Best summer cycling gloves 2023: Low-profile and high comfort mitts for road and gravel riding

The best summer cycling gloves will add comfort and grip without excess warmth

The best fingerless cycling gloves and mitts
(Image credit: Getty Images / Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno )

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Wearing the best summer cycling gloves while riding in warm weather is just as important as a pair of winter gloves for cold weather rides.

The benefits may be less obvious, but the best summer cycling gloves - sometimes called mitts if they are fingerless - feature padded and textured palms, helping you to grip the bars better while providing cushioning. They'll also help absorb sweat, so that your palms stay drier and more comfortable.

Should you fall, mitts or gloves will also help to protect your palms from cuts and abrasions.

As when buying a pair of the best winter cycling gloves, an ideal pair of summer cycling gloves will have a close and comfortable fit. Too tight, and they will dig in over longer rides and can potentially cause pins and needles if circulation is affected; too loose and you'll lose the benefit of the grip, and in the case of fingered gloves, find changing gear a challenge.

We've included more on what to look for when choosing the perfect pair of summer cycling gloves below, but first here are a few of our favourites.

Our pick of the best summer cycling gloves and mitts

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Best summer cycling gloves: what to look for

What features should I look for in the best summer cycling gloves?

First of all, look for good closure systems, typically a Velcro strap, or a close fit on the wrist to ensure that your glove will stay in place well and not slip around between your hands and the bars.

A nose wipe is really useful. It's the soft piece of fabric, often on the back of the thumb, which is designed to either wipe away sweat, a runny nose or wet lenses on the best cycling glasses, depending on your needs.

Ideally try before you buy to get the size right. Check they are comfortable or ensure there is a good returns policy when making a purchase. As with all cycling clothing, sizing is often inconsistent between brands.

Often the backs of summer cycling gloves are made of lightweight mesh, so they won't protect your hands from the sun. If your summer cycling gloves don't have a SPF rating or have gaps behind the closure strap, make sure you apply one of the best cycling sunscreens here. Your hands will get little shade on a ride, so it's important to apply sunscreen before you pull on a pair.

Do the best summer cycling gloves make a difference?

As one of only three touchpoints on your bike, keeping your hands comfortable and protected is vital to ensure enjoyable riding.

While gloves won't protect your hands from every eventuality, they can lower the risk of damage from a silly tumble, or gravel rash, which can otherwise mean days or even weeks off the bike for your palms to heal.

The best summer cycling gloves will also help wick away sweat, assist with grip and provide a handy wipe for your nose/ brow, as well as providing additional handlebar comfort.

Image shows Santini cycling gloves

(Image credit: Future)

Do summer cycling gloves come with padding?

Some of the best summer cycling gloves are padded, others are more minimalist. 

Unpadded summer cycling gloves may just come with silicone grip areas on the palms to help with gripping the bars in all weather and road conditions. Even this single layer of fabric will act as some form of protection from any crashes, as well as helping to prevent sweaty palms from slipping on the bars.

Padding in other gloves ranges from a thin leather pad to full-on gel padding, designed for the toughest and longest of rides.

Hand protection from repeated impact is vital on long rides which include lots of gravel or cobbles as this can cause nerve compression and damage over time.

How much padding to choose is down to personal choice. It's worth noting though that riders with smaller hands can suffer from too much padding interfering with their radial grip on the bars, so don't just assume maximum padding is best for you.

What are the loops on summer cycling gloves for?

Loops and extra long tabs at the wrist, or fabric rings on the middle fingers on cycling gloves can give them an odd appearance. These are there to help the wearer remove the gloves at the end of a ride by giving them something to pull on.

Trying to remove a small, damp, tight fitting glove otherwise can be a bit of a challenge.

Do pro cyclists wear summer cycling gloves?

Again, it's a personal choice. Some teams enforce the wearing of gloves to prevent unnecessary time off due to a hand injury that could have otherwise been prevented by using mitts or gloves.

That said, some riders have free rein and would rather have total road feedback, helping them be at one between the bike and road. 

Strade Bianche 2021

Mathieu van der Poel attacks during Strade Bianche 2021 without mitts (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

It is important to remember that mitts and gloves are not for everyone, and it really is a personal choice. Tom Boonen, now retired, famously didn't use them, even when riding on cobbles. That's true too of many other great and good riders.

It's worth noting that modern bar tape is very comfortable and can add a lot of grip and shock absorption for your hands. So an alternative may be to increase the padding on your bars by adding some of the best handlebar tape

Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen famously wore no mitts even over the cobbles

(Image credit: Cycling Weekly )

What's best, fingerless mitts or full-finger gloves?

Lightweight full-finger gloves may provide a bit of extra protection against the elements and abrasion. MTB riders typically use full-finger gloves and they're a useful option for gravel riding where your hands might bash against undergrowth.

Lightweight summer full-finger gloves feature significantly less insulation than a dedicated winter glove, so your hands shouldn't get too sweaty. They can also be useful to keep the wind off your hands on cold summer days.

Stefan Bissegger

Stefan Bissegger on stage three of Paris-Nice 2021 with extra long fingerless gloves (Photo by Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

Fingerless mitts tend to be favoured by road cyclists, as they are that bit cooler and there's less chance of them interfering with use of your controls. 

You can also buy aero cycling mitts that are lightweight and feature fabrics offering lower drag coefficient than bare skin. They typically feature less padding and minimalist construction with plenty of stretch to the fabric and no closures to catch the wind, with a cuff that extends over your wrist.

These are intended for racing and time trialling and are often designed to be used in conjunction with a skin suit or one of the best aero helmets.

With Black Friday coming up on November 24th and running until the 27th, all the major retailers are already starting their discounts. On the tech side of things, we’ve rounded up the best Black Friday Wahoo deals over here and the best Garmin deals over here.

More generally, we have specific hub pages for power meter deals and bike computer deals. With the nights drawing in, we’ve also picked out the best bike light deals as well

Beyond that, we’ve got a hub on the best Black Friday cycle clothing deals, deep winter glove deals and our top picks from Adidas’ Black Friday bike kit deals

And with Christmas coming up, we absolutely have a page on the best kids’ bikes deals - from balance bikes to fully equipped gears. 

Hannah Bussey

Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest-serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011. She has covered all things technical for both print and digital over multiple seasons representing CW at spring Classics, and Grand Tours and all races in between.

Hannah was a successful road and track racer herself, competing in UCI races all over Europe as well as in China, Pakistan and New Zealand.

For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won a 24-hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas. 

She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection. 

With contributions from