Late last year, I went on a search for the ultimate gravel riding glove. What I found surprised me. I found that padded gloves didn’t work as well as non-padded ones. And, out of all the gloves I’ve tried, the best set hands down (no pun intended!) was the Handske lightweight bicycle gloves. Modestly priced at $34.99, Handske gloves are one of the most economical choices in gloves that I’ve seen yet.
We’ll dig into the gloves I’ve been riding with for the past six months or so. Later, we’ll review an update to the Handske lightweight gloves with the release of their newest collection this past month. But, first, let’s talk about what makes Handske gloves so special.
Handske provides full-fingered gloves that are meant to fit snug, provide full hand protection, and solid grip on your handlebars. At the moment, Handske offers lightweight and wind proof full-fingered gloves. For those who don’t like full-finger gloves, Handske tells me that they’re working on a fingerless version as well.
Handske gloves don’t have any padding to speak of. Studies have found that padded gloves don’t really do much to dampen vibrations. As such, rather than leaning on the glove to dampen vibrations, it’s better to focus on your bar tape or grips instead. Without the need for padding, Handske has focused on other more important aspects that go into a solid cycling glove.
Artistic, Stylish Approach
One of the first things you’ll notice about Handske gloves is the artistic license they bring to their gloves. Handske allows artist to express themselves through the designs of their gloves. The result is a unique collection of highly colorful gloves that change every year.
Full Size Terrycloth Thumb
One of the most popular features on many cycling gloves is the soft cloth that many glove makers put on the thumbs. Handske uses a terrycloth material that covers the full backside of the thumb. Whether it’s sweat off your brow or snot on your nose, the soft terrycloth thumbs allow you to wipe it off without any discomfort.
Touch Screen Compatibility
Another common feature with many gloves is touch screen compatibility on the index fingers. I’m surprised when I see cycling gloves that don’t have this feature. Nothing more annoying than having to take off your gloves just to use your phone.
Silicone Printed Palm
The inside side of a Handske glove has one of the most striking features: a printed design in the form of repeated Handske “H’s” made from silicone. This gives the glove greater grip and reduces slippage.
The way Handske addresses the wrist area of their gloves is another interesting feature. Many glove manufacturers use Velcro straps to keep the wrist area snug on the wearers hands. Others don’t use any Velcro at all and instead rely on the stretchy material on the backing of the glove to keep the glove fully secure. Handske takes a different approach and uses neoprene on the wrists to help keep the glove snug and secure around the wrists.
The main thing Handske is shooting for with their gloves is a nice, snug, almost a surgical glove fit. Sizing then becomes super important so, regardless of what size you think you wear, it’s advised to visit Hanske’s glove sizing page to determine which size will work the best for you.
Sizing of Handske Gloves
I started off by purchasing a set of large (LG) gloves, a black and white design called Sunset. At first, the impression I had of them was really good. They felt nice on the hand, definitely were snug, and I could tell right away that they offered just the right amount of grip. However, after a few rides, I felt like my fingers were digging into the ends of the glove. It was especially noticeable when riding in the hoods. The pressure on the hoods just kept pushing the glove into my thumbs and index fingers. This led to a bit of numbness in my hand. Plus, the gloves tended to rub the middle of my palms.
Now, I had measure around the width of my hand and used that particular measurement as the basis for the glove size. What I didn’t account for were my long-ass fingers. So I tossed these aside and ordered an extra-large (XL) pair in a Razzle style. What a difference that made! They still fit snug but not too snug. But more importantly I didn’t feel like my fingers were bottoming out. I was able to ride without worry of my hands going numb either.
My advice is to use the Hanske’s glove sizing page and take note of both your hand width and finger length. If you want gloves that are more snug then use your hand width as the basis of the glove size. However, if you have long fingers and tend to put more weight on your hands I recommend using your finger length as the basis. With a smaller size, the gloves might be nice and snug but, like me, you might find that your fingers will dig into the gloves. Going up a size alleviates this but does mean a little looser feel on the hand. The design of Handske’s gloves are pretty specific and every hand is different so your mileage may vary on the sizing.
