- Constraining gloves can be awful to ride on a hot day.
- Mesh inserts help cool down clenched hands, wrapped around the handlebar.
- The best gloves are those you hardly notice whilst riding.
Gloves can be a contentious part of mountain and gravel biking kit, especially in a warm weather riding environment.
The importance of having contact point protection is inarguable. When you crash the natural reaction is to put a hand out, and if it is not gloved, there is a much greater injury risk.
For some mountain bikers and gravel riders, gloves can feel constricting. This is especially true when riding long distances on sweltering days.
The best riding gloves offer protection without diluting dexterity or stymying airflow. You want a glove that retains adequate padding in the crucial places to keep your hands from cramping or going numb.
Anyone who has tried to ride 50km on a Karoo gravel road will know that even at the appropriate tyre pressure and suspension settings, corrugated rural routes can vibrate your hands to ruin.
All that low-frequency surface vibration, transmitted via the handlebar, can cause hand numbness. This reduces your ability to brake or steer with the required accuracy.
For South African riding conditions, a mountain or gravel bike glove with padding in the correct places and mesh to facilitate airflow, is ideal. This prevents your hands from becoming uncomfortably warm.
Keeping it cool and comfortable
One of the best off-road biking gloves, with all the considered design features you could imagine, is from Velocio.
Using a minimalist design, the Velocio trail glove has a streamlined fit without sacrificing safety or comfort features.
Gone is the hateful Velcro adjustment, that chafes wrists, with these minimalists’ gloves using a simple tension collar in the fabric, to achieve the ideal fit.
The glove is reinforced with high-density padding, to prevent hand numbness from those handlebar vibrations on huge gravel and trail rides.
Durability is enhanced by the presence of synthetic microsuede on the palm section, which is a primary grip contact point and an area that is destined to be most exposed to abrasive wear over time.
Velocio’s trail glove is both robust and comfortable, with superb tactility. It allows you to accurately dab a brake lever and modulate the bike’s steering and deceleration inputs, with confidence.
Unlike traditional mountain bike gloves which tend to be too padded and inflexible, feeling ham-fisted, the Velocio glove feels as comfortable as a wicket keeper’s set of inners.
By far its most appealing feature for South African riders, is the outstanding ventilation. The glove’s fingers have mesh fourchettes, which allow great stretch and compression, for fit, and excellent airflow.
For years South African cyclists would occasionally use fingerless gloves, during peak summer rides. In truth, these don’t offer adequate protection.
The latest design trend toward minimalist gloves, with superior mesh finger inserts, is a perfect solution for local conditions.
If you are going to be behind the bars for hours on a typical South African summer’s day, you want to wear a glove that is nearly unnoticeable.