These Castelli S Tre gloves don't quite live up to their 'revolutionary' billing but they're grippy, comfy and well made, as well as looking classy.
The revolutionary bit is the new I-Vario™ padding system. What's that? It's a series of rubber ribs of varying depths that are bonded to the leather palm of the mitt that take care of the vibration damping duties. There's raised sections either side of the base of the palm to keep weight off your ulnar nerve and also bumps at each knuckle to help with grip. The rest of the mitt is standard fare, if nicely made; the lightweight upper has a stretchy rubber section rather than Velcro, which is good news for all your other cycling gear, and there's pull tabs between the fingers. You get a microsuede wipe pad for nose incidents.
So, does the I-Vario™ system deliver the "secure grip, effective vibration damping and exceptional heat dissipation" it promises? Well. Coming at these from a quite traditional leather mitt (Giro XL) and comparing them to Castelli's slightly more spendy and traditionally padded Rosso Corsa, I'd say that the grip they afford is undoubtedly better than either. The rubber ribs are very grabby and the knuckle bumps help too, especially on flat bars; the grip pattern works pretty well on both flats and drops.
Vibration damping is on a par with standard padding, and heat dissipation in a mitt is predominantly through the back of the glove anyway; I didn't notice that they ran any cooler than the Rosso Corsas. I was concerned that the rubber wouldn't be as sticky as a standard palm in the wet but a soaking ride in the Peak District put paid to those worries. They dry out quickly too.
I thought that maybe the ribs would break free of the palm but so far so good, and since that so far has included a couple of over-the-bars MTB incidents at Bristol Bikefest, I don't think it's an issue. The fluffy backing on the back of the rubber closures is coming off though - not that the mitts are any less comfy as a result - and one of the pull tabs has a loose thread; minor niggles but they might rankle if you've spent £36 on these gloves. They've been through the wash a few times with no other ill effects.
A revolution then? Well, no. But they're good mitts, and if you like a grip with lots of sticking power then you should check these out. As an aside, you can while away a happy half hour trying to get the ribs on the two palms to intertwine, sticking your hands together. Just sayin'. They're not cheap, these - almost as much as the Rosso Corsas - so you'll need a good reason to shell out. If you suffer from hand slippage then that might be the reason.
Grippy and comfy mitts with an unusual palm design
road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli S Tre glove
Size tested: XL
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?
Lightweight and fully ventilated full finger gloves with the revolutionary new I-vario padding system on the palm for secure grip, effective vibration damping and exceptional heat dissipation.
* I-vario™ padding system on palm
* air mesh fabric on back of hand
* easy-off pull tab
* debossed microsuede sweat wipe
Nicely made, ribbed grip is well bonded
Excellent grip, comfort on a par with other quality mitts
Wearing pretty well, a couple of niggles
Super light, you'd barely notice you had them on
nice and comfy
Expensive, worth a punt if you need the extra grip
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A few niggles with durability
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track