Often overlooked, road bicycle gloves are an essential part of cycling safety. After the head, our hands are probably the most delicate and exposed part of our anatomy, and they are often the first to take a hit on the ground either at low or high speeds.
A great pair of road cycling gloves must be lightweight, comfortable, and if possible snug-fitting for aero gains. All that combined with abrasion-resistant materials to protect as much as possible from road rash, and certain elements of design and color.
Traditionally, road cycling gloves are fingerless. This feature helps to maintain the finger sensibility to shift gears, open energy bar wrappings, or perform other tasks while on the bike. All the models we’ll review in this article are fingerless or short gloves.
Let’s take a look at some of the best road cycling gloves available in the market.
Top 10 Road Cycling Gloves
1. Rapha Core Mitts
Fabric: 98% polyester/2% elastane
Palm material: Foam
We’ll start from the basics, and with Rapha you can never go wrong. The Rapha Core range was envisioned to cater to every cyclist, from novel to seasoned, and deliver a basic yet atemporal and sturdy product.
These gloves feature a highly breathable 4-way stretch fabric on the top of the hand paired with faux leather palms. The foam padding is thick enough to significantly reduce vibrations in the most rugged roads.
The Rapha Core Mitts take special attention to little details. We love the understated finger pulls that help with glove removal, the comfortable yet snug cuffs, and the minimalistic Rapha logo printed on the sides.
- Not especially lightweight or aero
2. Castelli Competizione
Colors: Bordeaux, red, dark blue, saville blue, dark grey, black
Fabric: Stretch mesh
Palm material: Synthetic leather and silicone
When summer temperatures rise it’s tempting to ditch wearing gloves. Italian brand Castelli has come up with their lightest and thinnest gloves to keep your hands protected even on the most scorching hot days.
The Castelli Competizione features an incredibly stretchy and breathable top mesh that feels almost like not wearing gloves. The cuffs also offer a generous stretch to allow for easy insertion, while the thin synthetic leather palm offers a great feeling of the bars but it’s not durable in the long run. Silicone inserts give these gloves a great grip but not enough cushion for long rides.
Excellent choice when every gram counts and for racing with extremely high temperatures, not an endurance type of gloves though. Warning: these gloves’ sizes run significantly small.
3. Pearl Izumi Elite Gel
Fabric: 49% polyamide, 41% polyester, 10% elastane
Palm material: 60% polyamide, 40% polyurethane
The Pearl Izumi Elite Gel is without doubt one of the most comfortable road cycling gloves out there. Its latest iteration has been redesigned to take on any road condition in comfort and style.
In terms of design, the Elite Gel is quite a classic glove. It comes only in black color and features a traditional hook and loop closure, making it easier to put on and off. It has some other traditional features such as the sweat wiping surface on the thumb area but the best element of this model has to be the soft gel padding on the palms.
A glove to put countless miles on, the Pearl Izumi Elite Gel delivers the perfect combination of performance, durability, and comfort. As a plus, I’m a big fan of the closure system, the lack of logos, and the reflective stripe on the sides.
- Limited colors
4. POC Essential Short-Finger Glove
Fabric: 4-way stretch
Palm material: Perforated synthetic leather
Swedish brand POC is world-renowned for its bicycle helmets. It was only natural that they expanded their product lines towards other elements of bicycle safety keeping the signature minimalist look and the quality construction of their products.
The POC essential glove has a sleek and minimalist design only available on “uranium black”. It features a lightweight four-way-stretch fabric coupled with a sturdy synthetic leather palm that is reinforced in some areas for extra comfort and durability.
These aren’t the lightest gloves with the most cutting-edge performance materials out there but will surely do the job of keeping your hands safe in case you hit the deck, and their quality fabrics and construction will outlast many other brands.
- Small sizing
5. Giordana Strada
Colors: Fluoro yellow, red, royal blue
Fabric: Microfiber, Lycra
Palm material: Gel inserts
The Giordana Strada are gloves designed for rough road conditions. They lack fancy materials, finishings, or design features, but they can offer all the comfort and performance you need on a road cycling glove for a very competitive price range.
The outer part is made of lycra and it stretches and adapts beautifully to the hand. The sizing is true and it has a classic hook and loop closure system. My favorite aspect of the Strada gloves is the high visibility thanks to not only its fluoro yellow color but the reflective band and logo on top.
The palm is extremely plush and padded thanks to the gel inserts of about 8 mm thick. These surely can take the sting out of rough tarmac but can also feel slightly heavy. The soft fabric on the back of the thumbs is a nice detail to wipe out sweat.
Excellent entry-level gloves well-padded for the worst road conditions and with great visibility. A little basic but overall superb value for money.
- Great value
- High visibility
- Basic design
6. Giro Jag
Fabric: Microfiber, Lycra
Palm material: EVA foam
If we keep looking at entry-level performance road gloves, the Giro Jag is a great example of a beautiful minimalistic design with basic features and a very competitive price.
