Biologic's Cipher gloves brilliantly solve the problem of using a smartphone during cool-weather rides. They're not warm enough for the chilliest depths of winter, but they really come into their own when it's not quite so cold.
In the days before touchscreen smart phones taking over the world, and your jersey pocket, fiddling with a phone in colder months was a pretty simple affair; you scrabbled around in your jersey with yout well-padded fingers and probably dropped it on the floor. When you retrieved it, though, it still worked and the handy buttons worked really well, even with the most wintery of winter gloves.
Touchscreens have made this trickier in a few ways. Firstly, those touchscreens are ruddy slippery and the chances of dropping them while wearing gloves seems all too likely. Secondly unless you want to take your gloves off then you'll be using your nose to unlock it and call out for that precious lift home. Finally, bike computers are increasingly using touchscreen technology and most of us want to use them beyond September.
BioLogic Cipher gloves aim to resolve the last issue with index and thumb pads coated with 3M's silver conductive fabric, and they work fantastically well. The gloves are quite light (more Autumn/Spring than deep winter) and so the finger pads are small and close to the fingertips. They are positioned in the right place and are flat to the finger. In terms of function they offer very accurate touchscreen use that is more than good enough to unlock, make calls and texts.
The finger pads aren't too slippery and there is a light grip texture to the palm and fingers that helps in holding a glass-backed phone. The gloves themselves are light, grippy and flexible and made from a softshell type material, but they aren't all that insulating and struggle to keep digits warm in temperatures under 9 °C. They have a stretchy back panel with small strips of reflective piping, and a Velcro wrist tab. They are cut a little high, more like a summer mitt with full fingers. When wearing long sleeved jerseys or base layers there is no overlap between the gloves and the cuffs and on chilly mornings this was noticeable.
The close fitting fingers mean that fetching items from jersey pockets is pretty straightforward, but above all it is the ease of touch screen use and grippyness that makes these gloves successful. BioLogic appear to focus on accessories like cases, mounts and lights, but this bit of clothing (oddly found in the 'Sensors and Computers' section of their website) is very effective, and one that I have returned to as the winter weather has become more mild.
Exceptional touchscreen performance in well-fitted and thought-through Spring/Autumn gloves
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Biologic Cipher cycling gloves
Size tested: 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?
Cipher cycling gloves are ideal for urban commuting '' the soft shell fabric is wind resistant and warm, yet stretches for outstanding comfort. The styling is understated so they can also be paired with an overcoat. Best of all, 3M conductive fabric is integrated into the forefinger and thumb to allow full use of touchscreen devices.
4-way stretch soft-shell fabric for warmth and comfort
Terrycloth sweat absorption area on back of thumb
Padded and reinforced palms
Reflective piping and leather tab closure
The styling of them is quite neat and tidy, so that wearing them off the bike is possible, although the cut at the wrist means they still let a bit more cold air through than I'd like. Aimed at urban commuters but certainly held their own on a rural ride or two.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Velcro wrist tab, touchscreen functional pads on forefinger and thumb.
They've held up well in British Autumn and early Winter – lots of rain. No sign of any stitching letting go.
The touchscreen material works very well. I can easily unlock my phone, use all the apps, including mapping, games and write text and email messages with the gloves on. Warm, but not up to full Winter cold.
Don't appear to weigh much, but I can't imagine saving a few grams is that important if the weather has turned in enough to need them!
They are quite light and fit well.
RRP is £35, although some outlets are heavily discounting at the moment (as low as £15). For £35 the represent fair value, at the lower price they are a bargain.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As bike gloves they were comfortable, warm enough for their weight/bulk and work extremely well with a touch screen device.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Touchscreen pads – I've used some gloves that don't work well and these were superb.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Wrist closure and cut a bit short. I'm not a fan of chilly wrists first thing in the morning!
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? At the discount price they are very good value.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
I'm looking forward to getting them out of the kit box in the spring; they are great Spring gloves and the touchscreen performance is a real bonus.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 182cm Weight: 69kg
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport 2008 My best bike is: Moda Tempo 2010
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, Triathlon