The Sportful Fiandre gloves feel comfortable to wear and warm without extra bulk. The real trick though is just how good they feel on the bars. They have only very minimal padding and all the silicone in the palm makes for an excellent grip.
- - Light rain protection
- - Excellent bar feel and grip
- - Index finger smart phone compatibility
- - Pre-curved design helps with bar feel
- - Zipper is difficult to undo
The right gloves can be the difference between finishing an epic ride and heading home early. Your hands are a leading-edge when riding your bike, they're the first part of your body that hits the wind, they take the worst of whatever you ride through and if you want to finish, you have to keep your fingers warm and feeling good. You also have to maintain a secure bar feel and dexterity.
The best winter cycling gloves do a great job of balancing those competing intentions. They handle the elements without interfering with your connection to the bike. These are the kinds of features that helped the Sportful Fiandre gloves land on our list of favourites, and now that we've spent some time testing them thoroughly, we are ready to discuss all the details about what makes them great. Keep reading if you are looking for the kind of winter glove that works for the vast majority of winter riding.
Design and aesthetics
Conceptually the Sportful Fiandre glove is an early-winter glove. Depending on your climate that might mean they are fine for deep winter riding but it also means they have a light layer of insulation. In this case, the insulation in use is Polartec Primaloft.
Primaloft isn't a choice seen often in cycling-specific gear but it's not at all unusual for other winter sports clothing. It works by holding air space in the same way that down does. Unlike down though it's a synthetic material and will hold some warmth when wet. It's a stretch to say it's unaffected by water but it is hydrophobic and will continue to hold some warmth even when wet.
Synthetics are a double-edged sword for the environment. Although there are no animals used in the production, they are a petroleum product. Primaloft handles this by starting life as plastic water bottles that have been taken out of the waste stream. Polartec also claims that Primaloft is biodegradable, which if you keep yourself aware of the footprint you are leaving on the planet, that's nice to hear.
On the outside of the Sportful Fiandre gloves is another Polartec fabric. This time the same Neoshell membrane fabric that you can find used in the Sportful Total Comfort jacket. It's designed to be durable and waterproof while also breathable. It's not a hardshell fabric so it's soft to the touch and quiet when in motion.
Similar to other Sportful gloves the Fiandre have a synthetic leather palm. There's an on-again, off-again, pattern of silicone that covers a significant portion of the surface and makes for an excellent grip on the bars. That grip is mostly unencumbered with padding however there is one thin pad on the outside edge for the ulnar nerve. The only spot lacking the silicone is the touchscreen friendly tip of each index finger.
Aside from the shine of the silicone on the palm, the outside of the Sportful Fiandre gloves is a plain black design. The cuff is long and a waterproof zipper helps with getting the gloves on. The back of each hand has a large reflective Sportful logo and the underside of each wrist has a white silicone logo that also helps with pulling the gloves on. The most visible adornment is the red "Fiandre" tag across the left wrist.
Polartec has a lot of claims about how waterproof its Neoshell fabric is. Despite that, it is not waterproof. It's not a problem as long as you have the correct expectations. Waterproof gloves are, in my experience, little more than a question of how long they can hold out.
I found the Sportful Fiandre gloves started to take on water after roughly two hours of hard rain. At that point, they weren't soaked through but they were beginning to. It started on the leading edge of the index finger and most of the glove remained warm. After four hours, that finger was soaked and the rest of the gloves felt heavy and damp. There was still warmth but depending on the temperatures, you may want to change gloves.
That level performance is good for waterproof gloves. The average temperature on that ride was 45F/7C and my hands remained warm despite eventually being damp. Even when the temperature dipped a bit colder, my hands remained comfortable but if that was a longer ride, I'd have needed a second pair of gloves. If you are riding in dry weather, I expect that you would remain warm in much cooler temperatures.
No matter the weather though, I continue to love the design of the palm. I always prefer to ride without padding but winter gloves that include it aren't off the table. With plenty of material between your hand and the bars, a bit of extra padding doesn't hurt as long as it doesn't become a pressure point of its own. Sportful has done a good job here of creating some padding but not getting in the way. More than that though, the extensive silicone grip feels amazing on the controls. You never slip off the brake lever and you always feel in control.
The foundation of Sportful gloves is a great connection to the bars. They keep you feeling in control and the Fiandre gloves manage that same feeling even with the addition of insulation. Wrapped around that foundation is Polartec Neoshell fabric that should be considered water-resistant (rather than waterproof) but does a good job in that context. The inside is a fleece that feels good against the skin and between the two is a recycled plastic water bottle insulation that does a good job in early winter temperatures.
Tech Specs: Sportful Fiandre Gloves
- Price: £110 / $90 / €94.90 / $149.99 AU
- Available Colours: Black
- Material: Polartec Neoshell outer, synthetic leather palm, Polartec Primaloft insulation
- Weight: 77g size small
- Size availability: XS-XXL
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