REVIEW: Pearl Izumi Elite Gel Gloves

by Nick Gregory

Price £24.99
Size Medium
Colour Yellow and Black
Lightweight, comfortable and affordable - a very solid, mid-budget pair of gloves that offer everything you need.

Pearl Izumi Elite Gel Gloves

Pearl Izumi was founded over 50 years ago in Toyko, Japan. As with many things associated with the land of the rising sun, the firm's single aim and philosophy is to "utilize insight, technology and innovation to increase performance." 

The brand's popularity grew massively across the pond during the 1980s, as the Pearl Izumi-sponsored US national team won nine gold medals at the 1984 Olympics. The association between Pearl and elite-level cycling remains as strong today as it was in the 80s, with the company manufacturing the kit of World Champion, Phillipe Gilbert and his BMC Racing Team colleagues for the 2013 season. 


Now, gloves rarely look 'great', but as anyone who's gone down Heinrich Haussler-style and not been wearing them will know, they are a very necessary bit of kit if you want to avoid the extreme discomfort of ripping up your palms should the worst happen. (Or indeed, if you simply have an unfortunate tendency of forgetting to unclip at traffic lights...) 

In the style and aesthetic stakes, Pearl Izumi certainly don't buck the trend with this particular offering - looking as they would, more at home in an early 1990s aerobics class than draped across the bars of your brand new, Team-Sky edition Pinarello Dogma. However, fluro-yellow and black stripes aside, what of the product itself? 


Having painstakingly waded through the complex myriad of gloves available on the Peal Izumi website, it would appear that those in question - the Elite Gel Gloves - are a middle of the range offering that will set you back somewhere in the region of £24.99. Cost wise, this also puts the Elite Gels roughly in the middle of the pricing spectrum in relation to their competitors - a position also occupied by the likes of the Sportful Bodyfit Pros (£29.00). At either extreme, you've got the more entry-level DHB Short Fingers (£16.99), and the eye-wateringly expensive Prologo CPCs (£69.99). 

There are of course more reasons to wear gloves than just road-rash avoidance. A good pair will dampen handlebar vibration from bumpy road surfaces, and help prevent the consequent numbness many riders experience on longer rides. The pronounced padding in the Elite Gels certainly gave decent cushioning from the increasingly jarring Surrey roads. However, the "anatomic palm patterning" the website boasts of, distributes the padding in quite a sparse fashion - fine if your hands get sore in the 'usual' areas, but potentially uncomfortable if not. 


I did a six hour ride with them and my hands still felt good by the end, which is unusual for me, so I'd have to rate them highly on this front. The trade-off for the thicker padding however, is that your connection with the bars can feel a little clumsy, particularly around the base of the palm. 

Gloves are also key to maintaining grip when hands get wet or sweaty. The vented mesh back and low cut-off fingers on the Elite Gels ensure your hands stay cool. The Sweat wipe area on the thumb is a low-pile chamois texture, as opposed to the thicker, more absorbent towelling type material some gloves offer (which is my personal preference). Nevertheless, the material is soft, and on a reasonably balmy late-summer day they proved adequately absorbent.


Sizing is slightly on the small side, but nothing that should alter your usual selection. Furthermore, the combination of the stretchy lycra webbing between the fingers, and the adjustable velcro wrist tab should cater for any necessary modifications and adjustments. 



One useful addition would be more finger loops, aside from the one on the ring finger, as the gloves can be hard to take off without being turned completely inside-out. Nevertheless, this would be a relatively minor improvement to what is a good-quality product. Robust, lightweight, comfortable and affordable, the Pearl Izumi Elite Gels are a very solid, mid-budget pair of gloves that offer everything you need.

Available at the Pearl Izumi website.

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