be like every response you’ve ever had to a comment of mine. “Recumbents are smarter than bicycles” “the quality of aero stitch is better than gardening gloves”

                • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

                  I’d also like to point out how a comment I made about them looking like gardening gloves (which you don’t disagree with), and about other ways you can make any pair of gloves conductive, (which you have nothing to say about) is now you ranting about how your elk aerostitch gloves are the best things on the market.

                  This is very similar to another comment I made about how road bicycles and mountain bikes are good for motorcycling, and how you turned that into a HUGE diatribe about how “Recumbents are in no way good for motorcycle skills, but they’re smarter than bicycles”

                  This is the internet equivalent of talking over people, and not listening to others. So in the future, because there’s no ignore button, how about you just not post to any of my comments because It’s guaranteed to miss the point and turn into something i have no desire to talk about.

                • Piglet2010

                  You can tell me how to post here when you join the RideApart staff as a moderator.

                • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

                  You must be a popular guy.

      • Jonathan Berndt
  • tobykeller

    I had a pair of these briefly, but I prefer deerskin gloves. Still plenty strong, but more supple than elk and require no break–in. The wiper is killer though…

    I have a pair of Helds with a kangaroo palm, and I can operate my iPhone with no special stitching or perforations… it’s just thin enough, I guess.

    • Aaron Kirkland

      Same with my Helds (Sambia).

      I did not have a good experience with my Touch-screen Ropers. Didn’t like ‘em, and the electronic stitching started coming out of several of the finger tips…

  • Piglet2010

    I prefer the Aerostich Gauntlets – similar from the wrist forward, but longer with two closures. And the Merino wool lining in the insulated version is very comfy and quite warm.

    http://www.aerostich.com/aerostich-elkskin-gauntlet-gloves-24.html

    • ontarioroader

      Me too. I got a pair of the gauntlets earlier this year and love them. They broke in really nicely after about 3-4 months of daily commuting and a few rain storms. I’m almost pissed at myself for not getting a pair sooner because they’re better than any glove I’ve used in the 25+ years I’ve been riding.

  • Justin McClintock

    Am I the only one who thinks using the term “competition” in the name of these seems a little ridiculous? Or are they actually trying to sell them to farm hands instead of motorcyclists? And somebody needs to let Andy Goldfine know that these would only qualify as the ultimate motorcycling glove if you never play on wrecking…in which case, why bother?!

  • Brammofan

    “and conductive thread sewn into the thumb, index and ring fingers.” Unless you wear your ring on your middle finger, it appears to me that the conductive thread is actually sewn into the thumb, index, and middle finger. (I could probably find a picture of you showing off your middle finger, by the way.)

  • Mike Fassio

    I have a pair of the touch-screen ropers and while they are far and away the most comfortable pair of gloves I’ve owned, I keep thinking about what would happen if I had a big off one day. The abrasion resistance offered by the elk skin would surely help, but the lack of impact protection and the single snap closure around the wrist really don’t inspire a lot of confidence that they won’t immediately leave my hands yard sale style upon succumbing to that cruel mistress of gravity.

  • Speedo007

    Good idea but they look like gardening gloves to me (they sure look better once they are old and dirty). And I prefer having a bit of armor on my gloves.

  • Brian

    so I guess we know what product is being given away next Monday…

  • Scott

    Thanks for the review! How do you think they would stack up against the Lee Parks?

  • KeithB

    Yawn…
    Conductive thread is readily available and cheap so you can make any glove “touch screen ready” :-)

  • appliance5000

    “You’ll see the “buttery” adjective applied to high quality leather, but I’ve never come across a material more fitting that description. While wearing them, your body heat will form the gloves to your individual shape, a process aided by the soft, unfinished interiors soaking up your sweat”

    i dated a girl like this – now I miss her even more.

  • CB

    I used to have a pair of Watson gloves that I bought for riding before I actually owned a motorcycle. They were very old school, beautifully worn from using them for actual work and the leather was thick and tough as nails. I lost them out of my back pocket the week before I bought my first motorcycle.

    Anyone who has worked in ropers is going to be as excited as I was to see these, I only wish they had armour.