REVIEW: Rapha Pro Team Mitts ($75 USD)
REVIEW IN SIX WORDS
minimaslistic but not lacking in performance
over the years, i've had an up and down relationship with rapha's gloves. don't get me wrong, i think rapha make SUPERB products and my cycling wardrobe is proof of that, but historically, i don't think gloves have been their strongest product. rapha's grand tour gloves have proven to be the exception; those gloves have performed flawlessly for me.
however, with the A/W '13 range, i feel rapha upped their glove game and specifically, the winter glove system they unveiled was a great example of progress in this category. whether that's due to specific hires within rapha to focus on accessories and gloves, their partnership with team sky, some combo of both, or something else, i can only speculate, but i'm not going to complain. i still wouldn't call rapha a leader in the glove category, but they've progressed enough that i feel comfortable including their gloves among my glove solutions.
so, when rapha announced a new glove for S/S '14, the pro team mitt, i was curious. i love my grand tour gloves, but in the middle of summer, they can sometimes be too warm, especially on longer rides. reading the product description, i had high hopes for a glove described as having "exceptional breathability." and they come in hi-viz pink. i was sold. i purchased them back in April and I've had a chance to wear them in a variety of conditions (temps from the 50s to 80s; mist to sun) and on rides that have ranged from 20 miles to 80 miles. Here are my impressions so far:
pardon the pun, but these gloves fit...like a glove. the pro team mitts, like the other products in the pro team range, fit snugly (read: it may require a bit of an effort to get on over the widest part of your hand) but once on, they disappear. my first impression was they're extremely lightweight and offered "barely there" padding on the palm (relative to the grand tour gloves). i was a bit concerned how my hands and shoulders might feel in the later miles of a long ride with the minimal padding but the only way to know was to find out.
as i mentioned above, i've been trying to wear these as much as possible, and so far, i'm impressed. they definitely breathe well (you may still get a bit sweaty, but nothing even close to what i experienced with the grand tour gloves) and i haven't noticed any of the fatigue in my hands, arms, or shoulders on longer rides that i was initially worried about. on the contrary, i love the connection i feel with the handlebars and with the road. i'm the type of person that wears gloves year round and have managed through hot hands over the years so for anyone who tends to ride with gloves except in the heat of summer, you might want to give the pro team mitts a try.
in terms of durability, so far so good. with any lightweight highly breathable piece of performance clothing/accessory, i have concerns about long term durability. with the amount of mesh in the gloves, i was concerned with how well they might hold up over time, particularly with the durability of the mesh itself and where the mesh and other areas of the glove are stitched together. however, i've yet to see a stitch out of place or any fraying or tearing in the mesh. obviously, i'll need to update this post at the end of summer, but things are holding together well!
if you tend to or like to wear gloves year-round but find yourself having to ditch them when the mercury spikes, or you're just looking for a short finger summer glove, i would recommend you give the rapha pro team mitts a try. the snug fit is nice in that you don't get friction between the glove and bar (nice when you're out of the saddle climbing) and the minimal padding is definitely minimal but by no means does it negatively affect ride quality when you're in the later stages of a long ride. I still must maintain some reservations on long term durability given the materials, but i'm optimistic based on what i've seen. Buy.
4. WHERE TO BUY
Rapha, $75 USD