Alé's Neoprene Glove is exactly that, a neoprene glove, but can a fabric used primarily for the marine world compete with the cycling specific gloves on the market? The simple answer is yes it can, especially if the conditions are wet and windy. Back that up with some top notch manufacturing and the Alés go a long way to justifying their large price tag.
Neoprene is designed to keep you warm when it's wet, and we often see overshoes made from it for that exact reason. Most overshoes and the majority of gloves that claim to be waterproof still can't stop it coming in at the cuff or ankle, so you're going to get wet anyway, especially on longer rides.
This is when I found myself using the Alés the most – those rides when you look at the weather forecast and see each hour has a rain cloud next to it. You just know you're in for a soaking.
In heavy rain the gloves are wet within 10 minutes or so, but for me as long as the temperature is above freezing then my fingers are toasty warm and stay that way too, even if I stop for a bit on the ride.
They aren't affected by windchill either, as the material is totally windproof. The downside to this is that they aren't very breathable and if it's up around 10°C then your hands will be wet from sweat pretty quickly. This isn't a problem while you're riding, but if you remove them for a café stop they can feel cold when you put them back on half an hour later. Give it a couple of miles, though, and you'll soon warm up again.
This constant sweaty coating can soon make the gloves smell if you don't make a point of drying them out after each ride.
The cuffs are very long, finishing an inch or so above the wrist, well inside any jacket sleeve so you don't get any bare skin showing when your arms are full stretch.
The fit is great and there should be a pair to fit everyone with the size range spanning from XS to XXL. With most gloves you don't want them too tight as if there isn't a small gap running around your hands then warm air can't be trapped and you'll feel the cold. Neoprene actually traps the heat in the material, so they can fit close to the skin and still work. This, combined with being so thin and snug, means the Alés still provide loads of dexterity for changing gear, braking and pressing buttons.
The downside is that they don't have any padding, so if your bike is a little on the harsh side you might suffer a bit of discomfort. I did end up with tingly fingers a few times after a rough ride.
My biggest problem with the Alés is the price. We tested the Castelli Diluvios a few years ago, and I've been wearing a pair of last year's alongside the Alés for comparison. In terms of performance and fit they are very similar – near identical in fact – but the Castellis are a tenner cheaper. In the Alés' favour, they look and feel better made, with smaller, neater stitching and an all-round better finish to them in shape. They also have a more grippy palm. Is it enough to justify the £45 price? Not quite, but if I could find them closer to the price of the Castellis, I'd definitely be buying the Alés.
Another pair to consider are the Altura Thermostretch II Neoprene Gloves. Although Mike had a problem with the cuff, and it sounds like the Alés might be superior in terms of fit, the Alturas' performance in bad weather was very good – for £15 less than the Alés.
Impressive gloves for wet and windy days, but rather pricey
road.cc test report
Make and model: Ale Neoprene Glove (AW16)
Size tested: Medium/Large
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?
Alé says: "Winter thermal glove in Neoprene for maximum protection from cold and water, gripper print on the palm."
These Alé Neoprene gloves are pretty simple but well executed.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Silicone grip on palms.
Sizes XS to XXL.
Spot on all-round, offering a close fit without being restrictive.
They have no padding, so if your bike is stiff they might be uncomfortable. They do keep your hands warm though.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They wash up fine, which is good as they need cleaning a lot because of how much you sweat in them.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a basic windproof glove they do the job well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not at full rrp.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
We haven't tested many neoprene gloves, but the Alés perform pretty much on par with the Castelli Diluvios mentioned in the review. The Alés are better made, but a tenner more expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.