TWO YEARS ON: PASSPORT CROCHET BACK CYCLING MITTS
88g (L) £14.99 Long Term (2 year) Test
The Passport Crochet Back Cycling Mitts have been my default spring and summer choices these past two years. 5,000 miles in, the leather hasn’t aged so gracefully, compared with pricier models. Nonetheless, comfort has improved with patina and regular treatment with water-based hide foods/protectants.
Pros: Inexpensive, hardwearing, stylish and comfortable.
Cons: budget leather requires more intensive care to keep it supple.
Testing aside, these have been my go-tos for general riding. 20-mile races against the clock on my Holdsworth, 50-mile, mixed terrain fun/bike-as-car runs on my Univerga, middle distanced rides on my fixed gear winter/trainer etc. All sport different types of bar wrap, thus giving a pretty good idea of how well, or otherwise these mitts perform.
With regular applications of hide food during the first few weeks, the hide quickly moulded to my unique shape. Exposure to the elements has seen some very minor shrinkage, though I stress minor. Given the cut errs on the generous, this has been beneficial.
I’ve still been able to slip liner type gloves beneath, on late summer/early autumn rides where the temperature has suddenly and unexpectedly dropped. The Crochet backs also seem to trap some additional warmth, which was palpable compared with skin mitts. Much the same science as that behind string vests/base layers. Cheaper hides can sag, causing bunching and uncomfortable chafing around the seams.
The Passport have lost some support, as the palms have stretched but we’re not talking pancake flat and they still offer adequate protection from fatigue, numbness and tingling. True, some skin mitts, including Primal Onyx have the edge over similar distances, thanks to their second-skin snugness.
I’m still doing 50-mile rides with no issues. Admittedly, quality of handlebar tape also makes a big difference, ditto refinements, such as suspension stems and bigger, supple tyres.. Natural silicone, Polymer types-specifically the Acros Silicone Wrap Handlebar Tape, Lizard Skins DSP ,and Fizik Vento Microtex Tacky Bi Colour Bar Tape have been the best pairings. That’s not to say I’ve had any issues with old school corks and even slippery bike ribbon, but the former are my defaults.
When the weather’s turned unexpectedly bandit, the palms and wrap’s supple, gummy texture have proved the perfect pairing, offering excellent grip-even when I’ve been hammering down a 1in 7 at 30mph with Bob Yak homage and 20 kilo payloads trundling behind.
Though primarily a road mitt, they’ve offered reasonable defence against tingling and numbness on mixed terrain outings on the Univega. Similar standards of performance in the dry, too.
I’ve certainly not mollycoddled ours and despite some obvious leaching of dye (which can lead to a curious “tango-hand”, of the shade befitting the US premiere , in very hot, or indeed wet conditions) curling at the fingers and characterful, “lived in” patina, they remain in pretty good shape. There’s some very minor fraying of the crochet backs and the odd loose thread. However, the Velcro still lies flat-no hint of unsightly curling.
Longer term, I’ve needed to nourish the leather more intensely than more expensive models I’ve used long term Applying Crankalicious Leather Lacquer Non-Slip Hide Protectant has improved matters considerably and reduced “feeding” intervals-every three months, rather than six weekly intervals. Ours have also (accidentally) done a tour of the washing machine, requiring that I slipped them on to restore shape, adding some leather food, before allowing them to dry naturally, in a cool, dry space. Not recommended but thankfully, no harm done!
At £14.99, there’s little to touch them in this respect. Strict vegetarians and/or those looking for a washable option, might find Ozzo Retro Classic Crochet Mitts (£12.99) a better bet. These feature hardwearing Amara palms, can be machined washed and are similarly generous, size-wise. Primal Onyx are a very modern skin mitt but also come in at this end of the market and offer excellent performance. Altura Classic 2 Crochet Mitts are a little steeper (£19.99) but also feature synthetic palms and can be tossed in with the household wash.
There’s some definite trade off in terms of hide quality but we’re still talking cheap and cheerful, not cheap and nasty. They’ve lost some support as the miles have racked up and gained some patina but they’re still very comfortable. Some might argue they’ve appreciated, as a result.