Cycling gloves are considered by some to be an optional fashion accessory, solely intended to make cyclists look more like professionals. However, even for casual riders, cycling gloves have benefits that improve the overall riding experience. Along with gloves and eyewear we consider gloves a safety as well as comfort item.
The most important aspect of gloves is that they protect and comfort cyclists’ hands. The constant pressure, friction and vibration on palms and fingers can lead to calluses, blisters and general discomfort. The padding and extra protective layer of gloves greatly reduces the chance of skin irritations forming. For very long rides, cyclists can also experience numbness or tingling from the pressure in their wrists. Riders are less likely to experience this with cycling gloves.
Another protective factor of cycling gloves is shock absorption. Bumps in the ground cause energy shocks through the arms and towards the hands, and this is particularly the case with mountain bikers. The padding on cycling gloves absorbs most of the impact so the ride will feel smoother.
Shocks also occur if a cyclist falls off their bike. Even the most professional cyclists fall off their bikes occasionally. Cycling gloves will help absorb the shock and protect the skin from damage when this occurs. Take it from us picking gravel out of your palms and encountering a "surgical scrubbing brush" in a hospital is best and easily avoided wear gloves!
Increasingly Australian's are concerned about keeping the sun off the backs of their hands (a high exposure and skin cancer area). While few gloves are formally UPF rated all except the mesh backed versions are naturally high sun protection.
Cyclists must grip their hands on the handlebars for a smooth and stable ride, however this can be difficult when hands become sweaty. Fatigue and bumps can also contribute to a lack of grip and increase the chance of falling. The material used in cycling gloves provides a better grip than bare hands and wicks away sweat.
Different cycling gloves are worn depending on the season. Summer gloves expose the fingers, have thinner, ‘mesh-like’ material and remove sweat quickly. Winter gloves are usually full length gloves with thicker, insulated material to keep hands warm and block the wind. Riding without warm gloves on a winter morning is very challenging! Besides warmth, protection, and grip, some cycling gloves also include material that can be used for wiping a runny nose or sweat from the forehead, and some now are highly water resistant. Therefore, for the benefits gloves provide, and the relatively inexpensive cost to purchase them, many cyclists would not be without their good-looking, practical, cycling gloves.