Cycling Gloves: When Is It Time For A New Pair
We’re six months into the new year and a new cycling season. Maybe you’ve been out riding a lot so far while using your old cycling gloves. Maybe you’ve had them a long time and they are starting to look faded and worn, even though you’ve just washed them recently (like the gloves in the pictures below)? Do they have a tear in them, maybe the grip isn’t as good as it once was, or they don’t provide as much cushion as they did the prior season? If that’s the case, then it might be time for a new pair. However, this isn’t such an easy decision to make, especially when there are so many cycling gloves on the market. But maybe you still can’t find exactly what you want or gloves that fit your hands correctly. Of course, the other question that is often asked is do you really even need them?
Cycling Gloves Are Essential
When it comes to any kind of cycling apparel, personal preference will always be the determining factor when you set out to buy a new piece of equipment. And cycling gloves are really no different. But to me, a good pair of cycling gloves is an essential piece of gear in my cycling wardrobe. Here’s why.
Even if you have the best carbon drop bars ( or handlebars) and the cushiest bar tape wrapped around them, you will still get vibration from the road, especially if it is rough. And we all know as bicyclists that a good amount of the roads we ride are not velvety smooth. After a while, all that vibration shooting-up through your hands will may make them go numb and your fingers feel stiff. True, you still might experience some of this while wearing gloves, but chances are it will be somewhat minimized, at the very least.
One of the main reasons for wearing cycling gloves is to wipe sweat out of your eyes or even that slow drip of snot that can occur, usually in the cooler months, if you have a cold, of if you just have a plain old runny nose. Sorry for that, I know that’s a bit gross but it is an actual reality for all of us bicyclists. True, you can carry something with you to wipe your nose or wear a sweat band around your head, but the soft portion on the back of the gloves makes this process much quicker and easier and is something you can even do while you are riding. Just remember to wash out your gloves when you get home after your ride.
Crash, Sun, and Cool Weather Protection (sort of)
If you’re a bicyclist, the chances you will crash are always possible. That said, wearing a pair of gloves may save your hands from severe damage if you end-up sliding across some unforgiving pavement. And having crashed more than a few times myself, I’d much rather have ripped-up gloves versus the alternative. The other reason gloves are important is that they can keep your precious cleavers from being burned during intense sun-drenched rides and give you slip resistance as sweat works its way down your arms onto your hands. Lastly, on cool days when temperatures are in the high 50s or low 60s, gloves can provide you some warmth.
But Are Cycling Gloves Really Necessary
Out in the cycling community, there are mixed feelings about cycling gloves. Some roadies, like me, love them and see them as useful and necessary. Other cyclists see them as something the industry pushes you to believe that you need. But, overall, will your cycling be impacted negatively if you don’t ride with a pair of cycling gloves? No, of course not.
Cycling gloves came about as a luxury add-on to provide a more assured grip on handlebars and as a layer of protection against a crash. Today, you see all the pro level riders wearing them, but like everything else pro, they get their apparel and bikes for free, and cycling gloves are just another area where the team sponsor can put its name.
But some riders because of the shape of their hands, or just the fact that they just don’t like them, detest the idea of wearing cycling gloves and see them as a waste of money. They claim they feel more control over the bike by not wearing gloves and that bar tape is enough to dampen road vibration.
What Type Of Cycling Gloves Should You Buy
The best thing to do is start by asking yourself a few questions. Firstly, do you want a glove that’s going to neutralize the vibration from the road? If that’s the case, you should go for gloves that fit well and have a lot of padding in the palm.
I’ve come to find a glove in a large size seems to work best for me with a padded palm. Ideally, you want a glove that is tight but not so tight it cuts off your circulation. Additionally, you don’t want anything too loose as the glove will slide around on your hand once you start sweating. You can go to a bike shop to find out your size. Most cycling gloves I’ve tried on or used usually fit the same way. But the most important attribute I look for is comfort and that the gloves allow me to easily bend my fingers, yet still allow me to have a firm grip on the bar.
I like cycling gloves I can pull-on and pull-off easily. They usually have finger tabs built-in to the top of the glove or on the reverse side along the fingers (see pictures above). The majority of cycling gloves, though, have a Velcro band at the wrist so the rider can adjust the fit.
The second question to ask is do you want a glove that will give you some protection from the elements and/ if you were to crash? The truth is whether you wear a thicker or thinner glove (also known as pittards), you will have limited protection from a crash and the elements. Some riders like pittards because they are usually made of leather instead of fabric, because they offer a better grip on the handlebar, and because they are cooler in the summer months and aren’t as heavy as fabric cycling gloves.
Chances are if you already wear cycling gloves, like me, you know what you like. But if you are on the fence about whether you should have a pair or not, just remember they aren’t an overly essential item unlike a helmet which is an absolute must. It all comes down to whether you think cycling gloves can improve your overall riding experience and comfort on the bike. There really is no right or wrong answer either way.
Kask Protone Helmet Review
Next to buying a pair of cycling shoes, buying a cycling helmet is one of the hardest bike gear choices to make. With such a wide selection of cycling helmets in the marketplace, where does one begin? Factors like safety, number of vents, weight, comfort, and, finally, price definitely come into play.
These are all options I considered when I wanted to upgrade from my Giro Ionos helmet. A visit to my local bike shop (LBS), however, helped to confirm my choice. I thought for sure I would choose the Giro Synthe. I’ve used Giro helmets for a long time and liked how well the helmet had held-up in a crash, plus I liked Giro’s Crash Replacement Program. But once I tried on the Kask Protone helmet, I was immediately seduced by its weight and comfort and that it is basically an Italian version of a Giro helmet that offers the same level of safety, replacement pads, and color choices but uses lighter materials.
Comfort By Feel
Standing in a bike shop trying on a cycling helmet can be a little overwhelming. For one, how will the helmet feel and perform while out on a ride? I considered the Giro Synthe because of my familiarity with the brand. However, it fit like other Giro helmets I’ve owned.
The bike shop sales guy suggested I strap-on the Kask Protone and it was a revelation. I was amazed how light and comfortable it was, almost like wearing nothing. A few twists of the dial on the retention system and the helmet was locked-in perfectly without the tightness or looseness I experienced with my Ionos. The Kask helmet also felt cooler, which could be a direct result of the 3D coolmax padding. Right out of the box, the chinstrap felt right, so I only had to make a few slight adjustments.
Weight and Comfort are obviously two areas the Italian helmet maker focused on in the development of the Protone. Of the seven road cycling helmets Kask now makes, the Protone is lightest and most ventilated. It falls between the Infinity, which allows a rider to close off all the vents and has been wind-tunnel tested but weighs in at a whopping 310 grams and the Vertigo and Mojito with more vents but considered aerodynamic.
According to Kask, the Protone weighs in at 215 grams as opposed to the 250 grams of the Giro Synthe. Additionally, the fact the Kask Protone is built with removable and washable pads and an ECO (faux) leather chinstrap, which also can be removed and washed, appealed to me.
I used my Giro Ionos for about five seasons and the pads and chinstrap were looking worn. After some basic research, I discovered the cycling industry was focusing on safety as a selling point more than ever. Truth is, I couldn’t tell if my helmet was in bad shape or not. But most helmet manufacturers recommend changing your helmet every two years.
I wondered if this was just hype or if it was a legitimate assertion, so I asked the guy at my LBS. He said the materials on the inside of the helmet (although maybe not overly noticeable) do start to break down from sweat over time. Still, I was hesitant to switch from a Giro helmet to something else. That point aside, I couldn’t walk away from the fit and feel of the Kask Protone.
While Giro uses its MIPS system in most of their helmets, including the Synthe, Kask uses its MIT system in all its helmets, even their helmets for skiing, construction, mountaineering, and equestrian uses. So, my concerns that the Protone wouldn’t be safe in a crash (even though it is considered aerodynamic) weren’t justified. In fact, Kask believes the polycarbonate shell of the Protone makes it both lightweight and safe.
A good thing to know ahead of time (if possible) before purchasing a cycling helmet is to know the size of your head. Your LBS can help measure your head or you can do it yourself, but that probably won’t be as accurate. Most bike helmet manufacturers will offer sizing in small, medium, and large. A helmet that feels too loose or too tight is usually the result of a faulty measurement. Kask offers the Protone in small (50-56 cm), medium (52-58 cm) and large (53-59 cm). I chose the medium, which offered a lot of sizing flexibility. The “micro dial adjuster,” as Kask refers to it, allows a cyclist to adjust the fit in increments. My Ionos had the Roc-Loc system, which involved pushing on the strap at the back of the helmet for sizing, but finding the optimum fit didn’t really work well.
Over the years, the cycling industry has improved their range of colors for helmets so that now it’s possible to buy a helmet that matches the color of your bike or a favorite jersey and shorts. When I was checking out the Kask Protone, the only color in stock at my LBS was black. I had just purchased a new bike in 2015 with a blue/ black color scheme, so I wanted my helmet to match. It turns out that Kask offers the Protone in 17 colors, the only helmet in their road cycling helmet line-up with so many options in terms of color, so I found a close but not exact match to my bike.
If you’re the kind of bicyclist that does neighborhood rides after work or rides back and forth to the grocery store, you might be satisfied with buying a helmet at Target, K-mart, or a sporting goods store. But skimping on a cycling helmet just to save money isn’t a good idea. True, wearing a bike helmet doesn’t look cool and can sometimes be hot and uncomfortable, but if the helmet isn’t made from quality materials and can’t survive a crash, it’s not worth wearing.
As a serious cyclist, I accepted the fact a new bike helmet, such as the Kask Protone, would be expensive just as I did when I purchased my Giro Ionos. I knew I wanted that same level of quality. But much to my chagrin, my LBS wanted over $400 for this helmet. Not happy with the color nor the price, I decided to look online. After checking through Competitive Cyclist, Glory Cycles, and Amazon, I found a Kask Protone in blue for a little over $300.
Is it really a good idea to buy a cycling helmet based solely on how it feels versus after you have done a ride with it? Probably not. However, if you’re an experienced bicyclist, you probably already know what you like in a helmet and what you don’t. For me, that first fit of the Kask Protone in my LBS told me this would be a great helmet, and I was right. This helmet is the lightest helmet I’ve ever worn and my head stayed cool over the course of several four-hour rides. Overall, the Kask Protone is an excellent every day fitness or training helmet with the comfort and weight that makes it feel like you aren’t wearing a helmet at all.