Specialized Sub Zero glove review


The British Winter appears to have finally bitten down hard on cyclists. This is the time of year when clothes can make all the difference between cycling in all conditions, and giving it up until the warm weather returns. Perhaps the area where you are likely to feel the cold is in your hands. There’s nothing like a pair of frosty, stinging hands to make you want to ride all the way back under your thick duvet. Of course, there’s no need to suffer, as long as you find an adequate pair of gloves.

My mission to find the perfect pair of gloves

Personally, I suffer from cold extremities. Therefore, I’ve I’ve made it my mission to find some gloves that keep my hands warm, dry, yet still give me enough feel of the brakes and gears.

I’ve been through thick gloves, thin windproof gloves, waterproof gloves – you name it I’ve tried it. One thing I’ve learnt is that what feels warm in the shop or on a short ride around town, doesn’t necessarily hold up on a rain soaked and freezing commute!

Sub Zero by Specialized

I am pleased to say that the gloves that finally ended the search were the Sub Zero gloves from Specialized.

At first glance, these are an odd looking pair of gloves, more akin to a lobster claw, than a human hand. The gloves are actually a two part affair, with a conventional windproof fleecy inner glove and that distinctive outer glove. It may look strange, but therein lies the magic.

Keeping your fingers warm all the way down to –5 degrees

The key concept around the outer is that it allows your fingers to insulate each other. Having multiple fingers next to each other inside the glove allows them to share their heat rather than isolating them in a single gloved finger of their own. It sounds a bit far fetched, but it works exceptionally well – your fingers stay snug and toasty even in extreme cold weather (Specialized rate them to below 25°F/-5°C).

What if the weather picks up?

The inner glove can also be worn on its own on warmer days, and is touch screen compatible so you don’t have to totally remove your gloves when stopping to check the map on your phone (or is it only me that get’s lost all of the time?). This flexibility is also useful when the weather warms up during a ride, or conversely if the weather gets worse while you’re out.

The outer is made of Hipora fabric which stands up to the worst weather you can imagine, and also has reflective panels which keep you visible and safe at night

Hands on the brakes..

So, the gloves are warm, and waterproof, but are they too bulky to feel the controls? Well the answer is no, but they take a bit of getting used to. Initially, having your fingers ‘connected’ feels all wrong and shifts are frequently fluffed, but it quickly becomes second nature. In fact, the multi layer set up makes them less bulky than a heavily padded typical winter glove, therefore control is actually improved once you’re used to the connectedness.


If you’re looking for a warm glove that’s flexible in it’s uses, then you should definitely consider the Specialized Sub Zero. All of this comes with a fairly significant price tag of £50, but search around and you can find discounts.

Good points:

  • Warm
  • Flexible – inner layer can be used without outer on warmer day
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to still use the brakes and gears

Bad points:

  • Takes a while to get used to connected fingers
  • Can be expensive

Overall score – 4/5 – Pricey but highly effective against the elements!

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18 Responses to Specialized Sub Zero glove review

  1. bostonbybike 24/01/2013 at 11:47 pm #

    What are your own impressions from wearing those gloves? I hope they perform well in air temperatures well below -5C as well. So where is the bottom limit?

    We had -17C this morning in Boston. Plus the wind chill. Is that too cold for Sub Zero gloves?

    • Sam 25/01/2013 at 10:24 am #

      I’ve worn these in temperatures below -5 (certainly with wind chill taken in to account), and they do keep my hands warm.

      I’ve no idea of the bottom limit though as it doesn’t get as cold here as in Boston on a regular basis.

    • Barton 29/01/2013 at 8:38 pm #

      I have worn these gloves in -25 F (MN, USA) – with ridiculous wind chill that I won’t even bother to mention – and found my hands, while not toasty, to be quite acceptable after 45 minutes outside.

  2. Stacey 25/01/2013 at 12:27 am #

    I also suffer from cold extremities and I’ve been told that you should keep your wrists and ankles warm as that’s where the blood flow is restricted. Neoprene’s good for this, so as well as wearing my gloves I also wear neoprene supports around my wrists and I think it really helps. I don’t get the expensive stuff as you can get them in the £1 shops.

    • Sam 25/01/2013 at 10:23 am #

      That’s a great tip and definitely one I shall try!

