Probably the most comfortable deep winter gloves that I've ever worn, Specialized's Element 1.0s are fully up to the task of keeping your hands warm and dry in winter, so long as it's not absolutely chucking it down.
Pros: Sumptuously comfortable, warm, water resistant, light and dextrous
If you're after a pair of deep winter gloves to see you through the worst weather, seemingly without compromise, then Specialized has you covered with the Element 1.0s.
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Let's start with the warmth, which comes via Primaloft insulation, sandwiched between a Gore Windstopper outer fabric shell and a super-soft thermal liner. It's brilliantly warm in everything touching freezing and a little beyond, while there's a fair amount of breathability maintained through the technical textiles.
Unless the temperature started reaching about the 7-8°C, my hands stayed remarkably dry inside the glove, while at the same time keeping toasty warm too. The construction (the seams on the fingers and joins) is remarkably good too, with tight-knit seams allowing no unwanted air leakage.
That goes for waterproofness too. No, Gore's Windstopper isn't the hardiest when it comes to this, but as we see in countless jackets featuring the fabric, it can be a great performer in showery conditions. I'd be inclined to opt for a real heavyweight alternative that claims full waterproofness if I were to go out regularly in deluges, but for anything else I'm more than satisfied that the Element 1.0s can do the job.
Speaking of heavyweight... the Element 1.0s really aren't that at all. For an all-in-one winter glove with such insulation, they're impressively light at 134g, while the fabrics themselves are very flexible and mouldable to the hand. The result is a glove that provides a great deal of dexterity on the bars and when shifting.
Comfort is arguably the most surprising feature. Sure, other gloves aren't necessarily uncomfortable, but these are in a different league. The inner lining – 'brushed tricot', apparently – is so soft, while the glove cocoons your fingers and hand with some flexibility too. Even with hands that might be prone to web pressure, it's unlikely that you'll get any rubbing at all.
A large fits me perfectly – as it should – and there are two bigger sizes if you have big hands. You might want to size up if you intend to use them as an outer in tandem with a liner for pseudo-arctic conditions, but for the vast majority this won't be necessary.
Other features worth noting? There's an 'Ax' suede palm that sheds water to retain grip on the bar when it's raining – it's effective too – and Specialized has catered for touchscreen users with textured pads on the thumb and two main fingers, although despite the dexterity offered by the gloves, this is still only semi-useful at best if you want to text on your phone; the texture does add a bit of grip when pressing shift levers, though.
The backs of the thumbs feature a genuinely luxuriously soft nose wipe zone, and there are little reflective details in the S logo and Windstopper branding, plus a strategically placed thin strip on the outside edge of the hand, which is naturally directed back at other road users while indicating.
The cuff provides a low-profile seal against the wind, but it's stretchy enough to fit on the outside of thermal jerseys and even jackets if you like, plus there's a small clip interface to keep the gloves together.
The one downside to the high-vis yellow colourway is that it will inevitably attract dirt over time, but for those bothered by that there is a black version too.
> Buyer's Guide: 21 of the best winter cycling gloves
I can't see why these won't last multiple winters if looked after properly (and perform to their best if washed using tech washes), plus you don't have to spend a massive amount to get a pair in the first place – £45 is a competitive price to pay for such well-rounded, well-made gloves. Mavic's Ksyrium Pro Thermo gloves are a hefty £25 more, and Endura's Pro SL Primaloft Waterproof gloves are £54.99, though they promise more rain protection.
Overall, I can't think of any I'd rather be wearing when heading out for a winter ride.
Brilliant deep winter gloves, with precious few weaknesses
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Make and model: Specialized Element 1.0 gloves
Tell us what the product is for
Specialized says: "Our Element collection of gloves is designed to keep you warm and protected from wind and water, all without adding any bulk or restricting movement. Starting with a Gore® WINDSTOPPER® waterproof and breathable laminate, we add 100g Primaloft® for insulation from the cold. The Element 1.0 gloves are the lightest softshell gloves we make, so you get excellent flexibility and handlebar feel. The Ax Suede palm, meanwhile, provides a sure grip, even when wet, in order to keep your hands where they need to be''in control. Lastly, the rib-knit cuff is the most accommodating cuff closure we make, and it's designed to go seamlessly under a jacket cuff."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Gore® WINDSTOPPER® upper protects against wind and water, while letting perspiration escape.
- 100g Primaloft® insulates without adding bulk.
- Ax Suede palm material is tough, hydrophobic, and conforming.
- Brushed tricot interior provides a plush, comfortable feel against the hand.
- Windproof brushed Microwipe™ thumb wiper allows you to easily wipe away sweat.
- Reflective details enhance your visibility to motorists in low-light conditions.
Rate the product for quality of construction:
The gloves seem brilliantly put together with tightly-knitted seams.
Rate the product for performance:
Aside from constant deluge-type rain, they're nigh-on perfect in deep winter.
Rate the product for durability:
The softness and flexibility of the fabrics might mean a little more potential wear in time, but it's not a major concern.
Rate the product for fit:
The best fitting (and most comfortable – see below) deep winter glove that I've ever worn.
Rate the product for sizing:
Spot on, a comfortably form-fitting fit around the digits.
Rate the product for weight:
For the performance, the weight is very impressive indeed.
Rate the product for comfort:
Hands-down the best thing about the Element 1.0s, in my opinion. And they don't even have pressure-relief padding.
Rate the product for value:
£45 is very good value when you consider everything you're getting here in terms of performance and comfort.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easily enough, although the high-vis yellow can attract dirt. Specialist washes will likely maintain the excellent technical performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Sumptuous comfort, warm, water resistant, light and dextrous.
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?
Mavic's Ksyrium Pro Thermo gloves are a hefty £25 more, while Madison's Avalanche gloves are over a tenner cheaper – and a few grams lighter too.
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 overall score
There's precious little to knock off here. Arguably the lack of pressure-relieving palm padding will put some off, and they're not quite ALL-weather deep winter gloves, given the Windstopper outer, so 9.
Age: 29 Height: 188cm Weight: 80kg
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
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