My bike gloves as of spring 2011
I bike in all weather conditions. As a result, I have a whole lot of bike gloves (and gloves that I use when I bike), and I'm often looking for better gloves. Because I feel like keeping track of this, here's my current list with notes about when I use them.
In order of decreasing temperature ranges:
- basic MEC fingerless bike gloves
- These are my warm weather gloves, say
around 20C and upwards. I used to use the MEC commuter cycling gloves
but last year switched to the 'road' gloves, which have less padding,
and I think they work better with my very comfortable Ergon grips.
(I have very comfortable grips, so in the summer I wear gloves mostly to keep my hands from slipping with sweat (and partly to keep the grip pattern from printing itself on my palms). Padding is not necessary for this and seems to actually get in the way and make things less comfortable.)
- basic MEC full-fingered gloves
- Intermediate cool weather gloves for
temperatures in the mid and low teens, especially on group bike
rides. These are what I'll call 'skin' gloves, with no actual warm
materials used in their construction.
(I'd give the MEC brand name, but MEC keeps changing things around.)
- 'Netti' mid-weight gloves
- Cool weather gloves for the low teens and
upper single digit temperatures. Unlike the MEC gloves they have
some actual warmth and insulation, but not large amounts (and the side
of the fingers are vented, which lets the cold air in).
I got these at Urbane Cycle, and they appear to no longer be in production. So it apparently goes with bike gear that I buy.
- thin but insulated Castelli gloves
- Cold weather gloves for around 0C;
I believe they have some fleece lining. These are thin enough to be
fully dexterous; I can comfortably use my DSLR while wearing them, for
example, with only minimal fumbling.
I bought these at MEC a couple of years ago as the best cold weather gloves they had at the time, and they were okay for that but they are not really warm enough for serious sub-zero temperatures.
I can't remember the Castelli name for them but it probably doesn't matter since it looks like they're out of production anyways. There's a theme here.
- Castelli Pioggia gloves
- Cold weather gloves for sub-zero weather.
These are much more insulated than my thinner Castelli gloves above, but
significantly thicker and thus less dexterous (although they are still
decent for this). They rapidly get too hot at above-zero temperatures.
In theory they have a waterproof liner layer, but I have never used them in the rain to put this to the test. If it worked it would be great; cold rain is one of the things that I don't have a good set of gear to deal with yet.
I bought these at MEC this fall as an attempt to get better gloves for sub-zero weather, and they have been a resounding success at this; they are actively comfortable in such weather, instead of merely sort of tolerable and survivable.
- MEC 'lobster' style cycling gloves
- I haven't yet biked in weather conditions cold enough to force me into these, possibly because I stop biking when the roads are covered with snow, ice, and slush. The few times I wore these (before I had the Pioggias), I found them not entirely warm enough without liner gloves.
I have some additional gloves that don't neatly fit into temperature ranges:
- basic leather gloves with a light inner layer for warmth
- These are
currently my 'cold rain' gloves, because they're the only thing I have
that is both reasonably waterproof and sort of warm enough. Before
I got the Pioggias they were also my really cold weather gloves when
worn with liner gloves; they were better than the lighter Castellis
but not as comfortable as the Pioggias.
- basic MEC polypro liner gloves
- I used (and use) these for additional warmth underneath my leather gloves and the MEC lobster gloves. I can't remember if I tried using them with the lighter weight Castelli gloves, but I suspect that there wouldn't have been enough room.
I have read a fair amount of praise for neoprene paddling gloves as cold weather rain gloves, so I intend to get a pair when MEC gets them back into stock and experiment. I believe that MEC also sells waterproof shells, but when I looked at them in the fall none of them looked really attractive.
(The leading paddling glove candidate is the MEC CyclPad 3mm gloves, with the MEC Catch Neoprene gloves as a second option. The MEC Humboldt gloves in 2mm and 3mm are new enough to not have real reviews.)
Sidebar: other cold weather gear I swear by
- a basic MEC fleece cycling headband. This is just the thing to keep
my ears warm on cool days, and keeping my ears warm turns out to make
me much more comfortable.
- a basic MEC fleece skull cap thing, with ear covers; I wear this under my helmet in subzero temperatures. MEC has cycling specific ones, but I believe mine comes from their general cold weather gear because I didn't like any of their cycling-specific ones at the time that I was looking a few years ago.
Written on 15 April 2011.