CHIBA PRO SAFETY REFLECTOR GLOVES

79g XL/10 (As tested) £29.99

The Chiba Pro Safety Reflector Gloves are hard to miss on the darkest nights and have most of the features I’d need from a commuter biased design. Windproof, water-resistant, terry nose-wipe and a fit favouring nimble digits. Lack of padding may limit their appeal for longer training rides, though.

Pros: Great fit, dexterity, very effective retro-reflectives.

Cons: Minimal padding, less water-resistant than some.

Materials/Specification

These are a lightweight, softshell design made from a Polyester, Polyamide, Polyurethane mix. The retro-reflective backs are broken up with bold black logos. Thoughtfully, the pre-shaped fingers also feature day-glow yellow detailing-perfect for those misty, dull days. 

Tactile faux suede reinforcement “gussets” between thumb and fore finger are designed to prevent premature wear of the main fabric, caused by brifter rub. The palms are bereft of any ulnar defending padding, which may come as a culture shock but as I said in my opening paragraph, this needn’t be a deal-breaker. 

Palms, thumb and forefingers feature acres of silicone detailing for grip and of course, seamless connectivity with phones. GPS and related touch screen tech. The fleece-lined cuff is shorter than some, at 4cm but again, this hasn’t presented any practical issues. Construction and finish seem uniform throughout. 

Sizing/Fit 3.75/5

The size guide requires careful inspection, as they do come up a little snug but, so long as you’ve done this, no issues. I was surprised to find XL proportionately right. sufficient length in the fingers and palms to accept a liner type glove (should the temperature plummet, or you need that additional cushioning I was referring to earlier). However, they were still snug enough, when used on their own.

Presence/Visibility 5/5

In terms of presence, there’s little to fault them and the hybrid silver/fluro green covers most bases quite nicely, when it comes to signaling intensions, or just cruising through congested traffic generally. It’s equally good along unlit rural roads, which though quieter, tend to have faster traffic. There’s not much in it but they have a slight edge over the Oxford Bright 3.0 gloves .

Weather Resistance 3/5

There’s not set/recommended temperature range but I’ve felt perfectly temperate when between 5 and 13 degrees, which is within the range I’d expect to don full finger gloves, and the potential for pairing with liner models gives some more leeway. As stock, there’s been the curious sensation of autumnal winds pulling at the backs, but nothing got through.  Spring and to a lesser extent, Autumn can be quite changeable. If you’ve suddenly finding yourself too warm, they pack small - I've had no issues stuffing them in modern jersey pockets.

Water resistant in this instance means light showers and spray anything heavier/more persistent quickly makes itself known. The wet spell brought with storm Alex saw them noticeably damp within 25 minutes and very soggy after an hour. Get them sodden and drying times will vary. Get a break in the cloud and a moderate breeze and they seemed to dry in 45minutes. Otherwise, bank on a couple of hours at room temperature before they’re largely there. Fine on a short-middle distance commute but less desirable on a longer training ride.

Now, some of you may be wondering about those relatively short cuffs. I was pleasantly surprised to discover they’ve maintained a good overlap between long sleeve jerseys without catching on technical jackets. No issue with wrists being left exposed - wind and indeed, wet stuff has not snuck inside my layers.

 

Dexterity/Grip 3.5/5

Handlebar coverings obviously play their part but rain, or shine, I’ve blasted along with complete confidence-no call to death grip the bars or slipping on the brake levers when I’ve needed to scrub off speed. The softshell fabric and good fit mean I haven’t needed to remove them when interrogating bike mounted luggage, using compact camera, phone, snugging fasteners tight etc. Punctures were a little trickier-depending on the tyre bead and tyre lever being wielded, but a lot easier than the full-finger “winter duvet types”.

Comfort 3/5

This will depend on factors such as handlebar tape.

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I’ve had no issues with numbness or tingling but palms felt tired on rides exceeding 90 minutes or so using this Fizik Vento Microtex Tacky Bi Colour Bar Tape  . Introducing liners sorted this.

I’ve not needed to go the liner route with this Control Tech Silicone High Performance Handlebar Tape. Certainly no worse than the Oxford Bright 3.0 gloves but might be a culture shock coming from a traditional winter glove, such as the B'Twin 700 Winter Cycling Gloves  . Even in with temperatures in the low teens, hands haven’t felt clammy, which was another pleasant surprise from a windproof design. 

Durability/Care 3.25/5

These ae very easy to care for and 500 miles in with regular, cool (30 degree) washes, they’re still looking very fresh-save for some faded oily patina evident on the fluro panels-comes with the territory really. Periodic shots of Rock 'n’ Roll Miracle Red  and gentle, pre-wash agitation is encouraging fade. Otherwise the retro-reflectives and stitching are A1. 

   

Value 2.75/5

£29.99 isn’t particularly expensive. Yes, there are store branded models coming in a good bit cheaper, but they don’t rival on the reflective front.  Oxfiord Bright 3.0 are a couple of quid cheaper, offer padding, decent dexterity and grip but they lag behind the Chiba when it comes to outright presence and wind-proofing.  At the other end of the scale, there’s Pro Viz REFLECT360 Waterproof Cycling Gloves (which are also on our test bench). Waterproof and breathable, they also feature padded palms, thumb wipe but are a good deal pricier at £44.99.

 

Summary

The lack of padding could be a deal-breaker and I’d gladly pay a little extra for better water resistance. That said, for the money, moderate distances and temperatures, the Chiba Pro Safely Reflector Gloves are worth a closer look.

Verdict: 3.25/5 Practical commuting gloves with some nice features but padding may be a deal-breaker.

 

Michael Stenning

 

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