An Argument About Gloves

Points-of-contact, these are three areas of scrutiny and argument for Velominati; saddles, chamois creme, shoes, socks, handlebar tape so why not gloves?

Picking grit out of your palms is bad.

Yes, it is very bad. The fear of this might be the number one reason people get into the habit of wearing gloves, and it does become a habit, like donning a helmet. And just like picking gravel out of your scalp, which is also very bad, avoiding that activity is worth it. Points of contact on the bike are one thing; points of contact once off the bike are another. So do we wear gloves only to protect our hands if we crash? Or do we wear them to stay more comfortable on the bike?

I’m regretting typing this as I type it but I don’t crash often, once every few years, and usually for stupid self-inflicted reasons. The last two times I have crashed and they were stupid and self-inflicted, both times I came away with nothing more than some light abrasions and a sore hip. I was wearing gloves. But I can’t even say if my hands got involved in either crash; all one understands is sliding across the road in a tangle of limbs, bike and embarrassment. Still, gloves are not uncomfortable to wear. There is no big downside to donning gloves as one kits up.

Racing produces crashing. One would think racing Paris-Roubaix would produce the most crashes yet the number of people racing sans gloves is remarkable. There is Boonen and most of his Quick-Step badass teammates battling over the stones without gloves. They want to feel the bike more than protect their hands. They are tough.

Riding naked feels great.

That would look very bad but it might feel very good. Riding without gloves feels a little like something is naked and it does feel great. If you always ride with gloves, try it. It makes for a very different ride. Handling the brake hoods or handlebars without gloves is so much more tactile. Recently forgot my gloves and re-remembered why I’ve spent around a third of my time bike riding without them. It just feels right. There are no Rules about glove wearing nor should there be. Does one look or feel more Pro without gloves? I do. If one feels like they have to wear gloves to protect their hands on the bike then it might be worth investigating how one’s weight is distributed on the bike. Hands should not be doing much weight bearing.

If we subscribe to the argument that we should dress for the crash not the ride we wouldn’t be wearing little more than lycra. Riding is a balancing act in many ways. If you ride you have to accept injury and accidents as parts of the deal but unless you are racing criteriums on a weekly basis, the pleasure of riding naked might outweigh the fear of crashing naked.

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108 Replies to “An Argument About Gloves”

  1. Note to self: More rides (more than zero) in 2016 sans gloves. Second note to self (and others) – do not forget to apply suntan lotion to backs of hands. Third note to self if visiting Hawaii – watch out for buck naked cyclists – “Hey Gianni, how’s it going?!”

  2. Gloves are for keeping your hands warm (when it’s cold, if that must be stated). They are marginal in the protection department, but if they help you, cool.

  3. His mechanic is gonna need gloves… boxing gloves.  Get that tub glue squared away, Mario.

  4. Boonen is not consistent either, so his non-glove wearing is not gaining him any points. Knowing when to wear gloves [ especially if they’re conditioned with superstition ] is badass and clever.

  5. That should be an article about gluing tubs properly, how the fuck do you roll one that bad in a tt? Does look like he’s gone from bone-tearing tt effort straight into bike based push ups, and after crushing the road under his hands, he’ll glare hit tub back onto his wheel and continue down the road.

  6. who can name that TVM rider in 3rd position ?? [ click on this image for full effect ]

  7. I started riding as a junior and was told by the oldsters schooling me, “You will wear gloves”, so I did. Unsurprisingly (for that era), they did not require that I wear a helmet, though a helmet was required when racing. So, I wore the gloves, though I found them uncomfortable, until the day I hurried out the door and forgot them. I haven’t worn riding gloves since. I’m with @Joecline. For me, gloves are for keeping your hands warm. I’m a staunch “dress for the ride” person but to each their own.

  8. Having done “the full Superman” over the bars I can attest to the value of wearing gloves. Removing them and stuffing them into the jersey pocket for the pending climb, however, feels right, and makes the bike lighter.

    No one crashed going uphill.

  9. My last crash I was wearing gloves.  I wish I’d also been wearing a chin-guard.  But the hands were fine. Chin, not so much.

    A couple guys I rode with in the Pyrenees last summer rode without gloves.  They said that the gloves just soak up sweat (I thought that was a good thing) and cultivate bacteria (eww) which you risk getting into your eyes when you wipe the sweat off of your forehead & eyes (major eww).

    So now I’m torn.  Kind of like the gloves I was wearing during that crash.

     

  10. @Stephen Schwartz

    My last crash I was wearing gloves. I wish I’d also been wearing a chin-guard. But the hands were fine. Chin, not so much.

    A couple guys I rode with in the Pyrenees last summer rode without gloves. They said that the gloves just soak up sweat (I thought that was a good thing) and cultivate bacteria (eww) which you risk getting into your eyes when you wipe the sweat off of your forehead & eyes (major eww).

    So now I’m torn. Kind of like the gloves I was wearing during that crash.

