It felt a little odd, and really rather warm, trying on fluffy deep winter gloves as the last gasps of summer wafted across the Isle of Wight... but such are things, and the sudden autumnal weather just three days later definitely lent itself to thinking about layering policies for the non-Zwift rider over the upcoming months.
I’m on the island for a sadly too brief two-birds-with-one-stone GripGrab Autumn/Winter product browse, and to ride a bit of the Wight Prestige, a three day food and gravel event based out of the Garlic Farm in the middle of the island. The highlight of the weekend is the 100km ride on Saturday, so I’m doing that while also literally getting hands-on with some GripGrab product for a bit of work and play.
I’ve been to the Isle of Wight loads of times before on road, mountain and gravel bikes, so it was a no-brainer to go back and experience what new gravellings event organiser Tim Wiggins has conjured up this time around. The big ride of the Wight Prestige this year focuses on the west of the island, and manages to cram just over 1,500m of climbing in its metric century. This means it has its pokey moments, but luckily there are two tea stops along the way to compensate.
Over a heavily garlic-infused full English breakfast at the Garlic Farm that would linger breathily for the first few hills, there was the chance to look at some of GripGrab’s new wares.
GripGrab are a Danish company that was founded by three brothers around the turn of the century, one of whom, Kristian, is on today’s ride. They're probably best known for their cycling clothing that focuses on looking after the extremities in the form of gloves and overshoes, but they can do a full body wardrobe if you want.
Coming from Scandinavia you’d hope they’d have experience of both balmy summers and freezing winters and be able to apply that to their clothing, and from the look of their kit this would appear to be the case. There’s a Scandi aesthetic to their products that emphasises functionality over looks, and the range has a minimal approach to graphics and patterns which will appeal to many.
Starting with the gloves I wore for a day of sweaty bumpy gravel that were so comfy I didn’t ever notice they were there are the Aerolite InsideGrip Gloves. They’re designed for maximum feel and control and utilise GripGrab's award-winning InsideGrip technology that features a pattern of silicone grippers on the inside of the glove, meaning they fit and feel like a second skin.
They come in five colours and sizes and are available in a long finger version for more protection if you venture off-road and are likely to encounter foliage. If you’re after a more padded summer glove then GripGrab have at least ten models in their range to suit.
Tim knows the Isle of Wight like the back of his hand as there isn’t an inch of the island he hasn’t skipped a tyre along, so he knows how to weave a great ride together. Leaving the Garlic Farm we’re immediately on quiet trails and as if to make a point about the imminent end of a great summer, we’re all weaving uncontrollably, stalling and dabbing in rim-deep sand.
Talk turns to how they manage to traverse it with such speed and skill it when it appears in those iconic cyclocross races, especially when it’s cold and damp. We clearly need to practice our figure of eight drills on the beach...
As things get a little chillier you might want to finger into the Insulator 2 Spring-Autumn Glove, a lightweight pair of gloves to keep the chill off your paws on cooler spring and autumn days. They’re made from a stretchy and highly breathable material that ensures a close and comfortable fit and are unpadded on the palm for maximum road feel, but grip is handily provided by silicone strips on the palm and first two fingers, which also makes them touchscreen friendly.
The entire back of the thumb is what GripGrab call a soft sweat wiper, but we all know will be used for the autumnal nose drips of a fresh headwind. The Insulator 2 is also light enough and thin enough to be used as a liner glove inside another pair of gloves too if you really suffer from the cold.
They’re available in black or this commute friendly Hi-Vis yellow and to help with your purchasing decisions all GripGrab gloves come with thermal insulation, water resistance and breathability indicators on the packaging. The rear of the card is decorated with a QR code that will instantly take you to further information and advice.
Staying in the same season but offering more water resistance (we all know that this is what we’re really going to need) are the Hurricane 2 Windproof Spring-Autumn gloves. A far sturdier and stiffer glove than the Insulator 2, they’re designed to be for all but the very coldest conditions, a windproof glove offering comfort, warmth and breathability across the wide range of temperatures and weather conditions over the cooler half of the year.
The Hurricane 2 are the evolution of a classic GripGrab product, the premium windproof stretch fabric on the back of the gloves is highly breathable and made from 90% recycled material. It’s also treated with a PFC-free durable water repellent treatment to shrug off light showers and road spray. They have padded palms for comfort, silicone grippers for control, the inner thumb has a reinforcing panel, and the outer edge of the little finger has a reflective panel, where GripGrab say is a surprisingly good position to catch car headlights.
