The best cycling gloves, and in particular short-fingered gloves or track mitts as they are commonly known have been worn by cyclists for decades to protect their hands and provide extra comfort on the bike. The humble track mitt or short-fingered glove is one of the few pieces of cycling equipment that has stayed the same through the years. Look at pictures of riders from eighty years ago and the best road bikes and kit look like they are from a different sport, but the humble track mitt has remained pretty much the same and there is a reason for that.
We use our hands constantly when cycling. Gripping the handlebar tape and gear and brake levers, wiping our faces, drinking, repairing mechanicals, and wrenching on the bars when sprinting or climbing a steep hill, most seasoned cyclists can count on a callous or two on their hands. Cycling gloves can protect the skin on our hands, particularly in the event of a crash, and add grip and comfort. The best winter cycling gloves do the job of keeping our hands warm in the cold, but when summer arrives, gloves can still serve a very important purpose.
We have awarded the best in test to the Rapha Core mitts. They edge it due to their simple, functional design and outright comfort. My size small pair fitted perfectly everywhere and are a joy to wear, but they might not be for everyone so there are plenty of other options here in this guide, all of which we'd be happy to recommend.
We've spent hours testing all of the gloves in this guide to present you with a range of the best. There is also some handy buying advice down at the bottom of the page to help inform your decision and improve your own knowledge.
The best cycling gloves
Best for comfort
+ Very comfortable design
+ Simple, classic styling
- No dedicated thumb wipe panel
The Rapha Core Mitts are twenty pounds cheaper than the top-end Rapha Pro Team mitts and pack a real punch. Available in black and navy with a simple white Rapha logo on each glove.
A perforated mesh fabric on the back provides great comfort and cooling whilst a synthetic, padded suede palm provides great levels of comfort and grip. There are also two tabs on the fingers like the Le Col mitts to get them off easily.
Best gloves for ventilation
+ Lots of ventilation
+ Unique palm gripper
- Stylish design
- Higher retail price
The MAAP Pro Race Mitt is a seriously breathable premium mitt from the Australian brand. Featuring a mesh backing and perforated palm, these gloves are perfect for hot days in the saddle when you are sweating. I've used them indoors on Zwift until they were sodden and they dealt with the moisture well.
The gloves feature an elastic interface palm, the best way to describe this is a series of tiny velcro hooks, they are soft to the touch but add grip and we haven't seen them on other gloves.
The gloves are available in eight different colors and are stylish to boot if a little on the pricey side for track mitts.
Best if you want a multi-discipline glove
+ Great value for the features included
+ Nice Terry cloth thumb wipe panel
+ Ample Gel palm padding - Finishing on fingers could be neater
The Xtract mitts from Scottish brand Endura are good quality mitts that have a few design features we value.
The Xtract mitts come in four bright colors and are competitively priced. They are the only gloves in the test to feature a velcro wrist closure strap. Seemingly a rare design choice of late for brands but one that makes getting the gloves on and off really easy.
There's a generous Terry nose wipe panel on the thumb which really helps if you need to wipe your nose or face. There's also gel palm padding overlaid with a silicone grip. If you want a glove that will perform well across several disciplines the Xtract gloves are a great shout.
Best Lightweight, budget option
+ Competitively retail price
+ Super lightweight
- No thumb wipe panel
- White may be hard for some to keep clean
Irish brand Galibier is the manufacturer of some functional yet great value cycling kit. The Specialissima gloves are no different. They are a comfortable, super lightweight pair of gloves that tip the scales at a hardly believable 18g per pair for a size M. There is lightweight but well-placed padding on the palm whilst the hassle-free white uppers are very comfy. The end result is a lightweight and really comfy pair of stylish summer gloves. Just make sure you keep them clean.
Best gloves if you like a longer cuff
+ Low-key classic styling
+ Reflective strip on hand
- No thumb wipe panel
The simply named 'cycling mitts' from Le Col are the brand's padded all-rounder. Made in Italy, they come in three colours and feature lightweight and perforated palm padding and a reflective stripe. The cuff is a little longer than the Rapha gloves for example, useful if you don't like a gap between long sleeves and your mitts.
There are tabs on the fingers to help you pull them off and the lycra backing is stretchy and lightweight. They are slightly snug around the fingers so size up if you think you may have larger fingers or are at the upper end of a size.
Best cycling gloves if you need extra palm padding
+ Soft, well-fitted mesh top section
+ Well-padded palm
- No thumb wipe panel
Nalini has been making cycling kits for a long time for other brands and pro teams.
Made in Italy, the summer gloves are lightweight and mix an ultralight, comfortable mesh back with a durable, padded palm. There are perforations on the undersides of the fingers to aid cooling and four strategically placed palm pads with silicone gripper dots to help you grip.
Their bright design helps them stand out and adds a touch of Italian flair to proceedings.
