Harbinger Handle It Bike Gloves

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When it comes to biking comfort, the little things make a world of difference. For example, cycling gloves may not seem all that important at first, but you sure notice them -- or the lack thereof -- after a few hours on a bike. A new line of gloves from Harbinger, one of the dominating glove brands in gyms for more than a decade, gives recreational mountain bikers an alternative to the standard fare. Using its gym glove experience, the company has created the Adventure Gloves line for mountain biking, water sports and trekking, which includes three gloves for biking.

We tested the Handle It biking glove in the short-finger model. These feature a full mesh back that has TPR "spines" that run the length of the back of your hand on top of your bones and knuckles to protect your hands from branches and other things that can whack you on the trail. The palms have an Isotec and leather high-abrasion palm for durability -- it retains its grip even when wet -- and strategically placed gel padding for extra cushioning.

The durability and construction of the Handle It gloves is quite good. Longer than normal fingers provide protection and actually make it easier to remove the gloves without turning them inside out. The fit for one tester with small narrow hands was also good without bagginess that can often occur on narrow wrists and slender palms.

Note that these gloves may not be the ideal ones for extremely hot-weather or long sweaty rides since a wide neoprene wristband can make them hot. (For that, the company's Mucka Mesh -- out in spring 2005 -- may be the answer.) The palm material was a little stiff, meaning it buckled down just a bit over the top of the wrist wrap instead of just molding to your hand, but this was hardly noticeable on most rides. A terry pad on the thumb for dabs at annoying sweat could be bigger. (But, then, most companies haven't quite gotten that one right yet.)

The Handle It gloves are an excellent choice for a beginning level or more low-key intermediate level mountain biker as long as the ride is not too rocky and bumpy and as long as the day is not too hot. (Note that neither we nor Harbinger recommend the gloves for road biking due to possible heat buildup and more need for palm padding.) Still, these represent a good value and could even outlast more expensive bike gloves. With a bit more tweaking to gel placement and seams (one tester was chafed by an unruly side seam in a test pair that just needed trimming), they could be excellent.

SNEWS® Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $25 (long fingers: $30)

For more information:www.harbingeradventure.com or 1-800-729-5954

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