On our recent gravel ginder the temperature was around 35 degrees Fahrenheit, cold but not terribly cold. I wore my Trek winter gloves which are big massive thick gloves, no make that gauntlets that I found for 2 bucks at last year’s bike expo. They are warm, for the most part, but they make terrible bike gloves for several reasons. The gloves are so thick that it becomes difficult to use the brakes or do anything with your fingers, which leads to the problem that you’ll be taking them on and off all the time, but guess what, the gloves are hard to take on and off. Despite being big and bulky they offer very little palm padding, but really the biggest problem is that on a really cold day I’ll get cold hands.
On the ride I had taken off the gloves for awhile to patch a tube, when I put them back on my hands were frozen. Over the next few miles of riding it just got worse, I couldn’t feel my fingers and thumbs. My buddy Moe decided to call it quits when he got another flat so offered me his gloves, Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Gloves. They looked about half as thick as mine, and I knew they were expensive so I resisted but he persisted and I took the offered gloves. They slipped on my hands with ease and I was stunned by the amount of finger dexterity they offered. But how could they be warm?
We took off again and in less then a minute my hands felt warm, toasty in fact. These gloves were amazing. I could much more easily work the brake and shift levers on my bike, and the padding offered far more comfort for my palms. The softshell Gloves are made much like a regular cycling glove in the palm area and as the same suggests are covered with a soft outer shell that is comfortable and amazingly warm. They were easy to take on and off but that really didn’t matter since they fit so well I could work the buttons on my camera with them on.
No as far as downsides, I doubt they would be as durable as a standard issue winter glove. They have exposed stitching, and imagine several high tech membranes that would be destroyed in a crash. Since I only used them for one day I really don’t know, they could be real tough. The only other drawback is price, they are about 60 dollar gloves, though you may find some for less. Will I buy my own pair? More then likely not, as awesome as they are, I mostly ride mountain bike in the winter and I wouldn’t want to take high end gloves like these out and destroy them in the woods, besides the slower speeds involved in mountain biking mean a less warm glove will usually be fine. If I was a more dedicated winter road cyclist I’d already have a pair ordered.
Thanks again to Moe for saving my digits!