Over the years I’ve used a variety of short-finger mitts for both road cycling and mountain biking, but over the past four years or so I’ve settled on some Specialized Body Geometry (BG) mitts. These seemed to have the right mix of firmer gel pads and flexibility to suit my riding styles.
However, since my crash in the Forest Of Dean in 2013, I’ve suffered from numbness in both hands that’s exacerbated by any cycling, so I was interested in the reports promising good comfort from the Specialized Grail mitt. Fortuitously when we stopped in Ambleside for our Hardknott ride, Bike Treks had some in their sale, so I picked up a pair. Anyone coming across the Grail mitts in a shop would probably wonder why they have so little padding and would almost certainly put them straight back on the shelf… I strongly suggest that, if you’re in that position, you stop and take a second look, as these are seriously impressive gloves.
As I say, first impressions are of a lightly padded glove with nice details around a snug fitting ‘body’. The gel pad is definitely one of the thinnest that I’ve come across and sits on the palm of the hand, and not on the heel and finger pads like a ‘normal’ cycle mitt – so everything in a cyclist’s normal experience is saying that these should be uncomfortable. The gel pad sits on a stretchy glove body with tabs top and bottom to help pull them on and off. I have large-ish hands (though far from ‘plates of meat’) and I found an XL glove was a comfortable fit – saying that, after two days riding (which we’ll come to), I went back and bought a Large pair to give a snugger fit… both sizes are fine for me, I’m just right on the cusp of their sizing.
The first Lakeland outing was a 90-minute spin to warm the legs after a long drive and I wore the Grails to see how they faired – they seemed fine, so I committed to them for the next day, 100km including Hardkott and Wrynose. It was a brave step given the undertaking, but the Grail mitts were the perfect companion – I had no hand issues and I can honestly say that I had far less numbness on this ride than I would have had with the older BG gloves on a shorter ride. I’m sure that there’s a lot of science in how these gloves work their magic, but I’m seriously impressed and they will be ‘go to’ mitts from now on.