Type 'retro cycling glove' into your favourite search engine and half a dozen options pop up, a measure of how popular anything to do with vintage cycles is right now. The Caratti Brooklands Classic Cochet (sic – I think 'crochet' got mangled in the translation) is a real old-school mitt that will look fantastic as your hands rest lightly on your leather-wrapped handlebar, or even on the wheel of your classic Bugatti coupe.
The company name has been associated with Italian cycling brands since the 1970s and though the relaunched Caratti still plays up that heritage, these gloves are actually made in Pakistan. The palms are cut from goatskin, with a separate sewn-in panel extending up the base of the thumb. The backs are crocheted cotton, sewn firmly into the leather and some unidentified stretchy nylon-like fabric in the finger webs. Padding comes from an extra leather panel stitched across the palm and running round the knuckle of the first finger to provide extra protection against the brake levers and, coincidentally, to look as cool as.
Around the wrist, a Velcro strap, stamped with the Caratti name, combines with a lightly elasticated band to make a secure fastening. All the seams are neatly double-stitched and the whole construction appears very solid, with just the odd stray thread-end to tidy up.
I have big hands, and the size Large glove made a snug fit, so you may want to try a larger size than usual, although I have found a certain amount of give with wear. I felt the palm padding could have extended a little further toward the wrist to completely cover the ulnar nerve area, which may be another reason to go up a size.
Fit between the fingers was comfortable, only pressing slightly between the ring and middle fingers of the left hand. Your experience may differ. It did not lead to any rubbing or soreness in use. Despite the traditional materials, the gloves only weighed around 35g each.
In use I found them very comfortable, though the grip may not be quite as secure as with some more hi-tech fabrics or silicone dots. There are no extra vent holes at the knuckles, so you might be aware of the string stretching across your knucklebones as you flex your fingers. The cotton crotchet is definitely more biased towards ventilation than insulation, and as a snot-pad, it is quite rough.
Talking of which, Caratti recommends hand-wash only and warns that the leather dye may run on first uses. Even so, I was surprised at how red the water ran when I gave these a cool swish in hand-wash soap suds, and the white cotton took up some of that colour, though it looked none the worse for that. The backs are unlikely to remain white for long in any case, especially if you use them off-road (for which Caratti claims they are suited). How you feel about this depends on whether you like all your kit to look crisp and fresh or you align yourself with the generations of yore, covered head to foot in road filth and every stain on their garments the mark of a tale to tell. There's an all-black option now too, which you might prefer.
The leather palms take up water like a chamois and took nearly 24 hours to dry, after which the colour showed some unevenness. The leather remained supple, though, and I'm convinced they'll soon acquire a good patina.
I really like these gloves, the perfect match to my rebuilt classic Carlton and just right with a traditional wool top. Only a dandy might consider wearing them with more up-to-date kit, but the all-black option might have wider appeal.
These are so classy it almost doesn't matter whether they perform or not, but they do
Make and model: Caratti Brooklands Classic Crochet Gloves
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?
This is a classic-look glove which Caratti says is "for all disciplines of riding" including off-road. Their selling points are comfort, protection and style, and in my view they have all three. The word "retro" crops up too, and these will appeal to lovers of classic cycles.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The focus here is on traditional materials. Goatskin palms are mated to a cotton crochet back, which Caratti claims to have excellent ability to soak up sweat efficiently. The palm padding is provided by an extra layer of leather which wraps neatly around the base of the index finger. Between the fingers some stretchy nylon gussets join palm to back. A Velcro and leather wrist strap is used to secure the gloves.
The crochet backing is tough cotton string that looks like it should resist a crash, though fortunately I haven't had to test that yet. The leather is soft and thick, double-stitched where panels join and with single-stitch division of the palm padding. Just one or two loose ends of thread could be tidied up.
Very comfortable to ride in, though I felt the palm padding could come a little further up the wrist. The string and leather are absorbent but slow to dry. Grip is good too.
The construction is good; the main issue is with how long these will retain their looks, as the white crochet backs will show the dirt and any greasy marks are unlikely to come out. This is not such an issue if you buy the black ones.
Washing brings out a lot of dye from the leather and this too may attach to the string backs.
Compared with the Lycra thongs that pass for lightweight riding gloves, these are definitely chunky, but certainly not heavy. And anyway, who's ever suffered from heavy hands?
Again, just taking the padding a little further up the wrist would be beneficial. The fit is fairly snug – going up a size might give better coverage of the base of the palm. I noticed a seam pressing into the skin between ring and middle fingers. Again, a larger size may help.
For £20 this is a lovely piece of kit. I hope the person in Pakistan who stitched these together so well is being properly remunerated.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent feel, moderate grip, perhaps a bit too much ventilation (for a road test in October at least!) and they need a bit of special care, but I enjoyed the tactile nature of these gloves and was happy to choose them for my road rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great styling, good quality materials and manufacture, and comfortable on the bike. And they smell fantastic!
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Hand-wash only, slightly undersize, and won't look new for long.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These are comfortable and look (and smell) great; the all-black gloves are likely to appeal to more riders, but the brown looks terrific with vintage bikes and on the track.
About the tester
Age: 50 Height: 6'2 Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 Dura-Ace My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking