When I first saw GORE’s understated Freeride Long gloves in the company’s booth at Interbike last fall, something about their subdued looks caught my eye. In a time when accessory companies are outdoing themselves to be seen, a simple glove becomes the standout. While GORE is known for well thought out, high quality riding gear, their gloves had gone completely under my radar. The light, strategically-placed palm padding, terry thumb, and outer knuckle protectors, however, suggested that some thought had gone into the Freeride Longs. I soon set out to determine if that thought had paid off- and found some new favorites in the process.
My size large (8) gloves fit me well, which puts GORE’s sizing somewhere between most companies’ large and extra-large gloves. Beyond those already mentioned, the open mesh at the bottom of the wrist and silicone-printed pull tab are nice touches. The palms are extensively perforated to help keep the hands and digits breathe- but the holes aren’t so large that I’ve ever felt a breeze through them. Though the palm material pilled alarmingly when new, the pilling has actually decreased since and the material has proved itself very durable. Despite the perforations occasionally having been caught on valve stems and thorns, none have ever torn. The thick back material has shrugged off numerous tree and rock encounters without any snags or tears and the knuckle pads are well placed for the occasional moderate rock or branch strike. The terry snot wipe is pretty gross at this point, but I’m sure glad that it’s there.
Though they look kind of baggy and crease-y in my photos, the Freeride Longs have almost no excess material when holding a bar. The palm material wraps up and around the index and middle fingertips, making for one less irritating seam- something I’m surprised we don’t see more of. Alongside Specialized’s excellent BG Radiators, these GORE gloves are my favorite gloves yet. While the Spez gloves may be a bit cooler thanks to their lighter color and thinner backing material, the GOREs get the nod on techy days for the well-placed and unrestrictive armor and slightly sturdier construction. A ridiculously large multi-lingual care tag (a common GORE feature) did initially take up most of the gloves’ backs, making them awfully sweaty, but the gloves have been much more comfortable and cooler since I was snipped them out out. As a testament to their comfort, the Freerides were my glove of choice for a 24 hour race this February and remained comfortable over about 8 hours’ riding.
After the pilling palms, the fins on the outer two fingers are the $50 Freeride Longs’ only disappointment. Those don’t offer much in the way of protection and have started peeling away. Despite the vertically-oriented name, GORE’s Freeride Long gloves are an excellent ‘big day out’ cross country/trail glove. I’m looking forward to a summer of riding with them.