My wife refers to me as a packrat; I almost never throw anything out. To prove her claim, she often points to my several cabinets of old motorcycle gear including at least half a dozen pairs of old motorcycling gloves, some with holes worn in the fingers or palms. I keep these gloves because I figure I could always revert to using them when my current pair wears out yeah, right. What I really need is gloves that are repairable, durable, and so comfortable that Ill never go back to the others. I may have just found what I really need.
Lee Parks, former editor of Motorcycle Consumer News, has fired up his own company to design motorcycle related products. Appropriately named Lee Parks Design, the company markets its own line of deerskin motorcycle gloves. These arent the floppy gardening or driving gloves found in hardware stores or truck stops. Patterned after traditional motorcycling designs, the gauntlet models are named DeerSports; those sans gauntlets are called DeerTours. Theyre available in black, tan, or a combination with tan palms and black backs.
The palms are made of 2.75 ounce deerskin with a reinforcing palm patch, while the backs are made of four-ounce elk skin (for greater abrasion resistance) with a protective patch sewn over the knuckles. When new, a properly fitted pair of Lee Parks gloves will be quite tight; they stretch and break in, eventually fitting like a second skin. Theres no annoying bunching of material in the palms. The inner seams are trimmed and ironed to eliminate the finger discomfort often found in other brands, while the dual-duty thread used is claimed to not cut through the leather like kevlar threads can.
Parks claims that his deerskin gloves are usable over a wider range of temperatures than cowhide gloves, and that appears to be true. On a nippy morning recently, I rode to work thinking I needed my heated grips turned on high. But after several miles, I realized that I could barely feel the grips heat. The good news was that I also couldnt feel the cold. Certainly, in freezing weather, one would opt for heavier gloves. But riding in 45-degree temperatures, I felt perfectly comfortable. The soft material conforming perfectly to my palms made it feel almost as if I wasnt even wearing gloves. Ive only been wearing DeerSports for a few weeks, but editor Nick Hoppner has had his DeerTours for a year. Here are his comments:
One year-old DeerTours
For over a year now, I've been using a pair of Lee Parks Design DeerTours deerskin gloves ($79.95). Mine are now a somewhat soiled tan (black are also available). I've found these US-made gloves to be extremely durable, while also soft and comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. Usually, a pair of my leather motorcycle gloves gives up the ghost after a single riding season due to perspiration, intense sunshine and wear and tear. Not these. After a full year, they show very slight wear from clutch and brake lever friction; otherwise the gloves are like new. These gloves are everything Lee promised and more. I expect them to give me many more years of comfortable protection.
While Nick Hoppner chose the DeerTours, I opted for the full-gauntlet DeerSports because I dont like wind or water rushing up my sleeves. Did I say water? You bet! Deerskin doesnt shrink, shrivel, or harden like cowhide does after being soaked. Nor is the dye as likely to bleed through when wet, causing ones hands to become a discolored mess requiring bathroom cleanser to clean up. Been there, done that.
Look these light colored gloves are going to become dirty after a while, arent they? No problem, theyre fully washable. Just put them on, and wash your hands with warm water and Woolite. What if Im unfortunate enough to fall and scuff the gloves
or worse? Again, no problem. Because Lee Parks Design manufactures these gloves in the USA, Lee has the ability to repair them, and he claims he does so for a very small fee.
DeerTours retail for $79.95 while the full-gauntlet DeerSports are priced at 109.95. Expensive, you say? Maybe not so expensive when you consider they should outlast several pairs of ordinary gloves while feeling and fitting much better. For more details, visit the Lee Parks Design website at leeparksdesign.com or call (800) 943-5638.
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