CapoForma Roubaix Glove
Perfecting gear is very pro. ProTour teams don't just have short sleeve and long sleeve jerseys. They have several iterations of each. Just in the short sleeve jersey realm they have short zip, full zip, thermal, thermal with regular sleeves. Regular, regular with summer sleeves, full zip with summer sleeves, and full zip with summer fabric. The riders don't actually have all these, mind you, but the team has them made up and at the ready when conditions demand it. It would be a pity to lose a classic or Grand Tour because the team didn't bring enough cold weather gear.
So, too, with gloves. Even Continental Tour teams should have a few different iterations of gloves. At least light, medium, and winter. And after last year's US Open, they should go to all spring races with a stash of winter gloves just in case they get the surprise snowstorm.
White gear is very pro. It's not only spiffy looking, but it says that the team gets new stuff regularly. Like white tape. Some riders ride white from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but pro teams ride white tape year-round. It says they have mechanics that change the tape whenever it looks grimy. It says they're in opposition to the amateurs who ride the same grubby roll of black tape until it disintegrates on their handlebars. Even black tape should be washed periodically.
All this is a long detour to justify the white Roubaix gloves we've been testing from CapoForma. White gloves are very pro. It's not only how the Euro' dogs play in the spring classics, complete with white oversocks (more on that later), but it's also how some of the baddest crossers race in style. Think of Erwin Vervecken in the all-white World Champion skinsuit. Think of Todd Wells racing the 2005 nationals. White helmet, white gloves, white tape, white socks, white shoes, all in a snowy, icy, muddy mess. He won and the mud-covered Wells hugged his wife wearing a white jacket. That's how to roll. .
Detractors will say our hands look like they belong to a traffic cop. We're cool with that. We've long wanted white palms on our winter gloves so cars could better see our hands when making traffic signals.
Style and safety are two important things, but comfort is probably most important. With comfort, the first essential component is fit. If something fits wrong, it's no good. With gloves, too small can cut off circulation. Too big is not only bad for gripping bars, but also makes catching extra glove material on stuff more likely. We went with the medium gloves and they fit like a second skin. Our hands are about 22.5cm around at the knuckles.
Fitting like a second skin is great for moisture transfer. The more fabric contacting the skin, the more the fabric is able to pull moisture off the skin and transfer it to the outside of the glove. .
Fitting like a second skin also helps if you use the Roubaix glove as a liner. Some like the liner idea as it can extend the comfort range of gloves down several degrees. Others like it because it means you can pull off either the liner or the shell when the temperature warms up. Using this glove as a liner hasn't been particularly comfortable for us. Under our WindTex gloves, which we deliberately bought slim, we find the liner glove adds an uncomfortable bulkiness we couldn't get used to. It did work under larger gloves, like the windproof fleece gloves we have. And when it warms up, the glove to take off is not the over-glove, but the liner. Pulling off a windproof layer to expose the Roubaix layer leaves a wet hand in the wind. Not so good. Take off the Roubaix layer.
Even though we're getting to the heart of the winter, we like the Roubaix glove best worn on its own. Good thing we've gotten some unseasonably warm days recently. It can probably be comfortably worn racing cyclocross down in the low 40s, but we didn't start testing until after our 'cross season was over. We did find them comfortable worn solo on the road from the high 40s to high 50s. It is very good at taking the edge off a slight chill in the air. For the days too warm for a windproof glove and too cool for summer gloves. Since we all ride at times when the temperature is shifting, it's good for when you need to start or finish in the cool. The gloves are compact enough that they can fit in a jersey pocket along with a vest or warmers, or even under a bib if the pockets are getting full.
And the rubber grippers on the palm are minimal yet sufficient. The dots not only cover the palm, but the index and middle fingers as well. While our hands don't usually slip, we had no experiences of slippage gripping either our bars or levers or bottles while sporting the white gloves.
With any light-colored garment, washing is an issue. The gloves don't hide the dirt, the snot, the grime, like dark gloves do. Of course, the grime at the end of a ride is very pro. Starting grimy; not so pro. Not caring; very pro. We've so far just tossed them in with the rest of our cycling gear, but the guys at CapoForma tell us that washing them on cold, with a little bleach will brighten them up. Hang dry after rinsing.
So we've got another pair of gloves to enjoy. Another body covering that helps us achieve better interior/exterior balance when it comes to warmth and sweat and moisture management. Another item to master our art of layering and take away the distraction of being too hot or cold. Some moments, we want to get a second pair so one can be in the wash while we're riding the other.
As perfect as this seems, we have to remind ourselves that there really is no such thing as perfection. That perfect can be the enemy of good. We don't want to be that rider who whines because the weather is one degree Fahrenheit out of his comfort zone. We hope these gloves don't make us soft or keep us indoors.