Operating electronic devices while operating a moving vehicle has never been easy. Mobile devices rank at the top when it comes to this: having to press a button or tab on a Bluetooth headphone to activate a function on a smartphone means moving a hand that should best be left where it is. This applies even more so when operating a two wheeled vehicle, such as a motorcycle or bicycle. That’s where Beartek’s moto Gloves come in: they’re not just wearable but operational aware of your device and are designed for use with biking.
The physical construction is topnotch: the cowhide is a bit stiff but giving, which is exactly what’s needed for maintaing a good grip. The glove extends past the wrist and binds around it with a velcro strap so you can make it as tight/or not as desired. The inside is cushioned but the real cushioning comes from the exterior construction that’s free of visible stitching. The back has points of impact; an oval fitting across the area where the knuckles are and a smaller one where each of the finger joints are locate — these are made of Carbon Fiber material. The thumb gets two hard rubber protection knobs that straddle on each side of the joint, with the one farthest away actually being a touch-sensitive power switch. Turning the glove over to the palm’s side finds a mesh like protective skin over the glove’s material, along with another binding strap using velcro. Because the fingers have been pre-curled and the material is accordion-style premium leather, you might want to call these gloves “gauntlets” for the way they encase the hands. There’s also zippered compartments on each glove: the one on the right is empty but can hold a small, included USB cable. The one on the left glove is the worker: a small, removable Bluetooth module that charges up through USB.
There’s also silver banding on the thumb and side of the index and middle fingers of the left glove). These bands are actually touch sensitive points, with the top side of the index finger answering calls and playing/pausing music; the middle fingers top one for skipping music tracks forwards with the pad beneath it for backwards. Holding down these pads works a rewind or fast forward respectively. Safety precautions are also built-in: if 10 seconds of inactivity occur after the glove is activated, the functionality turns off. Should this happen, a quick tap of the power button “wakes” it. Holding down the power button for 5 seconds or more turns the module off (a quick unzip shows there not being any LED lights lit up on it).
I charged the module (it took about 2 hours the first time and then wasn’t needed too often, since the battery could last up to 80 hours). I held the power button down for about 3 seconds or so and looked for the red/blue flashing LED on the module indicating a sync could be done. I then synced it with my iPhone in the normal Bluetooth fashion and zipped the compartment closed. I then called my friend Jerry who has a motorcycle to come over and try it out. It took me about 10 minutes to get him up to speed on using it, and he roared off, having first paired his phone to the glove and then started up a playlist. About 10 minutes later I tried calling him and he answered the phone, said the gloves were working OK and hung up. He returned the gloves the next day and told me that it worked flawlessly; the hardest thing to do, in his estimation, was getting used to the way the gloves felt, not how they performed. He said he could see the convenience of using them while motoring, especially since he wears a BT earpiece while on his bike and this would avoid his having to reach up to activate hit. I asked whether he could activate the functions of the glove without removing his hand from the handlebar and he said he could — but added that you needed some practice to get the right rhythm for doing it.
I decided to try it out on my own bike (bicycle, that is) and since I had synced to it earlier, my iPhone was ready to go and slipped in my pocket with some music playing. Using the fingers of my left hand to control playback did feel a bit weird at first, but I got used to if and after a while it didn’t take any special effort to make it work. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to remove my hand entirely from the handlebars, and that I was able to access an incoming call — and then hang up — simply using finger touches, having first pressed the power button followed by the command each time to ensure that the glove obeyed my command.
Bottom line: Beartek’s moto Gloves may be priced higher than their other versions (retail/$145), but the high-quality of workmanship deserves praise. Add to this the simplicity and consistency of the Bluetooth technology being used, and even the included soft pouch and you can see it really makes biking safer as well as more fun.
Conductive thumb pad, Module for use with GOPRO cameras, Premium accordion leather construction
BT module connection doesn't have licking tab
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.