Gloves have gone wispy of late. Part of me gets that. There really is only so much padding you need in the palm of your hand before it starts feeling like you’ve got a baby diaper wedged between your mitts and the handlebar. That sensation (or lack thereof) gets old. Manufacturers have taken note and gone minimalist with a crop of gloves that look like something a mime might wear.
Pearl Izumi Launch Glove
• Reinforced Clarino™ synthetic leather palm
• Touch-screen friendly index fingertips
• D3O knuckle inserts
• Silicone-grippers on fingertips
• Price: $45 USD
I’d argue that the pendulum of glove design has swung a bit too far towards the skimpy side of the spectrum, which is why I found the Pearl Izumi Launch intriguing. The $45 Launch sits at the top of Pearl Izumi's glove line and is the brawnier, more rugged sibling to their Summit and Divide models. The Launch has been around for awhile now, though the previous iteration was a dyed-in-the-wool XC offering. Think of this version as more…uh, all mountain…or trail or, hell, you get the idea—a glove that isn’t overly bulky, but won’t fall apart the first time you go flying and hit the dirt with them.
The Launch gets the flexible-till-you-hit-shit D30 inserts on the two outermost knuckles. A bit of heavy-duty neoprene covers the other knuckles and comes in handy when you barrel into stinging nettles, blackberry bushes and those branches you never saw coming. Finally, there are all the rubberized bits stuck to the backs of the fingers that make a glove look tough and certainly add a measure of tear resistance, but probably don’t do much to blunt any real blunt force trauma.
In an effort to preserve dexterity, Pearl Izumi eschews padding in the palm altogether. The Clarino synthetic “leather” gets an extra bit of reinforcement where the heel of your palm resides (and where most of your weight rests). In short, if you are looking for some heavy-duty padding and the extra bit of shock absorption it affords, you aren’t going to fall in love with the Launch. If you are all about the manual dexterity, you will dig `em.
For better or for worse, a lot of us are riding with smart phones and other touch-screen devices. Pearl Izumi outfits the Launch with touchscreen-friendly fingertips on the index fingers of each glove. It works perfectly when the gloves are dry. When the gloves are thoroughly soaked with sweat, I could answer the phone and scroll through my cyclocomputer about 80 percent of the time.
The Launch lacks a large terrycloth-type snot/sweat swab, but it does feature a small patch of suede-like material on the back of the thumb. It gets the job done in a pinch, but at the risk of over-sharing, I'd have preferred a more generous wipe.Pinkbike's Take:
|Looking for an unpadded glove that doesn't hamper dexterity and offers up more protection for the backs of your hands than most gloves in this genre? The Launch fits the bill. On the other hand, if you want a glove with a bit of comfort-enhancing padding in the palms, you'll want to look elsewhere.- Vernon Felton|