Giro has put a lot of thought into the ergonomics of this glove and the upper part features a 4-way stretch Lycra material that is extremely soft and also highly moisture-wicking. The closure system features a well-designed low-profile Velcro strip.
On the palm, they have a three-piece pad design strategically placed for impact absorption and ease of movement. The EVA foam padding is not extremely thick so it hampers the feeling of the bars. It also features a tab at the end of the palm to help slide the gloves in.
Another basic road cycling glove with a design that’s way too good for its low price point but might deteriorate faster than other more expensive models.
- Construction quality
7. Giro LX
Colors: Black, tan, white
Fabric: Pittards Cabretta leather
Palm material: Pittards vented leather, 3mm Technogel padding
For the nostalgics of classic road racing or just for the sheer pleasure of the leather feeling, the Giro LX is a top-of-the-range road glove that will transport you to a bygone era of style and panache.
Let’s be honest, leather is not for everyone and every condition, especially if you are going to be riding in scorching temperatures and high humidity. But there is something magical about the feel and properties of a leather glove.
The Gire LX manages to combine this feel and allure of the past with contemporary performance features like the high absorbent microfiber surface, the technogel padding, and the reflective material details.
If you are after a clean and sleek look, perhaps for your city commutes, and don’t mind splashing a bit of cash, I haven’t found any fancier-looking gloves out there than the Giro LX, especially in the tan color version!
- High price tag
8. PEARL IZUMI Pro Gel
Palm material: Synthetic leather
Despite looking so minimalistic, the Pro Gel are the most sophisticated gloves Pearl Izumi makes. These are slip-on ultra-aero gloves that not only offer aero advantages but are well optimized for comfort on longer rides.
The upper is made of moisture-wicking quality polyester that provides a great fit and aerodynamics, and a cool feeling under hot conditions. It also features a sweat-wiping surface on the back of the palm and built-in tabs under the middle and ring fingers to help pull them off.
The synthetic leather palm offers great durability and it features 3D-shaped gel pads optimized to reduce the bulk and maintain great comfort on the bars. The palm is also perforated to aid cooling.
A race-ready glove model that is ready to perform under any condition. Quality construction and great durability for a mid-range price point.
- Hard to put on and off
9. GORE WEAR C5
Colors: White, black, red, navy
Fabric: 82% nylon, 18% elastane
Palm material: 60% nylon, 40% polyurethane
Gore Wear is highly specialized in researching and developing cutting-edge materials for the most technical cycling products out there. The C5 benefits from Gore Wear’s expertise to be one of the safest and most durable road cycling gloves on the market.
The upper features a highly ventilated yet resistant mesh, while the palm is reinforced with abrasion-resistant materials on critical points. The palm also includes gel and foam inserts for optimal shock absorption.
The closure system is a classic hook and loop and the design overall is quite basic with some quality details such as the pull-off loops between fingers for easy removal and the reflective logos.
If you prioritized safety and durability over design and style the Gore Wear C5 are the road cycling gloves for you.
- Quality construction and materials
- Basic design
10. Sportful Race Gloves
Colors: Black, white, teal, blue, orange
Palm material: Silicone
Widely used within the pro peloton, the Sportful race gloves are surprisingly one of the cheapest options for a lightweight, minimalist, and aero race glove.
There are tight-fitting slip-on gloves for maximal aerodynamic benefits and reduced weight. The palm features silicone micro-printing dots for optimal grip while maintaining flexibility and bar feel.
It comes with classic quality details such as terry fabric on the back of the thumbs for sweat wiping and pull tabs between the middle and ring fingers.
The quintessential pro racing glove, not designed to last long or be extra comfortable but to offer the best ratio between grip, lightweight, and aerodynamics.
With dozens of glove models available on the market, what should we look for in order to make our choice? I’d suggest considering a series of variables to help you decide what pair of road cycling gloves will do the trick for you.
Firstly, you have to take into account the type of weather you’ll be regularly riding in. Half-finger or short gloves are best suited for temperatures from 10 degrees Celsius and up.
For extreme hot and humid conditions, you want to be looking at some of the lightweight options such as the Castelli Competizione, which will help with moisture management and cooling.
As much as I like a pair of classic, black-colored gloves, if you are going to be riding on busy roads an extra element of bright gear will be much helpful. Gloves like the Giordana Strada can make you visible out on the road.
Unless you are racing, one of the features you should look out for on a pair of gloves is the convenience and ease to put them on and off.
Another important factor to take into account when buying a pair of gloves would be the length and duration of your rides. The more hours you are out on the road the more beneficial it will become to have thick padded gloves such as the Giordana Strada and the Pearl Izumi Elite Gel to give you extra comfort and focus on your ride.
Hovering between $20 and $70, gloves might seem like an expensive piece of cycling equipment. However, they can spare you substantial damage to your hands in the event of a crash. When it comes to pricing, the more expensive a pair of gloves are the more durable they will tend to be.
Road cyclist, adventure traveler and graphic designer based in South East Asia, and working for international brands such as SpiceRoads Cycling and The Pedla.