Leatt: Vitalmx.com tested the Leatt 4.5 Lite Gloves:
Everyone in motocross knows Leatt as a neck brace company, though in recent years they've evolved their brand to become a full-on protection brand. This has included chest protectors, knee pads, knee braces, and other common forms of protection equipment. With each piece, they've tried to add a unique twist or bit of technology to make it their own. The latest product to receive such a treatment are oddly enough, gloves. With the recent trend of lighter-and-lighter gloves, it's rare to see any with worthwhile protection. So how has Leatt mixed protection and lightweight? Read below to find out.
Leatt 4.5 Lite Glove Features:
Gloves are one of the things I'm the pickiest about in my setup. Why? Because, I have fairly small hands and fingers (typically wearing a small or extra-small glove), which makes having just the right glove a big deal. A thick glove or one with poorly placed stitching can really affect my overall grip on the bike, which is fairly limited.
When first sliding on a glove, I often have an instant yes or no answer regarding whether I'll even try to ride with them. To start things off with Leatt's new 4.5 glove, we made it past this point! The 4.5 has a snug but flexible fit, with quite a few stretch panels along the fingers and along the top of the hand. Under further inspection, the Leatt gloves actually have quite a few stitched sections, including an area along the palm. Normally I would label this as a negative, but Leatt has done an excellent job with the stitching, as it's barely noticeable. Compared to most of the recent minimalistic-style gloves, the 4.5 has a bit more stitching and panels throughout the glove, but overall, this is quite deceiving as the gloves feel very basic and light once on your hands.
Probably the most noticeable thing about these gloves is the Armourgel pads along the knuckles and fingers. This material is amazing at soaking up energy, enough so that I've personally placed a thin slab of this material over my hand at a Leatt event, then smashed it quite hard with a metal hammer! The Armourgel soaked up all the hits I could muster and left my hand quite safe.
The 4.5 uses a slightly large, but flexible, closure system with a strong batch of velcro to hold the glove on tight. After the influx of closure-less cuffs on most newer high-end gloves, it was refreshing to have a nice strap which makes putting the gloves on and taking them off a breeze.
On the Track
Once I had the gloves on and I was out on the track, I forgot about them. Seriously, I forgot I was testing new gloves, which is one of the best compliments I could give. Usually when I'm trying new gloves, I'm complaining about how tight and stiff they feel the first few laps, some stich I can feel rubbing against the side of my finger, why the palm doesn't feel right against my skin, blah, blah, blah... The Leatt 4.5 fits like (wait for it) a glove!
The texture on the palm offered great traction on the grips, but not so much that it felt sticky or that the glove was going to pull off. The closure system and cuff is a bit bigger and covers more area than other gloves I've used recently, but all this material followed my wrist motion quite well whether it was my clutch hand or my throttle hand.
So how about the rubber-looking protection pieces along the knuckles and fingers? Yeah, they look a bit funny, but as I mentioned above, the Armourgel is quite impressive for its energy dispersion capabilities. These sections along the fingers may not look like much, but they're quite effective at what they do. The Armourgel does a great job of taking the brunt of rocks, roost, and branches that go after your fingers unexpectedly, as I tested quite a few times. The biggest test came from a fairly ridiculous but painful crash I had earlier this year. After riding one of my favorite trails without checking it first (yup, I learned my lesson), I caught the top of a newly built jump face as I crested a blind rise at speed. The resulting impact threw me over the bars, but not before smashing my hands and fingers into the levers. My hands took some damage, but I was impressed that my fingers stayed intact (one broke at the base near the palm). The reason why I call this technology a success, is the fact that my knuckles and other fingers were intact, even though the Armourgel was compressed from the impact. Considering how swollen and bruised my hands were, I was certain I had broken every finger. I give these gloves a lot of credit for lessening the damage I received.
After a few months of use, I was impressed by the condition of the gloves. The stitching is well tucked in on each section, which means I didn't catch or pull any of them during their time on my palms. The velcro is still extremely strong on the closure system, and all the material around the cuffs are in great shape even after the countless times I've pulled the 4.5s on and off. I have no complaints in any way in regards to the durability of the gloves.
Overall, I was quite impressed with what Leatt brought to their line of gloves. I wouldn't place my finger on one specific thing for this; my impression is based on the overall quality, fit, and small features found on the 4.5. For the price (about double the cost of average gloves on the market), I do expect this type of quality. The extremely flexible and light build, coupled with the quality and the extra protection from the Armourgel, makes for a great combination. Yes, the higher price is a negative, and the designs and color options aren't as much of a standout as the other "glove-specific" brands out there. But, that is personal opinion more than anything. All in all, if you're looking for a lightweight glove with a bit of extra protection, Leatt has an option for you.
Vital MX Rating: 4 Stars - Very Good
For more information on Leatt's 4.5 Lite Glove or the other products in their glove line, check out Leatt.com.
About the Test Rider - Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.