Specialized's Deflect Gloves bring warmth via windproofing rather than insulation, and work really well on dry, cool days – or seriously cold ones when combined with liners. They even do fairly well when sodden, but for me their padding placement means comfort is an issue.
- Pros: Accurate size and shape, good cuffs, create warmth without bulk
- Cons: Padding only delays onset of discomfort, stark colour choice
I'll be honest – I love windproof kit. It makes more sense to stop what heat you have being stolen than to add bulky insulation that's still vulnerable, especially when thinner windproof fabrics breathe better too. It's logical.
That makes it doubly frustrating that Specialized has chosen such an illogical approach to padding and comfort with these otherwise very effective gloves.
Despite the padding itself being good quality, springily resisting crushing to stay theoretically supportive, its positioning on the heel of your palm ends up adding to the problem rather than solving it.
Yes, the Deflects cushion the load at first, but after a while (around an hour in my case), the now-even-more-pronounced high spots start to suffer under pressure. The result was compromised blood flow, leading to tingling and numbness in disappointingly short order.
Okay, comfort is somewhat subjective, but testing these back to back with other gloves showed that, ironically, those with no padding at all were actually more comfortable. What's frustrating is that Specialized itself has proven what type of padding really works. Its orthopoedically designed Body Geometry Equalizer pad (as seen in its Grails, takes the opposite approach by filling the palm's cup, leaving a level surface to meet the bar – and no high spots. It fixes the pressure point problem rather than papering over them. It's logical.
On the other (numb) hand, the Deflects are far from the only gloves to feature padding like this, so it's not just Specialized. Maybe it's me?
The Deflects' windproof backs do very well on cool to cold days even without much insulation, while the naturally grippy Ax Suede palm is bolstered by silicone bars on the thumb and first two fingers for braking. I had no issues with slipping whether wet or dry.
They're not at home in the wet – water soaks in immediately rather than beading, and I've wrung probably half a glass out of each post-ride – but they lose little of their protective ability, so it's not a total disaster.
The wipe on the side of the thumb is softly nose-friendly, while a reflective strip along the little finger and the reflective logo are welcome, if rather minimalist. A bit of pattern or more reflectivity would be nice, especially as your colour choices are a rather binary none-more-black or screaming neon yellow.
The ribbed cuff is a good length for sealing out draughts (and features a useful loop for pulling them on), while the sizing is perfectly judged for use either alone or with thin glove liners. Though they feel a bit loose across the palm, they never crease, slide around or feel too big, and my only issue was finding them just a little short in the thumb.
Actually, that wasn't quite the only issue: there's screen-friendly silver thread on the thumb and forefinger, but the stitching is ugly and, worse still, barely works – I couldn't even unlock my phone in these, let alone use it. Then again, you might not consider that a bad thing...
They're not bad value: Gore's repetitively named Gore M Gore Windstoppers are a fine choice, and have no padding, but they're £43, Kalf's Five Mens Gloves are very similar at £35, while Lusso's Windtex add water repellency and are just £30.
The biggest surprise with the Deflect gloves was that even thin liners add considerable comfort at the bar, as well as extra warmth for those near-zero rides (they're warm enough on their own down to around 5°C). If you already own glove liners, add several points to the value column for these well-made, stylish and protective gloves.
Well-shaped windproof gloves that won't let you down even when soaked – though the padding is not the best
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Deflect Gloves
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product is for
Specialized positions these for windy and chilly conditions, saying, "They include a wind-resistant soft shell upper that's paired with a suede palm in order to provide protection from the elements and a firm, comfortable feel at the bars."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-Wind resistant softshell upper
-Hydrophobic Ax Suede fit palm
-Wiretap™ touch screen compatibility
-Padded palm reduces hand numbness
-Slip-on cuff for minimal bulk and snug fit
-High visibility reflective details
Solid, multi-panel build with tidy stitching (bar the touchscreen-sensitive thread on the forefingers/thumb, which is amateur-looking and doesn't work).
Windproof and pretty warm.
Feel built to last, though slightly short thumb (on me) takes extra strain that may test the fabric and seams.
Slightly short in the thumb, but otherwise well judged and comfy either alone or with liners.
Lack of insulation or waterproofing means they're reasonably light.
Worn alone, the poorly placed padding eventually causes more discomfort than it saves, limiting blood flow. With glove liners, however, comfort increases massively – even if they're thin.
There's too much competition to ignore the comfort issues – though if you already have glove liners, add two or three points.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Took cool machine washes without issue.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Windproofing provides decent warmth, even when soaked, but the quality padding used can't overcome its bad placement for long rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Make an excellent winter glove when combined with liners.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Building up pressure points with padding is a temporary fix rather than a cure.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Deflects are right around average, though there's plenty of quality competition – and some of it is £5 or more cheaper.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, with caveats.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – again, with caveats.
Use this box to explain your overall score
With no padding, these would be a 7. With Specialized's excellent Equalizer pads, they could be an 8 or 9. As it is, they're limited to shorter rides, commuting and a 6.
About the tester
I usually ride: GT GTR Series 3 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking