Dromarti La Grande mitt  £101.00

9/10

Beautiful, soft old-school mitts that reward long use. Well-made, soft and comfy. And did I say soft?

Weight 77g   Contact  www.dromarti.com

by Max Leonard   August 18, 2011  

Dromarti has carved itself a niche making traditionally inspired bike stuff like the La Grande mitt. It started with traditional leather cycling shoes; then mitts and gloves, and frames... soon they'll be making jerseys too. Although the name sounds Italian, the company is actually British, and these mitts are 100% handmade in England.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, we have to talk about the pouch. The review mitts are the Cognac-coloured (rather than black leather) version, and they come with a matching leather drawstring pouch. I'd like a pouch like this to fit me. You could fold me up and put me in there when I wasn't being used, and I'd take it camping and sleep in it, or get inside it while watching the X Factor on a rainy Sunday night. It's soft, luxurious and inviting. Just an added bonus, perhaps, but its indicative of the care and attention to detail that have gone into these mitts.

So, to the mitts themselves. A hand-crocheted back. Soft Nappa leather. I looked Nappa up, so you don't have to. Turns out it's nothing to do with the rowdy resort in Cyprus; it is, says Wikipedia: "a full-grain leather, typically dyed, made from unsplit kid-, lamb- or sheep-skin by tanning with salts of chromium or aluminium sulphate, and noted for softness and durability'. Anyway, the leather is truly amazing. Supple and beautifully finished. The palm of the hand is well padded towards the heel and along the base of the fingers, with a double layer. And a little stud of leather also helps keep the skin between the thumb and fingers safe. The multiple panels are all very well put together and stitched. The crochet back, meanwhile, is also well crafted, and is very cooling. It's a real change from synthetic or closed-back mitts - and surprising how much air gets to the hands. It all helps to make the mitts very good for summer riding - despite the fact that they are fairly substantial.

I don't have large hands, so I thought it best to take a Small, on the rationale that many people advise sizing down with leather mitts and letting them stretch to the shape of your hands. This worked well - especially as they're quite wide at the wrist for someone as skinny-wristed as me. From the first outing they felt good and have absorbed all the shocks the open road could throw at me. I rode 250 miles in a weekend and my hands felt great. I'm not prone to numbness or pins and needles, but there was none. They retained their protective qualities through 80 miles in the pouring rain, and also through 80 mountainous miles in 30C heat. They did expand a little in the wet, but they soon returned to normal (for care instructions, see 'Technical aspects', below). The velcro straps always held them well (albeit fairly well wrapped-over themselves, what with the skinny wrists). For a time, the edge of one of the fasteners was rubbing on my wrist, but as they changed shape, this stopped being a problem.

A few months in, they still fit and look great. Well recommended.

Verdict

Beautiful, soft old-school mitts that reward long use. Well-made, soft and comfy. And did I say soft?

road.cc test report

Make and model: Dromarti La Grande mitt

Size tested: L

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?

A beautifully made, traditionally styled, crochet-backed mitt for road cyclists. Dromarti says:

"La Grande is supremely comfortable and the essence of good taste and style. Individually handmade in England from soft Nappa leather and available in cognac or black. Each glove features a reinforced slim padded palm, hand crochet back, piped in leather with an adjustable closing strap displaying the Dromarti marque. To complete the picture La Grande comes supplied with a handmade leather storage pouch."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

There's not that much 'technical' about them. They're handmade in England from very good, natural materials.

I also asked Dromarti about washing and care instructions. They replied:

"Wash using very mild detergent.

When wet reshape and leave to dry naturally away from heat or sunlight.

Do not wash with other items.

Only store in pouch when completely dry.

Periodically apply Timberland Waximum to the leather."

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

All the stitching in my pair is great. Very robust. Double layers of leather padding where you'd want them. The crochet back is very nice.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

See my comments on construction. No problems with durability during a long and pretty hard test period. They look good for years of use.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

These are relatively bulky mitts - not tiny track mitts - designed for long riding in comfort. They have been comfy throughout the test, and did me well on a 250-mile + weekend of riding. When they were wet, they stretched a little, but dried to normal proportions again. One corner of the strap rubbed my wrist a little, but that went away as they shaped themselves to my hands.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

They're expensive, but you're paying for high-quality materials and for a handmade-in-England product. They seem well-enough made - and desirable enough - to be seen as a long-term investment.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The looks and materials. The way they absorbed road vibrations.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

They're quite wide at the wrist if you've got Twiglet arms like me. One of the fasteners rubbed for a period, but that sorted itself out.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 1.78m  Weight: 65kg

I usually ride: Cinelli Strato road or fixed commuter hack.  My best bike is:

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: commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Never mind did you say comfy, did you say £101?
I'm reading a review of cycling mitts, yes?

posted by fred22 [207 posts]
19th August 2011 - 8:54

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fred22 wrote:
Never mind did you say comfy, did you say £101?
I'm reading a review of cycling mitts, yes?

Crikey, not a Rapha label in sight... There's no doubt these are expensive. But high quality handmade leather gloves (whether for cycling or not) don't come cheap, especially not when they're made in the UK. Leather work is a craft, and to do it really well takes a lot of training and experience.

There are lots of cheaper leather mitts available (some of which are still pretty expensive), and they'll all do the job. I have several pairs, and I like them all, but I don't wear them much, because I always reach for my Rapha ones, which are very similar to these, made in England and with what looks like an identical palm (I'd guess they are made by the same manufacturer). The Rapha ones did seem like a ridiculous price for a pair of gloves, but it turns out they were worth it - they've had more use than any single other pair of mitts I've owned, and they still feel fantastic (and look great too). So who knows, maybe £100 isn't so ridiculous after all.

posted by step-hent [651 posts]
19th August 2011 - 9:53

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"So who knows, maybe £100 isn't so ridiculous after all."

