Merlin Shenstone D3O Gloves Review: Old School Meets New Tech?

I’m always on the hunt for equipment that balances protection, comfort, and killer looks. That’s why I was eager to test out Merlin’s new Shenstone summer motorcycle gloves, which seem targeted at riders like me seeking lightweight warm-weather hand protection.

In this hands-on review, I’ll break down whether these dual-sport summer motorcycle gloves live up to their promise of “two to three-season functionality” for the café racer and vintage bike crowd.

But, the main question I will answer in this review will be: Are these the best motorcycle gloves for hot weather for you? Let’s find out!

Merlin Shenstone D3O Gloves


Key Takeaways

  • Vintage cafe feel
  • Armored knuckles
  • Cowhide durability

Merlin Shenstone D3O Gloves – Our Verdict

If you made it this far, chances are you’re still debating whether these gloves (1) deserve space in your gear bag. Let’s recap the key considerations:

Biggest pros

  • Low-profile armor for unexpected crashes
  • Mashup of protection and laid-back style

Potential drawbacks

  • Snug fit and break-in period
  • Limited weather protection

Given the reasonable price point, I believe the Shenstone summer gloves strike a winning balance for riders focused on looking good while enjoying a little insurance against road rash.

For vintage bike and cafe racer loyalists wearing this iconoclastic style of glove, the occasional discomfort might be worth the attitude.

Think of the creaking leather and popped snaps on a well-worn motorcycle jacket. Sometimes, imperfection only adds to the appeal.

In closing, if your rides involve short weekend jaunts rather than continent-crossing marathons, then the Merlin Shenstone motorcycle gloves should serve you handsomely during the fairer seasons.

Key details:

  • Perforated cowhide leather and mesh construction
  • D3O armor for impact protection
  • Relaxed styling for cruiser comfort
  • Touchscreen-compatible fingertips

Let’s delve into the specifics of whether these gloves are worth adding to your seasonal riding gear rotation.

Who Are the Shenstone Gloves Designed For?

Taking one look at the Shenstone gloves, it’s clear they aren’t made for the hardcore sportbike track day fanatic.

Instead, the aesthetic screams “custom café racer” with its distressed leather and mesh touches. I’d liken the styling to what you might see from British motorcycle icons like Norton or Triumph.

But the old-school vibe doesn’t mean the gloves scrimp on modern protection. Subtle armor allows the Shenstones to bridge the gap between fashion and function.

So, if you ride a Bonneville Bobber or restored Ninja 250, these may appeal to your retro sensibilities while keeping your paws safe.

How Do the Shenstones Fit and Feel?

Finding the right size is critical with any riding glove. After breaking out the tape measure, I opted for an XL in the Shenstone based on Merlin’s sizing chart. And I’m glad I didn’t size up despite normally wearing a XXL glove.

The extra room of a larger glove would have made these feel bulky, especially in the fingers. That’s my main gripe with the glovesconstruction.

The external cowhide stitching and leather choice give the fingers a stiff, stubby feeling until broken in. Goatskin or kangaroo hide would likely feel more supple. Having said that, the glove palms do incorporate some elasticity.

On the plus side, the mesh paneling provides ample airflow to the backs of the hands. The perforated fingers and relaxed cut allow for good maneuverability.

So, while they might not feel like a second skin, for most cruiser duties, the comfort hits the spot. Just be prepared for some break-in time if you prefer a slimmed-down fit.
Click to view sizing specs:

  • Available sizes: S – 3XL
  • Measure hand circumference across knuckles
  • Break-in period required
  • Relaxed cafe racer fit
  • Runs smaller than the labeled size

How Much Protection Do You Actually Get?

Given their vintage styling, I was skeptical whether these gloves could protect as well as their sport-focused counterparts. But the Shenstones incorporate some vital armor where it counts most.

The upper fingers and backs of your hands get reinforced with D3O padding. This innovative material dissipates and disperses impact energy for crash protection.

Further shielding comes from the padded knuckle armor underneath the perforated leather. While not as burly as carbon fiber race gloves, it’s ample coverage from ARAI Cloverleaf rated.

I’d rank the protection level as suitable for typical street hazards. But hardcore speed junkies may hunger for more guards.

How Long Will These Gloves Last?

Thanks to the leather construction, I expect the Shenstone gloves to endure seasons of riding with proper care. The cowhide hide seems thick enough to resist tearing—though an inevitable scuff here and there will add character.

However, frequent rainy rides or accidents may degrade the materials prematurely because they lack waterproof membranes. Be sure to treat the leather occasionally with protective balms and sprays.

The conductive fingertip touchscreens also seem durable, unlike some gloves where this tech rubs off quickly. Just avoid abrasive use on concrete or Velcro that could wear them out.

Who Else Likes The Shenstone Gloves?

Beyond my own evaluation, what do other riders think of Merlin’s latest offering? I surveyed some reviews across the web to highlight the most common compliments and complaints:


  • Old school vintage style
  • Lightweight for warm weather
  • Decent ventilation to hands
  • Simple slip-on convenience
  • Surprising knuckle protection


  • Stiff, uncomfortable fingers until broken in
  • Lack of wrist closure to seal out air/moisture
  • Not truly cold weather capable
  • Palms could use more grip and padding

So, while not perfect, they address the needs of the intended casual riding audience.


What is the main difference in construction between the Merlin Shenstone gloves and the Ranger version?

The Ranger gloves have a waxed cotton outer shell rather than leather, trading durability for increased weather protection and unique styling. But both share similar armor placements.

Would the Shenstone gloves work well for round-town commuting?

Yes, the blend of airflow, protection, and comfort make them versatile for urban trips, provided you aren’t encountering heavy rainfall. Their low-key looks also suit office attire.

Why does cowhide leather get used on more relaxed-fitting motorcycle gloves over other hides?

Cowhide strikes an affordable balance between durability and pliability. It tends to offer great abrasion resistance through thickness rather than elite suppleness like pricier options.

What is the disadvantage of external stitching compared to seamless glove construction?

Exposure to crashes or scraping can allow externally stitched seams to get damaged or let moisture penetrate. Such gloves, like racing models, often use internal stitching or seam taping for enhanced structure and waterproofing.

Let me know your thoughts on the Merlin Shenstone gloves and whether you think they deliver sufficient value for the cafe crowd!

I welcome your feedback below on whether my review nailed the key details. Ride safely, and check back soon for more motorcycle product breakdowns here on the blog!

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Sources: Motorcycle personal protective equipment (1)

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