After a rough winter and not nearly enough riding, early April saw this reviewer looking forward to Arizona’s Black Canyon Trail with excitement- and a bundle full of nerves. Featuring in the neighborhood of 60 miles of singletrack between Prescott and Phoenix, Arizona, everyone we’d told of our plans to attack it in one (long) day responded with hesitation- and a bit of concern.
What we knew is that the ride would be long and likely hot. What we didn’t know was how long it would take or how technical the terrain would be. For rides like this, it’s usually best to pack only one’s most comfortable, durable, and proven gear. And that was the case here, with one notable exception: Pearl Izumi’s lightweight Gel-Vent FF glove. Hit the jump to find out if PI’s latest passed the 10hr test.
Despite the recent trend toward minimally padded gloves, Pearl Izumi have dotted the Gel-Vent’s synthetic leather palm with surprisingly squishy Gel Glove Padding inserts. These inserts are an open rubbery gel material covered by an open synthetic mesh. Squidgy when played with, the seemingly random placement is actually designed to create bridges over the Ulnar and Median nerves to minimize numbness while maximizing comfort.
The backs of the gloves consist primarily of three different types of mesh- including a stripe of the Direct Vent mesh borrowed from the recently-reviewed Rev baggies while snot and sweat are managed by a perforated microfiber thumb. A minimal Velcro closure keep the whole setup in place.
On the bike, the Peral Izumis’ Gel Glove Padding inserts’ squidginess disappears- as to the gloves themselves. The gloves are pre-curved and the pads’ location is effective in minimizing bunching and the microfiber thumb is mercifully free of raised seams. Even in temperatures topping 90 degrees, the Gel-Vent FFs breathe remarkably well. While the padding’s mesh covers seem destined to fail, they are holding up remarkably well. Bear in mind, however, that the backs’ minimal construction means that these are not the gloves to wear while learning the limits of new super-wide ‘bro’ bars- any extra bar width will put unprotected knuckles directly in the path of trailside branches.
And the Black Canyon Trail test? The Pearl Izumis passed with flying colors. After 10 hours in the saddle, with sit bones screaming, stomach revolting, and thighs whining, my hands remained perfectly comfortable. For anyone looking for a cool, comfortable glove that can go the distance–but doesn’t need much knuckle protection–the $45 Gel-Vent FFs are tough gloves to beat.