The Grail is a long fingered mountain bike glove that has been designed using concepts from the experts in Specialized's Body Geometry Fit team. Specialized say these gloves are designed and shaped specifically to provide the best possible fit for women. Where gloves and clothing are concerned I know I'm not alone when I say that women's fit garments are the only way to spend my money. I tested a size small and found the gloves to be a perfect fit, just right in the length of fingers and no bagginess or wrinkling across the palms. It's worth noting that I would usually wear a medium size women's glove (my palm measures 7 1/2" across) and the small fitted me perfectly.
Staying with the subject of Body Geometry, on the palm of the Grail glove sits a tear drop shaped gel pad. This 'Body Geometry Equalizer™ padding' fills the gap between the palm and the bars. Filling this concave part of the hand is supposed to create an even surface over the hand which Specialized say will greatly reduce numbness and tremendously enhance overall comfort by helping the blood flow with no restrictions across the hand.
I can't say that I have ever thought of this part of my hand as a problematic area before, if I get hand pain when riding it can usually be attributed to grips that are too narrow or wide or to poorly set up brakes. Whilst riding a mountain bike with my normal brake and grip set up I found the padded area on the palm to be mildly annoying, it had the effect of feeling as if my hand was being lifted from the bars, leaving me feeling disconnected from the bike. I'm a fan of a very thin palm to a glove with no added padding but given some wedge between my knuckles and the bars, I can usually cope, this was a different matter though, I was very aware of the lump under my palm.
I took the gloves over to my drop bar gravel bike where riding on the hoods creates a very defined concave shape to the hand and found the forte of the gloves. The padding on the Grail glove to filled the void between my hand and the hood nicely. It helped to prevent pressure build up in the arch of the hand when in this position, which was pleasing. The palm of the glove stayed flat with no wrinkling or creasing when riding either bike which is a huge plus point too.
I tested these gloves at the tail end of summer where their cool nature and minimalistic fabric was right up my street. The gloves are constructed with a synthetic leather palm and a very stretchy mesh top which I really liked. They were breathable, conformed well to the hand and the ‘microwipe’ thumb surface was pretty absorbent when mopping up snot, er I mean sweat... As you would expect the tips of the index, middle finger and thumb were all covered with a grippy silicone meaning grip levels on the all important brake and gear levers were never diminished come rain or shine.
The Grail features a pull on / pull off design with no cumbersome closures or tall cuffs to worry about. This is ideal on a minimalist summer glove, keeping breathability to a maximum and preventing any heat building up under the cuff. These gloves have seen a fair amount of use since their arrival with no faults at the stitching as I have seen in a shorter time frame in other gloves with this same design.
Last feature worth a mention is the touch screen compatible Wiretap™ stitching on the index finger and thumb which I found to be infallible. I've been using OS Maps on my phone a lot recently and my endless prodding at the screen worked a treat every time.
In summary, the Grail gloves from Spesh are a lightweight and worthy summer glove which I found better suited to drop bars rather than flat ones. At £35, the price of the Body Technology appears a tad steep if the rider does not feel the supposed benefits. After a taste of what Specialized have to offer in the mountain bike glove department I'll definitely look to them again for gloves but with a flat unpadded palm next time.