Gloves are small, especially when compared to your jacket, vest or other items of clothing. Nonetheless, to experienced cyclists, a quality pair is as important to the riding experience as any other component of their outfit.
There are a wide variety of options available, ranging from lightweight mitts that are designed to offer basic cushioning and crash protection during summer months to highly-technical and fully weatherproof winter gloves for polar conditions.
The vast majority of products you’ll come across in the course of your search here on Bike Chaser will be made from synthetic materials including polyester, acrylic, fleece and polypropylene. You’ll find some that are a blend of different ones too, and those are often great choices because of how they use the optimal materials for different parts.
Polyester – This fabric has very high breathability and wicking ability but is lacking in the wind and waterproofing department.
Acrylic – You’ll find this to be very breathable and flexible due to its stretchy nature. Like polyester though, it comes with a low level of weather resistance so it’s mostly used in making summer mitts.
Fleece – This is heavy material, and as you might have guessed, it is used in producing winter gloves where the highest priority is maximum insulation and warmth. The trade-off is that it doesn’t have a lot of breathability.
Polypropylene – Exceptional weather resistance but not so great when it comes to wicking. It’s most commonly used in making waterproof models.
In making the decision of which bike riding gloves to buy, the first thing you’ll have to establish is the weather you intend to use them in. If you’ll be doing a lot of riding in winter, it would be best to get ones that are specifically designed to ward off inclement weather. On the other end of the spectrum, you can find summer pairs that will keep your hands comfortable even on the hottest day.
Apart from the broad categories, it’s also important that you understand the various features that make different models suitable for particular weather conditions, so you’ll be able to comprehensively evaluate your options and make any trade-offs that are necessary to find the perfect pair for you.
With a fabric that’s breathable, your skin will remain dry and at a temperature that is optimal for your comfort.
The degree of protection varies widely, so you should keep an eye out for that. Basic summer cycling mitts and fingerless cycling gloves will protect your palms if you fall, but there are many full-finger gloves designed for the more rigorous experience of mountain biking. Those ones often have additional padding or even rigid panels that give you much more advanced protection in the event of a crash.
Gloves are no exception to that. Pairs that were designed to be used in such weather have waterproof membranes that prevent the ingress of water. However, one trade-off that comes with waterproof cycling gloves is that the membranes that keep out water also have a negative effect on the breathability of the fabric.
Most models will come with palms made from leather or synthetic fabric to improve your grip. The materials work the same, by and large, so you don’t have to spend too much time on that if you find a nice pair that comes with either material. On some pairs, you’ll also find additional silicone grippers on the fingers that are designed to help with brake levers, gear shifters etc.
Winter cycling gloves come with maximum insulation to make sure that your hands remain warm even in the most extreme arctic conditions. Such a high level of insulation would be overkill for a ride in the summer months, and because of their bulk and weight, you really don’t want to make them a part of your riding outfit all year-long.
In all, having a good pair of gloves is important for you to enjoy maximum comfort as you ride, by keeping your hands warm in cold conditions, as well as by making sure that your sweaty hands do not begin to slip from the bar grips. In addition, they will protect your hands in the event of an accident.
Your choice should be informed by your riding patterns and the weather in your area. Be sure to get a quality one and you’ll have a much better time riding your bike throughout the year, if you want.