Middle finger braking FTW!

After a rough winter and not nearly enough riding, early April saw this reviewer looking forward to Arizona’s Black Canyon Trail with excitement- and a bundle full of nerves.  Featuring in the neighborhood of 60 miles of singletrack between Prescott and Phoenix, Arizona, everyone we’d told of our plans to attack it in one (long) day responded with hesitation- and a bit of concern.

What we knew is that the ride would be long and likely hot.  What we didn’t know was how long it would take or how technical the terrain would be.  For rides like this, it’s usually best to pack only one’s most comfortable, durable, and proven gear.  And that was the case here, with one notable exception: Pearl Izumi’s lightweight Gel-Vent FF glove.  Hit the jump to find out if PI’s latest passed the 10hr test.

Despite the recent trend toward minimally padded gloves, Pearl Izumi have dotted the Gel-Vent’s synthetic leather palm with surprisingly squishy Gel Glove Padding inserts.  These inserts are an open rubbery gel material covered by an open synthetic mesh.  Squidgy when played with, the seemingly random placement is actually designed to create bridges over the Ulnar and Median nerves to minimize numbness while maximizing comfort.

The backs of the gloves consist primarily of three different types of mesh- including a stripe of the Direct Vent mesh borrowed from the recently-reviewed Rev baggies while snot and sweat are managed by a perforated microfiber thumb.  A minimal Velcro closure keep the whole setup in place.

On the bike, the Peral Izumis’ Gel Glove Padding inserts’ squidginess disappears- as to the gloves themselves.  The gloves are pre-curved and the pads’ location is effective in minimizing bunching and the microfiber thumb is mercifully free of raised seams.  Even in temperatures topping 90 degrees, the Gel-Vent FFs breathe remarkably well.  While the padding’s mesh covers seem destined to fail, they are holding up remarkably well.  Bear in mind, however, that the backs’ minimal construction means that these are not the gloves to wear while learning the limits of new super-wide ‘bro’ bars- any extra bar width will put unprotected knuckles directly in the path of trailside branches.

And the Black Canyon Trail test?  The Pearl Izumis passed with flying colors.  After 10 hours in the saddle, with sit bones screaming, stomach revolting, and thighs whining, my hands remained perfectly comfortable.  For anyone looking for a cool, comfortable glove that can go the distance–but doesn’t need much knuckle protection–the $45 Gel-Vent FFs are tough gloves to beat.

marc

www.pearlizumi.com

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Chris
9 years ago

How’s the sizing? Historically PI gloves have been a hair snug.

ccolagio
ccolagio
9 years ago

weird braking technique or a sneaky gesture?

Chris
Chris
9 years ago

Not that weird – index grips, next brakes.
Google it – people do it.

Todd
Todd
9 years ago

What is that shifter?

Kurt The Mechanic
Kurt The Mechanic
9 years ago

I know a lot of people who brake like this. If you use Shimano shifters, it is a great way to keep your index finger and thumbs free for shifting without taking away your braking finger. It takes a little getting use to but with the power of Shimano XTR brakes it is easy.

g
g
9 years ago

Hey Kurt- When do you downshift and brake at the same time?

Spinach
Spinach
9 years ago

If the middle-finger braking is serious, then this glove review can’t be. The technique isn’t correct, it gives you less control over the bike, end off.

Francais
Francais
9 years ago

Spinich, your mind will be blown when you find out that in some parts of the world, that right hand will be braking the rear wheel, with the middle finger. People do things differently to you. Big deal.

Francais
Francais
9 years ago

Spinach, sorry.

Francais
Francais
9 years ago

And yeah – left hand – front wheel. I’m off for a lie down.

JeroenK
JeroenK
9 years ago

Yeah, I know a lot of riders too that brake like this. That does not mean it’s the best way; Google should filter that ;-). I agree, it does not make the review look good, joke or no joke.

Please slide your brake lever half an inch or so away from the grip, adjust the lever so that it’s easier to reach and closer to the bars when the pads hit, without bottoming out on the bars. Then use your index fingers and you’ll find out you have more lever feel, more control and less braking finger fatigue.

If you are in terrain that not requires actual braking, or you are completely incapable of changing habits, never mind…

RideBeerSleep
RideBeerSleep
9 years ago

Emily Batty brakes that way and she is Awesome! Now you have an excuse to Google her name.

g
g
9 years ago

I was riding back in the days of cantis and two finger braking, but didn’t like relying on my pinky and ring fingers alone for grip of the bar anymore then than I do now. I get the idea behind this middle finger braking business, but I just find it to feel awkward. Sure, you can brake and shift simultaneously but that’s rarely practical or necessary.

[edited to remove personal attack]

Padrote
Padrote
9 years ago

I grew up riding motorcycles before mountain bikes had high performance brakes, and as such the brake lever going close to the bar feels so, so wrong.

Spinach
Spinach
9 years ago

Stick out your middle finger and squeeze down with your index. Now stick out your index and squeeze with your middle. It’s harder to extend your middle while gripping with your index. As well, it can often happen that the brake lever is interfered with by your index finger if you middle-finger brake. You also get more hand rotation when you run index-fingered braking, allowing better bike control.
As said before, if you live in a part of the world/ride relatively unaggressively, it does not apply. Watch any riding movie, any pro – even road. They’ll rock index (or in the case of road index + middle). I cannot think of any pro riders that run exclusively middle-fingered braking. The motor control may be there, but it’s the actual holding of the bar that causes problems.