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Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves

If you enjoy hardcore winter cycling then you are going to love Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves! These gloves are waterproof, fully insulated, comfortable and insanely well made. When you look at the photograph below you will understand why they are called lobster gloves—your first and second fingers are in one opening and your third and forth fingers are in the other (this arrangement keeps your fingers very warm). Lobster gloves do make shifting gears a little harder to do, but you will get used to it rather quickly and after a ride or two you probably won’t even think about it any more.

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves have a Pittards Carbon Leather palm and a lightweight ripstop fabric shell. As bulky as these gloves look, you can still easily grip things with them. They have a large microfleece wiping surface on the thumb area and close with a sturdy strip of Velcro. These gloves also have reflective piping and logos for low light visibility.

These gloves are so warm that I would never wear them in temperatures above 25 degrees (Fahrenheit). I’ve used these gloves on many two-hour rides (and longer) when the temperature was in the single digits and they kept me toasty warm the whole time.

Like every pair of winter gloves I’ve ever purchased, the inside of these gloves will be damp when you get home after a long ride. Since these gloves are rather thick they will not dry out overnight, so I hang them on a “boot and glove dryer” overnight and they are always ready to go the next morning. If you ride much in the winter you really need to buy a glove dryer—it will make your life a lot easier!

In my opinion these gloves run about a size smaller than advertized, so I would order them in a size larger than you normally wear. Wearing tight gloves in the winter is a terrible mistake that a lot of newbies make. Tight gloves impede blood circulation to your fingers and this will make you hands feel a lot colder.

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves retail for around $70, but you can find them on Amazon.com and several other online retailers for around $60. I know this is a lot of money for a pair of gloves, but it is certainly a lot cheaper than a trip to the hospital so you can get treatment for frostbite.

 

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Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Spring-Fall Cycling Gloves

If your goal is to find one cycling glove that will work in any weather condition you are out of luck. It has been my experience all cycling gloves are meant to function within a fairly narrow temperature range or within a specific weather condition. The Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Cycling Glove is no exception, and I think the ideal market for this glove would be a commuter riding on windy days when the temperature is between 40 to 55 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Spring-Fall Cycling Gloves

Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Cycling Gloves

The Planet Bike Aquilo cycling glove is very comfortable and the gel padding on the palm works extremely well at reducing road vibration. The outer shell is made of a windproof four-way stretch material and the fingertips are reinforced. There is a bit of reflective piping on the back of the glove that should help motorists see your hands when you are signaling for a turn (you do use hand signals don’t you?). Since fall and winter bike rides often lead to riding in the dark, I wish all fall and winter gloves had a lot of reflective piping.

These gloves also have a soft fabric (80% cotton, 20% polyester) that runs along the index finger and thumb area that you can use to wipe away sweat or to wipe your nose (if you chose not to use the air hanky). Fortunately, these gloves are also machine washable.

The Planet Bike Aquilo cycling glove has a similar comfortable temperature range to that of the Planet Bike Orion glove, but the Aquilo is meant to protect your hands on windy days. If you are unaccustomed to riding on windy days this might not seem like a big deal, but to those of us who live around Chicago (AKA, the Windy City), this is very important. A bike ride on a 50 degree day with high winds can just about make your hands go numb!

I am not really sure why, but the Aquilo glove has a lobster claw, i.e., both your little finger and ring finger are in the same opening. Normally, lobster claw designed gloves are meant for extremely low temperatures, but this glove is not since it has no insulation. The lobster claw on this glove is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was not exactly needed either.

The sizing on the Aquilo gloves seems to run about one size smaller than advertised. The Aquilo glove does not have a liner, so if you buy a glove liner somewhere else you can wear it under this glove and extend the comfortable temperature range down to at least 35 degrees.

Sometimes people confuse windproof with waterproof, and hopefully you know that these two features are not the same. Planet Bike does not claim these gloves are waterproof (very few gloves are). I got caught in a heavy rain about 20 miles from home while I was testing the Aquilo glove and the results were not pretty. The gloves remained dry for the first 30 minutes, but the last 30 minutes of the ride the gloves were soaked all the way through. However, I set them on the glove dryer I keep in my man cave and the next morning they were are good as new.

A pair of Planet Bike Aquilo cycling gloves retails for around $35. If your local bike shop does not carry this glove you can order it from the Planet Bike Website or from online retailers like Amazon.com.

 

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Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights For Winter Biking

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights For Winter Biking

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights

Out of the many fine clothing products for cyclists that Pearl Izumi makes, my absolute favorite is the Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tight. These tights allow you to have a comfortable ride on winter days that aren’t fit for either man nor beast. Though not truly waterproof (but highly water-resistant), these tights do offer fantastic wind, water and ice protection.

