Review: Bontrager Rhythm Elite gloves

Bontrager may not be the first name in gloves or cycling apparel, but they are certainly making their mark. Offering an array gloves to suit most people's needs, we have had their Rhythm Elite pair on hand for a little while now. How have they stood up to the abuse, and can they compare to the more established brands?
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The Rhythm Elites are Bontrager's higher end full protection glove, coined as a 'technical trail glove'. They have synthetic leather palms in a pieced format to avoid it bunching. Silicone adorns the two control fingers and thumbs in stripes and a 'b' for Bontrager design. Half of the top of the hand and wrist are made from a thin gel covered in spandex, while the other half is covered in a material mesh netting. The knuckles are rubber in a three-piece designs to allow for flexibility and the strap is a rugged rubber piece too.

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Does the glove fit?

It does, and pretty well, I'd say. Sliding the gloves on I immediately found a good fit, exactly the right size for my hands. Bontrager have made the palm in a 'pieced format', which basically means that it's not just one piece of synthetic leather. In this way the Rhythm Elite is supposed to hug the palm better than gloves with a single piece of material. In a way it works, but it still could be better fitted, as the main piece of material does tend to bunch a bit.

I enjoyed the extended cover on my wrist, giving a bit of support and helping keep the warmth in during these cold months. The silicone was impressive too and it's unusual to see the silicone wearing out a bit instead of completely pealing off. The only downfall of them was that they weren't great in the wet, often not giving the grip I was expecting.

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The index fingers were not stitched straight, and the velcro strap was very stiff.

There were also a couple of design flaws I found along the way. The index fingers, for one, were wonky. You could see when you wore them that they weren't stitched straight. It never affected the ride, sure, but it definitely loses marks for quality. Also, the strap was very stiff, sometimes coming loose on the trail. The rubber used for it is too thick, in my opinion, and detracted from the comfort of the gloves.

The durability of the gloves was quite good overall though. I raced them down Contermankloof and – while the mud removed most of the grip that the gloves had to offer – they showed no signs of wear. The palm is holding up well, though the stitching here and there is looking a bit fragile. But on the whole the quality of materials is good and these gloves look to be good for at least a season of hard riding.

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Aesthetically speaking I think Bontrager could have made a prettier glove than the Rhythm Elite. The ones I had had the understated colour scheme, with the other two options being garish and clashing in colour. If they simplified the design and matched colours well they would have a much better looking glove.

In the end

Bontrager pose the Rhythm Elite gloves as their 'Technical trail glove for big climbs and even bigger descents'. Now, while I'm not sure what that exactly means, I know that the Rhythm Elite's can take their fair share of abuse. From my time with them I have found them to be quite comfortable and reliable. The stiff velcro strap has been irritating at times, as has the ugly design, and the wonky index finger had me laughing at first but scowling shortly after. All in all, though, Bontrager have put together a decent quality glove that should last most people at least a season or two. I know for a fact that that alone is worth buying these gloves for, because there are many options out there that struggle to last a week or more.




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