‘Back ion the day’, read close to 10 years ago now, we used to be the distributors for Scary Fast Racing’s glove. Gloves, if you knew them, were some of the best on the market. To this day actually, I think that SFR ‘Spyder’ glove is still one of the best lightweight gloves ever made.
Since my secret stash of Scary Fast finally died, I have been searching near and far for what I would consider a suitable replacement. Where that has come from has been somewhat unexpected.
If you don’t know, and chances are most don’t, POC is a brand that is well known in competitive skiing for making a range of highly researched safety gear, including helmets, pads and goggles. Not that long ago, they took this extensive expertise and applied it to creating a small range of MTB kit, which includes gloves that I actually consider BETTER that the venerable Scary Fast. For what it’s worth, their new helmets are on my list to replace my trusty Zen, which is due to be retired; probably not to everyone’s liking, the POC helmets have a definitive style that is not very typical ‘MTB’.
Not one to do things by halves, I picked up one each of their gloves, the ‘Index Air’, ‘Index Flow’ and ‘Index DH’, and me being me, I picked the tragically stylish white/orange combo for all (I have been looking for white gloves for ages)!.
Sizing wise, I sit on the low end of the POC medium. This seemed strange at first but made sense as while I have big hands they are not chunky through the knuckles or have overly thick fingers. The result of course is that the fingers were just that little bit too short. I say ‘were’ because unlike most gloves on the market (or most things these days), the gloves require some breaking in, so in my case in anyway, did not deliver a perfect fit out of the box. This is actually a blessing as over the space of a few weeks, the gloves broke in, stretching to fit my hands and giving meaning to the saying ‘they fit like a glove’.
Interestingly, and if this is the case for everyone I am not sure, but even when broken in, the POC gloves do not feel great when I extend my hand to full stretch – the palm is pulled tight with the whole glove feeling quite unnatural. In practical terms though, and again something one does not find these days (something to do with the fact that it ‘would not feel right in the shop’ and most people in shops do not understand how a good glove should fit) the gloves are designed for one’s hand in the natural position, which is with fingers curled; who actually goes around with straight fingers?? This seemingly little feature means that when you grab the grips, you have no pleated/loose palm material, which is actually dangerous as it can easily break one’s grip.
In use, the Index Air gloves, POC’s lightweight offering made from light weight materials, are a treat, though I do find them a little short on length as there is no ‘cuff’ – though when riding, it’s hardly noticeable. They breath well and offer lightweight comfort and protection. No additional padding means that if you want something a little more substantial these are not for you and would mean you’d probably call these a race glove. I love them for road riding or off-road when it’s hot; the full fingeredness (that’s not a word!) adds a little more comfort for me who will not wear half finger gloves any more.
The Index Flow sits between the Flow and DH and are what I’d call POC’s everyday mtb glove. They have a partial leather top (more on the leather in a bit) and a soft rubber cups covering the index and second knuckles and a cuff that give the glove some added length. The palm again is unpadded but has well cut layers made of grippy pittards® and digital leather that work to create a great fit. Like the Index Air’s, they take a bit to break in but once they have the fit is something you have to experience to understand. The Index Flow basically feel like a second protective skin and for most people would be a glove I would highly recommend.
Finally, there is the Index DH, which I think is my fave of the lot. Designed for DH use, they are quite well protected, heavily constructed, with full knuckle guards, leather top panels, grippy pittards® and digital leather in the palm along with added protective inserts and a interesting little plastic skid guard on the side of the hand. The fit is the firmest of the lot, quite noticeably so but as I have used them the least, there’s still some breaking in to go until they are perfect. Keeping in mind their intended DH use, the firm fit is vital where glove slippage can end in a world of pain. While the glove is overall a heaviest design, I like them so much that they are becoming my off road glove for everything but the hottest of days. Hands are always underrated when it comes to protection but if you’ve ever taken skin off you hands or hurt them badly, you realise that protecting them well is a wise idea. For many people the Index DH might be overkill for anything but DH use but if you like a really well fitting, firm glove with a heavier construction, then the Index DH could be the glove for you. The only glove I have seen that comes close was a top shelf, full leather glove made by Oakley a few year’s ago.
And about that leather. POC quite evidently only the best materials and when it comes to the leather they used, it’s second to none. The full grain, ultra fine leather is supplied by a well known English leather producer. The result is that it’s a super soft, tough leather that I wish there was more of in glove construction as it allows for stretching to fit as well as being a better textile than any man made alternative.
But all is not good, is it ever? While I like the ‘pimpness’ of a white glove, the reality is that they get dirty very quickly, so one has to wash them… a lot. Foolishly I also washed my Index Flow gloves with the net result being the colours ran, most noticeably the black and the orange in the leather. I might have missed something in the washing instructions (ie. not reading them) but in a cold wash, the colours ran to the point that the Flow’s became quite a mess and the Index Flow’s became an unappealing shade of grey. Not happy. I am sure I missed something along the line in not reading the washing instructions but I think I did what the typical rider will do, so maybe there’s a fault in the thinking here?
Overall though, the POC gloves have converted me and I think as long as the quality remains consistent, will see me a POC glove convert for some time to come. It’s rare in this day and age to find a company making bike kit that wants to do so mething right, despite the fact that in doing so it might put some people off. POC is one such company though and the end result is well worth it.