Features: Thinsulate insulation, ulnar pad, chemical warmer pocket How obtained: cold cash
Your hands are arguably the most important body part to keep warm on winter rides. There’s a comfort factor of course”cold hands are miserable out of proportion to their size. But more important is safety. If your hands are numb with cold you can’t shift or brake properly. I wonder how many crashes have been caused by non-functioning fingers?
I ride at 6,000+ feet of elevation in western Colorado where winters can get nippy, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to keep my hands warm. I spotted the Specialized BG Radiant gloves at Cascade Bicycles here in Montrose. They were highly recommended by the shop owner, Alan “Uncle Al” Ardizone, so I bought a pair just in time for a spate of arctic temperatures.
These are the best winter cycling gloves I’ve ever used. They’ve kept my hands toasty on rides that began at 15F degrees and ended in the low 20s. I suspect that they”d be comfortable even colder. And for really frigid temps, they have a pocket on the back for a chemical heat packet. That’s a clever idea, and the pocket doubles as a place to keep a car key or ID.
The Thinsulate lining insulates without bulk. I had no problem using STI shifters while wearing the gloves. The Hipora liner is billed as “waterproof yet breathable,” a description that usually sets off alarm bells because of my past experience with such claims. But even when temperatures reached the 40s and my hands sweated lightly, the moisture dissipated properly. I can’t tell you how the gloves will do in rain, but the nylon shell, billed as “water resistant,” worked fine in snow flurries.
The cuffs are long enough to keep your wrists warm. They seal with a hook-and-loop tab to keep out drafts in the worst conditions.
Be Size Wise
Be sure to on try these gloves before purchasing. I don’t have big hands — I can palm a basketball only under perfect conditions of humidity and motivation — but I needed size XL to give me enough room across the knuckles to avoid constriction. However, the fingers seemed a bit long for the size; extra material that made shifting and braking more cumbersome than it could have been. Still, longish fingers are better than if they were too short. If your fingers press into the end of gloves, blood flow gets reduced — a sure recipe for cold fingers.
Radiant gloves are new for 2006. I found three flaws that could be remedied in the next iteration.
- When I removed the gloves during rides and tried to pull them back on over damp hands, my skin stuck to the liner. It made putting on the gloves a bit of a wrestling match.
- The palm has a strip of material that does a good job of gripping the handlebar tape, but the fingers and remainder of the palm are leather that tended to be slippery. The grip improved as the gloves got some wear.
- Radiant gloves come with the Dr. Roger Minkow-designed Body Geometry ulnar pad for nerve protection. It cushions only the heel of the palm, however, so works best while holding the tops of the handlebar. If your grip is elsewhere, the gloves may still allow tingly fingers. I’d like to see more padding from the base of the thumb to the index finger in a half-moon shape. That would protect nerves when gripping the brake hoods, the normal hand position for most roadies.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.