When it comes to cold weather riding, the single hardest piece of gear to get right has to be gloves. Shoe covers are pretty straightforward, and tights and jackets made of enough of the right stuff will generally work just fine. Gloves, on the other hand, have to be a challenge. On road or off, they need to provide insulation while allowing for full control of the bicycle, not to mention a bit of padding, somewhere to wipe snot, and reasonable durability. Good cool- and cold-weather gloves are really hard to come by- which is why I’m so excited by Castelli’s Chiro WS gloves. Hit the jump to find out ‘more‘.
There are certain pieces of cool weather gear that I am happy to pull out of the closet when temperatures start to drop. Coming in a bit short of a full-on winter glove, Castelli’s Chiro WS gloves are, hands down, my late fall through early spring favorites. The WS in the name refers to the GORE “Windstopper X-Fast” wind & water resistant, stretchy, breathable soft shell material that makes up the gloves’ back. The (apparently Castelli-specific) X-Fast material is lined with a thin and cozy fleece material, as is the area under the terry snot wipe. Though they seem far too warm for this to be the case, the Chiros’ palm and the underside of its fingers are made of a single layer of synthetic suede, strategically reinforced/padded with “No Slip” panels (more of the same, printed with silicone dots). A Magic Velcro-closed Neoprene-like cuff finishes things off and is cut a bit high on the outside of the wrist, effectively minimizing drafts. For those of you waiting to make the inevitable Mickey Mouse / Michael Jackson / Marcel Marceau quips or comments on the impracticality of white clothing, I would like to note that the Chiros are also available in black.
Cutting to the chase, for rides between 40 and 55 degrees, I haven’t found a better glove. Despite not being as aggressively pre-curved as some gloves, I can’t say that the Chiros fight me when gripping the bar or going for brakes or shifters. There is no excess material to bunch or reduce control and, for such a warm glove, the Castellis are remarkably comfortable and don’t seem to build up heat or moisture when ridden hard. The No Slip panels help reduce fatigue by reducing the need to grip the bar overly tightly and the silicone dots are holding up better than those on any of my mountain gloves. The terry panel seems to be nearly as windproof as the Windstopper back and is plenty big enough (though it might be even more effective if it extended a bit further down the thumb). It’s still too early to draw any long-term conclusions, but (staining of the white material aside) the Chiros are showing zero signs of wear.
At $60, Castelli’s Chiro WS gloves are also a solid deal. Their comfort is and quality seems excellent and the materials are well-chosen and well-placed. The Chiros have single-handedly relegated my other gloves to the bottom of the glove basket. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I hear the bass line from Billie Jean every time I pull them on.