There are a lot of rules in cycling and whether you believe in them, follow them, dismiss them, or simply don't care about them I'm sure you have an opinion. One of the hottest topics of discussion in cycling is kit and there is just about no end to the rules people will quote to govern how you should wear your kit. Strangely enough if you ask anyone, including Velominati there are no specific rules for coffee shop banter on gloves so... let's do a real quick pros and cons of wearing gloves at all.
- If you fall, you keep the skin on your hands
- Better grip
- Cold weather protection
- Greater general comfort
- Less callouses and blisters
- Spending more money
- Another thing to replace
- Generally expensive
- mismatching your kit
- Sweaty hands
- Looking less 'pro'
Well personally I think the Pros columns wins. However my biggest grip with cycling gloves is that they either stretch out or wear out far too fast. For what they usually cost they should last but don't. True they do go through a lot and the desire for lightweight and breathability comes at the cost of durability, but paying $100 for a pair of gloves shouldn't feel like you dumped a paycheque in the garbage. So what to do about it? Well earlier this year when my gloves came apart AGAIN, I decided that while I could easily sew them back together AGAIN, I'd rather just solve the problem. The search for a greater glove began.
While searching for a greater glove I kept coming across some images of a particular set of leather gloves that looked the part. There were only vague references or info about them so it took me a while but I tracked them down to be the Classic Leather Glove from a local company called KindHuman.
KindHuman is a Canadian brand who I really believe to care about cycling and cyclists. Their approach is different (in a great way) but maybe not entirely unique. What is unique however is how they do them in combination. While they offer complete bikes, at KindHuman selling bikes is about building you a perfect bike through a modular approach. You start by choose the frame based on the style of riding you want to do, then you build out the bike to completion by choosing your components from their available offers and packages. This approach isn't unique to KindHuman but it's firmly between the 'buy what we have on the floor' of most local bikes shops and what you get in a full custom bespoke bike shop. All of this amounts to an improved buying experience and cost savings to the consumer. They offer bikes for road, cyclocross, and mountain biking. There is even a Team Edition program to help teams get cyclists onto consistent framesets with team branding. This seems legit but I've never ridden one of their bikes so I can only speculate.
Heres where it does get unique. As a conscious brand, KindHuman not only offers value through their modular approach, they put back into the community they are part of. They run a cycling scholarship program to help great people in the cycling community to do good things. Maybe I'm getting old but this matters to me as a person and as a customer. I prefer to spend my money with people who will use it for giving back. The KindHuman sponsorship program focuses on racing and those that specialize in going fast, but the scholarship program is about stewardship. Definitely check out their page for really cool back stories on their sponsored athletes.
The following is a review of my experience with the KindHuman leather cycling gloves over the course of the season.
Click on any of the pics below to get a better lightbox view.
While KindHuman has a range of accessories and glvoes (and maybe even a vegan-friendly synthetic glove in the works), you'd be well suited to argue that the KindHuman Leather Glove is a classic design. Overall I'd describe these gloves not as no-frills but more a good execution on the basic necessities. That means the right things done right and less just for the sake of doing more.
They are a lightly padded, short fingered glove made of full leather. While most gloves are full backed, this glove has a perforated open back with a generous velcro tab closure.
The light padding on the palms offers additional protection and comfort from road vibration on the bars. Two fingers on each glove have an additional tab of leather at the opening to hold onto when pulling off the gloves. It's a small touch touch but helps ensure a longer product life for you the customer. Being made fully of leather the gloves do wear in and get softer with age. A big advantage to leather is the protection it will offer in a crash. They won't tear and shred like organic or synthetic fibre fabrics. Being leather front and back means you have full hand protection.
I have no way of telling what specific velcro was used in the gloves but it's generous in size and reliable in quality. Over the season it's held up well and hasn't lost any of its grip. It still closes securely and confidently. The tab is easy to grab and adjust on or off the bike.
I purposefully photographed a white pair of the gloves to help show how they wear over time. It's part of the charm.