Best if you still like to 'feel' the handlebars
+ Thin palm offers really nice grip
+ Soft thumb wipe panel
- The wrists area sits slightly loose in places
The Pearl Izumi Pro Air gloves have a really interesting design. They use a thin synthetic leather palm with perforations and no added padding. It's really comfortable and lets you really grip and feel the handlebars.
The outer section of the gloves is fast-drying thin mesh and there's a really soft thumb wipe panel. There is a nice contrast between the retro-influenced synthetic leather palm and mesh outer that looks really smart.
Best long-fingered spring/summer cycling gloves
+ Thin backing to prevent overheating
+ Touchsreen finger compatability
+ Nose wipe panel on thumb
- No pull tabs to get them off
The Assos RS LF Targa gloves are a thin, long-fingered option that is perfect for cooler temperatures or riders who want a long-fingered option.
The mesh back is thin to allow plenty of ventilation so you won't overheat and the wrist isn't too long which also helps you keep cool and aids movement. There's a nose wipe panel and a touch screen finger tab so you can use your phone with them on. These gloves are great for autumn, spring or summer, the odd off-road ride and even running.
Best long-fingered cold weather-focused glove
+ Super Soft Polartec Alpha fleece lining
+ Generous cuff length
+ Stylish design looks good off the bike
- High retail price
We've got a whole guide dedicated to the best winter cycling gloves, but my latest go-to pair are the Alpha from Velocio, which I'm including here as a versatile, warm long-fingered option. Their fleece lining offers good warmth, but they are on the right side of bulky and could be used from fall through to spring. I've even been for a few walks wearing them off the bike and they performed really well. They are stylish and the fleece lining feels really luxurious when on.
You can read an in-depth review of the Velocio Alpha gloves here.
How to choose the best cycling gloves for you
Gloves aren't the most critical piece of cycling kit and finding some you like should be pretty easy. Comfort and fit are important and poorly fitting gloves may hinder your control of the bike so measure up or try them on or try before you buy. Aside from that if you are new to cycling gloves find some within your budget in a style or color you like and give them a go.
Do I need gloves for road cycling?
You certainly don't need gloves for road cycling but plenty of riders choose to use them to protect their hands and if you are relatively new to cycling you may too.
You will see the majority of pro riders in gloves because they spend hours every day riding a bike which will take its toll on the hands over time. Gloves also protect the palms of your hands in the event of a crash.
For amateur cyclists who don't spend nearly as much time on the bike the need for mitts is a little less pressing but for long days in the saddle or summer rides when your hands might be sweatier they can really help improve comfort, try them and see what works for you. Some riders choose to wear no gloves a lot of the time because they prefer it, this is fine too.
In some cases, if riders are racing on the track in particular or in some road or circuit races, particularly for young riders the race commissaries or officials will stipulate gloves need to be worn to compete in the name of rider safety. So it's often worth keeping a pair of gloves in your kit bag just in case.
Do gloves need a nose wipe panel?
A nose wipe panel can be really useful if you find yourself clearing your nose or being a bit snottier on the bike. It's very convenient and keeps things a little more civilised. Lots of brands seem to be making lightweight gloves without a nose wipe currently but it's still a really useful feature to look for in your gloves.
Why fingerless gloves?
In the summer on a road bike, full-length gloves are slightly overkill most of the time, although there are some excellent lighter-weight options available. Short-fingered gloves or mitts provide the right amount of protection whilst helping hands stay cool and providing good dexterity.
Will cycling gloves make a difference?
In many cases yes they will. Particularly if you are prone to getting sore or chafed hands after several hours on the bike, some cyclists have also experienced nerve issues in their hands from repetitive use and gloves can help minimise any potential repetitive strain-related injuries.
They will also come into their own if you ride over rough ground or poor surfaces which transmit a lot of extra vibrations through the handlebars.
If you have ever crashed your bike and had to deal with gravel rash on the palms of your hands, you will definitely understand and appreciate the benefit of wearing gloves.
Are gloves less aero?
You will often see riders that are competing ditching gloves for time trails or road races, which prompts the question are gloves slower? As we understand it in a time trial position with the hands-on tri-bar extensions gloves are marginally slower, but on a regular road bike, the difference is negligible. Certainly not enough for most of us to ever need to worry about.
How we test cycling gloves
I have tested each pair of gloves in this guide for hours on the bike. I've ridden indoors on my smart trainer to see how they perform when soaked in sweat in the middle of a workout. I've also worn them on slightly chilly spring mornings as the day began to warm up and on warmer days outdoors on short and long rides. I've used them all in anger riding hard in and out of the saddle as well as for more relaxed rides to put them through their paces and find out how they performed.
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Tom joined the Cyclingnews team in late 2022 as tech writer. Tom has over 10 years experience as a qualified mechanic with 5 or so of those being spent running an independent workshop. Tom has ridden and raced bikes from an early age up to a national level on the road and track and has ridden and competed in most disciplines, even the odd bit of bike polo. Tom is as happy tinkering away in the garage as he is out on the road bike exploring the Worcestershire lanes.