The Alé Air Glove is a feathery, second-skin design that performs competently as a road mitt but the padding isn't on par with some competitors. If you like your gloves minimalist then they could be worth a look – their light weight makes them a good choice for time triallists and track riders looking to save every last ounce – but they wouldn't be my choice for more generic road riding.
Skin mitts, by definition, are designed to be second-skin close, which might be a bit of a culture shock if, like me, you're coming from more traditional mitts. Their slim fit and minimal seams mean they don't interfere with your dexterity, but they can require a bit of wrestling on and off.
Our mediums were comparable with the Wearwell Revival mitts I tested recently, if that helps.
You might want to size up (sizing ranges from XS-XXL), but I found that within a few rides they relaxed very slightly. The fingers extended mid knuckle and slid comfortably over my pronounced gemstone rings, which isn't always so.
The cuffs are also very shallow, ending just shy of the wrists. This didn't pose any problems on a practical level, although took a little adjusting to visually.
There's nothing particularly unusual in the mitts' construction: the backs are Lycra, the palms polyamide, impregnated with polyurethane foam.
Detailing and stitching is generally okay, although our test samples showed some signs of fraying/deterioration around the right thumb. I trimmed and glued ours but it's nothing that a good retailer wouldn't sort under warranty.
Having the backs emblazoned with the Alé logo – in our case, white – is useful for reinforcing hand signals; bold red and yellow are the alternatives.
Polymer/silicone bar tapes are now the norm for my two-wheeled fleet. The Alé mitts' tenure has been perfect with all of them – confirmed by riding through some intense downpours. Being relatively thin, the mitts dried in around 25 minutes.
Most brands seem to have got padding sussed, both in terms of shape and density, but I confess I questioned the effectiveness of the low-density, crescent-shaped padding used here. It felt bang on during the first few outings up to around 25 miles, but extending rides to 35-40 miles, I was surprised by some some subtle tingling in the ulnar region.
Keen to rule out some unrelated problem (there had been a few bar/stem swaps before the Alés' arrival), I persevered, sticking to well-surfaced roads, extending rides by 5-15 miles. No change, and I snuck the Wearwell in a jersey pocket, allowing the option of swapping should the discomfort intrude too intensely.
Rides on the wilder, mixed terrain side induced these symptoms after 15 miles or so, even with big tyres and a carbon fork. Look elsewhere if you're seeking a mitt that can cross over to gravel/rough stuff touring.
With the mercury wandering between 28 and 32°C for a fortnight, wicking prowess was seamless, although the black backs felt hotter than the Altura Peloton 2 Progels I tested last year, or some crochet-backed retro favourites.
Given a week of around 200 miles riding and the Alés were getting decidedly funky, and the sweat pad (which in my book would benefit from being a little longer) was looking a little salty. Nothing that a quick, 30-degree machine wash couldn't purge and they were ready to wear again, line dry in 20 minutes.
At the other extreme, while punctures were conspicuous by their absence, some oily transfers following roadside transmission tweaking also vanished without trace after 30-degree machine washes.
Overall, the Alés feel pretty average. Factoring personal quirks into the equation, the damping qualities were a bit disappointing, particularly at this price point. Several online retailers are offering them heavily discounted, but even so I'd steer potential buyers towards something like the Alturas I mentioned above, the Progel 3s for £26.99, tested by Matt Lamy, or – if you want your gloves minimalist – Giro's Zero CS mitts, which Stu really rated and which come in at a penny under £30.
Some nice touches but the padding needs revising
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Alé Air Glove (SS18)
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Alé distributor Paligap says: 'Gloves with sweatband and thermogripper wrist. Paddings on the palm'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
BACK OF THE HAND
I found the gel padding less effective than others.
Some minor signs of wear (loose stitching) on our test samples.
Second skin close.
Typical of this genre. Medium fitted me fine.
Gel padding is less effective than others and this became especially apparent on longer road rides.
Competitive by genre standards, but pricey relative to their performance and compared with other mitts I've tested and used long term.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Incredibly straightforward: simply slip in the machine at 30 degrees. Thus far, they've emerged looking packet fresh, with no obvious signs of shrinkage or deterioration.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, performance is pretty average. I've loved their snug fit, but on longer rides I've found the gel padding less effective than many other designs (many costing considerably less).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit, dexterity and graphics.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not over and above several competitors.
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're potentially nice mitts, and would perhaps have scored higher but for the so-so gel padding, although they're more expensive than other – better – mitts I've tried.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)