Friday, March 22, 2013

Black Gloves

Before the last snowstorm, I actually managed to get out for a couple of rides. This gave me the first opportunity to try out the North Face Apex gloves I bought a couple of months ago to replace the North Face Windstopper gloves I was wearing out.
The Apex Glove

North Face offers a couple of models of wind-blocking fleece or softshell gloves, the Windwall and the Apex. The Windwall is similar to the old Windstopper Gore Tex glove, without the brand name Gore membrane. I had loved the Windstopper gloves, but the gripper sections sewn onto the palm and fingers would come loose over time. I reattached them when necessary. Eventually the material they're made of wears out so you can't sew it down anymore. The fleece material also wears. The membrane loses effectiveness. By the end of the useful life of a Windstopper glove you need glove liners whenever the air is more than moderately chilly.

The Apex gloves have a textured material bonded to the shell rather than pieces of grippy fabric sewn to the glove. I thought this might wear better than the sewn-on panels. Good in theory, but it doesn't grip very well on cold handlebar tape.

The Apex gloves definitely block wind incredibly well. Driving home after work the day I bought them, back around January, I stuck my hand out the car window at 50 miles per hour with an air temperature in the teens. The only effect I felt from the frigid wind was pressure. No chill. Ten out of ten for weather protection.

The things I don't like about the Apex glove are the poor grip provided by the texture pattern and the tightness of the gauntlet. The gloves are hard to pull on. I usually take a large. The overall fit of the large on me is good once I'm in it. But getting in there takes a lot more effort than pulling on the old Windstoppers. This is especially bothersome if I pull them off while I'm riding, to fiddle with something that needs more dexterity than the glove will allow, like my phone or camera. I will ordinarily do this riding no-hands without a second thought.

Getting the gloves off is no problem. Getting them on is not unmanageably difficult, just more trouble than the easygoing Windstoppers. It takes more fussing to get the jacket sleeves tucked into the gauntlets and all the drafts blocked before resuming speed.

As bike work picks up at the shop we're getting a few amenities in order for the coming season. Management delivered a nice box of black nitrile work gloves so the greasy grunts don't have to absorb quite as many lubes and solvents through our skin.

I've been doing this job for 24 years. Maybe this is too little too late. But at least it keeps me from grunging up my violin. As my colleague Big G observed from his own musical experience, "you don't want to clog up the brass windings on your guitar strings."

"I noticed last year that if I was eating fried chicken the tips of my fingers would end up cleaner than the rest of my hand," he said. We toyed with the idea of replacing the abrasive hand cleaner in the bathroom at work with some pieces of fried chicken. The gloves are a better solution.
I like how they look, too. They go with my customary easy-care black attire. A black shirt only gets darker the longer you wear it.

The nitrile gloves are loose enough and tough enough to remove and replace many times. They're not a single-use item. I won't know what to do with myself when my hands aren't scuzzy in bike season. But I guarantee I can get used to it.

1 comment:

Steve A said...

I like my own softshell gloves a lot.