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January 2017 Product Picks: Pearl Izumi, Versus, Epic Ride Weather, Skingrowsback, and more

by Matt Wikstrom

January 10, 2017


In this month’s edition of Product Picks, Australian tech editor Matt Wikstrom takes a look at some gloves from Pearl Izumi, socks from Versus, a backpack with modular contents from Skin Grows Back, tubular tape from Effetto Mariposa, and a novel weather forecast app from Epic Ride Weather while David Rome shares his thoughts on a new electric pump from Fumpa.

Click the links below to skip through to a particular review:

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Aero and Gel Vent Gloves

by Matt Wikstrom

With over two-dozen gloves in its current catalogue , Pearl Izumi has something for every rider and any occasion. A large proportion of those gloves populate Pearl Izumi’s performance-oriented P.R.O. collection, yet there are only two versions of a fingerless glove: the P.R.O. Aero glove and the P.R.O. Gel Vent.

The difference in the intent for these two gloves should be clear from the name for each. The Aero glove combines synthetic leather for the palm with a “wind-cheating textured fabric” on back of the hand for a “second-skin fit”. The Gel Vent adds ventilated gel pads to the synthetic leather palm and a mesh panel to the back of the hand to provide extra comfort for long rides in warm-hot conditions.

Both gloves are available in five sizes for men (S-XXL) and two colours (black, white).

Our take:

I think it’s best to say that these two gloves from Pearl Izumi occupy opposite ends of a spectrum. At one end, there is the P.R.O Aero, a supple glove that eschews padding and any kind of closure to hug the hands; and at the other, there is the P.R.O. Gel Vent, which has lots of gel padding, a stiffer feel, and a Velcro closure at the back of the hand.

Pearl Izumi's P.R.O. Gel Vent glove is shown on the left and the P.R.O. Aero glove is on the right.

Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. Gel Vent glove is shown on the left and the P.R.O. Aero glove is on the right.

As a consequence, there’s no mistaking one for the other even though the overall fit is quite similar for both gloves. The differences are most obvious when pulling the gloves on: the Aero glove slides into place with a light touch while the Gel Vent glove embraces and supports the hand like a harness.

Pearl Izumi’s experience with glove design is easy to see. Both gloves were easy to pull on, and with a couple of hidden loops at the base of the middle fingers, almost as easy to remove. There was no bunching of material in the palms and the simple sweat mop on the thumb of each glove was soft on the skin and quite absorbent too.

The Aero glove was very easy to wear for long periods but by the end of a 4-5 hour ride, my palms started to sting a little from the absence of padding. The Gel Vent glove was a better choice for rough terrain including unpaved roads, but I was always more aware of the glove. Interestingly, while the Gel Vent is recommended for higher temperatures, I didn’t find it was any more comfortable than the Aero glove when it was hot.

Both gloves have hidden loops at the base of the middle fingers to help with removal.

Both gloves have hidden loops at the base of the middle fingers to help with removal.

Having used previous iterations of the Gel Vent glove, I know the netting over the gel padding will eventually wear away but otherwise the glove should be very hard wearing. The Aero glove looks robust too, but I expect it will stretch over time like an old pair of shorts as the elasticity of the fabric is inevitably exhausted.

Of the two gloves, I found myself favouring the P.R.O. Aero glove for its light, supple feel on the hand. Unfortunately, the reflective stripes printed on the back of the glove started cracking after just a couple weeks of use (and washing). While this is not unusual for reflective material, once it starts peeling away, it will detract from the appearance of the gloves well before they are ready to be retired.

Top panels, P.R.O. Gel Vent gloves; bottom panels, P.R.O. Aero gloves.

Top panels, P.R.O. Gel Vent gloves; bottom panels, P.R.O. Aero gloves.

Price: P.R.O. Aero glove, AUD$60/$US35; P.R.O. Gel Vent glove, AUD$80/US$45.

  • Jaybo

    thanks for the little review on the fumpa, i’ve been eyeing these things off for a little while now for the top-up-before-commute jobs, having actually popped a disc in my back (and been bedridden for a week!) while using my normal pump early on a cold winter’s morning, it’s something that appeals to me greatly :D

    • Dave Rome

      Ouch, sounds painful!

      I’ve found the Fumpa absolutely perfect for quick pressure checks and top-ups before a ride. Connecting a track pump to a filled tyre takes a fair bit of air volume out as it back-fills to the gauge. This is one of the key reasons for why I’ve found the Fumpa both easier and quicker to use.

    • OverIt

      Your injury perhaps justifies having one, but really what’s wrong with a good floor pump for everyone else? Better still, get a chamber one like a Bontrager Flash charger and get someone else to pre-charge/pump it for you on race days if you’re so exhausted to pump up your own tires, or do it yourself before the ride.

      Save the world from another E-gadget destined eventually for landfill by simply using your body, a few calories of energy and simply a normal mechanical pump.

  • David Bonnett

    My 15 y/o daughter just bought one of the skingrowsback backpacks with her Christmas money. Jamie happened to be coming through Melbourne and went to the trouble of delivering the pack in person and explaining a few of the cooler features (like the magnetic sternum strap) to her. It is a beautifully made pack and Jamie and Catt’s commitment to getting it right really shows through in the product and the service.

  • StevieTopSiders

    Took me a trip to the website and seeing their logo to figure that Sking Rows Back (missing an “i” from “skiing?”) was actually Skin Grows Back

  • RayG

    I have the MTB version of the Gel Vent gloves (from a few years ago) and like them so much I bought three more pairs when I saw them on special. Comfortable and hard wearing, even a major off on the granite rocks of Stage 4 of the Wildside MTB race only damaged them a tiny bit (wish I could say the same about myself).

    I recently got a pair of the Aero fingerless gloves. I love the fit, but they’re not as durable as I’d like. Part of the cuff at the wrist came apart after maybe <20 rides.

    • Alex

      Pearl has a lifetime warranty that covers any manufacturing defects, including open seams and such. One of the strengths of their brand is that they will cover any item of theirs no matter how old, unlike other brands I’ve used. Rarely if ever run into problems, but they sort them very quickly. Suggest sending the gloves back or taking to local PI dealer

  • Lyrebird_Cycles


    Since this is a technical review, here’s a minor technical correction: quote

    ” it directly pumps air into the hose, which slowly gets warmer as the motor heats up”.

    The air heats up because it’s being compressed (PV = nRT and all that), not because the motor is heating. Larger compressors incorporate heat exchangers (AKA aftercoolers) for this same reason.

  • Any data points out there on how much the Fumpa costs once it gets delivered to Europe?
    Obviously, the form factor is a major plus, but even at Aussie retail it’s quite a premium even over upper end travel compressors that pretty much come with all those accessoires included (car charger etc).

  • Allez Rouleur

    Years ago when I was just getting hooked as a serious roadie, I decided to shell out for some Pearl Izumi gloves. They were $40 and for a neophyte, that seemed outrageous. I think that was in 2006. The mesh covering the (red) honeycomb gel inserts is ripping on one palm, but I just used them this morning while riding my rollers.

    I’d call that a good investment! Big fan of PI gloves here. I use them all spring and summer…ten years for any piece of kit is impressive, much less gloves!

  • Cameron Harris

    Re gloves review: How are you holding the camera!!?!

  • JJ

    too bad SGB seems to appropriate all their designs.

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