First Impressions of Gloves from the 2019 Collection
Like I mentioned above, Handske gloves don’t have any padding. I’ve tried a number of padded gloves and honestly haven’t found one that I feel does the trick. Instead, I concentrate on good bar tape and a lightweight glove to protect my hands and get better grip.
Now, I know some folks like finger-less gloves (which, again, Handske is working on it!) but for me I just don’t like the idea of my fingers being exposed. I’ve tried fingerless gloves and just keep going back to full-fingered ones.
One of my favorite full-fingered gloves that I rode with for the better part of the year, the Specialized Body Geometry Grail gloves, are about the closest I’ve come to a full-fingered glove with padding. But even those failed me. As such, I figured that a simple, functional glove would do the trick. Handske to me seems to fit the bill.
Right off the bat, the one thing I noticed was just how comfortable the Handske gloves felt. After riding with them on for a while, they felt really solid even with sweaty hands. The Specialized Grail gloves I used before were certain comfortable but the palms tended to slip a bit once my hands got sweaty. By comparison, the Handske gloves stay secure without moving around much.
The backing of the gloves are quite breathable and have a bit of a stretch to them. Because of the neoprene wrist, the backing doesn’t have to do all the work of keeping the glove on your hand. Between the backing and the neoprene, the glove hugs your hand quite well without feeling too snug or compressed.
Now, I will say that because I wear an extra-large instead of a large, the neoprene and backing feels a little looser. It’s not a bad thing really. Honestly, I don’t really notice it too much. But, like I mention above, if you prefer a more snug fit and don’t have issues with long fingers then sizing them up based on your actual hand width will get you where you want to be.
The terrycloth thumbs are very similar to the ones on the Specialized Glove but feel a little thicker and softer. Trust me, you’ll definitely appreciate this, especially if you’re like me and always have to wipe your brow or nose. I normally use a towel but having the terrycloth thumbs is a nice backup. The cool thing is that, over time, the terrycloth gets softer the more you use the gloves.
Like the Specialized Grail and other gloves I’ve owned, the index fingers are fully compatible with touchscreens. Now, most of the time it works very well. However, like other gloves, it can sometimes fail at times. The only times it fails though seems to be when I first put them on. To fix it, I just lick my index finger and rub it in with my thumb. Once I do that, no problem! After that, once I start riding and my hands get a little sweaty, the problem goes away.
The palm and fingers of the glove are certainly thicker than the backs but fortunately don’t feel stupid hot. Looking at the glove, there are a number of small holes in the palm that help to aerate your hands. The material used for the palm and fingers appear to be quite grippy as-is, however the added silicone printed palm offers a bit of extra grip on top of that. Never had a feeling like my hands would slip due to a failure of the glove. I even had a day when I had to ride in rain. The Handske gloves never failed to deliver.
With many other full-fingered gloves I’ve tried, the biggest problem has to do with the stitching and seams where the material meets. This usually runs right at the fingertips and along all sides of the glove. With a poorly constructed glove, this leads to additional rubbing and areas where you can feel the seems with your knuckles and/or fingers. It’s super annoying and creates a bit of discomfort. Fortunately, with the Handske gloves, that’s not a problem. Seams are super clean and practically unnoticeable while wearing them.
One thing I’ll mention is how easy it is to keep the gloves clean. One of the problems I had with the Specialized Grail gloves was keeping them clean. They just always felt dirty to me. Keeping the Handske gloves is a rather easy affair. After pretty much every use, I wash them. Easiest way to do it is to just wash them while I’m in the shower. Kinda have to do that anyways after ride so the gloves get to take a bath too. All it takes is a little body wash and some water, lather them up, and thoroughly wash them under running water. Nothing to it!
