We like: Classic look and feel that doesn’t need to be coddled
We don’t like: $200 for a pair gloves?
Brancale calls the color Cognac, a rich brown that has only improved with a year’s use. I like it. It recalls deep chairs, cold nights, a small glass of something good. My other cycling gloves don’t do that.
There is neither neon nor gaudy reflective bits on Brancale’s Winter Cycling Gloves. No Gore fabrics or synthetic insulators. Only hair sheep leather, a fleece liner, and a brass snap.
Brancale is an old name. My father had a silly leather Brancale hairnet before I was born. Resurrected two years ago, the brand is guided by his era more so than mine, retaining those things classic and good while evicting the merely old and outdated — like those hairnets. Some things are best left to history, others must be retained. The Winter Cycling Gloves fit into latter category.
They can be worn on the road, and are comfortable from temperatures just below freezing up to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The palms are thinly padded, enough to keep out the cold of metal handlebars but not so much as to ruin the tactility of the leather. The cuffs are of medium length, long enough to close the gap between glove and jersey. A single strap and snap cinches around the wrist.
Rapha makes a glove that is almost identical (I believe they may even be from the same factory in England, though the two use different palm materials), for $45 more, and calls it the Town Glove. Given the excellence of modern gloves, their ability to expel sweat and protect from wind and rain, perhaps Brancale’s version, too, is better suited to bar runs or chilly morning commutes than to slushy base miles. But this is up to you — I had many pleasurable, comfortable rides in the Winter Cycling Gloves under gray skies with the mercury hovering south of 40. They need not be coddled.
Regardless of where they are ridden, the Winter Cycling Gloves will not look the same in six months as they do today. The pair pictured above is a year old. Take care of them with Rapha’s Leather Glove Balm ($10) or similar and they will not fail, but they will change, taking on a new patina with each ride as splatters of ice and mud leave their mark on the leather. This should be expected and admired, an aide-mémoire of each winter day you chose to ride.