Pros: Heavy construction, very warm for a biking glove, water resistant.
Cons: Will make your hands sweat on warm days, difficult to dry out when wet.
Specialized Winter Glove
3M Thinsulate Flex insulated glove top where windchill is a factor.
Durable Spandex & stretch Neoprene shell for comfortable fit.
Clarino palm with printed silicone grip areas.
Body Geometry padding
Colors available: Royal Blue, Dark Grey
Rip-cord seals glove at wrist to keep out dirt and moisture
Retail price: $34.99
----- Overview -----
Gloves are an integral part of mountain biking, and keep your hands planted firmly on your controls. The grippy material on the palms and fingers of all Specialized gloves allows you to have a lighter grip on the handlebar and still maintain control. This reduces hand fatigue, numbness in your fingers, and gives you a more comfortable ride. Gloves also provide protection from tree branches while riding and from gravel and debris if you fall. Your palms will fare much better with gloves to protect them in the event of a tumble.
When the weather turns colder, most riders put their bikes away until springtime. In the northern parts of the Midwest this can happen in early October, and cut short your riding time. I decided to look for a pair of heavier gloves to go along with my layered cold weather clothing. After looking around several of my local bike shops, I actually found my pair of Specialized Winter Gloves at a biking trade show. I bought the small size, and they fit my average size hands very well. The most ideal way to determine your size is to actually try on the gloves. It's best to visit your local Specialized Dealer and test fit a pair.
The Specialized Winter Gloves are a two-piece system, with an outer water resistant shell and a soft inner liner. This allows the outer shell to repel water and the slight air gap between the inner and outer layers retains the heat from your hands. The cuffs extend up far enough to cover your wrist if you are wearing a long sleeved jersey or over-shirt. Since these are intended as biking gloves, they have reinforced palms for long life. I'm guessing I've used these gloves at least 40 hours and they show no sign of damage. I wouldn't use them as work gloves since the sides and top aren't built like a work glove, and they would be easy to rip or damage. Each thumb has a snot-wiper built into the top portion, which is VERY nice to have on long fall rides. It may sound icky, but you need a place to wipe your nose besides your sleeve. While you could wear winter gloves instead of a biking glove, the thicker fingers and extra padding make it very difficult to operate shifter and brake levers.
----- How did these gloves work for me? -----
I've been very pleased with these gloves for cold weather activities, and have even used them for snowblowing. They don't have the thick insulation that normal winter/ski gloves possess, so exposure to very low temps (0 - 30 degrees) for long periods of time isn't recommended. Here are a few examples that show when to wear the Specialized Winter Gloves. I've worn them in several long distance (25 - 30 mile) bike rides and races in November, both in the cold and in the rain. Temps usually average about 38 degrees, and with the rain it becomes quite cold. The gloves shed moisture for about an hour of steady drizzle, and then the water will start to soak through the outer shell. In another 15 to 25 minutes the inner liner will begin to feel damp. After two hours your hands will be wet and somewhat cold, but still shielded from the wind. In dry conditions with the temperature at 40 degrees, I have worn them for three hours and been perfectly comfortable.
Cleaning these gloves is very easy, but drying can take time. First you should let the whole glove soak in hot, soapy water for 30 minutes. Scrub the outer material with Soft Scrub or other detergent, then rinse with hot water. Hand-wring out excess water and air dry. I usually put them in a spot where air will circulate over them such as a heating vent or small fan. They will take up to a day or two to completely dry.
As gloves go, these are almost perfect. I can't find a reason to rate them below five stars, other than price. If you don't ride often in colder weather, they may not be worth $35. On the other hand, if you enjoy riding in the fall colors and making the most of each season, these are just the ticket.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment!