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The Bontrager Velocis S1 Softshell gloves are a hardwearing and well-made pair, but a lack of breathability can make them annoying to wear in all but the very coldest of temperatures. There is also some interesting pad positioning too.
The S1 part of the Velocis name determines the climate these are suitable for. Bontrager states S2 for below freezing and S1 for above. My biggest issue is that if the mercury is anywhere north of 0°C then your hands are going to be sweating in a matter of minutes: the Velocis S1s offer next to no breathability.
The gloves use 3M's Thinsulate insulation, which is highly regarded, and I've certainly found it to be very good in the many products I've used over the years that incorporate it.
I think the main issue here is the external material that Bontrager has used for the palm and fingers. It's a polyamide, polyurethane mix that gives a faux leather kind of finish, which is great for blocking out the wind but just lets nothing escape. There is a bit of softshell material at the sides of the fingers and the top of the hand, but it doesn't seem to be enough.
One ride that was about two hours in 5°C was enough to see my hands feeling noticeably sweaty in around 20 minutes. After I'd finished, I left the gloves in my wardrobe and they were still damp inside two days later. The smell wasn't nice either!
The other issue with the material used for the fingers is that it isn't very flexible and you lose a lot of your dexterity, the gloves pulling tight as you bend your fingers around the handlebar. They just aren't very comfortable, for me anyway, and don't even bother trying to jab at the screen on your computer.
A lot of winter gloves forgo padding because of the extra bulk, but Bontrager has included some although it doesn't really do a lot. It's a large S-shape that is there to protect the ulnar nerve, but I found it had no effect at all, in fact it probably added to the problem. I don't normally suffer with numb hands, but I did wearing the Velocis.
If I wanted padding I'd expect to see it running across the palm below the fingers and some for the thumb. Like many items of clothing, comfort is fairly subjective, and you might get on better with them.
So, on to the good stuff. Yep, there is some.
The overall build quality looks pretty exceptional. All of the stitching around the various fabrics is immaculate and they are certainly standing up to general wear and tear.
Many high-vis clothing products tend to stain if covered in mud but these gloves are doing all right so far after plenty of washes. They do also come in black if you aren't worried about having the brightest hands out on the roads.
They come with a decent length cuff, which sits nicely up inside the sleeve of a jacket, and if you want them external then you can close the wrists snuggly by way of the Velcro tab.
Sizing is good, too, totally spot on with the sizing chart on Bontrager's website.
When it comes to the money, it's a real shame that these have their foibles as the overall quality and finish would put them right up there for their £49.99 price tag. As it stands, though, you can get the excellent Mavic Essential Thermo gloves for £39, or there are the Santini Deep Double Layer Winter gloves also at just under 40 quid, and while they are designed to work well under the freezing mark they are still reasonably breathable.
Overall, even with their excellent build quality, the fact that these just don't do the things required of a winter cycling glove – offer comfort, dexterity and be breathable – means there isn't a massive amount to recommend.
Very well made but material choice restricts breathability and dexterity
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Velocis S1 Softshell gloves
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product is for
Trek says, "The fleece-lined, water-resistant, and windproof Velocis S1 Softshell Glove combines 70g 3M Thinsulate Insulation with inForm Fusion GelFoam padding for warmth and comfort on cold-weather rides. It's your go-to glove with all the tech to keep your leading-edge happy when the temps begin to drop."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Trek lists these features:
Choose the right gear for your climate: S1 for above freezing, S2 for below
Profila Softshell fabric on back of hand combines warmth and protection
70g 3M™ Thinsulate™ Insulation provides superior warmth and low-profile dexterity
inForm Fusion GelFoam padding reduces hand fatigue
Silicone grip on fingers provides great grip
Fleece-lined for extra cozy warmth
Adjustable wrist closure with pull-on tab makes for ease of use
Spot on to the size chart.
Very comfortable to start with, then your hands get sweaty.
You can get cheaper winter gloves that do the job better.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They came up clean every time.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They don't breathe and offer poor dexterity.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are plenty of gloves out there for less money, delivering in places that the Bontragers don't.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Some good things but plenty of not so good. They're very well made, but not very good at delivering the basics, which I'd say makes them a little below average.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!