12 glove shootout
Read our group test of the latest and greatest mountain bike gloves. There’s something for all budgets and tastes here.
Every mountain biker should have a good pair of gloves. Something not too chunky but not too skimpy. Full length fingers are a must regardless of the time of year. Save your mitts for the road.
Here are twelve pairs of gloves that are all worth considering. Bonus points to anyone who can work out what’s spelled out in sign language.
The iTrack is a pull-on glove with a comfortable neoprene cuff and thin perforated palm. The soft leather gives good bar feel and fits snugly around the thumb and over the palm, but after barely 20 minutes’ riding the white palm material had stained heavily. There’s no terry wipe, but the perforated upper material is lightweight and breathable. Nice touches include a pull-tag inside and silicone print all over the gripping area. It’s also good value and available in an array of retro ’80s colours.
The Driftec is a Lycra-backed glove with a wafer-thin palm. The material is shaped so that it follows the contours of the hand without bunching. The neoprene cuff is soft and comfortable in the riding position and it’s a good length, so doesn’t leave any part of your hand exposed. The Driftec is also easy to pull on and fits well with bags of feel. A broad range of sizes ensures the perfect fit.
Endura Humvee Lite
Despite having an elastic cuff and a four-way stretch back, the Humvee Lite is really hard to pull on. Going up a size helps, but then the glove is too loose in the fingers and palm. It’s also short, so it rides up and exposes the lower edge of your palm on the bike. It does feature a thin palm for maximum dexterity and bar feel, and this is also perforated for ventilation and is made from tough, synthetic leather. Fit is an issue, but this is still one of the best gloves we’ve ever tested from Endura.
Giro’s DND glove is the only one on test with articulated fingers, so the fit in this area is superb. The three-panel palm is Y-shape reinforced at key areas but it’s thicker than most and this does reduce dexterity. There’s some silicone on the braking fingers for grip, but unfortunately this had worn off after only a couple of rides. The upper material feels rough when you wipe your brow, and not that breathable, but it is hard wearing. There’s a big sweat wipe and EVA crash pad on the heel of the hand in case of a slip-off.
Unlike the Endura Humvee, the Ion Dude is much easier to pull on. It has a Flex Mesh back and a stretchy seamed cuff. It’s long, too, so offers a good amount of protection. Unfortunately the synthetic palm is the opposite — it’s too thick, so bunches up when you close your hand over the grip. This causes it to feel clammy, and with no terry panel you have to rely on the slightly abrasive mesh material to mop up perspiration. The fit around the fingers is a little uneven, and the high-wear seam between the index finger and thumb is also unprotected.
Leatt DBX 4.0 Lite
Ignore the back of this glove; we won’t even go there. Simply try on the DBX 4.0 Lite and you’ll be wearing one of the best gloves ever made. The NanoGrip palm is super thin and tracks the contours of your hand so closely that it almost feels like you don’t have a glove on. Even the Stretch-fit comfort cuff is the perfect tightness. There’s a sweat panel on the thumb, but we’d be careful with that as those Armourgel pads could have your eye out. Expensive and over the top but the fit is superb — making the DBX 4.0 Lite this group test winner.
The Alpine is a Lycra-backed glove with a single-layer palm and Velcro tag on the wrist. It’s important to loosen this tag when pulling the glove on, because if you don’t it can rip the stitching at the seam. It’s a little tight across the palm, so bunches slightly when wrapped round the bar, but the feel is excellent. Shaped fingers offer a great fit with the silicone grippers and reinforcement extending right over the top. It’s roomy for a medium, so our advice is to try before you buy.
Pearl Izumi Divide
One of the lightest gloves on test, but also one of the bulkiest across the palm and around the fingers. The perforated synthetic palm is plush but it bunches up as you grip onto the handlebar. It’s also a little rough-and-ready round the seams, and there are no pull tags. A micro terry wipe is handy for mopping up sweat, and it feels soft against the skin. The Divide is one of only two gloves that are smartphone-ready, which is handy for texting or calling for an ambulance.
POC Index Air
The POC Index Air feels old skool, but it’s a solid glove with a thick, perforated palm, reinforced thumb and a massive terry brow-wipe. Fit is great in the palm and there are some nice tapered shapes to the fingers, but unfortunately the glove is too tight across the back of the hand, and for this reason we’d definitely consider upsizing. Also, the pull tags are too small, the Velcro tag doesn’t reach and the silicone gripper on the fingers started to delaminate after barely three rides, which is worrying for a glove costing this much.
Race Face Stage
The Stage is one several gloves on test with a reinforced palm. Y-shaped panels of Amara (synthetic leather) help protect the raised areas, but the Stage feels heavy once on and there’s a real lack of feel. Proportionally, the thumb is too short compared to the fingers, but the fit around the wrist is the best on test. The glove does have silicone grip on the primary digits, and a handy smartphone compatible patch on the middle finger; although why it’s not on the index finger we don’t know.
661 Comp Slice
The Comp Slice is another Lycra backed, pull-on glove. It’s super-light and extremely breathable, but the Lycra material isn’t that durable and has snagged in a few places. The shaped fingers fit great and the palm material extends round into the index finger to protect this key wear area. We’re not sure why there’s reinforcement on the back of the thumb, but you can’t feel it while riding. The Slice is big for a medium, and stretches loads with use, so we’d recommend dropping down a size.
Troy Lee Designs Air
Troy Lee Designs’s Air glove is short and stubby in the fingers but oddly slack in the wrist, which means you have to pull the Velcro tag extra tight and this causes it to bunch up even more. The dark palm still looks like new and the silicone grip on the palm and two fingers that do the braking hasn’t worn off so far. There’s no terry wipe to absorb sweat but the base material is plenty absorbent. For the money, though, there are gloves here that are lighter and feel more precise.
Troy Lee Designs Sprint
The Sprint is a lighter, more trail-focused glove than the Troy Lee Air we tested last month. With a thinner back and thumb-length nose wipe, along with even thinner material along the sides of the fingers, it’s more suited to long days in the saddle than its DH-oriented cousin. The palm isn’t the last word in thinness, but doesn’t want for feel, doesn’t bunch up and has proved totally durable so far. There are rubberised fingertips on the main braking fingers for extra purchase, and they’re also touchscreen compatible — thankfully it hasn’t worn through after one ride, like on the previous Sprint glove. The Velcro fastening around the cuff allows for easy access and the pattern on the back is reflective. A great looking glove with excellent fit and feel.
There is one clear winner in this test – the Leatt DBX 4.0 Lite. The features and the aesthetic may be a bit OTT for some but there’s simply no arguing with the fit and performance. It is an expensive glove though.
The runner-up in this test is the Dainese Driftec. A bit more affordable than the Leatt but still offering very good levels of fit and feel.