How to Choose the Perfect Bike Gloves?
Getting the proper cycling gear is important. Wearing the wrong thing can lead to pain or discomfort. Getting the right gloves is just as important as getting the right jersey. How to choose bike gloves depends on what kind of riding you like to do.
Many Reasons to Wear Gloves
Many serious and recreational riders find that using gloves during the warmer seasons lets them ride for longer with less pain. Hands often chafe at the palms during a long ride. Even the thinnest pair of gloves provide protection to the palms of the hands during a ride.
Many riders prefer to ride with gloves because they have more control. Riders sweat when they ride, their hands become slippery on the handlebars. Rain can make the loss of control even worse. Gloves give you back your grip.
Good gloves can also protect against carpel tunnel and numbness. Bike riding can place pressure on the ulnar nerve, causing tingling and eventual damage. Blood flow can also be disrupted. Smart placement of sturdy padding keeps pressure from those sensitive nerves and blood vessels.
About Road Cycling Gloves
Road cyclists have worn bike gloves since the earliest days of the sport. Many modern riders still prefer the original style. These feature a breezy cotton mesh back with a thick soft leather palm. This minimal style offers a comfortable ride while not skimping on protection from a fall.
Modern road styles use more advanced materials such as Lycra or polyester blends. Padded road gloves are also popular. Intelligently placed pads absorb road buzz while protecting nerves and blood vessels. More heavily padded gloves are better when you use thinner bar tape.
A new glove should fit snugly. Seams should not rub or bind. I find that a plain glove with a good bar tape is perfect for me. You might need to try a few styles to find your perfect glove.
About Mountain Bike Gloves
Mountain bikers are more likely to fall or hit the brush. You need a lot of control to navigate tricky trails. Trailblazers might even be shoveling dirt, moving rocks and dead trees. Your gloves will need to be able to hold up to these challenges.
Mountain bike gloves are full fingered to protect delicate digits. They make use of tough material on both the palm and the tops of the hands. Many designs have mesh between the fingers or on the inside of the hand for airflow. A good glove will include an absorbent spot at the top to wipe the face.
Look for textured palms and fingertips for the best grip. Sturdy materials like full grain leather or Kevlar will hold up better. Padding is not as important for comfort as it is for road gloves. Well placed palm pads can prevent more serious injury during a fall.
Fit is very important. A too large glove will let your grip slide. A too-tight glove will restrict movement.
About Winter Gloves
If you want to ride in the winter you will need winter gloves. Your hands will quickly freeze without them. Winter riders need to battle cold, wet weather and wind chill. Most riders take a layered approach.
The best way to keep your hands warm in the winter is to layer several thin cycling gloves or mitts. The space between your thin gloves helps hold heat while blocking cold. Layers also let you keep more mobility as you ride.
I prefer to layer thin silk glove liners inside of a thicker wool mitt with a flip top for cold weather. These natural materials are warm while wet. Other riders might prefer gloves that keep out the water entirely.
Winter gloves should have longer cuffs to tuck under a jacket. An adjustable closure will keep cold drafts out. Longer cuffed gloves might be fitted with a draw cord at the wrist for more protection. The glove should fit snugly but comfortably around the hand. Loose gloves can form uncomfortable bulges.
Mittens are warmer than gloves. Bike riders often wear weatherproof ‘lobster claw’ mittens that have a single split between the fingers. This design keeps fingers warmer with less bulk while letting you shift and brake easily.
Materials and Styles
- Cotton Cord
- Mesh Fabrics
Warmer weather gloves are made to keep the hand dry and comfortable in even the hottest weather. They are often finger-less, with little padding. Many are made of mesh fabric. A good hot weather glove will have absorbent fabric at the thumb. Experienced riders use this to wipe sweat and fluid off the face.
Full fingered gloves are often worn while mountain biking. These tough gloves give the hand more protection from road rash and other dangers on the trail. Many road riders use full fingered gloves while riding in cool or wet weather.
How you choose your biking gloves depends on what you will be doing on your bike. I prefer to wear minimalist gloves with no padding for my rides. You might need to try a few styles of glove before finding your perfect match.