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Gore Bikewear bring us top winter kit every year thanks to its fabric treatments and technologies, and these Element Urban Windstopper gloves fit right in.
Firstly, let's deal with the love-it-or-hate-it camo design. It matches Gore's Urban Windstopper jacket, which is great, but if you don't have/want the jacket you can also get these in plain old black (and the jacket too, actually). You don't then get the flashes of fluoro yellow for extra visibility, but you won't be wearing gloves that might look seriously out of place with the rest of your kit either.
On either colourway you do get a small reflective panel on the back of the hand, two strips on the first two fingers and a Windstopper logo on the little finger, which work well when you're indicating and want to make yourself seen.
With that out of the way, I can focus on performance. Compared with any I've ever worn, these really are from the top drawer of 'light' winter gloves. As I'm not overly fussed by the colours on test, I can see myself wearing these right through this winter and beyond.
The Windstopper technology is expertly integrated into the wind-facing parts of the glove, keeping all the chills out yet allowing your hands to breathe. In air temperatures of around 10-14°C, you get enough breathability that your hands don't boil, while in single figures my hands stayed very pleasantly warm.
I'm impressed by the range of temperatures the Elements can deal with, offering a practical window of usefulness. They'll cater for everything down to low single digits, which for me is when I'll be checking my ride plans against the chances of ice anyway. The treatment is also lightly water resistant – so while not suitable for deluges, you'll get away with the odd shower here and there.
On the palms the ergonomic padding suited me well; I struggle with nerve compression in my hands, so this is always a key consideration when buying gloves. It's sparing, used across the finger joints and the hypothenar (below the little finger), but in tandem with the tough yet flexible silicone coating on the rest of the palm, it's efficient and comfortable. Little nodules are dotted over the fabric for grip, and the back of the thumb features a woollen absorbent material ideally suited to the odd wipe of the brow and/or nose.
On the wrist there's elastic banding to help stop wind and water getting in, keeping a secure fit around the wrist but not so thick that you can't fit a slim jacket cuff over the top. The remaining fabric beyond the cuff is thin, so you have no unneeded annoying bunching either. The Velcro fastener is strong, dependable and not at all bulky.
Good dexterity is also a factor in the Element glove's design. You get good feedback when working the brake levers (so good, in fact, that I forgot I was wearing them on a couple of occasions), and you're easily able to use each finger independently if needed. Add to this thumb and first finger touchscreen-friendly panels and you'll not need to take these off until you get to your destination coffee stop, even to answer an important call.
Operating fiddly buttons is less precise – but this is always the trade-off for full finger coverage.
Sizing is pretty standard – a large (EU size 8) fitted my hands comfortably, and lived up to the sizing charts on the Gore website. Still, I recommend with any gloves that you hop down to your local bike shot dealer to try them on, because you really won't know until you've given them a go.
On to price, and I must say I'm hesitant to criticise Gore too much for the £54.99 rrp. I concede these are expensive, but that said, I fully expect to use the Elements all winter for my club riding (except for the really cold zero to sub-zero snaps). And next winter. And, hopefully, the winter following that. That's £27.50 or £18.33 per year respectively – which isn't bad at all.
The bottom line is I've been so impressed with their build quality – and Gore products in the past – as to have faith that they'll last that long, and as long as you treat them well in the wash (I'll be adding a drop of Nikwax treatment from time to time), they'll pay you back in terms of performance too.
If you're willing to pay for top quality and performance, the Elements are a great option for all but the coldest or wettest days
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Element Urban Windstopper 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?
Gore says: "Camo style keeps you visible... Specially positioned reflective touches mean your hand's turn signals can be seen anytime. WINDSTOPPER® technology protects from cold and lets sweat escape. Special touch-screen-compatible fingertips allow easy operation of a mobile device."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Long wrist-cuffs
- Reflective print on fingers
- Special material to use smart phone on fingertip of thumb and pointer
- Palm of hand with gel padding
- Reflective print on side
- Strengthening between thumb and forefinger for better grip
- Elastic wrist
- Silicone-coated palm for better grip
- Absorbent material on thumb for wiping away perspiration
- Reflective logo
- Velcro width adjustment
- BACKHAND: 100% POLYESTER, WINDSTOPPER® MEMBRANE
- SHELL INSIDE: 100% POLYESTER
- PALM: 92% POLYESTER, 8% ELASTANE, WINDSTOPPER® MEMBRANE
- SHELL INSIDE: 92% POLYESTER, 8% ELASTANE, LINING: 100% POLYESTER
If you plan to use these for longer than one or two winters – which is perfectly reasonable – their value begins to shine through.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly. I'd recommend them to anyone (in the black, probably).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, performance and usability. All are excellent.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They're not the cheapest, and if pushed to criticise I'm not one hundred per cent sure how people with 'fat' fingers will get on with them – try them at your local bike shop to be sure of fit.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes – if they were at a discount.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding