Accessories can make a world of difference for your comfort on the bike. Cycling gloves protect your hands, absorb vibration and improve grip. This article explores types of cycling gloves, as well as their respective benefits for varied disciplines.
When selecting a cycling glove, you should consider your preferred discipline and the climate that you live in. Most cyclists find it helpful to own a variety of gloves to choose from based on weather and which type of cycling they prefer. To avoid spending a fortune, be selective about which ones you buy, getting one perfectly suited to each season or discipline.
Full-Finger Cycling Gloves versus Half-Finger Gloves
For most road riders, half-finger gloves do the trick of adding grip and comfort to your ride. If you often find yourself mountain biking or riding in cool conditions, a pair of full-finger gloves are a better choice, providing more protection from the elements or in the event of a crash.
Both half and full fingered gloves can be found with and without padding. Palm padding helps absorb vibrations and distribute pressure, when going for long rides or riding in rough terrain. Padding is typically made out of foam, gel or some combination of the two. Padding usually increases the price of the glove compared to those without, but can dramatically increase comfort and eliminate tingling or numbness. (Gel padding, compared to foam, offers more of a “real-feel” comfort and will often be found in the higher-end types of cycling gloves.
Like any accessory, the material and quality will affect price, fit, comfort and longevity. Cycling gloves take a lot of abuse, but it is better that your gloves take the beating instead of your hands—even if it means your gloves will need replacing after only a season or two. Many bike gloves use a combination of materials, such as leather, fleece, mesh and other synthetics. Just remember it is most important to find a glove that fits well - not too big, not too small.
Backroads Pro Tip
Cycling gloves are often designed with leather palms and synthetic or mesh backs. This particular combination offers a nice blend of performance, fit and pricing.
Cold Weather Gloves
For those who like to ride well into the shoulder and winter seasons, insulated biking-specific gloves are the way to go. These gloves ensure you have all the advantages described above along with the insulating properties expected from a typical winter glove. In addition to the standard insulated fiver-finger bike gloves, there are also three- and four-finger “lobster gloves,” so called because the finger design is reminiscent of a lobster claw. These are a nice option to consider if you are looking for something unique. Like mittens, lobster gloves are designed to keep your fingers close, but with some fingers split, you still have the dexterity needed for operating the brake lever and securely holding onto the bike handlebar —all while doing you best impression of Spock from Star Trek!