Best cycling gloves 2023: Hand protection, style and comfort on the bike this summer

Le Col cycling gloves
(Image credit: Future)

The best cycling gloves, and in particular short-fingered gloves or track mitts as they are commonly known have been worn by cyclists for decades to protect their hands and provide extra comfort on the bike. The humble track mitt or short-fingered glove is one of the few pieces of cycling equipment that has stayed the same through the years. Look at pictures of riders from eighty years ago and the best road bikes and kit look like they are from a different sport, but the humble track mitt has remained pretty much the same and there is a reason for that. 

We use our hands constantly when cycling. Gripping the handlebar tape and gear and brake levers, wiping our faces, drinking, repairing mechanicals, and wrenching on the bars when sprinting or climbing a steep hill, most seasoned cyclists can count on a callous or two on their hands. Cycling gloves can protect the skin on our hands, particularly in the event of a crash, and add grip and comfort. The best winter cycling gloves do the job of keeping our hands warm in the cold, but when summer arrives, gloves can still serve a very important purpose.

We have awarded the best in test to the Rapha Core mitts. They edge it due to their simple, functional design and outright comfort. My size small pair fitted perfectly everywhere and are a joy to wear, but they might not be for everyone so there are plenty of other options here in this guide, all of which we'd be happy to recommend.  
We've spent hours testing all of the gloves in this guide to present you with a range of the best. There is also some handy buying advice down at the bottom of the page to help inform your decision and improve your own knowledge.

The best cycling gloves

How to choose the best cycling gloves for you

Gloves aren't the most critical piece of cycling kit and finding some you like should be pretty easy. Comfort and fit are important and poorly fitting gloves may hinder your control of the bike so measure up or try them on or try before you buy. Aside from that if you are new to cycling gloves find some within your budget in a style or color you like and give them a go.

Do I need gloves for road cycling?

You certainly don't need gloves for road cycling but plenty of riders choose to use them to protect their hands and if you are relatively new to cycling you may too.

You will see the majority of pro riders in gloves because they spend hours every day riding a bike which will take its toll on the hands over time. Gloves also protect the palms of your hands in the event of a crash. 

For amateur cyclists who don't spend nearly as much time on the bike the need for mitts is a little less pressing but for long days in the saddle or summer rides when your hands might be sweatier they can really help improve comfort, try them and see what works for you. Some riders choose to wear no gloves a lot of the time because they prefer it, this is fine too.

In some cases, if riders are racing on the track in particular or in some road or circuit races, particularly for young riders the race commissaries or officials will stipulate gloves need to be worn to compete in the name of rider safety. So it's often worth keeping a pair of gloves in your kit bag just in case.

Do gloves need a nose wipe panel?

A nose wipe panel can be really useful if you find yourself clearing your nose or being a bit snottier on the bike. It's very convenient and keeps things a little more civilised. Lots of brands seem to be making lightweight gloves without a nose wipe currently but it's still a really useful feature to look for in your gloves.

Why fingerless gloves?

In the summer on a road bike, full-length gloves are slightly overkill most of the time, although there are some excellent lighter-weight options available. Short-fingered gloves or mitts provide the right amount of protection whilst helping hands stay cool and providing good dexterity. 

Will cycling gloves make a difference?

In many cases yes they will. Particularly if you are prone to getting sore or chafed hands after several hours on the bike, some cyclists have also experienced nerve issues in their hands from repetitive use and gloves can help minimise any potential repetitive strain-related injuries. 

They will also come into their own if you ride over rough ground or poor surfaces which transmit a lot of extra vibrations through the handlebars. 

If you have ever crashed your bike and had to deal with gravel rash on the palms of your hands, you will definitely understand and appreciate the benefit of wearing gloves. 

Are gloves less aero?

You will often see riders that are competing ditching gloves for time trails or road races, which prompts the question are gloves slower? As we understand it in a time trial position with the hands-on tri-bar extensions gloves are marginally slower, but on a regular road bike, the difference is negligible. Certainly not enough for most of us to ever need to worry about. 

How we test cycling gloves

I have tested each pair of gloves in this guide for hours on the bike. I've ridden indoors on my smart trainer to see how they perform when soaked in sweat in the middle of a workout. I've also worn them on slightly chilly spring mornings as the day began to warm up and on warmer days outdoors on short and long rides. I've used them all in anger riding hard in and out of the saddle as well as for more relaxed rides to put them through their paces and find out how they performed.  

Tom Wieckowski
Tech writer

Tom joined the Cyclingnews team in late 2022 as tech writer. Tom has over 10 years experience as a qualified mechanic with 5 or so of those being spent running an independent workshop. Tom has ridden and raced bikes from an early age up to a national level on the road and track and has ridden and competed in most disciplines, even the odd bit of bike polo. Tom is as happy tinkering away in the garage as he is out on the road bike exploring the Worcestershire lanes.