February 2017 Product Picks: Northwave, Bell, Silca, and Pearl Izumi

by James Huang

February 3, 2017

For this edition of Product Picks, U.S. technical editor James Huang is all about covering the extremities: Northwave’s radical-looking Extreme RR road shoes for your feet; Bell’s Stratus helmet, the less-expensive alternative to the Zephyr flagship model, for your head; and Pearl Izumi’s PRO Softshell Lite gloves for your hands. Silca’s novel Seat Roll Premio tool wrap perhaps doesn’t fit the theme, then, but its innovative Boa saddle attachment system could certainly be considered “extreme” for a saddle pack. Will any of them pass muster? Read on and find out.

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Pearl Izumi PRO Softshell Lite gloves

by James Huang

Pearl Izumi’s PRO Softshell Lite full-fingered gloves are built with a DWR-coated softshell back, Clarino synthetic leather on the palms and fingers, a cozy fleece-lined interior, and a generously sized snot wipe on the back of the thumbs. Conductive fingertips are designed to play well with modern touchscreen devices, there are reflective details to enhance nighttime visibility, and for extra warmth, the entire back of the glove is insulated with 50g Primaloft Gold.

In other words, a familiar formula with what should be a familiar result.

Our Take:

Pearl Izumi may not have broken any new ground with how the PRO Softshell Lite gloves are made, but the execution is so good that they stand out nonetheless.

The Pearl Izumi PRO Softshell Lite gloves are very thin, but the Primaloft insulation goes a long way toward extending their comfort range toward the freezing mark.

The 1-7°C (35-45°F) temperature feels spot-on for general road riding, and if anything, feels slightly conservative to me. My hands stayed reasonably warm down to the freezing mark at the lower end, but didn’t overheat even when it was over 10°C (50°F). Breathability is also very good for the level of warmth provided — a key attribute for your hands to stand a chance at staying warm when you’re working hard.

Riders who prefer padded gloves will undoubtedly be disappointed with the paper-thin palm, but those that place a higher priority on bar feel and control will find much to like. Silicone appliqués on the outer edge of the palm and on the index and middle fingers provide noticeably good grip on bare metal (or carbon fiber) surfaces, too, and the conductive fingertips actually work as advertised on touchscreen-equipped computers and smartphones.

The conductive fingertips work well on touchscreen devices.

The long cuff isn’t as elastic as I’d prefer, which makes it a bit of a challenge to get the gloves onto your hands. But once there, they stay put and don’t shift around while riding — a major pet peeve of mine — nor are there any exposed seams on the inside to irritate your fingers or excess material to bunch up under your palms. And even though these are insulated gloves, Primaloft’s excellent compressibility means they pack down nicely and easily fit in a standard jersey pocket (with room to spare).

The only major downside is how these gloves work in wet conditions. The DWR coating helps initially, but it doesn’t take long for these to get properly soaked in steady rain or when riding on wet roads.

Price: US$55 / AU$67 / £40