Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cycling Gloves

One thing that most people who ride a bicycle regularly need are cycling gloves. Unless, you want absolutely nothing between your hands and the ground if/when you crash, gloves are your best protection.
There are a lot of things that make finding the right set of gloves problematic:
Cost: a good set of gloves specifically made for cycling can cost anywhere from ten to fifty dollars. Finding gloves for less than $20 is pretty hard, at least in Honolulu. It might be easier in other prts of the US. While professional cyclists can afford to incur such costs, John Q. Citizen might balk at spending that much cash all at once for something they might wear only once or twice a week. Even people who commute to work by bicycle might not want to spend more than ten bucks on something that they'll only be wearing for a half hour out of the day.
Granted, if they do fall off their bike and injure their hands, the medical bills may make the price of gloves look cheap by comparison.
For people without a lot of cash who still want to wear gloves when they ride, some will buy a pair of gardening gloves and cutoff the fingers. Other will buy the really cheap ones with the fishnet-like appearance, which are the type of cycling gloves I truly loathe.
Appearance: a lot of cyclists want their gloves to look nice. You know, with matching color schemes and (I think) stupid stuff like that. I guess it makes a difference if you're out riding to socialize and meet new people. For me, it really doesn't matter. I just want the gloves to keep skin from getting ripped off my hands in the event I crash. I don't ask for much in this regard. One thing I really hate are gloves with spaces between the fabric that allow sunlight to pass-through. It could be from those cheapo fishnet gloves or the ones that leave a space near the wrist part where the velcro strap is located. For some reason, some people who make cycling gloves think that it's a good idea to leave a space there. Maybe they don't realize that allows sunlight through, which allows that part of the hand to get tanned and it looks like you've got liver spots or something. The fishnet ones are just gross in that your hands look like leopard skin, which is not only wrong, it's idiotic. Maybe they make the net gloves because it's cheaper material, but there are certainly other alternatives out there.
Washable: Since perspiration and rainwater will run down your arm to your hands when you ride, your gloves can get smelly. The smell sticks to your hands and people might think you've been sticking your hands into the trash at McDonalds or something. You want gloves you can wash. While leather gives good protection, all leather gloves will absorb water in the wash and get all warped. So, an all-fabric glove works best.
What I want out of cycling gloves is really simple. I don't need anything dumb, like a little extra bit of fabric on the thumb to wipe away perspiration (I actually found a set of gloves where this is a "feature") or stripes or even nifty colors. I don't need Lycra materials, as they are rather fragile and I sure don't need a little reflective material on the gloves, since I add my reflective material to the bike frame, where it will do the most good. While Lycra is a breathable fabric, you already have hole in the fingers and the glove only goes to your wrists. Besides, Lycra won't do you any good if you crash.
Cycling gloves made for the daily rider, like bike messengers, should be made of sturdy material. Canvas or denim might work fine and you'll be able to mend them with a needle and thread if they get torn. The Velcro strap should be longer than typical, going over to the other side of the hand to make them more adjustable. The palm should have some sort of padding, maybe with a bit of treadlike material. No gelpacks to come out of a tear and reflective strips are not needed.
Here's the closest thing I could find to my needs
These Reflective Cycling Gloves - Padded Fingerless Gloves in Synthetic Leather are sold by Aero Tech Designs, a company that sells cycling apparel  in Coraopolis, PA and here isthe link so you can buy a pair. The gloves are all-fabric, with synthetic suede for the palm. A pair of these costs $9.95 before shipping costs are added, so I advise buying 2 or 3 pairs, so you'll always have clean gloves to wear. It has some reflective material, which I don't put much stock in anyway, but the palm has a sandpaper-like feel to it, which gives good traction on the handlebars. You can wash them without the gloves getting warped and the fabric is mend-able in the event of tears or the stitching coming loose. The colors are plain, not gaudy and the overall quality of the material is good and it will last a long time, as long as you don't get into a really bad accident. The best part about these gloves is that they don't have that little space that lets sunlight in, so you don't get a weird tan on your hands.
In my opinion, this is the perfect set of gloves for people who ride their bikes on a daily basis.
Duane Browning
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