Ok, i admit it. I am a glove junkie. I am very picky about my riding gloves and I am always trying out new gloves and looking for the perfect glove for different riding conditions. Actually, I am very picky about everything on my bike and my bike gear, but I am especially picky with the 3 points of contact on a bike. The 3 points of contact, in case you didn’t know, is your butt, your feet and your hands. I spare no expense when considering bicycle accessories and bicycle components that are part of this three point contact system. If you are like me, and you ride almost everyday, then taking extra care when selecting bicycle parts in these three key areas will make your rides much more comfortable.
So, as you may or may not know, i am also a certified weight weenie and a total minimalist in my outdoor gear selection, as you can tell by looking at the bike I ride, posted in a previous blog post and the 18 pound Niner Air 9 Carbon above. So when I consider gloves for my cross country style riding, I like gloves with minimal padding. I like to feel the bar very well and i don’t want much between me and this very crucial control point. All I really want is just enough protection to keep my hands from blistering and enough protection on the finger tips to keep from peeling a fingernail off in case of a crash. Yes, I always wear full finger gloves on a mountain bike for just this reason and yes it is a lesson learned from personal experience. I don’t like a lot of padding in my gloves for several reasons. Reason number one is that I cant feel whats is going on underneath me as well when the glove has extra padding. I also feel that if you have your controls setup correctly, you should not need extra padding in your gloves. If your stem length is correct and your frame size is appropriate and your saddle height is properly adjusted and your core strength is good, then you should not be putting a lot of pressure on your hands that would require extra padding in your gloves. If you are putting extra pressure on your hands then you should figure out why by looking at those other areas instead of trying to mask the problem with extra padding on your gloves. I also don’t like extra padding in the palm of a glove as it tends to come with more stitching and seams in that critical area that tend to bunch up and reduce feedback and create blisters. So, I am a minimalist all the way.
So here are some things I DO want in a glove. I want a minimalist design with minimal padding. I want a glove that fits well with no bunching in the palm and I want a glove that gives me a good grip on the handlebar in dry or wet conditions. I want the glove to be durable enough for daily riding and I like it to be easy get on and off. Thats all; is that asking too much? Well maybe, but like I said I am picky or at least that is what my riding buddies tell me. Well there is one more thing that I like in a glove since I am asking for the world, I like to be able to operate an iPhone without removing the glove. This last one is not a must have, but it is a nice bonus.
So, what glove has all these qualities and has got my attention?
Well before I get to that I would like to mention my constant standby glove that gets me through dry spells when there is nothing available that fits all my criteria. The Fox Racing Incline Glove is light, has minimal padding and it is cheap. However as mentioned earlier I don’t really care about cheap when it comes to the 3 Points of Contact. But when I cant find a higher quality glove, the Fox Racing Incline gets me through any dryspells and seems to be available year after year with minimal changes except maybe cosmetic changes. The fox glove works well but they wear out pretty quick and they don’t offer the feel of a higher quality glove, but hey at least they cheap and available.
The Hirzl Gripp
So my current glove of choice has just recently become available in the US. It is made by a company called Hirzl out of Germany but is now being distributed here in the US. The glove has the tactile feel of a very nice racquetball or golf glove. The glove is made of very thin well tanned kangaroo leather and the stitching is amazingly small and tight, kind of what you would expect to see on the finest Italian shoe. And they fit like a glove should. One word of caution on the fit. These gloves are very European so the sizing runs small when compared to US sizing. I normally use a large in US sizing and had to get an XL in the Hirzl to get the proper fit. The glove is amazingly supple, feels like the finest chamois and doesn’t bunch up in the palm. It is also very well vented so it doesn’t get hot even in the dead of summer. I have had other leather gloves that I couldn’t wear in the summer because of improper venting. Giro and Knog in particular came out with a leather glove but neither of them lasted very long on my picky hands. The Hirzl glove has very small vented openings in the palm that are incredibly low profile you cannot feel the opening nor the seams and so far after 6 months of usage the little tiny vents have not torn open. The backside of the glove is very well vented also and keeps your hands from sweating anymore than they normally would. The glove fits low on your wrist like a racquetball glove so it allows your wrist full movement without chafing. These gloves are slightly sticky and work really well with ESI foam grips on your handlebar.
The two small vents can be seen above just below my pinky ans another between my thumb and index finger. You can also see there is a very thin gel pad covering the outer edge of my palm. No other padding is provided which I love. It is just enough.
Durability so far has been very good. I have about 6 months of usage on the ones in the photo. Three months in the fall of 2012 and now another three months in the spring of 2013. They have held up very well under almost daily riding and racing conditions. With Fox gloves i would go through two or three pairs per season when they would develop either holes in the finger tips or seams coming undone. So far the Hirzl’s look good as new even after 6 months.
And of course one of the most amazing things I love about this glove is that you can operate an iPhone with them on. I guess because the kangaroo leather conducts heat from your finger, so the iPhone screen recognizes it easily and responds.
So, the Hirzl is now my new all time favorite cross country glove for 3 seasons. So, usually when I find something that works, I buy a dozen of them because as you know everything changes every year in the bicycle business, and you may not be able to get the one you like if it gets discontinued or is always out of stock when they become super popular.
So there you have it. These gloves are not cheap. They retail for $50. You may be able to find them at your local bike shop but in case you cant, you can help support future Bicycle Accessory product reviews and this blog by buying them from our little shop in Heber City Utah. Please excuse the rough looking images on our website. Google forces us to remove any watermarks even though we pay for the rights to use the images. Thanks for reading. What is your criteria for a great glove? Let me know. I may want to try it them out. Hirzl Gloves