I recently retired my trusty Olympia summer riding gloves. To Olympia’s credit, it had nothing to do with the gloves themselves, simply that I wanted to upgrade to a set of touch screen summer gloves. I’ve mentioned in the past that I tend to lean toward ATGATT, but admittedly my gear has been diligently collected over time. After purchasing a reliable armored riding jacket, the Olympia 734 Digital Protector Gloves were my next purchase.
For summer riding I tend to lean toward short cuff gloves; always (nearly) fitted with riding jacket and pants, at some point there is a trade-off regarding heat that has to be made, so short gloves become the go-to for me as a daily commuter. The back face of the 734 is Nylon, with rubberized vents/armor mid-digit on the finders. A love-hate feature on these gloves is the “carbon” knuckle protection (reviews say carbon, I have a feeling it’s plastic; but it’s still added protection); considering I ride a cruiser, I imagine other casual city riders probably won’t be a fan of the “carbon fiber” aggressive styling of the knuckle protection, but in my case I like it. The palm face of the glove is full leather, which is a must for protection in my opinion. When I first started riding I often wore Mechanix gloves in the summer, which I assume would last about as long as standard denim in a crash, especially if the rider reaches down to brace the fall. At any rate, I like the double stitched reinforced palm, including the gel pads, which was a real surprise. I have another set of “budget” gauntlet gloves I wear in the early spring and fall which also have gel inserts in the contact surfaces of the palm; I personally feel like they dull my ability to feel the grips, but that may be a personal preference. That being said, the Olympia gel inserts are completely benign. The wrist closure is a single Velcro connection, which is the only part showing wear after two years; this flaw is not Olympia’s fault, I used to fold over the wrist band when I first started riding, which wore out the elastic band and Velcro, normal intended use will not cause this problem.
One of the things I like most about these gloves is that you actually have some limited touch screen capability. I don’t put my phone up on my RAM X-grip bar mount a lot, but when I do it’s convenient to check the phone at stops without taking my gloves off. The Olympia 734’s are not touch screen gloves be design, but on warm days and with a little finesse they’ll work in a jam. The reflective piping on the back of the hand is another plus from my perspective; I use hand signals in conjunction with turn signals, knowing that cars probably don’t see my stock turn signals very well. Having the reflective piping is a plus when night riding, hoping that other drivers will see my hand more clearly when I’m motioning that I’m coming over.
The only thing I can really fault these gloves with is reduced protection. The nylon backing is undoubtedly better than many other summer weight gloves, however I wanted to raise the bar a little but with full leather construction on the new set of gloves (Icon Pursuit – touch screen). Overall the gloves vent really well on hot days, so I never felt like my hands were stuck in a sauna at stop lights. The dexterity and “feel” of the controls through the glove is excellent.
At the time of my purchase, I was looking for a lightweight summer glove, but a set that was full fingered and still provided sufficient protection in the event of an “off”. My local Triumph Dealer recommended the Olympia 734, and I bought them on the spot. $50, and after two years and 32,000 miles, I would recommend these gloves to anyone.