In the world of bicycle riding, vibration is the enemy. Bicycle manufacturers study the best frame materials for dampening shocks and vibrations, often using expensive or difficult-to-manufacture materials to combat such discomfort. For the every day rider, however, there are simpler ways to keep your hands and wrists at ease while riding your bicycle without spending a fortune on a state of the art bicycle. The first and least expensive step in making your bike more comfortable is a good pair of gel gloves.
In order to dampen vibrations caused by rough terrain or even flat roads, gel gloves have inserts in specific spots on the palm to absorb vibration before it reaches your hand. The gel itself is a jelly-like substance contained within the palm of the glove, and because it is solid but soft, it deadens vibration while providing comfort for your palms. Gel gloves can come in a variety of styles and thicknesses, and it will be up to you to try on several different pairs to find the best fit and style.
When purchasing gel gloves, consider the materials, design, and thickness of the glove, as these factors will have the most impact on your satisfaction. Lycra materials will allow for more comfort and flex, allowing your hand to expand and contract comfortably, but it is also more susceptible to tearing than other materials. For a more rugged glove, try leather or synthetic gloves that will allow less flex but more durability.
Decide if you want full finger gloves -- gloves that cover the entirety of all fingers -- or fingerless gloves, which cover the palm but are cut off at the first or second knuckle of each finger. Fingered or fingerless gloves are a matter of preference, so choose the ones you are most comfortable with.
The most important consideration when purchasing your gel gloves is the thickness and placement of the gel. Choose a glove that is too thin and you might not get adequate vibration dampening. Choose one that's too thick and you will find that your hands fatigue quickly because of the extra flexing your hand will do to compensate for the gel's thickness. Try to choose gel gloves that allow you to grip your handlebars normally, but make sure you can feel the gel doing its job underneath your palm.
It is very important to make sure the gel on the palm of your glove matches up with the stress points on your hand. The gel won't do you any good if it isn't getting in between your palm and the handlebar, and most gloves don't cover the entire palm with gel. So try on several pairs to ensure the placement of the gel suits your hand; remember, the placement might change according to the size or brand of glove, so try on as many as possible until you find the right ones for you.