Your hands are one of your three contact points with your bike, though buying a good pair of gloves is often secondary to ensuring you have the right bib shorts to suit your riding or the latest carbon-fibre soled shoes. It shouldn’t be the case, even in the heat of summer. A decent pair of short-fingered mitts will provide better grip, especially if you get caught in a summer deluge, protection in the event of a fall and, perhaps most importantly of all, effectively absorb the vibrations from the road and in doing so, allow you to feel more comfortable in the saddle on those long days out in the sunshine!
There are many options on the market, from bargain basement to luxury leather, but ensure that whichever you buy have basic requirements like a snot/sweat wipe, a palm that offers a secure grip, irrespective of the thickness of the pads, and fit snugly and securely. Below are Five of the Best currently available, which give an overview of the options available, the features to consider and the different price points.
GripGrab SuperGel Short Finger Gloves
If comfort is your main concern then the 6mm DoctorGel pad on these very comfortable pair of mitts from the Danish manufacturer, GripGrab, will go far to negating the road vibrations on even the worst of roads. GripGrab offer a comprehensive range of mitts, for both male and female cyclists, but the SuperGel offer the ultimate in shock absorption and are aimed principally at long distance cyclists hankering for optimum comfort and protection against numbness in the hands over long miles.
Well constructed, with a strong velcro tab and well positioned padding, the gloves tested (size tested were large) were perfect on my 23cm circumference hands and were noticeably more comfortable after a couple of hours riding, as the thick padding became a little more moulded to my hand size and shape. The soft sweat wipe, tabs that help you pull them off and a couple of reflective details tick all the necessary boxes, and there is even a pair of magnets in the cuffs to keep the gloves together in storage – useful for those of us who have a habit of misplacing their mitts!
If you are ever intend to ride a cobbled sportive, like Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of the Black Country, then these are definitely a pair of gloves worth investing in – they will certainly make a huge difference over long and sustained sections of pavé . For day to day riding on decent roads, then I would personally prefer less padding, but if you a prone to tingling in your hands then the 6mm pads will certainly help to reduce the discomfort.
The SuperGel, like the entire GripGrab range, are an attractive looking pair of mitts, with some nice detailing – the flashes of red between the fingers for example – married with some good features, like the loop for aiding pulling off the gloves and the robust velco strap.
The GripGrab brand also comes with the pro peloton seal of approval. Riders from the Belgian Lotto-Soudal team, including German sprinter, André Greipel, Tony Gallopin and Adam Hansen, are sporting GripGrab gloves during the 2015 season.
The GripGrab SuperGel Short Finger Gloves retail at £39.95 and are available online at Wiggle. If you prefer a little less padding and want to save a few pennies then GripGrab’s ProGel mitts, which feature 4mm of DoctorGel padding, are also and option and come in both a male and female version. For more information on their full range of cycling accessories, visit the GripGrab website.
Altura Crochet Short Finger Gloves
Fans of the L’Eroica Britannia, or the Tuscan original that takes place later in October, will love these wonderful retro looking gloves from the British manufacturer, Altura.
Yes, there are some more authentic leather retro gloves out there but for those you have to pay a premium and these are very affordable and look great teamed with a retro-style or original merino jersey. They are distinctive and have certainly garnered several favourable comments and enquiries from several cyclists. They may be retro in style, but I’ve paired them with more contemporary, classic jerseys – though they are definitely not going to compliment a more race orientated or contemporary style kit.
Not surprisingly, given the crocheted upper side, these offer great breathability, but on cooler days they’ve provided a little protection too – like a string vest for your hands! These are a heavily padded pair of gloves, which makes them very comfortable and effective at reducing road vibration, but the firmness of the pad does cause a slight lack of feel. This is the only drawback I can ascertain after a few hundred miles of riding with these gloves. They are proving very good value for money and the crocheted section has stood up well to a couple of washes, with no sign of fading and no shrinkage.
In summary, a great looking and comfortable pair of summer gloves and though you may lack the panache of Fausto Coppi, you’ll still be the Campionissimo amongst your cycling friends if you turn up wearing these pair of mitts!
