An FAQ On Cycling Gloves

bike gloves
Biking gloves are an essential yet often overlooked piece of gear for both casual and competitive cyclists. I had written about what to wear when mountain biking, and highlighted the value of biking gloves when it comes to comfort on tough terrain. Beyond comfort, cycling gloves serve multiple purposes: improving grip and protecting hands from injuries and environmental factors. With a wide range of styles, materials, and features on the market, selecting the right pair of cycling gloves can impact all areas of your riding experience.
In this blog post, we will delve into the benefits of cycling gloves, the different types available, and key factors to consider when choosing the perfect pair.

Table of Contents

Do I Need Biking Gloves for Mountain Biking?

While mountain biking gloves are not strictly necessary, they are highly recommended for several reasons. Mountain biking involves navigating rough terrain, enduring vibrations, and maintaining a firm grip on the handlebars. Wearing gloves offers several benefits in improving your overall riding experience:
  1. Enhanced Grip: Gloves are designed with textured palms to increase friction between your hands and the handlebars. This added grip allows for better control and handling, especially in wet or muddy conditions.
  2. Shock Absorption: Gloves often feature padded palms that help absorb vibrations and shocks from rough trails, reducing hand fatigue and numbness during long rides.
  3. Hand Protection: Mountain biking exposes your hands to potential impacts with trees, rocks, or the ground during a fall. Gloves provide an added layer of protection against abrasions, cuts, and other injuries. This is even more crucial if you fall off the bike when navigating around roots and rocks on rough terrain.
  4. Comfort: Gloves can help regulate hand temperature in both hot and cold weather. They can also prevent chafing and blisters that may result from long hours of gripping the handlebars.
mountain bike gloves

Ultimately, wearing mountain biking gloves is a matter of personal preference, but the added grip, protection, and comfort  make them a valuable piece of gear for many riders.

Why Do Professionals Wear Cycling Gloves?

Professional cyclists wear gloves for several reasons, including enhanced performance and injury prevention. Here are some key benefits that make gloves an essential piece of gear for pros:
  1. Improved Grip: Gloves provide better traction between the hands and handlebars, especially in wet or humid conditions. This increased grip allows for more precise handling and control, which can be critical in high-speed races where tenths of a second matter on technical courses.
  2. Shock Absorption: Many cycling gloves feature padded palms that help absorb road vibrations and reduce the impact on the hands, wrists, and arms. This reduces fatigue during long races or training rides, enabling professionals to maintain their performance.
  3. Injury Prevention: Gloves can protect the hands from abrasions, cuts, and blisters that may occur due to prolonged contact with the handlebars or in the event of a crash, especially on downhill races or on-road races like the Tour-de-France.
  4. Temperature Regulation: Cycling gloves can help regulate hand temperature in various weather conditions. In colder temperatures, gloves provide insulation, while in hot weather, they can help manage sweat and keep hands dry.
  5. Nerve Protection: Cycling can sometimes lead to nerve compression in the hands (handlebar palsy), especially on long rides, causing numbness or tingling. Padded gloves can help alleviate this issue by redistributing pressure across the palm.
  6. Comfort: Gloves can prevent chafing and provide a more comfortable ride by reducing friction between the hands and handlebars. This added comfort allows professionals to focus on their performance without distractions.
Professional cyclists wear gloves for performance, comfort and hand protection, and for those looking to upskill their cycling and compete, quality cycling gloves could offer a number of advantages.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Cycling Gloves?

Cycling gloves can provide numerous benefits for riders, but like any piece of gear, they also come with some drawbacks. Here are the main pros and cons of wearing cycling gloves:

Pros:

  1. Enhanced Grip: Gloves provide better traction between the hands and handlebars, leading to improved handling and control.
  2. Injury Prevention: Gloves protect hands from abrasions, cuts, and blisters caused by prolonged contact with handlebars or in the event of a crash.
  3. Temperature Regulation: Gloves can help keep hands warm in cold weather and manage sweat in hot conditions.
  4. Nerve Protection: Gloves can alleviate nerve compression issues by distributing pressure evenly across the palm.
  5. Comfort: Gloves prevent chafing and provide a more comfortable riding experience by reducing friction between the hands and handlebars.

Cons:

  1. Reduced Tactility: Some riders may find gloves reduce the sensitivity of their hands, making it harder to feel and control brake levers and shifters.
  2. Sweat and Odor Buildup: Gloves can trap sweat and bacteria, leading to unpleasant odors if not properly cleaned and dried.
  3. Added Expense: Cycling gloves can be an additional cost for riders, especially for those who opt for higher-end, specialized gloves.
  4. Fit Issues: Finding the right fit can be challenging, as gloves that are too tight can cause discomfort, while gloves that are too loose can reduce grip and control.
  5. Restricted Movement: Some riders may find that gloves limit their hand movements or make it more difficult to perform tasks like adjusting glasses or using a smartphone.
  6. Extra Item to Carry: Gloves are an additional item that riders need to remember to bring on their rides, and they can be easily lost or forgotten.
  7. Not Suitable for All Conditions: In extreme weather conditions, gloves may not provide adequate protection or temperature regulation, requiring riders to switch to more specialized gloves or other gear.

Tips for Choosing Cycling Gloves for Your Riding Style

Choosing the right cycling gloves for your riding style can significantly impact your comfort and performance on the bike. Here are some tips to help you select the best gloves for your needs:
 
  1. Consider Your Riding Discipline: Different types of cycling may require specific glove features. For example, mountain bikers may prioritize gloves with added protection and grip, while road cyclists might focus on padding and aerodynamics.
  2. Assess Padding Needs: Determine the amount of padding you require based on your riding style and the type of terrain you typically encounter. More padding can provide added comfort on rough roads or long rides but may not be necessary for shorter, smoother rides.
  3. Cycling Season/ Weather: Consider the weather conditions you’ll be riding in and choose gloves with materials that offer appropriate breathability, insulation, and water resistance.
  4. Ensure a Proper Fit: Gloves should fit snugly without feeling restrictive. Make sure your fingers can move freely, and there’s no excess material bunching in the palm.
  5. Consider Additional Features: Look for gloves with added features that align with your needs, such as reflective details for visibility, touchscreen compatibility, or a nose wipe panel.
  6. Try Before You Buy: If possible, try on multiple sizes and styles of gloves to determine what feels most comfortable and provides the best grip on the handlebars.
  7. Check for Durability: Look for gloves made from high-quality materials and construction, with reinforced stitching and durable palm materials.
  8. Think About Ease of Removal: Some gloves feature pull tabs or easy-off designs that make them simple to remove, even when sweaty.
By considering these factors and prioritizing the features that best align with your riding style, you can select cycling gloves that enhance your comfort, grip, and performance on the bike.

For Cycling in All Weather

As you continue your cycling journey, remember that gloves are an essential component of your gear arsenal. By choosing the right cycling gloves for your specific riding style and preferences, you can enhance your grip, comfort, and overall performance on the bike. Take the time to consider factors such as padding, material, fit, and additional features to find the perfect pair of gloves for your needs. With the right gloves on your hands, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any challenge the road or trail throws your way, making every ride more enjoyable and memorable. Happy cycling!  
 

I hope you found this useful and informative. Please check out my other posts on cycling and tips & solutions as well. This post on bike safety gear might be a relevant read. And a related podcast on hydration you can listen to. Happy Cycling! 

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