What to Look For
Full or long-fingered gloves provide extra protection for mountain bikers or during in-between weather on the road. The short or fingerless gloves are traditionally used by road riders, keeping the fingers free. Choose gloves with breathable fabric and padded palms. Padding reduces road and trail vibration. The swatch of fuzzy fabric on the back of the thumb provides the perfect sweat wipe on the go. Fit and comfort are the most important factors. Top-named brands of gloves include Giro, Trek, Race Face, and Endura.
Too-tight gloves cause numbness in the fingers and cramping throughout the hand. Fabrics without venting or breathability result in sweaty hands, making for a very uncomfortable grip on your handlebars. Look for well-stitched seams and bound edges for a pair that will last.
Where to Buy
Sporting goods stores offer low- to mid-range cycling gloves. Bicycle stores and Internet stores tend to offer a wider range of prices and brands. Beware of buying on line. Gloves should only be bought without trying them on if you are buying an exact brand and style replacement. Otherwise, sizes vary from model and brand. Ideally, always try on cycling gloves and flex your fingers well.
A pair of cycling gloves, with fingers or without, will run from $10 to $60. Giro gloves start aroung $25 and go up. With cheaper pairs, expect less breathability and usage.
Palm padding quality and fabrics vary greatly between the brands and the styles. Rubberized synthetic fabrics, such as neoprene, if in direct contact with your skin tend to stick when wet. Choose lycra based fabrics or other wicking material for the interior of the glove. Neoprene on the exterior with a lining provides protection from the elements.
Hands swell while riding. Choose a pair that fits a touch loose around the palm and back of the hand. The longer the duration of your rides, the more the swelling can become apparent. Well-cushioned gloves help reduce the tendency to swell by reducing the minor impacts from road vibration.