The Specialized Grail Long Finger Gloves are a surprisingly versatile option that, although perhaps best for spring, late summer and early autumn, are still cool enough for typical summer temperatures. Their sleek profile also means they can double up as liners with winter gloves.
- Pros: Great fit, remarkably comfortable in every respect
- Cons: Might be a little stealthy for some tastes
Synthetics rule the roost here. First up, we have a leatherette palm, with Body Geometry Equalizer gel padding. According to Specialized, the Equalizer padding is 'scientifically tested to help reduce hand numbness by improving circulation and equalizing pressure in the soft tissues of the hand'. It's a single, bonded 'teardrop' shaped, perforated patch, very different to the ubiquitous blobs traditionally associated with ulnar nerve defences.
The theory goes that this distributes pressure evenly across the palm's surface, improving circulation and combating numbness.
Staying with this region, we have 'Wiretap' technology: touchscreen-friendly detailing at the thumb and forefingers.
The backs feature a 'high stretch mesh', which is supposedly breathable and tactile, and retro-reflective logos just below the cuff line, which is very shallow and designed for easy entry/removal.
Last but not least, we have the Microwipe thumb pad, for taming sweaty brows/runny noses.
Standards of construction are precisely what I'd expect from Specialized and this end of the market. Double stitching is precise, uniform and without any signs of fraying.
Not so many years back, 'skin mitts' were the preserve of track racers, now most follow the 'second skin' narrative and, for the most part, this is a good thing, optimising grip, comfort and control. I have long, willowy digits and am pleased to report our large samples are a perfect fit. Specialized's sizing chart is very comprehensive, too.
The first surprise was how easily these slid on and off – no wrestling required like some (otherwise, extremely comfortable) mitts.
The second was how well they performed in warmer weather. The thin fabrics certainly help, but even with temperatures creeping towards the high 20s, any of that faint mistiness has never crossed over into clammy county. In fact, I've felt less comfortable wearing some otherwise lovely fingerless mitts in similar contexts.
At the other extreme, on some night rides when the temperature has unexpectedly dipped, the Grails have retained some welcome warmth.
Crank up the speed and the mesh backs capture some additional cooling airflow, while also offering greater defence against prickly foliage. They also dry very quickly following sharp showers.
The small silicone detailing has ensured perfect tenure with various bar tapes, and doubtless help in terms of damping, although tingling/numbness are thankfully pretty rare events for me these days.
That said, the Equalizer padding seems more than just clever marketing hype. The legs and sometimes shoulders might have got a bit weary as I racked up the miles, but my hands have always remained fresh, whether I've been doing a 20-mile blast, day-long road trips, or 30-mile escapes along green lanes and unmade roads.
Dexterity is faultless too. I've had no call to remove them when fixing a flat or taking photographs. Some energy bar wrappers are more challenging than others, but in my experience that's the case whether you're wearing mitts or bare-handed.
The touchscreen technology also communicates faultlessly with phones/computers/GPS units – no less than I'd expect, but first time every time is great.
Tossing them in with the weekly kit wash, I've erred on the side of 30°C and minimal detergent throughout. To date, everything from residual chain lube to spilt energy drinks and organic matter has shifted effortlessly. Drying times vary, but 20-25 minutes was typical though August.
Some folks will baulk at £35 for this type of glove – a criticism I levelled at the Supacaz SupaGs, in fact – but when they're this good, and still a good bit cheaper than some, such as the Wearwell Revival Mitts, I'd say they're worth it. Sugoi's Performance Full Gloves come in at the same price and promise a similar spec.
All told, I've been suitably impressed and rather smitten by the Grail gloves, which have performed extremely well in warm weather, on and off road. Though designed for spring, summer and early autumn, their ability to serve as liners means they're a very sound investment.
Great full-finger gloves for warmer weather riding and will double as liners when the temperature drops
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Grail Long Finger Gloves
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Specialized says, "Featuring a proprietary pad system designed by Dr. Kyle Bickel M.D., our Grail Long Finger gloves are ergonomically designed for the best possible fit and protection. They're scientifically tested to help reduce hand numbness by improving circulation and equalizing pressure in the soft tissues of the hand. Even further, you'll find a durable synthetic leather palm, breathable mesh at the top of the hand, touchscreen compatible Wiretap™ technology, and our acclaimed Equalizer™ gel padding at the palm."
They're great full-finger gloves that are cool enough for summer, yet could double as a liner type during winter.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bonded palm pad; taped cuff opening edges.
Synthetic leather palm is both supple and durable.
High stretch mesh is placed at the top of hand for its soft, breathable qualities.
Soft, absorbent Microwipe thumb brushes away sweat with ease.
Easy slip-on wrist cuff fits comfortably without inhibiting movement.
Wiretap touchscreen compatible for easy use of smartphones.
Do exactly as they promise in the blurb.
Standing up very well to the rigours of daily use and frequent washing.
Fitted like the proverbial. Great all day, regardless whether road or mixed terrain miles.
I'm not going to grumble about 44g.
Everything worked and I was extremely temperate to around 25°C. Even when the mercury climbed slightly higher, I wasn't conscious of clammy digits.
Very reasonable when compared with several traditional road mitts in my collection. Typical of many skin mitts and a good bit cheaper than some, such as the Wearwell Revival Mitts. Sugoi's Performance Full Gloves come in at the same price with a similar spec.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash at 30 degrees, line dry. No shrinkage, or similar deterioration.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Remarkably good summer gloves, especially for dirt/gravel and trail contexts, where you want a little more protection for the fingers. The padding looks a little minimalist but does the job phenomenally well and the silicone grippers offer excellent all-weather control. Tech-friendly digits are just that and offer reliable connection to touchscreen tech.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Superb palm, low-key stealth design complements everything.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're very good: understated but extremely capable summer-weight full-finger gloves.
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)