Sportful's Fiandre Light Gloves are an excellent lightweight, windproof and water-resistant design, with a palm that is grippier than anything else I've tried. They feel good and sticky on the bar regardless of the rain and have shrugged off some of the nastiest weather I've ridden in this winter. They're not for sub-zero, in fact not much less than 5°C, but really good above that – as long as they fit.
The Fiandre Light outer material is an unbranded two-layer softshell with taped seams that does a pretty good job of keeping the water out, regardless of Sportful not claiming it to be waterproof. The gloves are well made, with all stitching and detailing neatly finished.
They are thin gloves, and at first they don't appear to offer enough material to keep your hands warm, but because they're windproof, any heat you do produce stays inside, making them comfortable. They're breathable, too – I've not had any overheating issues with them, in part because of the temperature range I have been using them in, but even under prolonged effort my hands have never felt too hot.
The glove is shaped so that it curves around the bar perfectly when riding, while the palm is a completely flat single layer with no padding, just the way I like it. It's covered with diagonal silicone stripes that provide incredible grip on your bar regardless of the weather.
One thing missing is a brow/nose-wipe panel on either thumb, which may or may not be of concern to you depending on how you deal with that situation.
The tip of the index finger has the all-important smartphone connectivity patch, so you can start Strava or answer a call without difficulty. The gloves' thinness actually means that using multi-tools or pumps is perfectly possible, keeping your hands warmer should the dreaded mid-ride maintenance gremlin rear its ugly head, and holding said tools is made even easier by the silicone palm.
Over the last three months the gloves have performed admirably, keeping my hands warm and dry in modest rain, mist, and drizzle that has been such a bugbear of my commuting life. On the days when the rain was bouncing up off the road for the whole ride they leaked, but I suspect most things would. In fact, so good have they been in general conditions that I forgot they weren't actually waterproof – hence why I got caught out when the heavens really opened. Still, that was outside their remit and it wouldn't be fair to criticise them for it.
What isn't quite so good is the sizing. I've been using the XXL, which according to Sportful's size guide is for people with a palm diameter of greater than 27cm. My hands are nowhere near that size – more like 23cm. My colleague has 24cm diameter hands and they were tight on him, so I suspect they might be way too tight if we did actually have a 27cm diameter hand available to try them on.
In truth, they are a little broad for me but perfect in the finger length – something I regularly struggle with, with gloves. I don't think I have long fingers, but I do often find that gloves come up short between index finger and thumb, and index finger and middle finger, and my fingers go numb squeezed against the end of the glove.
So why am I testing these? Well, simply because the finger length is spot on, and that extra width has allowed me to use merino liner gloves on the coldest days and extend their range. I suspect that the neoprene cuff of a smaller size would be tighter and might prevent some water getting in that way, but if I dropped a size or two my fingertips would undoubtedly be up against the ends of the gloves and go numb prematurely, which is what I find with a lot of gloves.
Wearing gloves in the dark in winter in the wet is essential, so why some glove makers do not understand that you need large reflective backs, I've no idea. I am pleased to say it is not a problem with the Fiandre gloves, as they have a reflective S on their backs. It could perhaps be bigger, but at least it's there. The gloves are also available in bright orange.
The gloves have a small white rubberised S on the inside of the wrist to help pull them on but I couldn't detect any better grip when holding it than just pulling the normal cuff material because of those silicone strips on the fingers. To be honest, gripping anything with these on is easy.
Sportful quotes a temperature range of down to 5˚C but as with a lot of cold weather temperature advice guides, it will depend on your own personal physiology. I was happy down to about 5˚C which means they should be good for autumn and spring in the UK, as well as milder winter days. Once it climbs into double figures, they are thin and light enough to easily stash in a pocket or saddlebag.
An rrp of £45 is a decent amount of your hard-earned money to spend on gloves that aren't waterproof and have no insulation, but although you can spend less (Stu reckoned Lomo's Winter Cycling gloves were very good and they're just £13.50), these aren't far off the cost of some similar offerings, such as Bioracer's Glove One Tempest at £42 – and they're a lot less than Castelli's Scalda Elite gloves at £70.
For warmer hands, thanks to their added insulation, the Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell Lites are excellent at £39.99, and if your pockets are less deep or you just want much warmer hands, check out the superb Galibier Barrier Deep Winter gloves for £24.85, which offer insulation, windproofing, water resistance and a nosewipe panel, but no touchscreen compatibility.
I'd like to give these gloves a big thumbs up, but the sizing is an issue. Two other colleagues in the office with larger hands than mine tried them, and despite their hands measuring less than 25cm in diameter, the gloves were either too tight or too short, or both.
If you can try them on and they fit you, they'll stand you in good stead in all but the coldest temperatures. They might not be fully waterproof but they are close to it, and they feel great on the bars.
Good lightweight, windproof and grippy gloves for cooler rides without heavy rain, but try before you buy
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Fiandre Light Gloves
Size tested: XXL
Tell us what the product is for
Autumn, spring and mild winter riding.
Sportful says, "A LIGHTER VERSION OF OUR TOP-QUALITY GLOVE
"Exceptional in milder temperatures. Water repellent and windproof."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It's a two-layer softshell construction with a silicone striped grippy palm. It's shaped for holding the handlebar, and the palm is completely flat and without padding. The gloves are not waterproof but are heavily water-resistant and windproof. They have no insulation.
Sportful lists these features:
SoftShell fabric with taped seams
Neoprene cuff seals tight to skin to keep water out
Synthetic palm with injected silicone grip zones
Pre-curved bar-gripping shape
Temp. Range 5°+C
Just missing that snot wipe thumb panel, but otherwise excellent.
The water-resistance is very impressive.
Early days, but so far, signs are excellent.
The shaping means fit on the bar is excellent, but overall fit is affected by the odd sizing.
I've definitely not got the size 27cm diameter hands that Sportful thinks the XXL is for, but they were the perfect length for me – and too short for one of my colleagues. It pays to try them on first, but I think the sizing is a little out in reality.
Very light for the protection offered.
Towards the higher end of the market, but the quality of construction is excellent.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I always think it's best to just rinse gloves, and they're fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The grippy palm.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, as long as they try it on first...
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Fiandre Light Gloves are very good, provided they fit. It's subjective, but that they didn't fit three of us very well suggests something's awry here, so I'm giving them a 7 rather than an 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: Fairlight My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Bikepacking Adventure Gravel Riding