Fingerless cycling gloves may look a bit odd – they do scream “road cyclist!” – but every road rider really should have a pair.
They look simple and and a bit well, flimsy but they are actually packed with features and benefits. The best gloves are well thought out designs that will impress when you look closer.
Why are they fingerless?
Fingerless gloves have been the preserve of road riders for decades for good reason. Less material keeps them lighter and cooler. There used to be a case that fingerless gloves were better for using downtube-mounted gear shifter but that’s become irrelevant these days.
What makes them so good?
Not only do they make life more comfortable with the padding on the palm but you can also wipe away sweat (and snot) with the back of the glove
Your grip on the handlebar is improved not only by the use of grippy materials on the palm but also because the gloves prevent slippy sweat getting between your hands and the bars.
Gloves provide protection for the palms in case of a crash. We all know that the first thing we do when we fall is stick our hands out.
The padding is strategically placed in certain areas on the palms to help reduce stress. It ranges from a very thin layer up to gel inserts on high load bearing areas. The padding may not seem like much but over long distances it can make a huge difference as the hands and wrists get tired form supporting the body not to mention the road buzz from the bars.
Most gloves feature some sort of sticky material on the palms to increase grip. Some gloves are grippier than others. Some have rubber or silicon patterning whereas some are just textured fabric.
It depends on the rider preference really. Some riders want a stuck-on sensation whereas other riders prefer to be able to move their hands around a bit more freely.
The back of the gloves are usually much lighter weight fabric than the palms. This is designed to let heat and moisture escape. This area is also good for wiping sweat from the face because the fabric doesn’t hold on to the sweat – it quickly evaporates away.
Between the thumb and forefinger there is a reinforced area which helps with padding in the high stress area. Often this area extends over part of the back of the hand too. To put it bluntly, this is for wiping your snot on.
The palm padding placement and cut will make or break the glove. Make sure the padding is where you need it and comfortable in different positions. Any sticky materials used to enhance grip will also be a bonus for most riders no matter how small the areas they cover appear.
The back of the glove can be made from several different materials each with their own unique characteristics. Most are made from a lightweight breathable material to help wick moisture away and have a snot wipe area round the thumb forefinger area.
Classic-style crochet or leather backed versions are still available. Leather offers comfort and protection but very expensive and need maintaining while crochet gloves are very breathable but not to everyone’s taste, and they’re also getting harder to find.
The cuff will either be held in place with a small Velcro strap or an elasticated cuff, the latter is more common on lightweight racing or aero gloves.
Most gloves feature small loops or a small webbed area on the inside of fingers which helps with removal. It may not seem like much but believe us when you are tired and sweaty these little touches make it so much easier to remove the gloves.
Which gloves should you buy?
Leisure riders – A glove with lots of padding and good moisture wicking properties.
Regular riders – A more lightweight glove with strategic padding will help on longer rides. Make sure they have decent pull tabs for ease of use at cake stops.
Racers – A mix of minimal padding and light weight. Racers usually want a thin glove with little or no padding so they can get a feel for how the bike is handling.