OXFORD NORTH SHORE GLOVES
79g L (as tested) £19.99
The Oxford Products North Shore Gloves are aimed, primarily at mountain bike and gravel audiences, while doubling as a commuter glove during the week. Much to my surprise, I've found them remarkably temperate in the height of summer and despite some obvious trail heritage, they're the right side of subtle. So much, so that I've racked up some decent mileage on the road and TT bikes. Sizing is on the small side and the tech friendly digits less reliable than some. So, I'd try a set, before parting with my hard-earned.
Pros: Subtle design, surprisingly temperate in warmer weather, decent padding.
Cons: Sizing, tech friendly digits less accurate than some, not water-repellent.
Pretty much what I'd expect from the price point and hardly exotic. However, crucially, it all fits the brief rather nicely. Starting with the palms, these are an Amara, a popular faux leather, which seems very serviceable. 2mm thick foam Ulnar padding, is pretty much what I'd expect, ditto the silicone gripper patterns along the first three fingers.
A sensibly broad neoprene cuff seals some warmth in, should the rains come and a gusset where thumb and forefinger meet should prevent brifter chomp.
Flip them over, and there's another batch of digit defending 2mm foam padding beneath the high thread count, stretch polyurethane backs.
Look closely and you'll notice some squidgy black TPU rubber overlays, an embossed pattern and Oxford logos. There's also a decent terry type thumb pad for taming runny noses and sweaty brows.
Velcro closures lack the sleek lines of elasticated cuffs but can make for speedier entry/exit. Double stitching features at the key points and seems uniformly good, throughout. A lack of retro-reflective detailing wasn’t wholly surprising, given the trail narrative. Nonetheless, a few splashes would’ve been nice and cost pennies.
Now, these, in common with other Oxford gloves seem to come up on the small side. Depending on brand, I weave between medium and Large. Ours were large and fitted like the proverbial. However, it’s worth noting that I have long, willowy fingers and slim wrists. While the fit was absolutely bang on for me, the sizing is off piste, bringing my overall rating down a notch.
I was impressed by how well the North Shore have performed across the temperature scale. Full-finger designs offer some welcome additional warmth on late summer evenings. However, even when temperatures have risen to the early 20s, hands have remained temperate. There was the familiar mistiness before fibres began trafficking moisture out, but it never became clammy.
Ordinarily, I would've switched to mitts, but it was only 13 degrees when I left the house and I'd been out a couple of hours. At the other extreme, showery rain took a while to work into the fabric and wasn't an issue on shorter 15-20-mile blasts. That said, on day rides I slipped Gore Tex over-mitts into my Carradice Carradry SQR bag . When they eventually turn soggy, the North Shore will retain some warmth, thanks in part to the neoprene cuff.
Speaking of which, though I err towards silicone-based wraps, the silicone detailing offers reliable tenure to more basic EVA/cork blends and indeed, brake levers. Drying times vary. Following a right royal soaking ours were 80% dry within an hour, averaging 17mph with a gentle breeze and temperatures in the high teens.
Before I forget, though the silicone pattern does its primary task very competently, connection to touch screen tech varied a bit. A more definite prod/sweep was needed to get my smartphone to play nicely. Though intermittent, this could be frustrating at times.
Otherwise dexterity is pretty good. Opening energy bars has been a struggle (but then, that's nothing new, or specific to the North Shore!) I've had no problems commanding compact cameras, lights, wielding tyre levers, multi tools etc.
Most ulnar defending technology works reasonably well these days. So far, the North Shore's foam padding hasn't lost its memory and has done an excellent job of keeping tingling and numbness, firmly at bay. On the road as we'd expect, and across unmade roads and forest trails, too.
The knuckle defending blobs have also proven more than aesthetic, protecting mine, from small rogue stones and overgrown foliage.
These have responded very well to machine washing. The everyday grime has lifted without too much effort, at 30 degrees, although chain lube patinas benefited from a quick pre-soak in some Rock ‘n’ Roll Miracle Red 3-in-1 bio-degreaser. (review to follow). From the machine, following a decent spin, they’re ready to wear in 60 minutes, give or take.
£19.99 is competitive. Madison Roam full finger gloves is an obvious comparator pricewise, although lacks the same degree of protection to the knuckles. Endura Humvee Plus Glove II offers a gel palm, for £24.99 and might suit those seeking a less overtly mtb design.
A couple of store brands, including DHB offer lightweight full-finger designs, intended to bridge the gap between summer/winter and early spring for similar money. These might have an edge, if you wanted more "every man" styling.
In a nutshell, the Oxford North Shore are a reasonably priced, competent, lightweight full-finger glove. The MTB styling is subtle enough to work with road biased kit and gravel/touring/cyclo cross builds. They're not water or windproof but that hasn’t been a major issue.