Protect your hands and keep them warm with a pair of the best mountain bike gloves. Here's our pick of the market.
Here’s our pick of the best mountain bike gloves. There’s something for all budgets and tastes here. While it’s tempting to choose a glove that looks like it has thick padding and lots of protection, for serious mountain biking we’d recommend going as minimal as possible. The more padding on the palm, the less precise the bike feels.
If anything, choose a set of the best mountain bike grips with more squidge and/or girth to them, rather than gloves with more padding. Also, knuckle protection can be useful if you regularly ride in thick vegetation or nettles and brambles, but it won’t do much in a crash and is bulky so they’re best saved for more ‘jungle’ times of the riding season!
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Minimal features, maximum contact with the grips
Colours: Back, grey | Sizes: S-XXL | Weight: 47g | Rating: 10/10
Pros: Great connection to the grips thanks to the Clarino palm. Perfect fit, with stretchy mesh back and Airprene cuff. Cons: Not the cheapest glove out there, especially considering the minimal design.
The Blitz is built to keep you cool and in contact with the grips rather than fend off wind and cold. As a minimalist glove though, there are few better, it’s the perfect blend of light weight, comfort and protection.
Minimal weight and thickness at a minimal price
Sizes: XS-XXL | Rating: 10/10
Pros: Great feel through the bars. Value for money Cons: Don’t last forever
Specialized has pulled a blinder with the LoDown glove. It’s superbly comfortable, forgettably minimal and, at under £25, perfectly priced.
Nothing comes close to this classic glove
Colours: Black, fluo orange, fluo yellow, white, camo, grey, neon pink | Sizes: S-XXL | Rating: 10/10
Pros: Amazing glove at a great price. Unimpeded dexterity, yet toasty warm. Cons: Not fully waterproof. Needs to be under 5ºC or they’re too hot.
As winter spreads its icy tentacles across the trails, it is now time to wrap your hands up all nice and cosy inside a pair of superlative 100% Brisker gloves. There’s just enough insulation to ward off the cold without leaving your fingers numb of feel. So you still get maximum feel through your palm and fingers to tell you what’s going on beneath your wheels. A winter must-have at a bargain price.
Bare-skin feel from these skimpy and feature-laden paw protectors
Sizes: S-XXL | Rating: 8/10
Pros: Lightweight and packed with features Cons: Cuffs are a bit tight and stitching not that durable
A good glove boasting loads of feel and minimal weight from a well-loved and aspirational brand, but if you can get past the Troy Lee logo, there are cheaper gloves on the market than the Air.
Danny MacAskill’s glove of choice
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL |Rating: 10/10
Pros: Loads of feel Cons: Not a lot at this price
Apparently the Humvee is Danny MacAskill’s favorite, and in his hands they are more magician’s gloves than cycling gloves. We didn’t develop any superhuman riding skills when we pulled them on, but we were charmed by their simplicity and outright comfort. Danny Mac requires maximum feel and dexterity when he rides, and these gloves deliver on both counts. Lightweight, breathable and durable, at under £20 they’re an absolute bargain.
Sizes: S – XXL | Weight: 39g | Colours: Olive green/brown/orange, Black/grey | Rating: 9/10
Pros: Very thin palm makes them extremely comfortable Cons: Some may prefer deeper cuff
Sealskinz has created a winner with the Dragon Eye MTB Ultralite. This makes for a really light glove that you honestly forget you are wearing. As someone who preferred to ride gloveless they are a perfect transition. Almost as good as not wearing gloves for comfort and bar feel, but with the added protection of a durable palm.
Toasty alternative from the mighty Fox head
Colours: Black, fluo | Sizes: S-XXL | Rating: 9/10
Pro: Better for Baltic temps than the 100% Brisker Con: Not quite as dexterous
Ranger is well articulated to hand shape and finger lengths, and snug with an unobtrusive palm feel and solid grip connection. The weatherproof outer fabric has a semi-neoprene feel and fends off freezing wind and wet effectively, and the extra fleece inside makes these slightly toastier and better insulated than 100%’s Brisker glove.
Great UK any-weather option
Weight: 66g | Sizes: M – XXL | Rating: 8/10
Pros: Designed in the UK – and the details show Cons: Not available in smaller sizes
Madison make a lot of Durable Water Repellent (DWR) garments. And most of them are called Zenith. These are the Zenith DWR gloves and, unsurprisngly, they are designed to be worn when it’s wet. Not necessarily cold and wet – Madison being a UK based company know full well that it’s more often mild and wet conditions that prevail here. As such, these aren’t winter warmer gloves (use liner gloves with them if you require), they are excellent any-temperature wet weather apparel.
Best mountain bike gloves: all you need to know
While fit will vary from one brand to another, the basics of sizing are standardised. To work out your glove size, run a tape measure (or piece of string you can then lay alongside a ruler) around your palm at its widest point. Use your dominant hand for this. Now spread your fingers and measure from the tip of your middle finger to the base of your hand, where it meets the wrist. You should now have two measurements in inches. Take the larger of the two numbers and round it up. So if your larger measurement is 8.5in, then round up to 9. This is your glove size. Refer to a brand’s size chart if it uses small, medium, large instead of numerical sizing. In terms of fit you want a glove that’s not too tight to take on and off, but you don’t want the fingers or palm to be baggy, as this introduces movement to your control inputs and can cause bunching and chafing. Gloves will stretch slightly with use, but washing usually shrinks them back slightly again.
Materials and design
Look for two or four-way stretch materials on the back of the glove for maximum dexterity and less bunching. Go for thin materials or highly ventilated designs for hot climates, and thicker backs for cooler environments. Modern synthetic leather/suede palms are superbly comfortable and provide excellent grip, even when your hands are hot and sweaty. Perforations in the palm will help let your palms breathe. When it comes to wrist closures, elasticated and Velcro both have their pros and cons. Elastic is lighter and simpler but can make getting your hand in and out difficult and end up causing stitching to loosen or come apart. Velcro makes it easy to take them on and off, but the hook/looks can scratch if not well positioned, and they always end up sticking to other garments in the wash. Nose wipes are a fairly gross topic to discuss, but an inevitable part of mountain biking. While good on winter gloves, their inclusion or omission on a glove is never a deal breaker for us. Much better to get the fit and feel right before worrying about occasionally useful features.
Taking your gloves off on a ride to answer an important call or check your Strava can be a pain, so lots of gloves have metallic thread woven in to work with touch screens. However, in our experience they never work that well and obviously don’t unlock finger print ID, so you still end up having to take them off.