Finish Line's Mechanic Grip Gloves make workshop jobs more enjoyable, without compromise on dexterity. They last a good while, and have other benefits to boot. They are comparatively pricey, though.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a cyclist in possession of a bicycle needing fettling must be in want of dermal protection. Working on bikes means grime, chemicals and small parts easily dropped. The default solution is a box of 100 blue latex or nitrile gloves, but apart from latex being a non-starter for those with allergies, these thin gloves have numerous drawbacks.
Firstly, and the biggest one for me: comfort. Wear nitrile gloves for more than 30 minutes and things get very sweaty indeed – even quicker if it's warm out.
Secondly, they tear. Some, very easily. Sometimes within a minute or two if you're unlucky, or they may last hours. But I'd rarely have a pair last longer than an evening or two's concerted fettling.
Then, when you decide you need a new pair, the sweaty palm issue becomes more than discomfort as you battle to pull on a new glove over each finger. And being very thin, these gloves offer no insulation if the weather's cold. Working on bikes is no fun with sore or unresponsive fingers. Finish Line's Mechanic Grip Gloves address all these issues, making workshop time more productive and enjoyable.
Coming in just two sizes, S/M and L/XL, the glove construction is a knitted fibre that's impregnated on the palm and around the front and sides of the fingers with a latex-free polyurethane. This is both flexible and tactile, allowing you to pick up the smallest of bike parts – I'd say on par with thin rubber gloves, which have a tendency to bunch at the fingertips. The surface of the glove is textured, minimising slippage if you're really cranking on a tool, cheat bar or bit of gas pipe to shift that decades-embedded steel bottom bracket from a vintage titanium frame. For example. The thicker, knitted nature means they keep hands noticeably warmer in cold workshops than those thin latex/nitrile ones.
The fact that the back of the fingers and palm are free to breathe means no sweat build-up – you really can wear these all day, comfortably. And you can remove and re-don the gloves easily. As a major added bonus, you can work a touchscreen with them on – just be aware of what you last touched.
So, they're comfortable and don't degrade dexterity – but at £5 a pair you don't want to be replacing them every time you work on your bike. Fortunately, the design makes for a very long-lasting product.
Over a month of almost daily use, then a full weekend restoring a dozen horrifically abused bikes for a charity in Calais, the Mechanic Grip Gloves didn't fail. The first sign of a tiny hole in one thumb came only after a lot of heavy-duty work that would have shredded many lightweight gloves. And with the rest of the pair still fine, it's no reason to bin them.
Of course, with an open mesh they aren't waterproof, so for bleeding brakes or other tasks where you need proper protection from liquids, traditional gloves are the way to go.
At £5 a go these are premium workshop gloves, and you can find virtually identical products at local hardware depots and online – a quick search shows identical-in-all-but-brand knitted polyurethane gloves for as low as 66p a pair. If you're running a bike workshop (as I do) then £5 a go will hit your bottom line over time, but for the occasional home mechanic, a pair of these would probably last years.
It's not really a fair comparison to state that, yes, a box of 100 nitrile gloves can be had for a fiver or 10p a pair – as discussed, nitrile gloves wear out much faster, aren't warm, and critically get very sweaty after brief periods, and are then frustrating to put on if the glove or your hands are damp.
So where does this leave the Mechanic Grip Gloves? Undoubtedly they are far superior in use to traditional rubber gloves. Comfortable, warm, grippy and offering good dexterity, they are a pleasure to use and re-use. The only snag is they are priced such that if you went through more than a pair or two per year you'd probably want to look elsewhere, to the generic protective equipment retailers.
Very good gloves that keep your hands dry, clean and dexterous, but expensive for what they are
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Finish Line Mechanic Grip Gloves
Size tested: X Large
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
They are for anyone working on bikes regularly, who want to protect their hands while not getting sweaty.
Finish Line says: "Designed for long-term use and durability, the Finish Line Mechanic Grip Gloves™ provide the ultimate in grip, protection, and dexterity. These reusable gloves make it easier to work on small, precision bike parts."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Finish Line:
Mechanic Grip Gloves are latex-free and feature a tactile-enhancing polyurethane coating that seals out grease, oil and grime. A textured surface on the palm-side of the glove provides enhanced grip, making it easier to work on small parts. Finish Line Grip Gloves feature a breathable upper fabric, which helps keep hands cool and dry. Mechanic Grip Gloves are easy to take on and off, so gearing up and down for mechanical repairs has never been easier. Unlike costly single use gloves, one pair of Grip Gloves can last for many weeks.
Available in SM/MD and LG/XL.
Dexterity was bang-on.
Very, very good.
As a regular bike-fettler, I have to say I'd be looking elsewhere for a comparable product.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed. Surprisingly so.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price. That's it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If these were half the price I'd give them an extra star. They are very good at what they do, but you can't escape the fact that they are comparatively very expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.