Yes it is.

You get accustomed to the one-eyed reviews on here, but christ, 4.5 out of 5 for a pair of hundred quid gloves? Beyond parody.

posted by FatFrank [1 posts]
19th August 2011 - 10:18

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I think an English handmade nappa leather man-sized pouch would be prohibitively expensive. Sad

As for the mitts, the issue really is whether they last, no?

It's easy to pay £25 for a pair of garish, made in the far east synthetic gloves, and there are several £50 pairs out there. If a £100 pair lasts several years, are genuinely comfy and are a real pleasure to wear then that's not necessarily horrific value. It's still a lot of money in absolute terms, of course.

posted by BigDummy [279 posts]
19th August 2011 - 10:34

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FatFrank wrote:

You get accustomed to the one-eyed reviews on here, but christ, 4.5 out of 5 for a pair of hundred quid gloves? Beyond parody.

I don't agree. A good cycling website ought to review the full range of products, both the expensive and the value options.
Scroll a little further down on the home page and you'll see a review of a set of £30 gloves. Gave 'em four stars too. Does that mean they are only 10% less good? Of course not - the reviews take account of the price. Testing a pair of £100 gloves or £200 bibs? Take a look - the reviewer will normally say "these are awfully pricey but they are also really good (or, occasionally, not)".

How is that one-eyed?

Like you (I'm guessing), I also would not be able to justify buying £100 gloves. But that doesn't mean I'm not interested to hear what they're like.

Do you think that anything which you perceive to be ludicrously expensive should automatically get a bad score? What if they are really, really good?

If you are only interested in reading reviews of things which are at the value end of the market, take a look at halfords.co.uk

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
19th August 2011 - 11:25

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Crikey! I'm in a state of complete (likely to remain unfulfilled) LUST.

Mind you for the price of a tank and a half of petrol.....maybe, just maybe. Cool

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

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posted by daviddb [120 posts]
19th August 2011 - 13:44

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I'm fed up with people complaining about the price of the stuff that's being reviewed. These gloves are obviously aimed at a certain market and those complaining about the price aren't that market. Cycling is an expensive hobby unless you go to Aldi to get kitted out. If you can afford it, why not treat yourself to some luxury gloves and support a british brand using british manufacturing instead of lining the pockets of the Chinese.

posted by Cervelo12 [78 posts]
19th August 2011 - 14:44

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To FatFrank and Fred22…

I understand where you're coming from. £100 is a lot of money for mitts. I think that if something is fantastic value for money, it's worth saying, and marking the product up for. And if someone's inflating their profit margins by charging extra for no reason, then that's a negative point that should be mentioned. But I’m not sure that reviews that caveat their opinion with a 'nice but pricy' line at the end help readers decide whether a product is worth having.

Everyone who glances at a Road.cc review can see the price, and can make their own judgment about whether they'd buy that sort of item for that price. I was trying to give those people who would consider £100 for a pair of mitts an opinion of what they're like in use. The sort of things you wouldn't know without using them for a month or two. Personally, I'm happy to pay a lot of money, every now and again, for high-end or handmade stuff – and with these mitts, it's possible to understand where the money goes. From my experience with them, I felt these mitts would last a long time and give a lot of enjoyment - which I think would represent good value for money. (Obviously, after two months I can't give a definitive answer on their durability, but I hope I made that clear.)

Hope that's useful - I should probably have explained more in the review.

posted by Max_Leonard [55 posts]
19th August 2011 - 17:48

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??? In my comments about some products, I said it was important the origin of goods. Nobody agreed that. But if there are made in England 100 £ for a par of cycling gloves is 8/10 for value and they are considered an "investment"!!!

Sorry, but you don't have a clear criteria. But it's funny!

There is a market for these products, but we expect something more about road.cc tests.

Fat Birds don't fly, but we can ride a bike...

posted by Fat_Birds [24 posts]
19th August 2011 - 23:17

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Nothing wrong with Aldi gear. Use it myself, but it'll be interesting to see what higher-quality gear feels like when my various fantasy prizes come through.

As for the gloves they sound very good. The mitts I bought from Aldi are the one thing I don't really use. And good leather is not cheap.

posted by Alan Tullett [1430 posts]
19th August 2011 - 23:50

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Beautiful.

posted by andyp [802 posts]
20th August 2011 - 21:16

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So many inverted snobs in the cycling community, motto: if you can't do it cheap, you're a knob. This is a niche product, made in f@cking England, which on its own should be reason for celebration in these perpetually out-sourced days, and made beautifully out of beautiful materials. Dromarti is a tiny operation run by an enthusiast. Don't want to pay a hundred quid for some gloves? Then don't buy them. It's a simple solution. But don't piss on somebody else's livelihood just because you're a cheapskate.

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posted by dullard [140 posts]
22nd August 2011 - 17:48

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I drop down on my knees and give thanks for 'Aldi'

antonio

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posted by antonio [931 posts]
24th August 2011 - 10:15

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Max, they look beautiful and you're a jammy sod...

Having said that, I'd be interested to know what they're like when it's really, really hot and sweaty.

I'm seriously tempted to get some but if I would ruin them in six months riding in Abu Dhabi then it might not be a good idea. Do they dry all crusty and hard ?

My Brooks saddle has stood up pretty well but that's probably a slightly different leather !

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posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
24th August 2011 - 12:27

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