Like many companies now GripGrab are doing their best to act responsibly and sustainably, and recognise that they need to set a high bar when it comes to their social and environmental impact. Many of their products feature recycled materials, but it’s only something they’re happy to use if it doesn’t compromise performance especially as it’s more expensive to use.
The Wight Prestige route wiggles its way up and down and round all the quiet lanes and hidden paths of the island using field edges, sunken holloways, bramble walled concrete paths weighed down with late summer fruits. There is open downland and wide chalk tracks that bow over hill tops, and some sections that push the definition of gravel a little too far for some people.
It’s never on the same surface for long. Even the tarmac is a joy as it’s mostly free of traffic, especially the long section south of the island just west of Ventnor where the road has been cut in half because of a landslip, so there are some gloriously car-free kilometres to cruise along. Cn all roads be cut off like this please?
The meandering up and down route means it takes a while for us to reach the first tea stop at Chessell Pottery Cafe, and everyone wreaks havoc on the vast selection of cakes.
Heading deeper into darker days the Windster 2 Windproof Winter Gloves are for riders who want to keep riding through the colder single digits of winter with the added fun of a biting windchill. An evolution of the original Windster gloves, this 2.0 version utilises a premium windproof stretch fabric on the back, with a 100% recycled material soft fleece lining layer for warmth, comfort and insulation.
The wrist is tightly elasticated and the cuff extends well up the forearm completely banishing any annoying chill gap between glove and jersey. A high breathability rating of 15K means your hands will remain comfortable even if you work up a sweat, while a PFC-free DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating keeps light external moisture at bay. These too feature silicone stripes on the palms and fingers for grip, nose wipe thumbs, reflective little finger detailing and are available in hi-vis yellow.
For when things get really bad there’s the new Ride Windproof Deep Winter Lobster Glove and Nordic 2 Windproof Deep Winter Lobster Glove, essentially the same design of glove but the Nordic 2 are pricier and feature better materials and more winterproof features.
Both chunky gloves are designed for when the temperature drops below zero with a lobster style finger split that separates the index finger from the other three fingers to keep hands warm, while offering maximum dexterity on both road and mountain bikes. Both have silicone grip on the palms and fingers, a soft wipey fabric on the thumb, elasticated wrists and long cuffs with a Velcro tab closure for extra draught exclusion.
The Ride gloves have a soft fleece lining made from 100% recycled material infused with an anti-odour treatment to keep the gloves fresher for longer; this also means they won’t need such frequent washing, so they should last longer and have a lower environmental impact according to GripGrab.
The Nordic 2 gloves justify you putting your hand deeper into your pocket by being made from 90% recycled material. They're claimed to be 100% windproof but remain highly breathable, and have a PFC-free durable water-resistant DWR coating. On top of this Primaloft Gold insulation is used in the palm, which is 100% recycled, low bulk and exceptionally insulating, even when compressed, and the back of the gloves features Primaloft Gold Active+ for an exceptionally high warmth-to-weight ratio.
They also have a reinforced panel on the inside of the thumb to prevent wear in that pressure area. These gloves put us in the confusing situation of really wanting to try them out, even though it means going out in weather we usually wouldn’t want to go out in.
And while we’re heading out we’ll probably put on the AquaShield Waterproof Cycling Cap, a 15K waterproof and windproof fabric casquette that comes with taped seams for maximum wet weather protection. Moisture from within is dealt with by a wide and soft inner mesh headband to reduce any sweat making its way down your brow.
I’ve ridden with Tim enough times, and around the island enough times to know that at any point you can round the corner and see a wall of a climb in front of you. So far today the route has been up and down quite enough, and there was a feisty road climb that I remember two corners before from a sportive years ago. Luckily today we hadn’t already done 90 miles beforehand, it’s all been manageable with effort but Tim has saved the best, or worst, till last...
A proper grunt of a steep grind up the side of a field with a final pitch that only two of the group manage to ride up. One is Tim (because he’s had practice, obvs) and the other is GripGrab owner Kristian. There’s a small glow of reassurance and faith in product when you see that the owner of a cycling-related company is pretty handy on a bike. Or is that just me? We’re promised that it’s all downhill from here.
All of these GripGrab products and more have made their way across The Solent to the road.cc offices ready to be putting through the review grinder. You can also head over to the GripGrab website to check out the range.
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.