Last year, Specialized released an unassuming new glove, something that apparently took three years in the making with the help of hand-specialist orthopedic surgeon Dr Kyle Bickel M.D. Where it’s common to see glove-padding increase to help overcome hand numbness, Bickel’s Grail glove design went the opposite way.
The ‘Equalizer’ gel pad – the key feature of the glove – is simply designed to fill in the concave shape of your hand, therefore providing a constant surface across your palm. With this, it’s claimed the more even load distribution helps to fix the loss of circulation that commonly leads to numb or sore hands.
We’ve been testing the short finger Grail gloves since the product’s launch and have come away with a completely different outlook on glove padding.
Like everyone else, we were used to gel pads at the ball of the hand and covering the naturally softly-padded section of your palm. The short finger Grail glove offers a different sensation.
Pretty simple, isn't it?
The single-piece perforated gel padding is rather thin, and adds little bulk to your grip. We liken it to riding without gloves, where there's a more connected feel to the bar, and not a muted sensation like heavily padded gloves can cause. If you've got smaller hands, it's likely you'll greatly appreciate the minimal padding and associated easier reach to the brake levers.
Additionally, our hands remained more comfortable and showed no signs of numbness. The same can’t always be said when we use thickly padded gloves, or no gloves at all.
On the hottest of summer days, we did feel the palm become a little clammy in line with the gel pad, but only gloves with no padding at all perform better in this regard, and riding without gloves would have us gripping the bar firmer for traction.
Beyond the Equalizer gel pad, the rest of the glove’s construction is familiar and minimal. The glove does away with any form of Velcro, and simply slips on snugly. The thin synthetic leather palm has proven durable; while the back of the hand is treated to a stretchy, lightweight, and breathable mesh. With such a lightweight construction, a pair of small gloves weighs just 28g.
At the thumb is a soft ‘Microwipe’ surface for sweat or things a little grosser. Helping to remove the gloves are subtle pulls on the middle and ring fingers. Minimal silicone grippers are given on the same fingers for bar control, though they're really too small to make a noticeable difference.
Lastly, there’s the aesthetic – Specialized has kept the branding minimal. We feel this is a good call and will allow more riders, no matter their preference to clothing brand, to reap the benefits of this Body Geometry product.