Finding the right track gloves has always been a bit of an issue for sprinters. Apart from the traditional track mitt – which is fine for endurance riders, but a bit insubstantial for a keirin – there isn’t really that much choice.
During the past couple of years I have been experimenting with different types of gloves. I had a couple of pairs of Sprocket’s track gloves, which were OK, but not particularly grippy, a bit thin, fragile and no longer available. I looked at downhill mountain biking gloves like the Six Six One Cedric Garcia’s with a carbon knuckle, but these were a bit too expensive and didn’t allow for much hand movement. They’re also very hard to find. There are track specific gloves and I looked at the Tanabe Defence III’s which are keirin gloves – also with a carbon knuckle. These looked as though they’d allow for more movement and provide more grip and hopefully last longer (there is no NJS standard for clothing, but they are ‘real’ keirin gloves). Sadly, at £81 a pair they also were over my budget.
While on holiday in the States, my Dad suggested that I bought some baseball batting gloves to try as track gloves. These proved very successful; the first pair I bought were a cheap and cheerful pair of Nike Keystone IVs. These were very light and very soft and grippy thanks to kid leather palms and fingers. They had a mesh on the back of the hand so overheating wasn’t a problem either. I used these gloves from August 2007 until about June 2008 when I finally grew out of them.
So I thought it was time to try another pair of batting gloves. The pair I chose were the Easton Home and Road gloves, which are very good value for money, two pairs of gloves for £15 and I’ve spotted Pro Sprinters such as Jason Kenny using them and Matt Crampton uses something similar from Rawlings. They we’re very comfortable, too and very grippy but unlike the Nike gloves they were mostly synthetic and by early 2009 they were looking very worn and were beginning to be rather tight on my hands, so again it was time for some new gloves.
This time I decided to try something different, but keeping with the same general theme. American football wide receivers gloves came to mind, because they are light, and most importantly grippy. The pair that I ordered were the Nike SpeedTack V’s. I’ve only ridden with them twice, but they are the most grippy gloves I have ever used. Flexible, strong and comfortable, they feel like they will last a very long time.
They are good looking as well, made of leather, with neoprene knuckle panels for improved fit and lightweight protection. Like my first Nike gloves, they have a high-tack leather palm, although it’s considerably grippier than the batting gloves. The lycra back and thumb make the flexibile and give some ventilation, and the wide elastic wristband is comfortable and supportive. For only $30 if you can get someone to bring you some back from the US – or pay the postage and buy online – they are a cost effective, grippy solution to the track glove dilemma.
There are also a couple of UK suppliers of similar gloves – American Sports have a Rawlings batting glove that looks like it would do the trick for £15.50, and a wide range of receiver’s gloves, including an Easton pair to go with those carbon track bars… The football gloves are a little bit more expensive – and you need to make sure you get receivers/running backs gloves because track commissaries may not be impressed with the metal armour in the defensive linemen’s version and some of the gloves are very bulky.