Sunday, 23 November 2014

Gear review - Chiba Express waterproof/winter cycling gloves

Is there life on other planets? How were the pyramids built? Does the Loch Ness Monster really exist? Is it possible to have waterproof gloves that are truly waterproof? These are some of the great mysteries that puzzle mankind. I can’t shed any light on the first three but I’m pretty sure I can answer the last one.

I own several pairs of “waterproof” gloves. That’s not because I need lots. It’s just that I keep buying different ones in the hope of finding gloves that do what they say on the label … repel water whilst maintaining a dry internal environment for my hands! The latest ones I tried are these Chiba Express waterproof cycling gloves.

The main body of the glove is made from softshell. It’s very flexible so it’s really comfortable for wearing on the bike with plenty of dexterity for changing gears, ringing bells or switching lights off and on. The cuff is neoprene and I really like the fact that it’s a nice tight fit. I can never understand why manufacturers of waterproof gloves often design a big, chunky cuff. When it’s raining I want the sleeves of my waterproof jacket to slide easily over the cuff of my gloves to prevent any leakage around the wrist. They do that nicely with the Chiba Express.

The palm of the gloves has a grippy synthetic surface and there are gel pads for comfort. There’s a little loop on the back of one of the fingers to pull the glove off quickly. The softshell fabric is quite thick but there is no extra insulation so they won’t keep hands warm on the very coldest of days but should be good for most of the winter months. All of these features make the Chiba Express a really nice pair of gloves but the brilliant thing is the waterproof cover that hides neatly inside a pocket on the back of the cuff of each glove until you need it. The cover stretches over the tips of the fingers and encloses the thumb but it leaves the palm free to maintain grip on the handlebars. Given that your hand position is fairly fixed on the bike, I thought the covers would keep the worst of any rain off.

The test came last week with a commute to work in torrential rain. I whipped the covers out soon after I left the house and my ride takes me an hour. The covers certainly kept the gloves dry for most of the way. It was of course inevitable that without a complete waterproof cover there would be some leakage in really heavy rain. That’s pretty much what happened, although the gloves were not by any means completely soaked through and my hands were still warm. 

So they are not truly waterproof gloves but I still really like them. The best thing I have for keeping out water are my Goretex over-mitts but they’re really impractical, have limited dexterity and it’s a devil to try to get the second one tucked under your jacket sleeve once you’ve put on the first one. I can see that on many occasions when I hit a short, sharp shower or I’m out for a while in light rain, the Chiba Express gloves will do a good job and save me the trouble of changing to the mitts. I bought my gloves for £26 at BG Cycles in Portobello, Edinburgh and they come in unisex sizes small to extra large. The small was surprisingly a half decent fit on my tiny hands.

I’ve no hesitation in recommending these gloves but the search for truly waterproof gloves … like the search for Nessie … continues.


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