Best Cycling Gloves for 2023 + Tips How to Choose The Right Gloves

Best Cycling Gloves Tips How to Choose The Right Gloves

As an avid cyclist, getting the right pair of cycling gloves is essential to your comfort, performance and safety out on the road or trail.

But with countless options to choose from, it can be downright confusing finding the perfect match for your specific riding needs.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover absolutely everything you need to know to pick the best cycling gloves tailored specifically for YOU – whether you’re a hardcore roadie putting in 200 miles a week, weekend mountain biker bombing down trails, or a daily bicycle commuter.

You’ll discover:

  • The 5 core benefits great cycling gloves provide
  • Key factors to consider based on your specific cycling discipline
  • Exactly what to look for in padding, grip, ventilation, and essential features
  • Fitting tips to get the ideal hand-friendly fit
  • My top picks for road, MTB, cold weather, hot weather, commuting, and more
  • When to replace old gloves & proper care methods
  • Advanced glove materials and technology improving comfort and protection
  • Full breakdowns of the most recommended gloves for every type of rider
  • Plus pro tips for maximizing performance from your gloves

By the end, you’ll know exactly what cycling gloves are ideal for your unique needs and riding conditions.

No more numb, sore hands after long days in the saddle!

Let’s get started.

Why Wear Cycling Gloves At All?

Before we dive into the best gloves for different disciplines, let’s look at why wearing specialized cycling gloves is so beneficial in the first place:

1. Absorbing Road Vibration and Impact

The padded palms of quality cycling gloves are engineered to absorb vibrations and impacts from the road.

This helps prevent numbness in your hands and protects nerves in your palm from damage over time.

Those long miles on rough chip seal or washboarded dirt roads can really take a toll on your hands without effective cushioning.

2. Enhanced Grip and Handling

Silicone grips, tacky synthetic leather, and microfiber palms give you a significantly better grip on the handlebars.

Your hands are less likely to slip when sweating or when riding in wet conditions.

Enhanced glove grip gives you better speed/gear shifting and confidence in handling the bike.

3. Protection From Injury

In the event of a crash, quality cycling gloves help prevent severe cuts, abrasions, and bruising across your palms and fingers.

The padded material acts as armor against the road and dispersing the impact.

The gloves take the damage instead of your bare hands.

4. Moisture Wicking to Keep Hands Cool and Dry

Synthetic glove materials combined with ventilated mesh panels and airflow help pull sweat away from your skin while riding.

This keeps your hands drier and cooler.

Sweaty palms make controlling the bike difficult.

Proper moisture wicking alleviates this issue.

5. Thermal Regulation for Hands

Well-ventilated summer gloves allow air to flow and your hands to stay cool when heat climbs.

Conversely, insulated winter gloves with windproof outer shells retain warmth when riding in frigid air.

The right gloves help maintain ideal hand temperature year-round.

Clearly, cycling gloves improve performance, protection and comfort across every ride.

Now let’s explore what to look for based on your specific cycling discipline…

Factors to Consider Based On Your Cycling Type

Your riding style, typical conditions, and discipline have a significant impact on ideal glove features.

Road Cycling Gloves

On road bikes, priority glove features include:

  • Full padding across the palm and between the thumb and forefinger to absorb road vibration
  • Abrasion-resistant synthetic leather or microfiber palms for long-term durability
  • Terry cloth panels for wiping sweat
  • Well-ventilated backs and mesh to prevent overheating
  • Silicone fingerprints for reliable bar grip
  • Bright colors for visibility when signaling
  • Lightweight for all-day riding comfort

Mountain Biking Gloves

For mountain biking, gloves should have:

  • Durable leather or synthetic palms that can handle abrasive trail abuse
  • Reinforced fingertips using rubber for protecting against trail hazards
  • Knuckle armor shields the back of your hands from brush and crashes
  • Extra palm padding across the heel of the hand and thumb joints
  • Silicone print for grip on demanding terrain
  • Terry cloth to wipe sweat and snot!
  • Secure wrist closure like a Velcro strap to keep debris out

Cold Weather Riding Gloves

When temps drop, focus on gloves with:

  • Windproof outer shell materials to block freezing air
  • Insulating liners to trap warmth from escaping
  • Good cuff seals like neoprene to keep hands enclosed
  • PrimaLoft padding for extra warmth without bulk
  • Lobster claw options that allow fingers to share warmth
  • conductive fingertips for touchscreen use without exposing skin

Hot Weather Cycling Gloves

In sweltering temps, prioritize gloves offering:

  • Ultra lightweight and thin constructions that don’t overheat
  • Moisture-wicking and quick-dry fabrics that keep hands dry
  • High air permeability and ventilation to allow cooling airflow
  • Terry cloth panels for wiping sweat
  • Uninsulated with no inner lining or padding
  • Sun-protective materials and UV blocking fingers

Bicycle Commuter Gloves

For daily commuting, gloves should have:

  • Reflective accents for visibility when signaling
  • Bright colors so cars can see your hand motions
  • Easy on-off design for quick donning when hopping on the bike
  • Minimal padding to keep them lightweight
  • Touchscreen compatible fingertips so you don’t have to remove for using phone

Now that you know the key features for different disciplines, let’s look at specific glove materials and components that offer these needed functions.

What to Look for in Cycling Glove Construction & Materials

With so many brands and models of cycling gloves out there, focus on these aspects of quality construction and materials when making your choice:

Padding Type – Gel, Foam & Air

The padding in the palm and lower palm of cycling gloves is vital for absorbing vibrations and impacts from the road.

Common padding types include:

  • Gel Padding – Silicone gel pads offer excellent shock absorption and conform to the hand. They don’t harden in cold like some foam.
  • EVA Foam – Ethylene vinyl acetate foam is often used at the heel of the palm for its durability and vibration dampening.
  • Air Pads – Pockets of air in the padding material compress on impact and rebound to absorb shock over time. Lightweight option.
  • Multi-Density – Many gloves use layered pads of gel, foam, and air to optimize comfort, control, and protection.

The location, size, and density of padding in cycling gloves varies.

But ensure adequate shock-absorbing material across the palm and palm heel for your riding type.

Grip Texture – Silicone, Synthetic Leather, Terry Cloth

While padded palms provide cushioning, the grip material ensures you can hold onto handlebars securely, even when hands get slippery with sweat.

Common grip textures include:

  • Silicone Padding – Silicone gel dots or striping provide adhesive grip to bars.
    Often reinforced on the inner fingers for braking control. Washable and durable.
  • Synthetic Leather – Microfiber synthetic leather offers excellent tacky grip when dry or wet.
    The material also resists abrasion on palms.
  • Terry Cloth – Soft loops of terry cloth sewn onto glove palms increase friction.
    Often used as thumb/finger pads for wiping sweat too.
  • Rubberized Fingers – Rubberized fingertips ensure reliable brake and shift lever grip.
    Especially useful for mountain biking.

Make sure to prioritize grip material that matches your riding conditions – wet, dry, dirty, etc.

Finger Coverage – Full Finger vs Fingerless

Cycling gloves are available as full fingered or fingerless options:

  • Full Finger – Covers all 4 fingers and offers padding protection across the entire hand. Recommended for road and mountain biking.
  • Fingerless – Leaves fingers exposed while padding the palm and heel of hand.
    Better for warm weather. Offers less protection.
  • Touchscreen Compatible – Allows use of touchscreen mobile devices without removing gloves. Conductive forefinger and thumb.

Evaluate your need for warmth, padding, and tech use to decide on full finger, fingerless, or touchscreen gloves.

Breathability – Mesh & Light Fabrics

Proper airflow and ventilation prevents hot, sweaty hands which lead to blisters and slipping. Look for:

  • Mesh paneling – Nylon, polyester or microfiber mesh on the back of hands allows air exchange to cool and dry hands.
  • Lightweight fabrics – Thin synthetic Lycra and polyester materials minimize heat buildup and dry quickly.
  • Unlined – Gloves without inner insulation keep the hands cooler in hot weather.
  • Vent holes – Perforations and holes encourage airflow across the fingers and palms.

Maximize breathability for the conditions you’ll be riding in most. Cold weather gloves sacrifice ventilation for warmth.

Cuff Construction – Elastic, Velcro & Long

The glove cuff closure ensures a secure fit around your wrist while allowing flexibility:

  • Elastic cuffs – Stretchy Lycra or elastic conforms snugly to your wrist keeping gloves secure.
  • Adjustable Velcro – Velcro straps allow you to tailor and tighten the wrist enclosure as needed.
  • Long cuffs – Extending 2-3 inches up the forearm provides extra adjustment and coverage.
  • Waterproof membranes – Some gloves incorporate weatherproof gore-tex or similar membranes in the cuff to repel moisture.

The ideal cuff seals out wind and water without restricting wrist movement or circulation.

Visibility Features – Reflectivity & Bright Colors

Being visible and able to clearly signal is critical for road cycling and commuting near traffic. Visibility options include:

  • Reflective elements – Reflective piping, prints, and trim light up when illuminated at night.
  • High visibility colors – Bright neon yellows, oranges, greens help you stand out.
  • LED lights – Some gloves have mini LED lights built into the fingers to act as turn signals.
    Requires batteries.

Prioritize reflective and bold colors for commuting gloves and any used near traffic situations.

My Top Recommended Cycling Gloves for Every Rider

Now that you know what to look for in ideal cycling gloves, here are my top picks in various categories:

Road Cycling Gloves

Pearl Izumi Select Glove

The Pearl Izumi Select Glove features variable thickness gel padding across the entire palm that delivers excellent vibration absorption and pressure relief during rides.

The synthetic leather palm offers great grip and durability while the mesh back panel keeps hands cool and dry.

The Velcro wrist closure provides a secure fit.

Giro Bravo Gel Gloves

The Giro Bravo Gel gloves have extra padding built into the pressure points in the palm heel and thumb joint.

Moisture-wicking material keeps hands dry mile after mile.

The long stretch cuffs slide easily under jersey sleeves.

Bontrager Charger Gel Gloves

The Bontrager Charger Gel gloves use InGel padded palms to reduce hand fatigue.

The mesh back keeps the hands cool while the microfiber material is highly absorbent.

Reflective details add visibility.

Castelli Estremo Winter Gloves

The Castelli Estremo Winter gloves have a windproof and water-resistant outer shell with neoprene cuffs to seal out the elements.

The microfiber grip material provides secure handling.

Ideal for cold and wet winter riding.

Mountain Biking Gloves

Giro DND Dirt Gloves

The Giro DND Dirt Gloves utilize durable AX Suede palm material that handles abrasive trail conditions.

Rubberized fingertips maximize grip and control on brake levers and shifters.

Generous EVA foam padding protects from impacts while knuckle armor boosts protection.

Fox Ranger Gloves

The Fox Ranger gloves feature supple synthetic suede palms with silicone print for excellent grip and control.

Hard shell knuckle guards protect from impact while ventilation zones on the back of hands prevent overheating.

The Velcro wrist closure offers a snug fit.

Cold Weather Cycling Gloves

Pearl iZUMi Lobster Gel Gloves

Pearl iZUMi’s Lobster Gel gloves use a mitten design allowing fingers to share warmth while Pittards leather across the palms and fingers provides excellent wet weather grip.

The EVA and gel padding absorbs vibrations in frigid winter conditions.

SealSkinz All-Weather Gloves

The SealSkinz All-Weather gloves have fully waterproof, windproof, and breathable construction featuring an inner fleece lining to keep hands warm and dry even in freezing rain.

Reflective elements enhance visibility while silicone palm patterns ensure secure grip.

Wet Weather Cycling Gloves

Showers Pass Storm Gloves

Showers Pass Storm gloves have a waterproof and breathable Artex membrane to keep hands dry in wet conditions.

Primaloft insulation retains warmth while the pre-curved design reduces hand fatigue.

Reflective accents enhance visibility.

