Cycling Gloves

Learn how to choose the right pair of cycling gloves, so you can get the most out of your bike riding experience.

The first step in choosing a cycling glove is deciding how you plan to use it. Make an honest assessment of the type of riding you do. Do you ride primarily on roads and bike paths, or are you strictly an off-road rider? Are most of your rides over two hours long, or do you stick mostly to half-hour treks around the neighborhood? It's important to know these things, because full finger cycling gloves come in a wide variety of styles, materials and constructions. Getting a glove that's not designed for your type of riding will almost guarantee you problems down the road.

Ok, I've decided what style of riding i do most. How do I begin to choose?

After deciding what kind of rides you do most, the process gets much easier. Manufacturers and retailers generally sort their apparel by style of riding. So if you do a lot of BMX riding, head over the BMX section of the bike shop, and look for a glove that's labeled as being marketed to a BMX rider. These gloves are generally thick and tough, with a leather or durable synthetic palm, and plastic sections of armor on the back of the hand, to protect it, while still providing flexibility. For most road rides, look for light, breathable gloves with a thin mesh construction and padded palm. If you need a winter glove, look for one with wind-stopping insulation, and a waterproof palm, if possible. If your local shop doesn't carry any winter-specific equipment, you might try looking for a downhill or cross country ski glove instead.

Of course, there is some crossover between different types of riding. Freeride or downhill mountain bike gloves have many of the same characteristics as BMX gloves, so if you can't find a fit in your specific category, look at gloves designed for similar styles of riding. What you never want to do, however, is pick a glove based entirely on appearance. Say a particular BMX glove looked stylish to you, but you were going to use it as a long-distance road glove. Sure, it looks nice, but it's not very breathable, and the palm is designed to save skin in crashes, not support your upper body for hours on end. You'd probably finish your first ride on them with sweaty, smelly hands and very sore wrists.

OK, I've found the glove I want. Where should I buy it?

Though a variety of internet sites offer enticingly low prices, it's usually best to buy your glove at a local shop, simply because hands and gloves come in a variety of sizes, and anything less than a perfect fit can cause problems down the line. Also, buying from a shop allows you to inspect the manufacturing quality of the glove before purchase. Keep an eye out for loose threads and fraying materials and avoid them at all costs. Turn the glove inside out, and check the internal stitching for errors, too. The last thing you want is a glove that will end up making you itch. Don't be afraid to ask questions to someone working at the shop. Sure, they're interested in making a sale, but they're far more interested in gaining a customer, and will most likely answer your questions honestly.

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