Overall I'd recommend the Specialized Prime Series Thermal Gloves for late autumn/early spring riding in changeable conditions, but they are on the lightweight side for winter. The design is simple but effective, good-quality fabrics are used, the fit is exactly in line with Specialized's size chart and the price is fair.
Good cuff design
For under 5°C you may need a heavier glove
By Simon Smythe published
The new Specialized Prime Series Thermal Gloves use a low-bulk windproof Polartec Neoshell back and a grippy synthetic suede palm that combine to keep out the chill without sacrificing dexterity. They are warm and comfortable down to 5°C and will keep out light showers even though they don't claim to be waterproof. The Velcro cuff closure works well, as do the touchscreen-compatible pads on the thumb and first finger – and the price will work for most people too.
Specialized doesn't specify a temperature range, just describing them as "adding some warmth on chilly days." There's no doubting they do that, but these are not heavyweight winter gloves – they are actually very light indeed and do an amazing job of keeping out the chill bearing that in mind, but for genuine winter riding you'll need more insulation.
Specialized Prime Series Thermal Gloves: construction
Polartec Neoshell claims to be the world's most breathable waterproof fabric technology. It seems to be a good choice for the backs of the Prime Series gloves since waterproof also means windproof, and cyclists' hands are very susceptible to wind chill since they're static and stuck out there in front. It's just a single layer of Neoshell, which is stretchy and lightweight.
For the palms Specialized has gone down the synthetic suede rather than the silicone dots route, and as someone who during the season rides bare-handed rather than track-mitted, suede feels more natural on the bars to me. The synthetic suede is fleece backed and feels comfortable and flexible. Specialized describes it as "hydrophobic."
Specialized has avoided padding on the palm – another sensible move as far as I'm concerned. I generally avoid little gel cushions sewn in at supposedly strategic points. They are often not quite in the right place and can easily do the opposite, turning into pressure points on a longer ride.
I also like what Spesh has done with the cuff. It's ribbed, stretchy and close fitting but has a Velcro tab so that you can tune the fit. Specialized says it's so that you can wear cuffs under or over – it's cuffs under sleeves for me but in these pics I don't want to cover up the gloves – a thoughtful and effective solution.
The touchscreen pads on the thumb and first finger work well – an essential feature of 21st-century full-finger gloves.
As for the fit, Specialized's size chart is very detailed featuring middle finger length, palm length, thumb length and thumb circumference and it's 100 per cent accurate. I was unfortunately between the small and the medium sizes so went for the medium with a little a bit of room at my fingertips, but once wrapped around the bars it wasn't noticeable.
And of course looks are subjective, but I do like the sleek, minimal look of these gloves, though it's a shame this seems to be at the expense of reflectives.
As I've mentioned, the Specialized Prime Series Thermal Gloves are not deep winter gloves and I found that 5°C is probably their lower limit. But for the majority of chillier autumn and spring riding they're ideal.
The Polartec Neoshell backs are as totally waterproof as Polartec claims, but I think Specialized has stopped short of claiming waterproofing for the gloves overall because the AX suede palms are 'hydrophobic' but not waterproof. I found they can withstand a light shower or drizzle, but they wet out in proper rain eventually.
Breathability is good for the upper temperatures – but above 10°C there's not much point in wearing gloves anyway, and if your hands do get hot these gloves are light and packable enough to stash in a pocket.
Considering their good performance and use of technical (and likely expensive) Polartec Neoshell, £40 seems a fair price. There are cheaper gloves out there that we've reviewed favourably, such as the £23 dhb Windslam Stretch (though the updated dhb Windproof glove is £30), but also more expensive ones such as the Gore C3 Gore-Tex Infinium at £49.99. The Assos Assosoires Spring/Fall Gloves, which are aimed at similar temperatures and conditions, are £45.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
And the vital statistics:
Conservationists accuse cyclists of damaging New Forest through 'illegal activities'
A six-week survey recorded 550 instances of cyclists riding off-track
By Ryan Dabbs • Published
Cyclist numbers overtake car drivers on key main roads, data shows
Cycling UK say that "vision and investment" is needed from local and national government to get more people on bikes
By Adam Becket • Published
Smashing his 2021 targets and then some
CW5000 blog: Peter White looks back on a year when he fell back in love with cycling
By Cycling Weekly • Published