Sunday, December 21, 2008

Product Review: Pearl Izumi AmFib Lobster Claw Gloves: Can't Beat Them in Extreme Weather





In the dark days, before I was a competitive cyclist, I was a commuter, a civilian. I also had far more money in the bank, as I had no need for carbon fiber babbles and doodads. The thought of spending $60 on a single clothing item for cycling seemed outrageous and foreign. But my hands were frozen on my way to my night job and the shop employee convinced me that these gloves would keep my fingers toasty no matter what. More than six winters later, I am still using the same gloves and my fingers are still warm. It was perhaps the best $60 that I have ever spent on an item of clothing (besides my codpiece).
My first reaction to the design of the gloves was to laugh. I still think that when the claw is held up in a certain way that it mimics an obscene gesture.
Made in the same material, with the same filling, at the same density, mittens are warmer than gloves. The AmFib lobster claw design has the warmth retaining qualities of a mitten, while offer more mobility for the fingers. The split between the Vulcan fingers allows you to still safely use a hand brake, whereas the same operation with a mitten is tricky and inconsistent.







I have had little trouble operating my shifters while wearing these gloves.










it should be noted that I use Campagnolo shifters, so I only have one finger lever to manipulate; while Shimano users may have more difficulty since they have two finger lever to manipulate and those levers are close together. B-Bike_G was kind enough to share his experience with these gloves :"Shifting Shimano levers are a bitch in these. The fat mitt at the end of two fingers has too much material and it make shifting somewhat unpredictable. This could be due to the aforementioned sizing issue, but in my case it ends up meaning that I choose to shift less often when wearing them, and that has it's own effect on a ride of any length. Ideally, when I wear these I am on a fixed gear and simply ignore that problem." See the comments section for his full thoughts on these gloves.
The palm of these gloves is Pittard’s leather. It offers good grip when dry and excellent grip when wet. In all of my winters of riding in these gloves, I have never felt like the gloves caused me to lose my grip on the bars or hoods. I have even gotten caught in a storm with freezing rain, where my handlebars were icing up on descents (roads had been salted) and I felt secure in my grip because of these gloves. The positioning of the leather and of the seams is logical for the gloves ‘intended usage, cycling. When riding on the hoods, tops or in the drops, the gloves have a good grip and deform to the surface.
The glove is articulated, or in laymen’s terms, curved, so that it is well suited to gripping handlebars. The gloves do not resist your efforts to wrap your fingers around a handlebar, like non-cycling specific winter gloves sometimes do.






I have never actually succeeded in saturating these gloves. The outer fabric is water resistant and wind proof. When in a drizzle you can watch the water bead up on the surface. I never felt the wind through these gloves.
These gloves are incredibly well made and durable. They are still as warm as the first day I used them and they have never needed mending. Unlike some other products that I have recently reviewed, I have never found a stray thread dangling from a seam. The inside is still soft and comfortable with no discernible tears or holes.
I have crashed twice while wearing these gloves and they are barely scuffed. In fact the scuffs on the leather sort of disappear over time (as they do on my Mitchell Gold sofa). I have worn away the coating on the thumb, but this is of no consequence for the glove’s performance.
Other thoughtful design elements include: durable clips to keep the gloves together when they are not being used, a Velcro wrist fastener, long wrist cuffs to prevent a gap between jacket and glove.











Also, reflective piping on the outward facing part of the glove.




I have only two minor complaints with these gloves. First, they are too warm. If you start a ride on a cold morning and the temperature rises above 30 degree Fahrenheit, then your hands start to sweat, which can then make you feel cold later. Second, instead of a terry cloth nose wiper, Pearl Izumi put a rubberized coating on the thumb.



This can feel harsh when you rub it on your nose in the cold and by definition and by deliberate design, it is non absorbent. If you use it to wipe your nose, you are likely to spread the offending snot around instead of removing it from the end of your nose.
I have been quite pleased with these gloves. I continue to use them regularly into their 6th winter. I see no need to replace them any time this season. They remain in regular rotation in both my race and training bag. Obviously I have many pairs of cycling gloves and this is but one pair in the arsenal. But when the mercury and the barometer drop, I double check to make sure that I have packed the Lobsters.

3 comments:

B-Bike-G said...

I too find these gloves to be the go-to when it seems ridiculously cold out. I've NEVER wished they were warmer or turned back home due to cold hands of fingers with there. I do have two related and detracting comments...

1) Sizing was tough, where I felt like my hand was jammed in the medium, but the large left extra room at the tips. I decided to go with the large because more finger movement means more warmth.

2) Shifting Shimano levers are a bitch in these. The fat mitt at the end of two fingers has too much material and it make shifting somewhat unpredictable. This could be due to the aforementioned sizing issue, but in my case it ends up meaning that I choose to shift less often when wearing them, and that has it's own effect on a ride of any length. Ideally, when I wear these I am on a fixed gear and simply ignore that problem.

Also, I have a somewhat unusual hood-grip, in which I loop my pointer finger over the hood and the other three underneath. Since that grip is impossible in these, it leads to some additional anxiety and hand cramping. But my hands are always warm! tense, shiftless, sometimes sweaty, but warm.

RMM said...

You are having the problems that I figured that Shimano Shifter users would have with these gloves.
I am going to include your 2nd comment in the text of my review (with attribution)
Thanks.

Rhodesian Tread said...

McKit - Aprox 24 months ago I procured the PI Lobster C's from my LBS Goodales. At first I was pleased with the warmth. It was a constant battle of my toes or hands and what chicken-drum stick was going to draw th emost pain, but the cold was mended with these gloves_but_ I too agree when I get warm out of the gates, I end up with cold hands at the end of the ride. Something happens with the heat transfer inside the claws after 120 min in Jan NE riding.

Also - when needing to wash I have two times now made the mistake of putting the gloves in the dryer. The 2006/07 model has a real problem fitting the inside cloth back into the claw position. The fingers fold back on themselves causing heartache to get them back aligned.

Last week I almost got rid of them but it took my 5'3" wife to manipulate with her hands to get the fingers back_in_the_hole; so to speak. Voila.

So - if they (PI) had stitched the internal fabric so that the dry cycle would not pull apart then these would be the "best gloves ever"..in the world.

ATMO