Chiba BioXCell Air Cycling Mitts
Large (9) 40g Black £34.99
The Chiba BioXell Air Cycling Mitts are road/touring/mixed surface riding orientated. Contact points may be personal things, but for my riding style and hand shape and size, these have become something of a favourite. They appear more modest in price, too, when compared to similar specs.
Pros: size and fit, effective padding, tactile feel.
Cons: nothing significant.
Made from 27% Polyamide, 45% Polyester, and 22% Polyurethane, with a healthy 6% Elastane for a good stretch, Chiba’s BioXCell Air Cycling Mitts are designed to offer breathability and a high level of defence against numbness.
The upper is made from breathable materials and is very elastic, which should offer a good firm fit. The palm is made of “air mesh” for ventilation, whilst microfibre makes up the rest. On the pad, there are pads to protect the ulnar nerve and the carpal tunnel. At first these look quite chunky, although, in action, they aren’t. The pads are described as “2-stage gel cushion”. Giving them a prod may not suggest two stages, but it does promise effectiveness. The gel padding is 8mm thick and carefully positioned. This has implications for size and fit if you want the pad to be affective. More of that below.
Each mitt has a couple of loops to aid removal. The thumb is reinforced and there is the terry towelling to wipe away sweat or whatever you chose to wipe away with it. Closure is with the ubiquitous hook and loop, Velcro-style tabs and pads. A nice touch, especially for those of us who always seem to mislay one mitt, one sock, one glove and so on, is the “easy clip” – a press stud that will keep the mitts together, enabling you to not mislay them at all or mislay both at the same time.
These mitts are available in five sizes, from S to XXL
Generally taking a large in gloves and mitts, I expected a nice snug fit when I went for the Large (9). Of course, this is spot on for mitts. Can I get a pair of inner gloves on under the mitts? With Passport Crochet Back Mitts, I went for an extra-large, which slip over a pair of inner gloves with ease, for those chilly mornings that become beautifully warm days. They have a crochet back with leather palms.
Chiba warn against going over-sized with these particular mitts. Too big and the padding will be in the wrong place to work effectively. They have an explanation of this on their website https://www.chiba.de/en/bioxcell-2/ . Although they fit snugly, I have managed to get my Showers Pass Crosspoint Gloves on under the mitts without halting the circulation of the blood. There’s clearly a lot of stretch.
Let’s commence with the padding, as this is a key feature. 8mm is very effective on tops, hoods, and drops. They also work on flat-bars. Do they live up to the promise to end numbness in 80% of cases? Well, not quite, in my case. However, numbness is as much a function of posture, bar tape, stem, hand position, and the type of riding you are doing etc. However, when combined with a suspension stem, I have had no numbness: over ribbed canal towpath with a rigid stem, I have after seven miles or so at around 14mph. Likewise over gravel. On road, things were fine. Handing them over to a friend less prone to numb-thumb, and the reports were very positive. Gravel outings with plenty of vibration caused no issues.
Riding in hot weather on seventy to eighty-mile days has felt comfortable. No sweaty palms, whilst the thin material on the uppers seems to protect from the sun as well as allow the breeze in.
Contact with the bars is very good, although palms do not particularly tacky. No slipping on tops, hoods, or drops. That’s been the case on the Fizik tape on my tourer and the Ergon BT Gravel Bar Tape on my hack/gravel/commuting bike. Rubber grips on flat bars, just the same.
After an hour in torrential range, it took the best part of twelve hours to dry completely with no artificial aid. On the bike things were much quicker, with things back to pleasantly comfortable after some three hours or so in the sun, although the palms were still a little damp but not so one really noticed. I’ve not come across mitts with decent padding that dry very quickly, so, on tour, I carry a spare pair as they are unlikely to dry overnight without artificial assistance e.g. a hostel drying room, a hotel radiator.
After a machine wash (30C maximum), two hours on the line on a dull-but-breezy day saw the mitts bone dry.
I have come a cropper – rare for me, but an angler decided to swing their fishing rod into my face as I headed down the towpath on the home commute. Landing on one-side and sliding along, the mitts were dirty, but not harmed. This is not an aspect of testing I intend to repeat.
Now, some might say a penny off £35 is a pretty penny for half-finger cycling gloves like these. However, in my opinion, you are getting a very good bit of gear. Mitts like the Castelli Arenberg Gel 2 have a rrp of £44. The two have a lot in common in terms of spec. The Chiba are also cheaper than Price seems modest when compared with models such as DHB Aeron (at full rrp) or Gore C5.
Oxford Echelon Mitts are less than half the price. I found the fit and sizing a bit of an issue, but with that sorted out properly you get a lot of bang for your buck even if not quite the same padding.
Stolen Goat Rampant £25 and Specialised BG Mitts both come in at around £25 and offer their own systems of padding.
Added to any of the above is the caveat that contact points are very personal. The Chiba suit me, my bars and hand-positioning very well. They’ll be some very good mitts that will suit those less well.
I’ve really found the Chiba BioXCell Mitts a great fit and highly effective. They’ll suit the rider who wants to put in some long mileage – whatever the average speed.