By Bill Langston
Each year I add something to my winter clothing repertoire to make the cold rides more endurable, and even sometimes enjoyable. In the past I’ve used bulkier gloves to keep my hands warm, or sacrificed my hands with lighter gloves for racing and fast rides where agility and control was at a premium over comfort. This year I wanted to find a pair of gloves that were lighter volume, but still performed in keeping the cold out.
It was with this mindset that I sought out the Assos S7 Fugu Winter Gloves. I believe there is a “goldilocks balance” of being just right for winter gloves. They can be too bulky and you can’t manipulate the shifters, grab anything from your pockets, or confidently drink from a bottle. Or they can too thin and not protect your hands from the cold leading to numbness and more.
It was with this mindset that I decided to try the Assos S7 Fugu Winter Gloves. Assos is a Swiss clothing maker known for high-quality construction – premium gear at a premium price. I was willing to try a more expensive glove in the hope that it would add greater comfort to my sub-40-degree days.
Manufacturing of these gloves seems to be a very complicated process. Assos’ website describes the construction as ”Made of 6 different textiles, 15 patterns and 8 different components.” I can honestly count about 8 patterns and 6 components myself just looking at them and am willing to take their word on the rest.
Sizing: I purchased a Large. My hand circumference is 23cm and at the far end of Assos’ size range for Large, but the gloves fit comfortably.
Design: As mentioned previously the Assos line takes great care in design. My initial interest in the gloves was because of experience with some of the company’s other quality products – I’ve been riding a pair bib shorts from them for years and have been extremely satisfied with them.
After riding over 30 winter hours, and several washings, the gloves still appear like new. Each stitch is solid and the different fabrics show no signs of wear.
Features: The gloves have a well-placed piece of Terry cloth on the back of the index finger for wiping runny noses, and reflective fabric on the underside of the pinky for better low-light visibility. There is a zipper on the cuff that can be closed to get a truly snug fit or left open for a little venting to keep the gloves from swamping if a cold day quickly turns sunny and warmer.
There’s also a small pad under the leather on the meaty part of your palm to dull road noise, and some silicone accents on the fingers and palm to better grip the bars or whatever you need to hold onto on the road. However, unlike many modern gloves, these don’t feature any touch-screen fingertips to allow use of mobile devices while wearing them.
Performance: The gloves have a stated temperature range of 32-46 degrees F (0 – 8 C). This takes some of the guess work out of the age-old question, What should I wear today? while getting kitted up before a cold day out. I found the gloves to be quite comfortable in this range and, depending on your personal tolerance for the cold, they may get you to a few degrees below 30.
I wore the gloves on many 3-hour days in sub-30s and never experienced the cold pain you can get from a less protective, less insulated glove. For days much colder I used a light wool glove liner that could keep them very comfortable into the mid-20s. If a cold day turns into a 50+ degree day, they do get quite warm, and I would suggest a lighter glove to switch to in that type of weather.
Comfort: The very snug fit, coupled with a well thought out design make these gloves very comfortable on the road. So much so that on cold days you are not thinking about cold fingers, and you’re not concerned about confident shifting or braking under multiple layers, whether riding casually or pushing yourself. Reaching into pockets to get a gel or bar wasn’t quite as much of a chore as with bulkier cold weather gloves, either.
Final Thoughts: You can definitely find a lot of high-performance gloves for your winter riding at the price range of the Assos S7 Fugu Winter Gloves. These gloves go for $100-150 at many online retailers.
While the entry price can be steep, I evaluate them (as on all products I buy) on the perceived lifetime of the product. I consider myself to be very frugal with my cycling dollar, but also look at more expensive purchases as an investment. With the expectation that these will last five or more seasons at a minimum, I find them a good value despite the high price point for an accessory that might not excite you as much as computers, wheelsets, or other components, but so extend your riding season, and add comfort on cold days.
Bill Langston lives in North Carolina and started in cycling as a junior BMX racer. These days, he spends most of his time pedaling on the road or trudging through the mud in cyclocross races in the fall.