Dirty, greasy hands are the bane of the home mechanic. The problem is most acute for beginners. They can’t help but get their hands covered in grime on even the smallest, easiest bike repairs. Once they get into bigger jobs, like greasing threads in bottom brackets or headsets, the mess often completely covers hands. And this is in an era where people rarely have to break down components like loose ball bearing races in hubs and bottom brackets.
Pro mechanics have another issue. They’re usually better at minimizing the grime on their hands, but when they’re working all day, no matter how fastidious or careful they are, they’re going to end up washing their hands multiple times. And that wreaks havoc on skin.
Finish Line’s Mechanic Grip Gloves work for both the amateur and pro. They have a sealed polyurethane palm and a meshy, stretchy back. The palm is textured to make it easy to pick up small, greasy parts. The back has generous stretch, so that the gloves don’t slide and there are tight cuffs to keep them on your hands.
The gloves some in two sizes. Small/Medium, and Large/Extra Large. There’s not much science or data on what size to go with—Finish Line doesn’t specify on their site. The index finger on the L/XL is 8cm long and the wrist at the cuff is about 7cm wide. While my palms aren’t meaty, my fingers are long. Usually, even extra large gloves have too-short fingers for my digits. Here, the fingers are a bit short, but the stretch, which is mostly from the back accommodates well.
Putting them on feels like putting on any summer-weight full-finger cycling glove. Once they’re on for a bit, they feel a bit warmer than those gloves, probably because the palm doesn’t breathe. It’s an unusual sensation being in short sleeves and having your hands feel a good bit warmer than your arms, but it’s not uncomfortable. The warmth would no doubt be a plus for wrenching outdoors in the cooler months.
The gloves work great for minimally dirty activities like changing tubes and tires. For this kind of work, you can don them; pull the wheel, do the job, reinstall, and then take them off, ready for the next use. They are much better than expected for dirtier activities like installing headsets and bottom brackets, greasing cups and seat tubes.
I was worried that the gloves would keep dirt and grease on the surface of the fingers and smudge a cleaned frame on the next use. That hasn’t happened yet. If I embark on a seriously greasy repair, I might do some glove cleaning at the end of the job—spraying some degreaser on them, rubbing, adding a little dish soap, then rinsing with clean water. They should dry pretty quickly.
The polyurethane palms and fingers are very thin and the sensations of gripping small parts is barely any different than wearing no gloves at all.
Where I drew the line was installing loose ball bearings into a hub race. The feel for small, greasy balls was good, but not as good as I liked, so I ditched them. Probably just need a bit more practice.
They’re sitting underneath my work stand, ready to be used for wheel changes, chain lubing, and full-on, greasy maintenance. In terms of durability, I can’t tell how long they’d last for a pro wrench. For a rider who goes out daily, and fiddles regularly with a bike or multiple bikes, I can see them lasting a long time. Mine are going on two-and-a-half months and look nearly new. I think they could easily last a year for those who ride or wrench less. All the same, they’re cheap enough to have a second pair at the ready for when that first pair goes.
Not having to wash hands every time I touch a bike is a benefit. Easier on the skin, less time spent cleaning. Now I just have to translate that into extra riding time.
Here’s Finish Line’s page on them.