The only gripe real gripe I have with the glove is with the silicone printed palm. After a while, I started noticing it wearing and peeling off. I suppose with my riding style I tend to put a little more weight on my hands than most. As such, some rubbing on the palms is unavoidable. Fortunately, the material that Handske uses on the palm works well even without the silicone printing. Granted, the silicone does add some extra grip but fortunately, even with some of it wearing off, the gloves still remain quite grippy on my handlebars. Aside from this one thing, the rest of the gloves have held up quite nicely. So, while I can gripe about it, the gloves still remain quite functional regardless of some of the silicone printing wearing off.
A Review of the 2020 Updated Glove
According to Handske, the new 2020 gloves have been updated with a new top fabric as well as new material for the touch screen sensitive part of the glove. I received a set of the Tenga styled gloves and, after looking at them, other than these two features it appears that everything else remains the same.
The new top fabric is definitely different but subtly so. I don’t think the average person would really notice this change. The material feels tougher, a little more elastic, even a little thicker than the previous top fabric. That’s not a bad thing at all, especially if the new material offers better breathability, which a hot summer ride in Texas proved almost immediately. (Of course, being that Handske is stationed out of El Paso, they would know all about Texas summers. <snark!>)
The touch screen material is another rather subtle feature update. At first glance, again, you probably wouldn’t even notice. For gloves to work with touch screens, it all boils down to the lines of threading that you see on the index fingers of the glove (and thumbs I believe). Conductive thread is used and is exposed on both the outside and inside of the glove to create a full connection with the screen. My guess is that Handske updated the type of conductive thread they use. Plus, it appears they improved the stitching so that a greater surface area is created with the conductive thread. Now I’m wondering how many licks it’ll take to get them to work. (Ah one, ah two, ah three….<crunch!>…ah three!)
The big question is: How much better do the gloves work with these new updates?
I started off on a ride using my current gloves and, about an hour in, switched to the new ones. Right away I noticed that I could feel more air hitting my fingers while riding. Now, I don’t know if it was just the fact that my hands were already a little sweaty and the gloves were dry. Still, it definitely felt like the new upper material did indeed help more with breathability.
I tested the new touch screen threads shortly before a ride and, yeah, sure seems like they work a bit better. With my current gloves, when I first put them on I have to lick them a number of times to get them to work. Either that or just wait till my hands get a little sweaty. With the new ones, it only took a few licks and a short rub between my index and thumb to get them to recognize the screen of my phone. Touch screen material is still touchy with any gloves really but at least with the new threads it’ll allow it to work a bit more consistently.
Now, I noticed even with the updated gloves I got that the silicone printed palm started to wear off on one of the index fingers. Again, this is the only gripe I have about Handske gloves. I don’t think there’s too much they can do about it. At the very least, they do a good job of covering the whole palm of the glove so, even if some of it does wear off, you still get a good amount of gripe regardless.
So, yes, the updated gloves do have a few modest improvements. Now, if you currently own a set of Handske gloves that you’re happy with, is it worth the upgrade? Probably not. But, I will say that at the price Handske sells their gloves at it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a spare pair...especially with the updated designs in their new collection. Really digging the new Senga design! :D
With the Handske gloves, there’s a lot of bang for the buck in them. As they say, the devil is in the details. Everything from the artistic nature of the gloves, the neoprene cuffs, terrycloth thumbs, silicone printed palms, touch screen compatibility, and the overall fit. Everything just comes together to form a complete glove that just works.
They’re also the right price. The Specialized Grail gloves I used before were $5 more and felt kind of cheap by comparison. Because they don’t focus on extra padding or gimmicks, Handske has chosen to focus on using better materials and construct a higher quality glove, which definitely shows.
Aside from the silicone palms wearing off a bit, I’m very pleased with the gloves and will definitely continue to use them. In fact, this winter, I’m looking forward to trying out Handske’s windproof gloves. Winter can’t come soon enough!