The price of the KindHuman leather glove may be one of their greatest attributes. The gloves look good but the price tag looks even better. It's hard to find a cheap glove and it's even harder to find a decent glove that doesn't cost the bank. Since the retail on the KindHuman leather glove is $40USD your going to save money over just about anything a big brand is going to throw at you. Now that's just comparing these against synthetic, organic fibre, or entry level gloves on the market. If you want to compare costs to other full leather gloves on the market you are saving a whole lot more with these.
The KindHuman leather gloves are made of.... wait for it.... leather! Not a bit of leather but completely of leather (with one exception noted below.) Even the edge piping is leather. It's all a soft grain leather that is stitched securely together with extra attention notably paid on high wear points such as the velcro closure tabs. Through back and forth with KindHuman, they've let me know they have put in motion an update to feature double stitch construction seams.
It's hard to tell the specific type of leather used but it's a pigmented leather and based on it's feel and weight I'm guessing it's a top-grain leather. Wikipedia has a pretty good overview of leather types found here if you want to know more specifics.
Save for the finger pulls and velcro tab, the backs of the gloves are fully perforated which helps the gloves breath in the heat. The light palm padding on the inside of the gloves does help prevent too much stretching of the leather in a spot that takes the most strain. There is no other lining material on the gloves giving you the closest to bare feeling possible.
Between the fingers there is a small section of synthetic fibre stretch material. This is pretty common with all cycling gloves to help aid in dexterity and prevent strain on the seems.
Overall I'd say the construction of the gloves is really good. They feel and appear to be well made and built to last through their intended use. There is no perceived point of skimping in quality. They don't feel fragile when you put them on or when you're using them as intended.
To help make sure you get the right glove, the KindHuman website includes a size and fit guide on the product page. Being that leather is not as dynamic a material as the lycra found in many gloves, these gloves fit pretty true to size and getting the size right is important. You can't account for errors without the dynamic stretch properties of lycra.
To be specific on the hand coverage these gloves offer, the short finger length is enough to cover up to the first knuckle, including on your thumb. The wrist length covers well over the entire palm to the wrist if you've got the right size. They have not stretched after months of use. Only gotten softer and formed to the shape of my hands.
For a reference example I wear a size small Rapha Classic Mitt but I fit snugly into the medium for these.
The KindHuman leather cycling gloves feature one very subtle branding. There is an embossed logo on the outer palm of each hand. It's so subtle that I don't think anyone but you will know it's even there. KindHuman say this placement also aids in grip on the bars. I don't if that's true but I like where and how they've placed their branding. There are no brand tags inside the gloves. Just a small sizing tab.
Since I was searching for a better glove you'd hope I don't have much to critique. Thankfully that's true, mostly. While the overall construction of the gloves is really good, the seam on the pinky finger of my left glove came apart. Wohn wohn. Good thing KindHuman has a great warranty policy. I contacted them and attached a photo to which they responded in a few hours offering to replace the gloves and so after a quick visit to the shop I've got a fresh new pair to wear. That's awesome. Quick, personal, attentive customer service backing a good product. A critique turns into a positive, how often does that happen?
In fairness, it should be noted that I have a white pair and a black pair of the same gloves. This issue only happened on the white pair so I see it as mostly isolated than common. The double-stich seams on the next run should also serve this well. I love when a company iterates on products and is open with the customer about their plans.
I'll add this as a heads up, not a critique. The gloves may not be the most ideal choice for the hottest of weather. The perforated back does help dissipate body heat. The lack of liner offers better bare skin like feeling with your handlebars, but leather is not the best at moisture wicking. In high heat the leather will make your hands sweat and that sweat will stay in the gloves. The thin liner on the palm does help but the backs of the hand will feel somewhat sweaty. Honestly it's not bad and I never had to take them off but it's worth being open and honest to note so you can be aware and consider this in your choice of gloves.
I like to sum up my reviews with a clear statement, so here goes. Frustrated by expensive big brand gloves that never lasted, I searched for a better glove and I found that in the KindHuman leather cycling glove.
KindHuman has put together a glove with top quality traditional if not classic details, offers value through durability and affordability in a product that you will be happy to have.
They are not the lightest, most high tech, innovating glove on the market but they are durable, quality, and while they can be a bit sweaty on really warm days I still choose these over lightweight gloves that feel like they will fall apart when you touch them.
Now that I have written the review I'm starting to realize I should probably pick up a spare pare of these while I can.