The Bike List

Louis Garneau Sotchi Gloves £45

Tested by Oliver Laverack, tester for The Bike List

Finding the perfect winter cycling glove is a tough challenge. Too much insulation and you’ll lose the dexterity in your digits to change gear with accuracy or brake with any sensitivity. Too little insulation and you’ll swiftly lose sensation in your fingers and endure miles of discomfort.

The Sotchi negotiates a smart line between these two extremes. The Windstop fabric protects the back of your hand and fingers from wind chill, while the high neoprene wrists bands traps heat where it might most easily escape from close-to-the-skin veins. Thankfully, such warmth does not come at the expense of manual dexterity and the slender fingers allow you to operate your bike’s cockpit as normal.

They are not, however, the warmest gloves on the market. They’re great for temperatures above 5 degrees, and adequate depending on your circulation and cold perception from zero to five degrees, but don’t consider wearing them for a snowball fight – you’ll soon feel Jack Frost’s vicious nip, even if the gloves keep your fingers dry.

The faux-suede palms have a clever vent where your thumb meets your palm to avoid clamminess, but the two narrow ridges that run up to the fourth and little fingers are less successful. On thin bar tape the ridges can dig in to your hand, and road riders may be left wanting padding across the top of the palm instead. There’s little insulation here from road buzz, which has been disappointing on longer training rides, although off-road this has not been an issue. There’s also a lot of stitching running across the palm and around the thumb which looks and feels a bit clumsy - you don’t need the sensitivity of a princess sleeping on mattresses above a solitary pea to feel the ridges and I’d worry that such raised stitching is in danger of unravelling.

That said, six weeks almost daily mid-winter use has exposed no quality issues or revealed any performance flaws. What's more, the subtle arc of the fingers means there's no gathering of fabric as you grip the handlebars which does make for better feel and greater comfort.

At their current sale price of £25 (January 2012) these gloves are something of a snip, but carrying their full £45 tag it would be worth checking rival models from Gore and Sealskinz.

Buy from www.evanscycles.com

At a glance

Verdict A windproof winter glove shaped for comfort.
Value
Performance

Louis Garneau says:

The Sotchi Gloves have an adjustable neoprene cuff that eliminates pressure points and offers a custom fit. The patented Ergo Air System ensures adequate moisture transfer.

FABRICS:

  • Upper hand:  Windstop Lycra 
  • Digital Amara palm

DETAILS:

  • Insulation: Drytex 3M lining
  • Microfiber thumb
  • Fitted neoprene cuff
  • Ergo Air concept
  • Gel padding
  • Pre-shaped
  • Weather: Moderate +
  • Insulation index:  Light
  • Moisture transfer:  High
  • Sizes: XS-XL