There are many reasons cyclists might wear gloves. They can help cushion your hands and prevent callouses. Some gloves can keep your hands warm. Other gloves can give you protection against a spill.
Finding the right glove depends partly on the type of riding you do. A century (100 mile) road rider might want different gloves than a mountain biker. Still, there are some gloves that are just superior to others, and the good news is that they don’t change that much.
Here are our 5 favorite cycling gloves right now
Open Finger Gloves
Garneau Biogel RX-V (here on Amazon)
When it comes to cycling gear, you can’t go wrong with a name like LG. The Garneau gloves reflect the design and construction of all of their other gear — consistent, durable, and functional. The RXV gloves have enough palm padding to provide comfort while cycling, but enough ventilation so your hands will not be overheating.
The LG Biogel gloves work well for both road and mountain biking, but we think they are probably ideal for road biking. The gloves are open-finger, a favorite for summer riders.
While the gloves are technically not waterproof, they dry out quickly and hold up well when machine-washed between rides.
- Highly breathable
- Many Color Choices
- Great for road cyclists
Pearl Izumi Elite Gel Gloves (here on Amazon)
The honor roll of great cyling gear companies continues with Pearl Izumi, which is right up there with LG. Pearl Izumi is a lock on nearly every “best of” list we have for cycling gear, because their products are just that good.
Equally suited for the road or the singletrack trails, the Pearl Izumi open-finger Elite gloves are unisex and come in four color options. We like the bright yellow for our road rides, as we try hard to make everything as visible as possible.
The Pearl Izumi Elite gloves have gel padding in the palms, probably a bit more substantial than the Garneau gloves above. If your attitude on cushion is “the more the better”, you will probably like these. Pearl Izumi has worked hard to minimize the number of seams on the glove, resulting in a silky smooth fit.
They tend to run a bit tight, so choose a size up if in doubt. They come in five size options.
- Heavier padding
- Bright colors
- Nearly Seamless
- Great value
Bontrager Circuit Gloves (here)
Bontrager makes a nice open-finger glove that provides good coverage and medium padding. They breathe well and have a little extra room for the fingers to move – a good choice if your hands tend to not fit well in other gloves.
We like the hook-and-loop latch that allows you to snug up the glove once on, and makes for an easy removal when needed. Bontrager uses memory foam to pad the gloves, creating a nice option for folks who complain that the padding in some gloves just doesn’t fit their particular hand well.
While Bontrager seems to excel in the mountain bike equipment space, these gloves should work well for any type of cycling.
- Not as bulky
- Memory foam
- Great for mountain bikers
Closed Finger Gloves
Pearl Izumi Cyclone Gel Gloves (find here)
For a good pair of closed-finger gloves, you really can’t go wrong with the Pearl Izumi Cyclones.
The Cyclone gloves provide just enough warmth to be a difference-maker on those colder days. Full-finger coverage and a nice wrist gusset help keep skin from the wind and cold.
At the same time, the Cyclones have gel padding in the palm, to offer all of the benefits you would normally find in the open-finger Pearl Izumi gloves. The padding is throughout the front of the glove, focused on the palm and the base of the fingers.
Becaue of all of the gel padding, it takes a little while to break them in. Once you do, though, they will form-fit well. It just gets a little tricky if you switch bikes and postures a lot.
We think these gloves work well between about 35 and 50 degrees, so a great option for fall and spring riding, and winter riding in areas where the mercury doesn’t dip too low.
- Great shoulder season gloves
- Nice padding
- Excellent wrist protection
- e-tip so you can use touch screen devices w/ gloves on
Sealskinz All Weather XP Gloves (find here)
The Sealskinz gloves hit the scene several years ago, but really did not hit our radar until more recently. An entire lineup of clothing made for inclimate and wet weather, the Sealskinz gloves are great performers if you expect to be riding in cool, wet weather.
The full-fingered gloves are the only on this list that boast full waterproof-ability. How? They actually are made with a dose of rubber — 4% to be exact. That is just enough rubber to make these gloves waterproof while still breathable, which is no small feat.
The gloves come in a couple colors, and have some reflective elements on them as well. The padding is on par with the medium-padding gloves on this list.
They are a warmer glove, the warmest on this list, so you may not want to go with them if what you really need is a dry-weather, 45 degree farenheit glove. But if you think you will find yourself in rain on cool days, or in colder weather and in need of some real warmth, the Sealskinz are an intriguing choice. They are surprisingly light for how warm they keep you.
While they are not cheap, they are definitely worth having in your arsenal.
- Best for really bad weather
The Benefits of Cycling Gloves
We are surprised how many cyclists we see without gloves. We think they are essential for a few reasons.
- Warmth. An obvious benefit of wearing cycling gloves is warmth. If warmth is your true goal, go with the full-finger gloves. The open-finger gloves are really not intended so much for warmth as they are for other things. When you are cruising along at 20mph on a cool fall day, you will be surprised at what temps your hands will start wanting some gloves. It is much higher than you might assume.
- Cushion. For those who might be setting out to do a century ride or other longer rides, the contact point between your hand and the handlebar can become sore and tender, and can actually cut a ride short in some situations. A good glove will add a layer of padding to that contact point, removing one of the obstacles for your new longest-ride-ever.
- Protection. For mountain bikers who are routinely on single track trails and may have the occasional spill, or the unplanned encounter with a tree branch against your knuckle, a pair of gloves can make the difference between a cut hand or not.
- All-Purpose. Gloves make lots of things just a little easier on the bike. For example, if you ride over a bunch of broken glass on the road, your first instinct might be to brush the glass off of your wheel. Without gloves? You are asking for it. With gloves? Easy. Just let the wheel roll by your glove, and after a rotation or two your tire is glass-free.
Are there Different Gloves for Road and Mountain Bike Riding?
Not really. Sure, there are some gloves advertised as road gloves and others at MTB gloves, but in reality they aren’t very different. Most experienced cyclists you ask will tell you just to find a few pairs of gloves that you like — ones for different temps — and then just use them regardless of which bike you are riding.
Can you Wash Cycling Gloves?
Yep. Well, let’s rephrase that. We are not the manufacturer of your gloves, and you should always read the manufacturer’s directions for how to wash and care for them. There, with that out of the way, we wash ours. We know some people who throw theirs in the washing machine after almost every use, but we don’t take it that far — it surely would shorten the lifespan of your gloves. We like to hand wash the gloves in a sink of warm, soapy water, approximately every 250 miles or so. Maybe a little more in the heat of the summer when our hands sweat more. Let them air dry, and consider wearing them for a few minutes while they are still damp to re-stretch them to their original shape. Shrinkage is a risk.