    I restarted to wear gloves when I moved to Hawaii because the gloves did soak up the sweat and kept the sunscreen off the handlebar tape. Slippery handlebars…bad. But they do get funky fast and when I wash the gloves in the sink, whoa momma, dirty, dirty, water. Uncool.

  11. @TheAnvil

    I started riding as a junior and was told by the oldsters schooling me, “You will wear gloves”, so I did. Unsurprisingly (for that era), they did not require that I wear a helmet, though a helmet was required when racing. So, I wore the gloves, though I found them uncomfortable, until the day I hurried out the door and forgot them. I haven’t worn riding gloves since. I’m with @Joecline. For me, gloves are for keeping your hands warm. I’m a staunch “dress for the ride” person but to each their own.

    That is funny. You will wear gloves but don’t bother with the helmet unless racing. That’s how it was.

  12. Gloves. All the time for me. Don’t you non glove wearers ever find how slippery the hoods are when out of the saddle??

    also; hygiene people, FFS. Gloves get washed with the kit after every ride.

  13. “…..a tangle of limbs, bike and embarrassment”

    Consider the order here of actuality vs what goes through your brain in terms of concern which is most likely bike, embarrassment, limbs.

    Though I do remember one incident when I rode motorbikes after hitting black ice and the ensuing skid was long enough for that to change to “shit this is going to hurt”.  Fortunately the grass verge was both wide enough and grippy enough to recover before I ended up in the ditch.

  14. Track glue (shellac?) might not be completely necessary, but at least do it right with the tools you’ve got.

    That picture may not tell the whole story, but tts don’t normally involve massive side loads, so I’m really struggling to see what would cause a tyre to roll off that badly. Hitting a rock, getting a wheel airborne then landing awkwardly could cause it.

  15. Having to wear gloves 5 months of the year because of the cold, I don’t mind riding in better weather without gloves – but always race in gloves.
    I commute in summer sans gloves, though that’s barely riding so it doesn’t count. Summer training rides, gloves till the coffee shop then off and in the back pocket. Track, always gloves, always always always. MTB, is for children and we don’t lower ourselves to childish endeavours.

  16. Gloves without padding. More feel and comfort than padded gloves and an extra layer of skin if they should meet the pavement.

  17. @minion

     MTB, is for children and we don’t lower ourselves to childish endeavours.

    I love riding mtn bikes with the kids !! Without gloves too. Cheers

  18. I’m just jealous, not allowed to mtb since the crash/time on the bike ratio is way out of whack for me. Not really a bad thing, one less expense, and roas bikes are pretty cool…

  19. I started out never wearing gloves, due to triathalons. Then after years of free hand riding, someone aske me “why don’t you wear gloves, aren’t you afraid of getting gravel in your hands, when you crash?”. I quickly retorted that I was not worried at all. Two hours later while picking gravel out of my hands, I had a change of mind.

  20. Like Gianni I don’t crash often but it does happen (shit it’s been a really loooong time since the last one)

    The first one happened early in the morning when the dew was still fresh on the road on an off  camber corner in a shaded area. I wasn’t wearing gloves when I went down on the rough blue metal road. I was ok except for my left hand which was sliced open on the outside knuckle. I clearly remember marveling how white all the tendons were and how they operated when I opened and closed my fist.

    The next crash was during a race at about 50kmph. This time I was wearing gloves, luckily they had kevlar in the palms. Unfortunately the crash destroyed a week old pair of gloves. The upside was the destroyed glove featured in a series of advertisements in cycling magazines for quite a few years.

    I don’t particularly like wearing gloves, nor do I enjoy being forced to wear a helmet. I’d be much happier only wearing both on the rare occasions I crash.

  21. No one made an argument about sweat and other body juices?

    When it’s hot, your palms will sweat and make your brake hoods slippery, your leathery bar tape slippery or your spongy bar tape smell like rotten pickles.

  22. Need to overlay the white bar tape debate with the gloves debate. Sunscreen and sweat + no gloves = new white bar tape required after every ride.

  23.  

    In the lede photo he’s Doing It Wrong. I was taught to keep my hands on the bars while crashing. Two concussions, separated shoulder, broken ribs and ankle, but never injured my hands or wrists, so it must be working.

    As to the cause of the tire rolling, I’ll hazard a guess: 650c tubular rims for funny bikes were often a narrow 17-18mm (Mavic CX18, Wolber Profil 18) radiused for 18/19mm tires. Manufacturers warned not to use anything wider, but we did, and adhesion was not optimal. I’ve also found significant inconsistency in diameter with vintage 650c and 600c tubulars, but that may be due to age. (The tires’ rather than mine.)

  24. @Pete

    I was ok except for my left hand which was sliced open on the outside knuckle. I clearly remember marveling how white all the tendons were and how they operated when I opened and closed my fist.

    This made me laugh.. Sometimes it’s almost worth the crash to see such wonders!

  25. Always wear gloves racing, never when training.

    The only time it’s PRO to wear gloves is when you wear them because the sponsor’s name is on the palms and you want to give maximum commercial exposure after a win:

  26. the only reason I need for wearing gloves is that I cant work with shredded hands.

  27. @minion

    “MTB is for children” reads to me as “I crashed once and am now forever afraid of less than ideal traction scenarios.” HTFU, bud.

  28. Yeah…when it gets hot I favour gloves, for sure.  Slippery grips have no place in the peloton.

    When it’s a bit cooler out though, I will happily admit to enjoying the cool breeze across my hands and the light and tactile connection of fingertips to tape that you get from going bare.

     

     

  29. @pistard

    In the lede photo he’s Doing It Wrong. I was taught to keep my hands on the bars while crashing. Two concussions, separated shoulder, broken ribs and ankle, but never injured my hands or wrists, so it must be working.

    Brilliant! I’m impressed anyone can fight the urge to put your hands out and break the fall with the face instead. That is very pro.

  30. @rich

    Need to overlay the white bar tape debate with the gloves debate. Sunscreen and sweat + no gloves = new white bar tape required after every ride.

    My white fizik tape gets sullied by the black gloves more than the sweat/sunscreen. But sweat/sunscreen is a very bad combo with a lot of tapes, like the glossy fizik tape, slippery like an eel I tell ya.

  31. @mauibike

    I started out never wearing gloves, due to triathalons. Then after years of free hand riding, someone aske me “why don’t you wear gloves, aren’t you afraid of getting gravel in your hands, when you crash?”. I quickly retorted that I was not worried at all. Two hours later while picking gravel out of my hands, I had a change of mind.

    Well you know by writing this I have doomed myself to crashing and messing up my hands. I guess I better wear gloves until the bad jinx has lifted, or I crash.

  32. Putting your hands out to break your fall (bike or not) is the quickest route to a broken collarbone.  I’ve been asked before, “How did you do that and not get hurt?”  Practice, practice.

  33. I’ve never really thought about it but I tend to wear gloves for hard/fast rides, not for cruises/recovery rides. On the Sat bunch – which is hell for leather for 3hrs – they are on until the coffee shop, then not for the ride home.

    I guess that means I subscribe to the theory that the higher the crash risk the more likely I will wear gloves.

    Of the few crashes I have had, only one or two involved my hands and then it was fingers/knuckles/back of the hand, not my palms. Each time the gloves were torn and the sun under damaged. Going over the front onto palms though.. if I ever do that I will be very glad of gloves.

    A junior ran over a palm brach in December. It flung up and jambed her rear wheel at the brakes. She wen’t over the front and face planted. I should ask her about her hands and how they faired. The damage on her face got all the attention I can tell you.

  34. @Stephen Schwartz

    A couple guys I rode with in the Pyrenees last summer rode without gloves. They said that the gloves just soak up sweat (I thought that was a good thing) and cultivate bacteria (eww) which you risk getting into your eyes when you wipe the sweat off of your forehead & eyes (major eww).

    So now I’m torn. Kind of like the gloves I was wearing during that crash.

    Your hands are forever covered in bacteria. That’s why we wash them before eating and other convenient times and avoid touching your face. We also wash gloves for the same reason. A quick wash with hand soap in the basin is all that is required, then once a week throw them into the washing machine.

    Do these same guys worry about the bacteria growing in their helmet which also collects sweat? Have they ever washed their helmet? The forehead band in particular which them proceeds to drip that sweat onto the face/eyes hence the need to wipe with gloves?

     

  35. @Joe Cline @Gianni

    Putting your hands out to break your fall (bike or not) is the quickest route to a broken collarbone. I’ve been asked before, “How did you do that and not get hurt?” Practice, practice.

    Yeah, no hands out. When I was a kid I decided to jump from the roof of our two story home for fun. I quickly learned to roll to absorb the landing. I do the same on the bike, roll. Land on the side/back of my shoulder and keep my hands on the hoods. Never broken any bones that way but have taken piles of skin off my shoulder, hip and the sides/back of my hands.

    Last crash was simply taking a corner too fast (final corner of race and I was leading!!), leaning it over but taking the grip of the tyres too far. I was mid corner and I thought “o’m too fast” but braking in that situation is a bad idea so I had no choice but to lean into it and try and ride it out. When I finally came to a stop I was still clipped in, just about arse on the seat, both hands on the bars. No skin on the left side of my body though. Got up and managed to finish in 5th place.

  36. Bacteria, smackteria. Seriously people, this is what we have immune systems for.

    Also, get any fizik tape, and you don’t need to worry about it getting dirty.

    And, no gloves is how I’ve been riding. If I could find ones I really liked, I’d wear them but I don’t unless it is too cold.

  37. @Gianni

    @mauibike

    I started out never wearing gloves, due to triathalons. Then after years of free hand riding, someone aske me “why don’t you wear gloves, aren’t you afraid of getting gravel in your hands, when you crash?”. I quickly retorted that I was not worried at all. Two hours later while picking gravel out of my hands, I had a change of mind.

    Well you know by writing this I have doomed myself to crashing and messing up my hands. I guess I better wear gloves until the bad jinx has lifted, or I crash.

    Impossible. The jinx won’t lift, and you won’t crash until you take your gloves off. You are doomed.

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