OXFORD ECHELON ROAD MITTS
36g XL (as tested) £15.99
Coming in at a very decent price, and with some nice touches, Oxford’s Echelon Road Mitts are a warm weather cycling staple. Keep an eye on the sizing and you won’t go far wrong for day-in-day-out road mitts for frequent use. Very much road kit, they’ve served especially well on commutes and short-middle distance rides.
Pros: neatly made, good price.
Cons: sizing on the small size.
Four way stretch polyurethane back is not unusual, but with a nice light blue design with stipple venting, the Echelon Road mitts are eye-catching, without being garish. Flip them over and you have an Amara one-piece palm with the 2mm EVA padding. Silicone grips mimic the padding.
Whilst the finger-holes are trad, the wrist eschews the Velcro fastening that features on many mitts, preferring a silky smooth, elastane wrist-gripper. This also features a small tab to aid donning.
Finishing things off is the is a trad thumb ‘sweat’ wipe.
A bright colour scheme shows up well in headlights, but is not specifically reflective.
Size and Fit 2.75/5
Ours were XL – top of the size range. Initially they felt fearsomely tight, but after a few uses things have eased off a bit. I don’t think I could drop a size – as I can with some mitts – but they are comfortable around the palms and wrap nicely round the bars.
On the other hand, if you have especially large hands you may prefer to look at a range with XXL or above, or just a more generous interpretation of sizing. Length-wise, they’ve covered my hand to the base of the wrist, rather than reaching over it. That’s not a problem per se, although those that like to keep covered up will need good long sleeves, such as those on the Light Blue Classic Jersey.
They are lighter than most of my other mitt, without skimping on padding.
With no care instructions on the label, a simple wash with all the other clothing had kept things clean. No Velcro equals no entanglements with the other-half’s frillier, non-cycling garments, too. Drying time has been an hour or two after a spin, but much longer after a hand-wash. That seems about standard, in my experience. Colour has not faded after three washes, which bodes well, but at this price feels less of a worry. Likewise, there is no fussing with leather preservers and so on. Light showers have made little impression; heavier ones and the backs are dry in twenty minutes (wit decent breeze). As you'd expect, when the palms get soaked it can take several hours to air dry.
These are very much aimed at the road rider. Popping them on for a rapid thirty-mile venture on country lanes and they kept my palms perfectly happy. They’ve provided the same service on more leisurely rides of between ten and fifty miles. On drops or on the hoods, no real difference.
Big all-day rides have been ok, but on those eighty to a hundred plus rides, I’d go for something a bit more rugged – I generally like my Passport Leather mitts – or something with more sophisticated padding. Of course, contact points are a very personal thing.
Initially, the padding felt a bit chunky. Mind you, it certainly works. Getting used to it took a few rides.
I’ve not taken a tumble in them, but close contact with a few hedges has given the back a scratch or two. Mind you, that’s not a great concern at £15.99 than it is with some others.
On the topic of tumbles, grip is not just a function of the mitts. Performance on this front has pretty much matched the performance of the bar tape, although more tenacious than some mitts, but on a par with other Amara palmed models in my ‘glove’ box.
Cheaper by a good few quid – and lighter – than my Santini Micro Mesh Gel mitts, the Echelon Road mitts are also smaller. On longer rides, I’d go for the former. Equally, for shorter rides, or if weight were a big concern, the Oxford score well. Although, personally, I prefer gel to EVA.
GripGrab’s Ride mitts have some similar features and come in at around the same price – depending where one looks. They are described as “giving basic protection.” Similar might be said of the Oxford Echelon. However, there are differences, and there are shop brands to challenge them, too.
Overall, the Echelon seems to me to offer very decent value for frequent use, daily driving, over short to moderate distances, mainly on road, but with towpath-type commutes in mind, too. Fundamentally, they are the sort of mitt you won’t go far wrong with. A few pounds more get you more wrist coverage, or reflectives, or more effective padding, or all three, but there are other ways to dampen road vibration, too.