Giro, for those who haven’t been paying attention to one of the world’s top helmet manufacturers, has entered the glove market cannonball-style. That’s in addition to the eyewear and other accessories that the manufacturer has moved into.
It was a risky move. Giro’s place as one of the top three helmet makers is virtually decreed by government. All it would take to crack the foundation would be a crappy lens or two and gloves that didn’t fit or didn’t last.
Last fall I reviewed the Lusso glove, which has since been renamed the LX. I liked the Pittards leather glove a lot, but in the comments, I did get a bit of pushback. One owner of a set complained about how the gloves dried out after washing them.
The folks at Easton-Bell Sports read RKP after they are all caught up on the real news over at Cyclingnews. The brand manager for the gloves saw the comment, contacted the reader and addressed his concerns personally. It makes for great PR when you do something like that publicly, but I only know about it because someone at Giro contacted me.
I can say that no other bike company has shown the same level of concern for addressing consumer issues as Giro. The opportunity is certainly there.
Late this winter I received the long-finger version of the LX glove, called the LXLF. Like the LX, the LXLF comes in either a black and white or all black color scheme. Unlike the LX, it blends some more stretchable fabric at the knuckles to make the gloves more dextrous without forcing the leather to stretch. The perforated Cabretta leather on the back of the glove helps keep it breathable. And the alternating black and white makes them look like a classy costume accessory for the Oaxacan Festival of the Dead.
Compared to the short-finger version of the glove, the LXLF, rather surprisingly, features much less of the 3M technogel padding. While the pads are nice and do a great job of preventing vibration from reaching your hands, it is a little on the bulky side. The LXLF features but two pads at the heel of the palm. As a result, the palms move with your hands much more naturally. Yet, as thin as the glove feels, it still provides more than adequate protection in terms of padding and temperature control.
I wouldn’t advocate using this glove much below 50 degrees and certainly not above 70 degrees, but that temperature range describes my typical ride for at least eight months of the year.
Ever concerned that I’ll do something to stretch the LXs out, I’m super-careful when I remove them. With the LXLF, not so much. With a gentle tug on the fingertips, it’s easy to pull them off my hands. And after more than a month of near-daily use they still look new.
The gloves feature a section of microfiber fabric over the thumb to give you a place to wipe your sweaty, drippy bits, but honestly, the fabric behind the knuckles does just as good a job at absorbing bodily fluids.
Speaking of bodily fluids, in reviewing another company’s short-finger Pittards-palm glove, I had a less-than-fun incident involving the black dye used in the leather and my bar tape. I sweated so much on a hot day that the black dye not only stained my hands the color of coal, but stained my bar tape so that it looked brick red. I have yet to pick up any hint of dye on my hands from either the LX or the LXLF gloves. Some details you just don’t notice until someone else messes one up.
Easily my favorite feature of the gloves is the incredible sensitivity and dexterity they offer. My son’s butt is only slightly softer than these things, but LXLF has the advantage of being wearable for hours at a time.
In my climate, I can make use of a spring-weight glove, as I mentioned, for at least eight months of the year. I’ve tried a lot of lightweight, long-finger gloves. You’d be shocked if I told you how few of them are memorable. The LXLF is not only memorable, it is easily the best long-finger spring-weight glove I’ve ever worn. Periodendofstatement.
Because they retail for $70, it’s not a glove I’d be inclined to wear, say, during a cyclocross race or a six-hour, rainy training ride. I know they can be cleaned, but the cleaning process requires a bit of care and they aren’t indestructible. For those reasons, I don’t wear them on rides I anticipate will be messy.
If this whole global warming thing turns out to be a hoax and supposing my morning rides maintain their 55-degree start temp, I won’t mind. These gloves are so enjoyable, I’d gladly wear arm warmers year-round just to help justify wearing the gloves.
In the grand scheme, what makes these gloves so great isn’t how Giro got all the details right. What makes them so great is the fit of the glove combined with the feel of the leather on your hands; the combination of softness and dexterity is simply unparalleled. Pardon me, but I think I’m going to put them on and retype this review just so I can have another hour to wear them. Seriously—these gloves are so nice, you’ll rethink why you wear gloves … and the standard you hold them to.