A more up-to-date version of this article can be found here: Best cycling gloves for winter riding
Your extremities are the first things to suffer during winter; they take the brunt of the cold and wet conditions. Holding onto the handlebars, your hands require a lot of protection to keep them warm and prevent the weather from spoiling your ride. A sound pair of winter gloves is an essential part of your riding wardrobe.
The trouble is, selecting the correct gloves can often be a double-edged sword. For warmth, gloves are often made with thick insulation but this can restrict movement and reduce feedback at the controls. Too light a glove, though, and the cold and wet will find its way through the inadequate protection. The trick is getting the mix just right and dressing for the occasion.
Performance membranes are an ideal way of adding lightweight protection. The windstopping membranes work the best and although they aren't waterproof they are breathable and keep your hands warm by reducing wind chill. Waterproof gloves are often too bulky and restrictive.
The upper, along with the index finger, takes the brunt of the weather and is the most insulated and protected area on winter gloves. Gauge insulation and warmth properties on what conditions you ride in and on how much you suffer in the cold. There's no point in going for a heavy winter glove if you're a fair weather rider, or a thin glove in the depths of an Arctic winter.
The cuff should fit gently against the arm. Some will feature adjustable Velcro closures to seal out the elements. This also makes taking them on and off a lot easier. A long cuff will sit against the long sleeves of a jersey or jacket to better seal out the weather. Look for pull tabs to make getting the gloves on easier.
The fit should be snug but not tight. A tight, poor fitting glove will restrict circulation and make your hands get cold. Always try a pair on before buying because all gloves fit differently.
The thinner the better for feeling the controls, but a thin palm will reduce insulation. The trick is to get the mix right. Silicone gripper gives a firmer hold.
While some women with larger hands can easily wear men's gloves, the smallest sizes just aren't little enough for many gals. Properly fitting gloves boost confidence more than you'd think because hands are directly responsible for controlling the bike.
Too big a glove leads to excess material at the tips, which can get in the way of braking. Likewise, a loose palm section can cause hands to slide around on the bar. Women-specific gloves address these fit issues with smaller, thinner shaped fingers and palms.
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