Review: Specialized BG Radiator gloves
Gloves never seem to last me more than a year. Usually, after an 11 month season of riding, gloves’ padding is packed out, several seams have failed, and/or they’re just too foul to wear. Maybe it’s the construction, or the fit, or the fact that white gloves actually get washed, but after 18 months Specialized’s BG Radiators are still the first gloves I reach for. Read on to find out why…
Bought in the comfort-seeking panic that usually precedes my 24-hour racing, the BG (Body Geometry) Radiators were comfortable from the moment I pulled them on on the sales floor. Despite the bad name that squidgy gel gloves have earned for themselves, Specialized have exercised considerable restraint with the magic goo, following the guidance of one Dr. Minkow in equipping the BG Radiators with two gel pads to help protect the ulnar nerve and reduce numbness.
Of course, the BG Radiators have the same sort of finger ‘protection’ as most gloves of a certain price (little welded-on nubbins between the knuckles, several of which have grown wings and flown away). More useful is the well-ventilated O-Foam pad protecting the outermost knuckles. Protecting the two smallest fingers’ knuckles makes a good deal of sense as those are the ones most likely to catch trailside trees and rocks. Limiting padding to the outer fingers, which don’t move much while riding, also leaves the index and middle fingers the ability to brake and shift unencumbered.
Though I haven’t noticed a reduction in the occurrence of finger numbness while wearing the BG Radiators, they are certainly no worse in that department than anything that had preceded them. A few brushes with trailside trees and rocks has left me thankful for the O-Foam pad, which is all but unnoticeable in regular use. Harder hits will overwhelm the Radiators’ limited protection- but that’s not a demerit given their intended “technical trail” use.
Living in the desert, finding the right mix of ventilation, protection and padding (to say nothing of fit) surprisingly difficult. After a year and a half, my only real complaint remains the not particularly soft nor particularly absorbent Micro Wipe thumb. Specialized claim that the material is intended to “brush away sweat” and sure enough, it just doesn’t have terry’s snot carrying capacity. Between that and their white color, my BG Radiators seem to get washed far more than other gloves. This is probably a good thing- and doesn’t seem to have shortened their lifespan- but a black/slate combination is available for those who don’t want to be mistaken for a trail mime. They could be a bit cooler- though probably not without sacrificing some durability- and are far from uncomfortable on anything but the muggiest days.
Two 24 hour races and a season and a half of riding in, the Specialized gloves are just starting to show their age. Yes, my hands can still go tingly after 4 or 5 hours’ riding- but they’re hardly the only thing. The fact that I still reach for the BG Radiators after so many miles makes the $45 gloves my all-time favorites and a good deal to boot.