I expected excellent performance from these Shimano S-Phyre Winter gloves and they truly deliver. The dexterity is sublime, they're perfectly warm at 2°C and the grip from the palm is perfect. At £99.99, they're certainly expensive, but they work flawlessly.
- Pros: Warm, allow great dexterity, liner included
- Cons: Expensive
For me, gloves are an annoying thing that I have to wear sometimes. If I can get away without wearing them, I will. The times I have to wear them are for racing, with the increased risk of big crashes, and the cold winter months; numb hands aren't fun. Gloves must fit perfectly, allow full control of the handlebar and not cause my hands to become clammy. Otherwise, I'm an unhappy little cyclist.
Taking these Shimano S-Phyre gloves from the smart packaging, I noticed the first feature I like. The gloves are very light. They come in two parts with the main glove being made of a flexible PrimaLoft windproof back and a faux leather palm. There is also a liner glove which at first inspection doesn't look very sturdy but has proved itself to be comfortable, robust and warm.
Pulling the gloves on, the fit is very close but my large was true to the size guide and comfortable. Shimano says it has designed these with a "3D pre curved" fit. The gloves certainly hang in a curved position when not worn, and conform very well to the hands when in the hoods.
The wrist section is tall and designed to be worn with the S-Phyre jacket. These items really do match up well, but the gloves also work well with other jackets. The close fit at the wrists really helps here, sealing out the wind.
Dexterity is the next priority on my list. Out on the bike I was very pleased with the natural feel you get at the levers. This is the closest you can get to riding with bare hands in any winter glove I've worn. The thin yet robust palm really helps here. It's constructed with three thin layers giving just enough cushioning while allowing natural movement.
Taking these out for the first time, I was met with super-cold conditions: 2°C and strong winds from the coast. I was using the gloves with the inners and I had comfortable hands all day. The gloves were neither cold, nor did they make my hands sweaty.
They're windproof too, and are also advertised as water resistant. In reality, they will stand up to the occasional shower, or quite a bit of road spray, but water will get in. Thankfully, when it did, my hands didn't freeze and the gloves dried pretty quickly, allowing my hands to stay warm. These won't be very good in persistent rain.
The forefinger and thumb both get a conductive surface on the tips. This worked really well with my iPhone 6s and relatively well with my Garmin Edge 820, although the latter is always a bit hit and miss.
The gloves have stood up very well to washing. I'm careful to keep them away from the tumble drier, and they dry quickly when hung. They've also seen a little cyclo-cross action on a very muddy day. It's not what they're designed for, but they survived without an issue so I'm confident of their durability. I've also had no issues with the stitching.
That brings us on to cost, because at £99.99 you'll want these to last. At this end of the price range, the competition comes from Rapha. Its £70 Pro Team gloves have a similar construction, but according to Dave's testing they're for milder conditions; for colder days you'd be looking at the Deep Winter Gloves, and they're £110 (plus merino liner for £40). I love the fit from these S-Phyre gloves and for me that warrants the price, but it's close to being silly money.
A much cheaper option, half the price in fact, would be the Sportful Sotto Zero gloves, if you can actually find them for sale anywhere; they're sold out just about everywhere, it would seem.
Overall, if you want the best fit from a winter glove that performs perfectly, the S-Phyres are a very strong option. I'd buy them, but I am incredibly fussy when it comes to gloves. There are very good options for quite a bit less, though, so I suggest you try before you buy.
Near-perfect performance but with a hefty price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano S-Phyre Winter Gloves
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
From Shimano: "At Shimano, we have studied for decades how the hand-to-glove-to-shifter/hood interface should function. We understand that the more flexible and more seamless a glove can be, the better. S-PHYRE Winter Gloves feature our Advanced 3D pre-curved design pattern for the most conforming fit possible.
"The softest, yet most durable, palm material combined with a flexible PrimaLoft insulated shell, optimally connect your hand to the rider cockpit controls. The same close-to-hand performance as the S-PHYRE Summer Glove, with the warmth and protection required for cold weather riding; the feel and control you want in every condition."
It does appear that Shimano has put a lot of thought into these gloves and the way they fit when you're on the bike. They certainly are flexible, and I didn't notice any of the seams.
The palm is excellent too: really soft and supple for excellent lever feel. The shell is also really supple and gives these gloves a very natural feel.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
37°C COLD WEATHER PROTECTION
ANATOMIC 3D PRECISION
DIRECT LEVEL FEEL
Outer layer of the back: 87% Polyamide, 13% Polyurethane
Foam: 100% Chloroprene rubber
Lining: 85% Polyester, 15% Polyurethane
Palm: 60% Polyamide, 40% Polyurethane
Padding: 100% Polyester
Inner : 89% Polyester, 8% Unspecified fiber, 3% Elastane
The 3D curved design is evident both on and off the hand. The gloves sit in a natural hand position when not worn and conform perfectly on the hands.
They do what they claim. They fit perfectly and allow great control all while protecting against the cold, right down towards freezing.
I tested these outside their intended usage in a cyclo-cross race and they've come away with no signs of fatigue.
The fit is close all over the glove. That means zero movement against the skin, which prevents irritation. The wrist sits high for great compatibility with all my jackets.
I measured up on Shimano's chart as a large and they duly fitted perfectly.
Lighter than the Giro Proofs I tested last year and just as warm.
No sweaty hands and a super-soft interior.
Fussy riders like me will be happy to pay the extra cash, but there are well-respected rivals out there for much lower prices.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They've washed up very well every time and they air dry quickly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. I wasn't expecting such a thin glove to keep me warm at such low temperatures.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The dexterity is the closest I've come to riding without gloves.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The higher price than similar rivals; not everyone will see the point.
Did you enjoy using the product? Loved them.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes. I'm fussy enough to justify the extra cash.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I've never worn better gloves. In fact, these beat most summer mitts I've tried for bar feel. The one blemish is the price, but they are excellent gloves and justify it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.