Pearl iZUMi Pro AmFIB Lobe Gloves

The Pearl iZUMi Pro AmFIB Lobe gloves use a lobster claw mitten design to retain heat.

The Pittards leather palm provides grip on wet bars.

Waterproof and breathable inserts keep hands dry while gel padding absorbs vibration.

Hot Weather Cycling Gloves

Louis Garneau Gel Ex Gloves

The Louis Garneau Gel Ex gloves offer a cinch closure for a customized fit.

Lightweight CoolMax fabrics wick moisture while ChillZone mesh prevents overheating on hot rides.

Plentiful gel padding protects the hands.

Giro Bravo Gel Gloves

The Giro Bravo Gel gloves have moisture-wicking material that keeps hands dry.

The long stretch cuffs slide easily under jersey sleeves.

The Variable Thickness padding relieves pressure on hands.

Commuter Cycling Gloves

GripGrab CommuterGel Gloves

GripGrab CommuterGel gloves have reflective trim for 360 degree visibility. Terry cloth thumb panels let you wipe away sweat or nose drips. The short cuff allows for easy on-off while riding. Foam padding absorbs vibration from city roads.

Pearl iZUMi Select Glove

The Pearl iZUMi Select Glove has reflective elements and bright colors for visibility.

Conductive synthetic leather allows touchscreen use.

The Velcro wrist enclosure keeps the glove secure when commuting.

Padding relieves pressure on the hands.

Proper Fit + Usage Tips

To maximize performance, here are key fitting and usage tips for your cycling gloves:

  • Try gloves on before buying and grip bars for ideal dexterity, no pinching or tight spots
  • Pick the right size – too large risks slipping off while too snug hampers circulation
  • Start each ride with dry gloves to optimize moisture wicking performance
  • Regularly wash gloves using mild detergent to prevent salt and odor buildup
  • Replace worn out gloves every 6-12 months or sooner if padding breaks down
  • Carry a spare pair in case your main gloves get soaked unexpectedly by rain or heavy sweating
  • Re-Velcro adjustable closures periodically as straps can loosen over time

Taking the time to properly fit, care for, and replace old gloves ensures you get exponentially more comfortable miles out of each pair.

The Latest in Cycling Glove Technology

With growing popularity of cycling, glove manufacturers continually innovate with new technologies and materials:

  • Touchscreen conductive fingertips – Allow phone/device use without removing gloves. Conductive threads or pads woven into fabric transmit electricity from skin.
  • Viscoelastic foam padding – Next generation pads made from advanced impact absorbing compounds provide excellent vibration damping, comfort, and longevity. Lighter than gel.
  • Kinetic heating fabrics – Special mineral-based materials reflect body heat back to the hands, keeping you warmer in cool weather.
  • Waterproof-breathable membranes – Laminated layers allow sweat vapor to escape while blocking liquid rain and wind. Keeps hands dryer.
  • Antimicrobial treatments – Application to fabrics prevents odor-causing bacteria from growing. Reduces need for frequent washing.
  • High dexterity curves and cuts – Pre-shaped palm and fingers match natural closed grip position. Reduces hand fatigue.
  • Smartphone connected – Some gloves have bluetooth connectivity and apps to display call or text notifications right on the glove.

Conclusion

Hopefully this detailed guide gave you all the knowledge needed to select the ideal cycling gloves tailored specifically for your riding style, typical conditions, and needs.

Pay close attention to padding, ventilation, grip, visibility and essential features based on how and where you ride most.

Proper fit and usage plays a role as well in getting the maximum benefits and mileage from your gloves.

While technology continues to enhance cycling glove comfort, protection and performance – the basics like supple padding, secure grip, and breathability remain paramount.

Now go grab the perfect pair of gloves so you can get back to comfortable, protected cycling season after season.

Your hands will thank you! Enjoy the ride ahead!

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Joey B. Ramsey
Passionate cyclist, father, and blogger.
I've been riding bikes since childhood and enjoy sharing my knowledge with fellow cycling enthusiasts.
My diverse bike collection allows me to write reviews and advice based on personal experience with various bikes and accessories.
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