Want to know one of the most searched for items this time of the year? Winter cycling gloves. If you manage to wake up from your huge Turkey Christmas dinner induced coma and look out the window you’ll understand why. On my hunt for winter cycling glove nirvana, that magical moment when your hands are warm but not sweaty, I’ve tested a number of gloves. I wanted to share my results with you here. Your hands will thank me for it..
Before I begin to discuss the subject of gloves, may I just say that in reviewing anything for London Cyclist, it’s either something I already own, something I’ve just bought to try out or something that I’ve asked a manufacturer or supplier to give me to test. I don’t review unsolicited stuff and I don’t have any affiliation to any company. If I like it I say so, if not, I say so too, so that my review remains independent.
I’ve almost lost count of the number of gloves I own. It seems that I need a pair for every situation, sport or circumstance. My priority is to have toasty warm hands at almost all cost, in something windproof. I ride downhill in the mornings so I go quite fast and need that windproof factor.
The best pair of lightweight cycling gloves
In the summer I bought the best pair of lightweight cycling gloves ever, by Cinelli. They were quite pricy, about £30 I think, which is a lot for a pair of fingerless gloves but they are a dream to ride with. I can reach the levers without feeling constricted by the glove, they are long enough to pull down over my wrist and they look great. When you find something this good, you try to replicate the feeling in everything else and unless you’re very lucky, it doesn’t happen very often.
The winter arrives
When the weather started to turn a little colder and there was a chill in the morning air, I started wearing a pair of nylon running gloves, fine in the crisp morning air and I didn’t really need them on the way home. Colder still, I started to wear a pair of Gore Lady Countdown gloves that I bought in the sale last year. They were fine for a short ride in the cold but on a long fast ride let me down a bit. They are waterproof and windproof but still not -4 proof. The soft-shell fabric is good but just not warm enough.
I have some fantastic skiing gloves by Spyder but they’re really only useful for spring skiing and I still haven’t found anything that matches their performance for skiing in the depths of winter. I was using them to cycle in but at the moment, they’re not warm enough because my fingers are stretched to the ends inside. That’s the thing with any old glove. They just don’t have the reach that’s needed to ride with thumbs and index finger round the bars, and the other fingers on the brakes, which is how I ride. Does anyone else do this? It’s a habit I picked up from an MTB skills session and it gives me a little bit more control, especially in the weather. Anyway, I digress.
Beating the extreme temperatures
I think I’m near Nirvana but it has been a long, and I’m sad to say, fairly expensive haul. There’s nothing worse having fingers or toes that one can’t actually feel. It’s that fiddling about when I get to the railway station to lock up the bike that does it, or at the other endof the day, unlocking and putting lights on. If my hands get cold in those few minutes, in these sub-zero temperatures, then they just don’t get warm again. So, on to the next.
Last week I ordered a pair of Himalayan down-filled mittens from The North Face (Google Shopping Link). They were expensive, are ridiculously big but very, very warm. I rode home last Thursday in a snow storm and a ferocious headwind and my fingers were fine. They have Gore windstopper fabric on the outside with leather palms for grip. I have fleece liners from some old skiing gloves which fit inside perfectly. The mitts are roomy enough for that all-important pocket of air. When I need to take them off, the liners have grippy stuff on the palms (I’m sure there’s a technical name for that) so that I can do what I need to do, stay relatively warm and the put the mitts back on again when I’m done.
I have to say that the Himalayan mitts are extremely large, but then we’re dealing with extreme conditions here and I want to keep on riding. I can just about change gear in them and use my normal grip but they wouldn’t work (I don’t think) for a long ride on drops.
So it seems that the mittens + liner is working for me in these temperatures and when the weather starts to warm up a bit, I’ll be back to the Spyder gloves, then the Gore gloves and then just the fleece liner or the nylon running gloves.
For the Wilier, when I need to ride with my fingers on the levers, I’ll have to stick with the Gore Countdown gloves. That’s not so much of a problem at the moment because I’m not taking that bike out. 8kgs of bike and snow and ice is not a good combination, for me anyway. I have heard good things about the Gore lobster gloves, but I haven’t tried them myself.
A quick tip: One can get similar gloves to my fleece liners, with grips on the palms, from any good saddlery. They keep the chill off in the spring and autumn but give some grip on the bars, and they fit under bigger gloves. They are no more than £5. Sealskinz, which I know a lot of you like, do a windproof hunting glove with grippy, nobbly bits on the palm for around £30. Hunting gloves have the closest affinity with cycling gloves because they are made with extra reach between the index finger and thumb, where we need it most. And for all of the iPhone owners out there they have a flip-over index finger, for trigger (screen) access.
So there it is. A round-up of winter gloves chez moi. Next week: Winter legwear.