OK, so £100 is a lot of dosh for a pair of cycling gloves, especially a pair of short fingered road mitts so what's so special about the Grand Tour Gloves from Rapha, available in both women's and men's versions, and are they worth the extra wonga?
Well, for starters, they are handmade in England, so that in itself is going to whack a hefty premium on the price right from the off. They are made from 100% African Hair Sheep leather, which, while I don't actually know what an African Hair Sheep is (I'm seeing Brian May in sheep form) its leather is reputedly the softest glove leather available, and is also highly breathable and wicks moisture effectively. The padding is road-riding specific and mainly around the thumb and forefinger, a design based rather curiously on army marksman gloves. Seams are double stitched at high wear points. The backs of the gloves feature a perforated design, which doubles as ventilation, and they fasten with a simple Velcro cuff. The Grand Tour Glove from Rapha does just exude quality and it certainly looks the part too, available in pale grey/off white or black, both with contrast trims, it's a streamlined understated glove that wouldn't look out of place gripping the steering wheel of an Aston Martin.
They were comfortable right from the box, and Rapha claim comfort levels and looks both improve with age and wear so I am impressed. The fit is snug, with the gloves needing to be peeled off after wear, but this is how they are designed to be worn and removed so there's no problem with that. The padding isn't too noticeable, but does do the job very well, keeping road buzz to a minimum and protecting the palms nicely, even on a long day in the saddle. I found some tightness between the fingers when riding, but this is something I have occasionally encountered before in gloves so it may be just a personal problem rather than an issue with the gloves themselves. Otherwise, ride comfort was excellent, with hands staying a good stable temperature as well.
The pale grey/off white colour is prone to some dirt and discoloration, especially if you use anything other than pale bar tape, but the gloves are actually washable, with in depth cleaning recommendations available on Rapha's website.
Are they worth £100? Well, that's a bit like asking if a Rolls Royce Phantom is worth £300,000- the answer is that it's probably not worth the money to everyone, but definitely to some, and everyone can appreciate that it's something a bit special.
Luxury glove with superior design and excellent performance and with a price tag to match.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Grand Tour Gloves
Size tested: White, Medium
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?
Aimed at road riders looking for old-school attention to detail and craftsmanship, and genuine ride comfort.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Handmade in England
100% African Hair Sheep Leather
Road specific padding around thumb and forefinger and based on army marksman gloves.
Velcro cuff fastening.
Washable in warm water and mild detergent (detailed instructions on Rapha website)
Available in sizes S, M, L
Men's version also available.
The creme de la creme of glove leather and beautifully crafted.
Comfortable and low profile enough to not intrude on a ride, while still giving good cushioning.
With the correct care, these should last for years and mature well.
Extremely comfortable. Keep palms a good temperature and transfer moisture away from the skin well.
It's a lot of money but you're paying for top notch materials and handmade quality. Definitely an investment piece.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, quality and feel next to skin of leather, comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly. Especially if it was in the sale.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Very expensive, but very exclusive. An investment in quality and longevity.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.