On the packaging, BreezeBlockers are billed as “the ultimate solution to cold hands”. It’s that slogan that has ultimately doomed these products – which effectively act as mini fairings for your hands – to a low score.
For a small minority of riders – those who ride mainly on the tops – they may indeed be the perfect solution for winter riding. After all, a sheet of hard plastic is always going to be better at blocking cold air than a glove, which has to be both comfortable and breathable as well as wind resistant.
They’re also significantly cheaper than most winter cycling gloves, especially those that use high-tech fabrics like Gore Windstopper. And initial worries that the BreezeBlockers would obstruct access to the hoods, and therefore the brakes, proved unfounded.
Yes, it takes a fraction longer to reach the brakes but, as with clipless pedals, it’s simply a matter of learning a slightly different movement – in this case, straight back and then out and forwards to the hoods – and eventually it becomes second nature.
The plastic is flexible enough that even clumsy riders shouldn’t have any problems getting their hands in and out, as long as they’re not wearing big winter gloves. And because the BreezeBlockers negate the need for said thick gloves, when you do reach the brake levers, you have a greater degree of control.
They’re available in three different sizes (as well as lighter weight Flex versions without the carbon fibre effect) and attach to all shapes of drop handlebar quickly using zip-ties. Once in place, there isn’t a lot of room left on the bar, but we still managed to fit a pair of lights, albeit only after moving our computer to the stem.
The problem is that most riders don’t use the tops very much. Especially in winter. If you’re heading headfirst into a howling gale, you’re likely to either be on the hoods, covering the brakes, or on the drops, trying to minimise your frontal area. And in either of these positions, BreezeBlockers are no help at all.
While testing the BreezeBlockers we found that we did use the tops a little more than usual, because the plastic guards do provide good protection from the elements – as long as said elements are coming at you from the front. In fairness, you’re not likely to get much rain, snow or wind entering from the back when moving at speed.
However, we still used the hand guards for less than 30 percent of our total journey time. This meant we had to wear gloves capable of keeping us warm during the other 70 percent of our riding time – thus pretty much negating the point of the BreezeBlockers. In fact, if we didn’t have to worry about fitting our hands into the BreezeBlockers, we could have worn thicker gloves rather than slimline Windstopper ones and probably would have ended up warmer overall.
If you spend the vast majority of your time on the tops, ride in harsh conditions and have trouble finding winter gloves that either fit well enough or keep your hands warm enough, then these may be just what you’re looking for. Judged as “the ultimate solution to cold hands while on the tops” they’d get a solid 4/5.
But judged as a universal solution to cold hands while cycling, they fall well short. Something billed as the “ultimate solution” really shouldn’t involve changing your riding style (ie. spending lots more time on the tops), especially in a way that makes it less aerodynamic and efficient. For most of us, a decent pair of gloves would be a much better buy.
We’ve seen prototypes of flat bar versions of the BreezeBlockers and these look a lot more promising – with no need to change hand position to reach the brakes, they really could be useful during cold spells.