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Choosing gloves for bike commuting

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Article posted: 27/08/2013

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As the weather turns chillier on your morning and evening commutes, it's time to rummage frantically through your drawers and then eventually realise you've lost at least one of those great cycling gloves that you swore by last winter.

There's nothing more off-putting that riding a bike with cold hands, and gloves will also protect you in the event of a tumble - your hands are always the first things to hit the deck. So here's a guide on what to look for in a good cycling glove for commuting duties.

Windproofing is the key to warmth

Above all else, your glove needs to stop the wind chill. You'll be generating your own heat on your winter commute; indeed you'll tend to ride a little faster than you might in the summer - there's something about the chill mornings that give you a greater sense of urgency. As a result you won't need thickly padded gloves. Look out for Gore Windstopper or similar materials, or look for a glove with a close weave. Open knit woollen gloves are useless in this respect, while microfleece gloves are a lot better.

A snug fit is essential

Your gloves need to fit really well, so always try before you buy. You don't want your hand movement restricted as you'll need to be able to operate brakes and gears. Go for close fitting stretchy gloves that won't get snagged on your controls.

Waterproofing - good if you can get it

Many waterproof hiking and outdoor gloves are far too bulky and restrictive. A better bet are Sealskinz gloves, which have an insulating merino layer next to the skin with wind and waterproof membrane next, topped off with an outer layer. Waterproofing isn't really essential for short commutes. Far better is a glove that still feels warm when wet. Merino wool is the best in this respect (many divers wear merino under their wetsuits) with microfleece running it a close second.

Get a grip

Make sure that your glove has a good grip on the palm and fingers. In the wet, grips, tape etc can get slippy, so make sure your gloves work in tandem with your bar covering.

Be seen

Look out for gloves with reflective materials built in. Many gloves have Scotchlite logos or piping which becomes really important when signalling at night. Car headlights will pick your hand out of the gloom - an important safety feature.

Keep your gloves clean

Shamefully, gloves are one of those items that can miss the normal washing cycle of the rest of your clothes. However, glove hygiene is important. Gloves get exposed to grime from the bike, sweat, snot, you name it - then they get stuffed in your bag ready for the next ride. Try to wash and dry them on a weekly basis to avoid the dreaded Glove Pong.

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