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights are designed for extreme weather conditions—I am talking about very cold, wet and windy days. The fabric is very breathable and wicks water away your skin incredibly well. Even after several hours in snow and ice storms these tights kept me dry.

The body of these tights is made of 10% polyurethane, 12% elastane, 41% polyester, and 37% nylon. The 3D Elite chamois is made with a variable density microfiber that wicks moisture away and has active carbon yarns to help reduce odors. This is the same chamois that is found in the Pearl Izumi Elite Cycling Shorts and their Elite Thermal Cycling Tights. I have found this chamois to be very comfortable even on rides over 60 miles or more.

What is the best temperature range to wear these tights in? Some cyclists wear these tights in temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve used them in temperatures down to zero without any problem. At the other end of the scale I find them too warm to wear in temperatures much above freezing, but some people have no problem using them all the way up to 50 degrees. Personally, for temperatures between 28 and 50 degrees I prefer to wear Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights.

The lower leg of these tights has an 8″ zipper with an internal draft flap and zipper garage. Around the inside of the ankles there is a silicone strip to keep the tights in place. Reflective piping, strips and logos make you visible to motorists from just about any angle.

These tights are also available without a chamois and in a bib. Most people will tell you that bibs keep you warmer than tights but I really haven’t had any trouble keeping warm even in temperatures down to zero. Besides, if you are out on a bike trail in ten degree weather and have to answer the call of nature while in bibs you will need to look at your driver’s license just to remember your gender (if you catch my drift).

Theses tights seem to be true to size, providing you use the sizing guide found on the Pearl Izumi Website (the size guide on Amazon.com has no connection with reality). The Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tight (with 3D chamois) has a suggested list price of $155, but you can buy them from Amazon.com for around $105. Once you’ve had a chance to try these tights out I am certain you will think they were worth every penny you paid for them.

 

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Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

The Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover allows you to wear your summer cycling shoes in temperatures well below freezing. Cleat openings on the bottom of the cover make it compatible with most pedal systems used in both road and MTB shoes (I’ve used these covers with Look Keo, Shimano SPD and Crank Brothers Egg Beater cleats).

Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

I used these covers on at least 20 rides last year that were longer than three hours each and they kept my feet warm down to around 20 degrees. I need to mention that this protection was provided with the aid of some nice wool cycling socks and Grabber Toe Warmers Heating Packs (these disposable warmers cost about a dollar a pair and are available on Amazon.com and at most sporting goods stores).

Garneau’s Website claims this cover “protects your feet from the wet and extremely cold temperatures,” and this mostly true. You should not have any trouble wearing these covers in snow or light rain, but they are not waterproof—your feet will get wet in a heavy rain. These covers also give great protection from the wind.

This shoe cover is made from 3-mm neoprene and closes in the back with a thick strip of Velcro. There are several shoe covers on the market that close with a zipper and I have not had much success with any of them. The reflective logos on this shoe cover add some visibility, but because of their position on the top of the cover I don’t think this is much of a selling point.

The Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover is available in four sizes: Small (39-41), Medium (41.5-43), Large (43.5-45), XL (45.5-50). The sizing on these covers is good, but I would recommend you buy a size larger than you normally wear so you can get them on easier. This product retails for $20 and is certainly worth the price.

 

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Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights

When the temperature drops down below 50 degrees it’s time to put away the knee warmers and get out the Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights. I started wearing these tights last year and they are awesome! For temperatures between 28 and 50 degrees I don’t think you will find a better pair of cycling tights.

These tights are made with a very breathable wind-resistant fabric on the outside combined with a thin layer of thermal fleece on the inside. The fabric is about as close to magic as you will find—it wicks moisture away from the skin to keep you warm, dry and happy! While these pants are not rainproof they are definitely water-resistant. I often ride half-centuries (50 miles) in these tights during light rain without any trouble.

You can buy this tight either with or without a chamois. I would definitely buy one with Pearl Izumi’s Elite 3D Chamois since it is the same chamois that is in the Pearl Izumi Elite Cycling Shorts, which is what I ride in all summer. This chamois has 13mm of variable-density microfiber padding coupled with active carbon yarns to help reduce odors. Within the past 12 months I have cycled over 6,000 miles and 99% of those miles have been while riding with this chamois. This chamois was designed with Pressure Relief Technology (PRT) for riding comfort and improved blood flow and I think they ended up with a perfect design!

