Dromarti has carved itself a niche making traditionally inspired bike stuff like the La Grande mitt. It started with traditional leather cycling shoes; then mitts and gloves, and frames... soon they'll be making jerseys too. Although the name sounds Italian, the company is actually British, and these mitts are 100% handmade in England.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, we have to talk about the pouch. The review mitts are the Cognac-coloured (rather than black leather) version, and they come with a matching leather drawstring pouch. I'd like a pouch like this to fit me. You could fold me up and put me in there when I wasn't being used, and I'd take it camping and sleep in it, or get inside it while watching the X Factor on a rainy Sunday night. It's soft, luxurious and inviting. Just an added bonus, perhaps, but its indicative of the care and attention to detail that have gone into these mitts.
So, to the mitts themselves. A hand-crocheted back. Soft Nappa leather. I looked Nappa up, so you don't have to. Turns out it's nothing to do with the rowdy resort in Cyprus; it is, says Wikipedia: "a full-grain leather, typically dyed, made from unsplit kid-, lamb- or sheep-skin by tanning with salts of chromium or aluminium sulphate, and noted for softness and durability'. Anyway, the leather is truly amazing. Supple and beautifully finished. The palm of the hand is well padded towards the heel and along the base of the fingers, with a double layer. And a little stud of leather also helps keep the skin between the thumb and fingers safe. The multiple panels are all very well put together and stitched. The crochet back, meanwhile, is also well crafted, and is very cooling. It's a real change from synthetic or closed-back mitts - and surprising how much air gets to the hands. It all helps to make the mitts very good for summer riding - despite the fact that they are fairly substantial.
I don't have large hands, so I thought it best to take a Small, on the rationale that many people advise sizing down with leather mitts and letting them stretch to the shape of your hands. This worked well - especially as they're quite wide at the wrist for someone as skinny-wristed as me. From the first outing they felt good and have absorbed all the shocks the open road could throw at me. I rode 250 miles in a weekend and my hands felt great. I'm not prone to numbness or pins and needles, but there was none. They retained their protective qualities through 80 miles in the pouring rain, and also through 80 mountainous miles in 30C heat. They did expand a little in the wet, but they soon returned to normal (for care instructions, see 'Technical aspects', below). The velcro straps always held them well (albeit fairly well wrapped-over themselves, what with the skinny wrists). For a time, the edge of one of the fasteners was rubbing on my wrist, but as they changed shape, this stopped being a problem.
A few months in, they still fit and look great. Well recommended.
Beautiful, soft old-school mitts that reward long use. Well-made, soft and comfy. And did I say soft?
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Make and model: Dromarti La Grande mitt
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A beautifully made, traditionally styled, crochet-backed mitt for road cyclists. Dromarti says:
"La Grande is supremely comfortable and the essence of good taste and style. Individually handmade in England from soft Nappa leather and available in cognac or black. Each glove features a reinforced slim padded palm, hand crochet back, piped in leather with an adjustable closing strap displaying the Dromarti marque. To complete the picture La Grande comes supplied with a handmade leather storage pouch."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
There's not that much 'technical' about them. They're handmade in England from very good, natural materials.
I also asked Dromarti about washing and care instructions. They replied:
"Wash using very mild detergent.
When wet reshape and leave to dry naturally away from heat or sunlight.
Do not wash with other items.
Only store in pouch when completely dry.
Periodically apply Timberland Waximum to the leather."
All the stitching in my pair is great. Very robust. Double layers of leather padding where you'd want them. The crochet back is very nice.
See my comments on construction. No problems with durability during a long and pretty hard test period. They look good for years of use.
These are relatively bulky mitts - not tiny track mitts - designed for long riding in comfort. They have been comfy throughout the test, and did me well on a 250-mile + weekend of riding. When they were wet, they stretched a little, but dried to normal proportions again. One corner of the strap rubbed my wrist a little, but that went away as they shaped themselves to my hands.
They're expensive, but you're paying for high-quality materials and for a handmade-in-England product. They seem well-enough made - and desirable enough - to be seen as a long-term investment.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The looks and materials. The way they absorbed road vibrations.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They're quite wide at the wrist if you've got Twiglet arms like me. One of the fasteners rubbed for a period, but that sorted itself out.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 31 Height: 1.78m Weight: 65kg
I usually ride: Cinelli Strato road or fixed commuter hack. My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,