  3. Bea 25/01/2013 at 10:03 am #

    Only yesterday I was browsing the webs looking for extreme weather gloves and all reviews led to this pair. I.m doing London to Rome in June and was looking for something to keep me warm as I cross the Alps. This review couldn’t have been more timely! Thanks

    • Sam 25/01/2013 at 10:22 am #

      Glad to be of help Bea. They really are a great pair of gloves and sounds ideal for the mountainous sections of your epic journey. Best of luck!

  4. mike_lcc 25/01/2013 at 11:22 am #

    Interesting review – I’d definitely like to try out these Specialized gloves.

    I think another key reason why mittens and lobster-style gloves insulate better than ‘normal’ gloves is because they have fewer seams – it’s these joining points in glove materials that can leak warmth, making your fingers cold.

    Saying that, the best pair of winter cycling gloves I’ve ever owned are actually a fully-fingered design: a pair of Wed’ze skiing gloves bought from Decathlon in Surrey Quays for about £40 (cheaper in sales).

    This is the second winter I’ve used them and haven’t had cold fingers at all – even on longer weekend rides. The downside is that they’re bulky, and I had to cut some of the extraneous straps and buckles off them, but I don’t leave the house without them!

  5. james b 25/01/2013 at 11:27 am #

    thanks sam. like bea, i too have been looking online for a decent pair of winter gloves, and most results pointed at these – albeit with a claw-like hand(!)

    currently using a xmas present from my mum – some pearl izumi’s which would be better suited to spring or autumn – but i didn’t have the heart to tell her! – so i’m wearing them with a pair of nike running gloves underneath. it’s not use, my hands are frozen.

    i’m going to the shops to buy a pair of these sub-zeros’ today for my daily commute.

    thanks again for the review 😉

  6. Toomas 25/01/2013 at 11:47 am #

    cycle all year round, in Estonia.
    -10 C is quite normal and gloves are essential.
    Have discovered: cycling faster and making blood running helps to keep also hands warmer but of course then question of becoming too hot and changing clothes after reaching to work.
    Use with gloves same technique as on cloth, layers.
    shorts mitts or very light fleece gloves and then second layer on top.
    Keeps hands nicely worm and best if the second layer has some windproof factor

  7. Hugh 25/01/2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Is it just me who thinks these are only suitable for Vulcans?

    Live long and prosper….with warm hands.

    • Barton 29/01/2013 at 8:45 pm #

      I often throw out Vulcan hand signs when I wear mine!

  8. Alex 25/01/2013 at 3:50 pm #

    I’ve been using a pair of these for the last two winters:

    Made of neoprene, so great in the rain and really warm. After daily commuting for 2 winters still in near new shape and the best thing is the price; £20!

  9. john w 27/01/2013 at 5:20 pm #

    It’s probably too soon but I wonder what the life expectancy is.

    18 months ago I bought some skiing gloves from Sports Direct. They were great for insulation and they were waterproof, but made my hands pong. They were cheap as chips – about a fiver if memory serves.

    Last year in an attempt to tackle the smell issue I bought some Altura Gloves. They were in a sale for about a tenner. When they arrived I discovered they had lining gloves inside. They certainly dealt with the smell issue but are not as warm as the Sports Direct gloves.

    £50 seems a lot for gloves and I would expect them to be hard wearing. I ride about 100 – 120 miles per week – though probably less in the winter cos I don’t like the ice and snow. I would want two or three years out of a pair of expensive gloves like these.

    Any thoughts

    • Sam 27/01/2013 at 7:16 pm #

      They are exceedingly well made that’s for sure. I’ve put them through the ringer this winter so far (around 150-200 miles a week in all weathers) and they still look exactly like new. I’d be very surprised if you didn’t get at least 2 seasons out of them, but obviously it’s hard for me to say definitively.

  10. Mustafa 29/01/2013 at 3:37 pm #

    really nice gloves

  11. james 29/01/2013 at 3:45 pm #

    fingers-crossed (although not wearing these) we’ve seen the last of the freezing temps here in london – will be needing a review of scuba gear to wear on the bike next please ;-)=

  12. Nicky 31/01/2013 at 5:44 pm #

    Hey folks, Cycle Surgery currently have these in the sale for £23 reduced from £50 – http://www.cyclesurgery.com/pws/UniqueProductKey.ice?ProductID=CSBC1059K1

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