At the bottom of these tights you will find an 8-inch ankle zipper so the tights are very easy to put on (or take off). The zipper has a lockable tab to keep it closed. The tights also have silicone ankle grippers to keep the tights in place. You will also find reflective piping and logos on the legs to help motorists see you better at night.

These tights are solid black, but you will notice in the photograph I played around with the lighting a bit so you could see a few of the 16 different panels that this pair of tights is composed of. The panel behind the knees is thinner to allow for needed ventilation and better leg movement.

The quality of these tights is superb! As for fit, I would say they are true to size. However, if you are on the border between two sizes I would definitely go with the larger size. Tight clothing in the winter is never a good idea.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights retail for $125, but you can save a few dollars by buying them from Amazon.com. If you enjoy riding when the temperature is between zero and 30 degrees (and who doesn’t?), I would suggest you buy a pair of Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights.

 

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Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

Toe warmers are intended to allow you to ride in cool weather with your summer cycling shoes. I own at least a dozen pair of toe warmers for my cycling shoes—some good, some bad, some worthless. A few weeks ago I ordered a pair of Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers from Amazon.com. As I opened the package the room I was in grew brighter, a choir of angels started singing the Hallelujah chorus, and all seemed right in the world. OK, that might have been a bit of hyperbole, but this is not: this is the best designed pair of shoe covers I have ever seen!

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

What makes the Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers so great? Well, they started with a windproof fabric on the outside coupled with a microfleece lining on the inside. By itself, this is nothing special—nearly every brand of toe covers has a similar fabric. What makes these toe covers stand out is the elastic heel strap that keeps these covers in place. Most toe covers are held in place by an elastic band around the end of the cover. Most elastic bands suffer form one of two problems: either they are so tight you can’t get them over your shoe or they are so loose they won’t stay on. The heel strap on the Dasher allows the cover to easily slide onto your shoe and then keeps it in place as you ride.

The bottom of the Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers have cut-out guides for both SPD and road cleats (I use Look Keo cleats). If you own both type of cleats you could use the larger road cleat cut-out area for both pair of shoes. However, I would suggest you just buy another pair of the Dasher toe covers because the larger cut-out area for the road cleats leaves very little of the bottom of the cover left. When you cut out the area for an SPD cleat you will have a lot of the thick bottom part of the Dasher covering the treads of your MTB shoes—the material on the bottom of the Dasher is thick enough so that this will not be a problem. Some toe covers are so thin that the bottom side of the cover wears out with just a few weeks of use.

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

The Planet Bike Dasher has cut-outs for both SPD and road cleats

As an added benefit the Dasher has reflective side and back logos. The reflective logo on the back of the heels actually does a good job of making your presence known to motorists. Since your feet (and therefore the reflective logos) are moving up and down as you ride it is more noticeable than the same size logo would be on a jacket or jersey.

Planet Bike offers these toe covers in five different sizes (most companies offer only two). The small cover will fit a man’s size 6.5 shoe (40 European) and the XXL will fit a man’s 12.5 shoe (47 European). Planet Bike has a size chart available on their Web site if you are not sure what size you need.

The Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers retail for $27. When the weather gets too cold for just a toe cover I would suggest you purchase the Planet Bike Comet Full Neoprene Shoe Covers or the Planet Bike Blitzen Windproof Shoe Cover.

 

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Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector

Remember that great pair of cycling shoes you bought that promised to keep your feet cool all summer? Well, you are going to hate them this fall (and next spring). Cool summer bike shoes usually have a lot of vents to increase air circulation and in the fall this is a real problem. The good news is that the Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector can block the wind and keep you comfortable at the same time.

Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector

Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector

The Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector is made of the breathable, yet totally windproof, Windstopper soft shell fabric. Please bear in mind that this protector is not insulated—it is intended to stop the wind, not warm you up (there is a difference). The product has reflective logos, but they are really not a great selling point. The logos are on the side of the protectors but I doubt if anyone could see them unless they were standing next to you and looked down. Gore only offers this protector in two sizes: S/M (36-41) and L/XL (42-47) sizes.

This toe protector is designed for road shoes. I use these covers on my road shoes with Look Keo cleats and they work perfectly. Some people put these protectors on mountain biking shoes, but I would not recommend it. In order to get them over the sole of a MTB shoe you would really have to stretch it a lot and probably ruin it in the process. In addition, because MTB shoes have tread that hangs down below the cleats, if you use this item on a MTB shoe the fabric will rub against the ground every time you walk in your shoes (something it is not designed to handle).

The Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector retails for $30 and I think this is a great investment for something that can extend your cycling season. However, if you are looking for a toe protector for even cooler weather or for your mountain bike shoes then you should buy the Planet Bike Dasher Shoe Cover.

 

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