Fingers and hands are a funny things. Some people can cycle year round with the minimum of coverage claiming not to feel the effects of Jack Frost. Others (and I fall into this category) are big girls blouses, and suffer from painfully cold hands at even the mention of colder temperatures. This means, what suits one person doesn't always suit another. However, I know I am not alone in my pursuit of the perfect weather cycling glove.
In fact, I have discovered over the years that it doesn't exist. I have in fact discovered (and this is a fact that Evans and other cycling shops will no doubt be pleased about) that instead of there needing to be one perfect cycling glove, there needs to be four.
- Glove 1: Summer mitts. These are for those rare days when the sun shines and the temperature rises (a rare thing indeed)
- Glove 2: Rubbish weather glove. Just a bit too cold for the summer mitts meaning you need full coverage, but not too much insulation.
- Glove 3: Cold weather glove. It's pretty chilly out and without proper protection it would hurt!
- Glove 4: Bl**dy baltic: Any sort of exposure and you can't feel your hands for the rest of the day.About -5C and below.
So what about the Castelli and Louis Garneau gloves?
First off the Castelli.
These were a first for me. I had never up until this point ever owned a pair of Neoprene gloves. I must admit I would never have chosen neoprene gloves myself as I have always strived for wind and waterproof gloves. However, I was very interested to try them, so try them I did.
Over the last few weeks the weather has been pretty wet and windy, and in Glasgow the temperature has been somewhere between 4C and 8C at the times when I commute. Therefore, as this glove is sold with a suggested temperature range of 4C - 15C the weather was in the right ballpark. Therefore, these gloves have been on the most. Thus I haven't managed to try out the Louis Garneau gloves as much as I would have liked. I've heard that the weather is set to get colder, so I'll save the full review of them for later.
On with the Castelli review.....
The first thing I noticed when I put them on was how thin they were. My hands felt quite exposed. I also noticed how flexible they were. In fact I have found that I can do everything I need to do in the final stages of heading off on the bike (switch on/off lights and cameras, lock doors, put my helmet on etc). That is very useful for me as I often need to sort stuff around the bike outside in the elements. Having the gloves on mean my fingers don't get exposed. The only thing I can't do with these gloves on is work my phone. Smart phone friendly finger tips would be a nice addition.
But how did they actually do at keeping my fingers warm?
Pretty good to be honest. You first need to get used to having wet or slightly damp hands. No matter what the weather, you hands will be damp, either from sweat or rain. However, that doesn't really matter if they keep you warm, so long as you don't mind the slightly damp feeling, which I didn't. In most conditions they kept my hands surprisingly toasty.
I did find that when it was towards the colder end of the range (i.e. 4-6C) and if it was raining quite heavy at the time, meaning that the rain was cold, that my hands would get quite cold. This issue was especially acute at the start of a ride. However, once my body had warmed up, there was enough insulation in the Neoprene to warm my hands back up again. I never actually got home on my 12 mile commute with cold hands.
Am I happy with them. Yes I am, and I'll continue to use them throughout the winter. I just need to make sure that if it is below about 6C and raining heavy that I go for a different pair of waterproof gloves. The Louis Garneau gloves perhaps?
On the looks side they do the job nicely, at least they would do if the rest of my kit looked as good. Wearing them I feel like I need to upgrade the rest of my cycling gear to match! I can imagine though, that Lycra warriors out on a club run would look the bees knees in them with their go faster stripes!
I did come across one problem with the gloves. It turns out that they don't like sitting on hot radiators. Not having had this type of glove before I didn't know that Neoprene and high temperatures don't mix. Through my own stupidity I managed to melt a few holes in them! Despite this, I haven't noticed any reduced performance (the holes are small). Lesson learned. This does mean that drying them can be a bit more difficult, but I've found hanging them above the radiator on a window sill is good enough to get them dry for the ride home at the end of the day.
One other problem that I have heard about, though not experienced yet is that they can get smelly. If you don't manage to dry them properly for a few days, they can take on a life of their own. Over the last month I've been careful to turn them inside out at the end of each ride and to get the dry. I'll report back if I have any future problems.
All in all, I've been pleasently surprised by the Castelli gloves. I'd certainly suggest having a look at them and other Neoprene gloves. If you do get some, let me know how you get on!
(Disclaimer: Evans Cycles approached me asking me to write a review of these gloves. That was very kind of them. Thank you! However, don't be fooled, I have a reputation to uphold, so if I think something is rubbish, I'll say so. These gloves weren't rubbish! You'll see that is the case as you will undoubtedly see them in future videos as I continue to wear them.)