Not Fausto Coppi: our tester Nick rates the retro style of the Altura Crochet gloves
The Altura Crochet Short Finger Gloves retail at only £16.99 and come in a black/cream and natural tan/cream version and in a size range of Small to XL. They can be bought online at Wiggle and Evans Cycles and visit the Altura website for a list of stockists.
POC AVIP Glove (Short)
POC don’t do subtle, nor bow to conventional design or contemporary trends. Their AVIP range stands for Attention, Visibility, Interaction and Protection and the signature bright orange not only provides cyclists with great visibility, but also makes for a bold design statement too. There’s something about the Marmite with the AVIP range – you are either going to love it or hate it, but there’s no denying that the AVIP range and these gloves, are distinctive from other options on the market.
The AVIP gloves are the least substantial on test. The padding, for want of a better word, is almost totally non-existent, save only for an additional section of material at the base of the palm. Tiny ventilation holes over the palm aid the innate breathability of the gloves, making these a really great glove for warmer conditions. These are not gloves for a cobbled sportive, but if you like to ‘feel’ the road through your hands, then these come as close to being gloveless as it gets. There are some natty functional design details too: the small five circular silicon tabs on the palm to provide better grip, the reflective POC logo on the outside (well positioned for signalling visibility) and the small tab between the middle and ring finger to aid the pulling them off.
The material is stretchy and comfortable on the bike, but getting my large, wide hands through the tight opening took a bit of doing, but once on the fit is tight and there is no unsightly bunching. The wrist is quite high on these gloves, which is possibly a simple design decision, but it does provide your hands with a little extra protection and covers any exposed skin if worn in tandem with arm warmers.
Small, circular silicon tabs on the palm aid the grip.
Sweat wipes on either thumb round off a unique, good looking pair of cycling gloves, but if the colour has you reaching for your shades, then the more subdued tones of the POC Raceday glove might be a more attractive option!
The POC AVIP gloves (short) retail at £45 and available from Chain Reaction Cycles, Wiggle and Evans Cycles. For more information on the range of POC gloves and cycle clothing and helmets visit the POC Sports website.
Rapha Classic Mitts
A simple design, combining a stretchy lycra fabric on the back of the hand with a leather palm and nose/sweat wipes on the thumb. These are a pull on glove, no velcro straps to fuss around with and the overall look is very paired down and classic.
I have quite a wide hand and the Large size is a snug fit, but after riding with these for the last month, they are noticeably more comfortable having been worn for several hundred miles, though they show no signs of stretching. It’s hard to ascertain exactly how much ventilation the circular mesh holes that run across the knuckles actually provide, but I certainly don’t find the gloves any warmer than other more lightweight, ventilated pairs I have worn in the past.
The leather pads show no signs of wear and tear after over 500 miles of riding, nor fading after half a dozen washes. The padding – the same as used in the gloves of Army sniper gloves – does not have a substantial feel to it, but absorbs the vibrations very effectively. A slither of reflective trim and a discreet Rapha logo on the top round off a very classy mitt. My advice would be to go for the black version, as though the white looks great, I’m not sure that they will look quite so perfectly pristine after a season or two!
Some will baulk at the £70 price tag, but for £20 less Rapha also offer the lightweight Pro Team gloves, or for that added bit of luxury, how about their Grand Tour Gloves – a snip at £130!
The Rapha Classic mitts come in sizes ranging from XS to XL and in black or white. The cost £70 and are available to buy online via the Rapha.cc website.
Brand New to the Gore Bike Wear road gloves collection for 2015 are the Element Gloves, which are a good all round cycling gloves that compliment Gore’s growing Element range, which is aimed at more recreational level cycling, rather than the likes of their Xenon, Oxygen and Power ranges which are for more performance and ambitious levels. These are a great entry level glove or, for that matter, anyone who is after well designed and constructed cycling gear, made with a combination of high quality fabrics.
Retailing at a little under £30, these gloves (as you would expect at that price point) tick all the necessary boxes: reflective piping, finger pulls, snot/sweat wipes, silicon detailing for added grip and a decent foam pad that provides a good balance between vibration absorption and feel.
Gore Element gloves come in black, white and red versions, priced at £27.99. They can be bought online at Wiggle and with sizes ranging from Small to XXXL, are a Unisex glove and fit. For more information and a list of stockists visit the Gore Bike Wear website.