Lee Parks Design Sumo Gloves Blend Simple Tech With Durability

They’re all the same…until you crash

Lee Parks Design Gloves
The Sumo glove from Lee Parks Design blends unique technology with a retro look.Brody Cox

Lee Parks has made a name for himself as a motorcycle journalist and the chief instructor for the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic. In 2001, he founded Lee Parks Design and has since been developing and producing a line of personally designed moto gear, right here in the US.

At the 2017 AIMExpo, Parks had a brand-new pair of his gloves on display which caught my eye due to the high contrast between the dyed-yellow leather and gnarly-looking black rubber impact protection. The Sumo, as he calls them, look like they’re straight out of the ’70s. They feature soft, supple leather and a Velcro wrist closure. Cool, but here’s what really sets them apart.

Lee Parks Design Gloves
All of the gloves from Lee Parks Design are made and manufactured in the US, allowing Parks himself to keep a close eye on quality.Brody Cox

All of Lee Parks’ gloves are made in the US, in-house. Parks and his crew focus on a design that uses fewer seams, which means fewer potential failure points, as Parks himself points out. Many gloves use up to four seams in a single finger (in what’s known as “box construction”), whereas Parks’ gloves use only four different seams in the entire glove—keeping the stress points to a minimum and letting the leather’s natural stretch do its work. Parks points out, “Across the palm, there are no seams at all. There’s another layer that’s stitched over on top of it, just for added abrasion resistance.”

Lee Parks Designs Gloves
The Sumo glove shares the same simplistic construction as the rest of the gloves offered by Parks, utilizing only four stitches in the entire glove. The palm area features a second stitched-on layer of 2.75-ounce deerskin.Brody Cox

The Sumo glove features external armor, the first of Parks’ gloves to do so. The armor is segmented and bends with the finger, and is made from thermo-plasticized rubber (TPR). A CNC sewing machine stitches these on, and the glove is sewn together afterward. Goatskin patches are featured on both index and thumbs, for full touchscreen compatibility.

Lee Parks Designs Gloves
Each glove features goatskin patches over the tip of the index and thumb, allowing you to use a touchscreen phone without taking off the glove.Brody Cox

The gloves themselves are made from 2.75-ounce deerskin, which is soft, flexible, and sturdy. Another bonus that Parks pointed out was the ability to wash the gloves, to remove salt and sweat. You can hand-wash them while wearing them (just as if you were washing your hands) and then hang them to dry. Over time, and during the drying process, the deerskin will shrink or expand slightly with each individual’s hand shape and finger size.

Lee Parks Designs Gloves
I’ve been impressed so far with the comfort and practicality of these gloves.Brody Cox

I’m a big fan of comfortable gloves (aren’t we all?), and I was initially impressed at just how supple the new deerskin leather felt when I tried them on. The design reminds me of supercool vintage motocross gloves. They’re also more aggressive looking than Parks’ other models, and on multiple occasions I was asked about them by fellow riders at gas stations.

The feel through the Sumo glove is nothing short of spectacular—almost unnerving. It’s as if there’s nothing between your fingertips and the controls. Too often I find other gloves fighting the natural movements of my hands. These gloves, however, fit like a favorite old pair of jeans—comfortable and unobtrusive. The Velcro wrist closure straps are easy to fine-tune while wearing the gloves and hold their adjustments well.

Lee Parks Designs Gloves
I’ve been happy with how the Sumo gloves have felt so far, and can’t wait to log more miles with them.Honda

While the gloves are available in both black and tan colors, I sprung for the latter because I like the natural gritty, distressed look they acquire after being used a few times. I did notice that after a few longer rides, some of the dye from the gloves wore off internally, which stained the palms of my hands. It’s to be expected with dyed leather, but it’s a bit of a pain to scrub off, which is frustrating.

The Sumo glove retails for $180. That’s hard to justify if you’re too budget-conscious, but bear in mind that it’s not uncommon for other high-end gloves to fetch the same amount, if not more. And these are made in the US. It’s sometimes difficult to trust the quality of smaller brands, but after speaking with Lee Parks and testing these gloves myself, I can see (and feel) just how much thought and research went into their production.

Lee Parks Designs Gloves
The Sumo gloves from Lee Parks Design are just as at-home on a modern retro bike as they are on a cruiser or sportbike.Honda

The Sumo gloves from Lee Parks Design ($179.95) are available in size small through extra large, in both black and tan color variants. For more information, check out the Lee Parks Design website here.