The Sportful Fiandre gloves are warm – especially considering their low bulk – and very comfortable, and the Polartec backs keep out rain, although water can get in via the palms.
We reviewed Sportful's Fiandre Light gloves earlier in the year and were impressed by their windproofing, light weight and grippy silicone-striped palms. As the difference in names suggests, the Fiandre gloves that we have here are designed for more testing conditions – down to 0°C, according to Sportful.
That's about right, in my experience. Picking these gloves up and putting them on, I thought they'd be good down to maybe 5°C or so but I'm happy to say that they're far warmer than I expected. Although they're lightweight and not at all bulky, I've been wearing them on frosty autumn/winter mornings and my fingers have felt absolutely fine – and I'm really, really not known for suffering in silence when it comes to getting cold!
The backs of these gloves are made from a Polartec NeoShell soft shell fabric that stops cold air getting through, while low-bulk Primaloft provides the insulation. The fleecy polyester lining helps with warmth too. The wrists fit closely when you have the water-resistant zips done up, so draughts don't get in there.
Personally, I prefer a zip to a Velcro closure because there's no chance of it catching on other clothing, but it's a little bit harder to undo. The other downside is that you don't get the same level of adjustment if you want to stuff your sleeves inside the tops of the gloves, for instance.
Those zips give you enough space to get the Fiandre gloves on and off without the need for a wrestling match. Even if your hands are slightly damp and sticky following a mid-ride puncture repair, you can get them back inside easily enough.
In use you can tell that there are multiple layers here, but you still get very good lever feel. For example, I've been riding a Van Nicholas Rowtag bike over the past few weeks, with Di2 shift levers that sit right alongside each other; it has been easy enough to distinguish between the two levers, whereas I've found it difficult in thicker gloves before, changing up when I wanted to change down.
The palms and fingers feature silicone stripes that provide excellent grip and avoid any slipping on the controls. This is one of the strongest features of these gloves; this is really gummy stuff that stays put even on a wet handlebar.
You get a double layer of fabric in the area where your palm meets your fingers, and an ulnar pad to help relieve pressure and prevent tingling and numbness. The tip of each forefinger is touchscreen compatible, so you can swipe through screens on phones and bike computers without needing to take your gloves off. It's not like using a touchscreen with bare fingers – you have to be more deliberate than normal – but it's do-able.
The Polartec Neoshell fabric has a little stretch to it so a close fit doesn't feel uncomfortably tight, and it contains a waterproof membrane, so if rain or spray gets just on the back of your gloves it doesn't get inside.
However, I found that water could still get inside these gloves – not via the top but through the construction. When out in proper rain, my hands eventually got wet, so I'd call these water resistant rather than waterproof.
That S printed on the back of the hand is reflective, by the way. That comes in handy when signalling at night. It's a big ol' logo so it's easily seen.
At £95, these are among the more expensive gloves that we've reviewed on road.cc lately. I'd say that these provide a comparable level of warmth to the Endura Pro SL Primaloft Waterproof gloves that I reviewed last year (I went riding with a Sportful glove on one hand and an Endura glove on the other to check). The Sportful gloves have some high-end features, like the water-resistant zips and the silicone striped palms, but the Endura gloves are waterproof and are priced £57.99.
The Sportful Fiandre gloves are comfortable and warm in winter temperatures without being at all bulky. However, my experience is that although the Polartec NeoShell fabric doesn't let water through, the gloves as a whole won't keep your hands completely dry in wet conditions.
Warm and grippy gloves for cold conditions, but not fully waterproof
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Fiandre Gloves
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product is for
Sportful describes the Fiandre as "our best glove for bad weather".
It lists these features:
* Polartec membrane on the outside and fully taped for total protection
* Neoprene cuff seals tight to skin to keep water out
* Fleece lining
* Synthetic palm with injected silicone grip zones
* Pre-curved bar-gripping shape
* Temp. Range: 0°+ C
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Polartec used here is Polartec Neoshell.
Polartec says, "Polartec NeoShell is the world's most breathable waterproof fabric technology.
"For years the outerwear industry has prioritised excessively high waterproof ratings that sacrifice the breathable performance needed during physical activity. Neoshell provides the strength and durability of a weather protective fabric, while still allowing dynamic air exchange and comfortable full range of motion.
"Polartec NeoShell allows more breathability through its sub-micron membrane structure at the core of the fabric.
"By engineering optimal pore size and placement, NeoShell releases heat and perspiration without high pressure build up. Continuous air exchange enhances natural thermoregulation, while still providing the needed protection from all outside elements."
The insulation comes from Primaloft which uses 70% recycled content.
The water resistant zips are from YKK and the pullers are easy to grab.
Well made from excellent materials.
These gloves offer warmth and loads of comfort while being low bulk. The Polartec NeoShell fabric is waterproof but I found that the gloves as a whole aren't.
They're looking good so far with no real sign of wear.
The fit feels right to me. The gloves are slightly curved so they don't bunch as much as they otherwise would when you grip the handlebar.
One of my pet peeves is gloves where the little finger is almost as long as the ring finger. No one has hands like that! Sportful gets it right.
I usually take an L or an XL. These are L and they fit really well. I chose by referring to Sportful's size chart, and it proved accurate for me.
Pat had an issue with the sizing of the Sportful Fiandre Light gloves he reviewed, but these were fine for me.
The lining is super-comfortable. You can feel the finger seams when you press the brake/shift levers, but they're not prominent. The low bulk means you get good feel of the controls.
They're really good gloves and the materials are very high quality (Polartec NeoShell fabric, Primaloft insulation, YKK water resistant zips), but there's no getting around the fact that they're priced higher than most other gloves out there.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I've slung them through the wash at 30°C a few times with the rest of my bike stuff and they come out looking and performing the same as when they went in. I was a bit worried that the reflective logo on the back of the hand would start to flake or peel, but so far so good.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Provides very good warmth and comfort, and can cope with road spray, but in my experience water can work its way through.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warmth, low bulk.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Water resistant, but not waterproof.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £95, these are among the more expensive gloves that we've reviewed on road.cc lately. I'd say that these provide a comparable level of warmth to the Endura Pro SL Primaloft Waterproof gloves that I reviewed last year. The Sportful gloves have some high-end features, like the water resistant zips and the silicone striped palms, but the Endura gloves are waterproof and are priced £57.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Only if they were fully waterproof.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above.
Use this box to explain your overall score
If these were fully waterproof, they'd score an 8 or a 9, but being only water resistant brings the overall score down to a 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.