While out cycling the other day (exploring Dorset’s Highlands), it occurred to me that my cycling mitts were nearly 25 years old. The reason that this crossed my mind was because, by the end of my 54-mile day tour, I was noticing a distinct lack of padding in their palms.
To be honest, I cannot recall if they even had much padding when I bought them but, if they did, it became compressed a long time ago. The stitching of a couple of the finger holes had unravelled as well. Overall, they were somewhat worn out, so it was time to investigate options for their replacement.
After some judicious research online, I ordered a pair of ‘Endura Hummvee Plus MTB Mitts II Black‘ from Leisure Lakes Bikes, a family-run business, which is based in the north of England (my local bicycle shop does not stock the Endura brand).
The small wheels of a Brompton invariably result in quite a harsh ride, unless the road/path surface is buttery smooth. The result of this is that the handlebars transfer quite a lot of ‘road shock’ to your hands and arms. As ever, everything is a trade-off: a Brompton offers many, many advantages, but this is one of the downsides.
It is only really now that I’m travelling much further (typically 30 to 50 miles on each touring day) that I’ve really noticed the vibration: either towards the end of a day, when I’m tired, or when travelling fast on a downhill section of poorly-surfaced road. The handlebar grips that Brompton supply with their bicycles are a bit basic, so many folk do replace them fairly quickly with more ergonomic variants. I’ll probably do that in due course, but I’ll let the ones supplied with the bike wear out first, in the interests of economy.
Anyway, my new gloves arrived earlier this week, and I’ve been wearing them for my daily commute to work. In a nutshell, it is like wearing shock absorbers on your hands. I have purposely ridden over rougher sections of road and cycle path, to see how much they absorb road shock, and I have been impressed with how much less I can feel.
They are marketed as mountain biking gloves, so they are more substantial than many of the road cycling designs for which I found reviews online. That suits me. Having said that, they do not feel that bulky when wearing them. Here are their key features:
- Gel padding
- Microfibre palm fabric with grippy silicone palm print
- Open-weave knitted fabric on back of hand for ventilation
- Neoprene knuckle protection
- Adjustable cuff with Velcro strap
- Wicking terry sweat wipes on the thumbs
They are available in black or red. Compared with my blue-patterned cycling mitts the black option is somewhat more subtle, which I prefer. I’m not a fashion victim, but …
I have no idea whether these will last as long as my old cycling mitts, but even if they do not, I think my time touring on my bicycle will be much enhanced by wearing them. I also think they will provide more protection in the event of an accident, when hands are often the first thing that comes into contact with the ground. So far, so good.
I did look at leather-palmed gloves – with crocheted cotton backs – but reviews of these were overwhelmingly negative (the leather hardening with use or in the rain, and the crocheted cotton absorbing a lot of water in the rain). I hope that, if these Endura gloves last anything like as long as my last pair of cycling mitts, the overall environmental impact of the man-made materials from which they are made will be minimal. I am, in any case, gradually reviewing my ‘wardrobe’, and moving away from plastic-based clothing, wherever this is feasible (Friends of the Earth have a very interesting post on micro-plastics, which I found very informative).