Once again it is that time of year, when the days are drawing in and the weather is becoming increasingly colder. However these should not be reasons to not get out on your bike and carry on cycling. Winter cycling can be some of the best cycling you do all year. You just need to ensure you are wearing the right kit so that you can perform on the bike, and so that you don’t freeze to death.
As I cycle almost every day, I have worn a lot of different kit over the years. One piece of kit that has almost always eluded me is a good pair of winter cycling gloves. I found this particularly frustrating as I have quite poor circulation and often have very cold hands, so on the bike they were often turned into icicles. I actually often resorted to wearing skiing gloves, just to keep my hands warm on those icy January mornings. These were often a bit too bulky for cycling though and I longed for a warm pair of cycling gloves. I had plenty of pairs of winter gloves however none of them were overly warm.
Fortunately that period only lasted until this year when I began to test the Lois Garneau Shield gloves. These are fantastic all-weather insulating gloves. I have now worn them on many cycles, some which have been sub-zero, and they have constantly kept my fingers nice and toasty. I think this is due to the 3-millimetre Thinsulate insulation found inside each glove making them nicely padded. However although they are well padded they are not overly bulky and I found after a couple of rides I became used to wearing them on the bike, changing gears and braking etc. The gloves also have a Hipora membrane as one of the inner-layers. Hipora is similar to Gore-Tex in that it is waterproof, windproof and breathable. It therefore a key element in these gloves ensuring they can withstand any conditions you may find yourself experiencing on the bike. They claim you can even test the waterproofness and breathability by pouring hot water into the gloves and you will see steam running out without any water leakage. They are certainly breathable because I have found that only on the warmer days when I have been doing a lot of hill-climbs that my hands have begun to sweat. Even in those circumstances it has been minimal and I would certainly prefer my hands to be too hot than too cold.
The design of the LG Shield gloves is also a good feature to mention. As with many gloves they are ergonomically shaped to give you optimum comfort on the bike. Even in rides up to six-hours long they provide good protection against the road vibrations and comfort whilst gripping your handlebars. They also have a few reflective patches that prove useful in low light for signalling and being seen, as the gloves are black. The gloves are also quite long which is a feature I think is really useful. It means you whole wrist is covered no matter what position your hand is in preventing wind rushing up your sleeves thus providing extra warmth to your arms. It is a simple feature but one which is very effective. The gloves are also quite easy to put on whilst cycling if there is a sudden change of conditions, I have found them easy to put on/ remove and stow in your rear pockets. All in all they are a great pair of gloves and superb value-for-money at ~£40! Perfect for winter cycling.
This year I have also been wearing another pair of gloves that are certainly worth mentioning. These are the Specialised Element 1.5 gloves, which also retail for £40. These gloves are ideal for those milder winter days when the temperature is in the low–teens they are perfect. Although they are not as warm as the LG Shield gloves and also not waterproof I think they still have a place. They are a very good-looking pair of cycling gloves that offer great usability for winter cycling gloves. This is because the gloves are thinner than the LG Shield so your fingers have greater dexterity when wearing these gloves. This comes in very useful when combined with the Wiretap touchscreen compatibility. Meaning that you can operate the touchscreen of your smartphone without having to take your gloves off. I have found this particularly useful especially if you use iPhone apps like Strava or if you need to stop to ring/ text somebody mid-ride. Although this feature of the gloves takes some getting used to it is extremely useful and I think almost reason enough to get these gloves.
The Specialised Element 1.5 gloves, although not waterproof, are windproof. They are very effective at this too, eliminating wind chill for your hands whilst riding. I have particularly noticed this on long descents when in my old gloves my hands used to just freeze. Also despite being stylish and all black they also have hidden reflective panels so these too are great in low light for being seen by other road users.
Overall these too are a great pair of gloves however they are not as warm or as waterproof as the LG Shield ones so if I had to purchase just one I would go for the LG Shield gloves. However the Specialised I think make a perfect Autumn/ Spring pair of gloves when it is too warm for the LG Shield gloves yet still too cold for summer mitts. It is in these conditions I think the Specialised gloves come into their element. The Wiretap technology also adds a great deal to these gloves for smartphone users. Both of these gloves are available to buy online or in your local Evans Cycles store; at the time of writing the LG shield gloves are also on offer, so even greater value-for-money!