Rapha's Winter Gloves are well-made and very comfortable in cold conditions although – ouch! – that price leaves something hard and jagged in the throat.
As you might expect, Rapha use some high-quality materials here. The palm, thumb and first two fingers are reinforced with Pittards goatskin leather, for example, which is incredibly soft stuff. With high-density foam padding underneath, it makes for a very comfortable grip on the handlebars and hoods, and it's hard wearing enough to put up with the inevitable scrapes.
The fleecy polyester inner is super-soft too, and it's impossible to accidentally drag it out when you take the gloves off. That's a pet hate of mine. You don't want to be messing around getting your gloves to behave after taking them off to fix a puncture.
The main outer fabric – the orange material – is a nylon/polyurethane mix that blocks the wind and also helps keep the rain out. These gloves aren't waterproof but they do have a DWR (durable water repellent) coating that helps keep your hands dry in a shower. If you're likely to be out in prolonged rain, you'll need something more watertight but they're surprisingly water resistant; road spray never gets inside.
The cuff on the palm-side is made from stretchy neoprene so it's stretchy. That means you can get your hands in and out without much trouble. Previously, Rapha used Velcro to draw the cuffs in, but the neoprene is a much tidier way of doing it. I didn't get the closest fit ever around the wrist but, once I had the sleeves of my jersey tucked in there, it was pretty good.
The soft nose-wipe on the back of each thumb works well, although you first have to get your head around cleaning your nose on 85 quid gloves. You also get a little bit of reflective trim that's hardly noticeable in daylight.
These are low bulk for winter gloves, so you can feel the levers really easily when you want to brake or change gear. You don't get loads of deep insulation which made me wonder whether they would be up to the job when the temperature dropped. I've been wearing them from around 10°C down to about 5°C with nothing underneath them, although I tend to feel the cold more than most so maybe you'll be fine a few degrees lower than that. I've been using them on top of some thin liner gloves at temperatures below 5°C. Rapha actually offer a merino liner at £40, and overmitts at £90, but if you add up all those prices your outlay gets scarily large.
Unlike a lot of gloves that you can just sling in the washing machine and tumble dryer, you need to hand wash and hang dry these. Plus, once dried, Rapha advise you to apply a leather glove balm to the palms to keep them supple. You know what leather can be like when it comes out of water: it goes hard and can crack if you're not careful, so these are fairly high maintenance compared to fully synthetic gloves.
As long as you're cool with that, though, and you can handle the price, these are some very good gloves. If the orange version doesn't do it for you, they're also available in chartreuse (yellow) and black.
Comfortable, well-made gloves that provide a good level of warmth considering their lack of bulk, but they'll cost you
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Winter Gloves
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?
Rapha say: "With a redesigned cuff for 2014, the Rapha Winter Gloves are a slim-fitting, insulating, water-resistant glove with a Durable Water Repellent coating.
The new cuff design eliminates the need for a velcro strap. Allowing for a low-profile cuff that fits easily under jacket sleeves. The palm, thumb, middle and index fingers are reinforced with Pittards goatskin leather and the palms use high-density foam padding. The inner uses a brushed polyester liner for soft, fleece-like insulation, which works with the breathable outer for maximum comfort. The thumb also features a brushed fabric sweat/nose wipe.
"Please note: If washing these gloves, once dried, leather glove balm should be applied to the leather palms to keep them supple."
They list these features:
* Reinforced index and middle finger
* Leather palm
* Reflective logo
* Thumb sweat/nose wipe
* Bike-specific cut for control
* Low-profile cuff
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Main: 88% nylon, 12% polyurethane
Lining: 100% polyester
Palm: Pittards leather
Thumb back: 100% polyester
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
Rate the product for value:
Pittards leather doesn't come cheap. If bagging a bargain is your number one motivation it's fair to say that Rapha probably shouldn't be your first stop. But if you want high quality and you're willing to pay for it, here you go.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These are warm for their relatively low bulk and very comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I was surprised by the level of warmth given the low bulk, and also by the level of water resistance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd have liked a slightly narrower wrist to ensure no cold air got in there. As it is, I had to be quite careful to keep it out.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? I wouldn't buy gloves for £85, personally.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they have the money.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
These are very good gloves, well made from excellent materials, and you can't argue with the performance although many people will balk at the price. Let's be honest, most people will balk at the price.
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
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,
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