by Brandon Turman
Who the heck is Novik Gloves, and why is Vital telling me about them? Well, they're probably the biggest little glove company you've never heard of. Or maybe you have. Novik has been killing it on the motocross scene for a few years and started making a push into MTB this spring when they signed a number of riders, including Mike Montgomery.
Curious what all the fuss from the moto world was about, I picked up a pair of T.E.C. (short for "That's Even Cooler") gloves from the Novik crew this past February and have been riding with them ever since. It seems like the life expectancy of gloves varies greatly from company to company, so the simple fact that I'm still using them a solid three months of riding later speaks well for the gloves right off the bat.
Before we dive in much further, take a minute to get the tech spec run down from Brian, one of the main guys behind the Colorado-based brand:
These gloves received no preferential treatment. I used them just like you would - in the dust, in the mud, digging at the jumps, while fixing broken chains . . . you name it. How did they hold up, what was rad about them, and what didn't quite cut it?
First off, the tops of these gloves are very thin, flexible, and breathable when compared to most other gloves. When I make a fist or grab the grip, the upper material contours to my hand very well. It's smooth and hasn't chafed my hand at any point. The breathability is great for summer rides (and it is summer after all), but they allow enough air through the top of the glove that you might be wishing for something a little more substantial on chilly days or cold mornings. As of today, the uppers show no noticeable wear but have retained several dirt and grease stains.
Here's a nice touch - there's a very smooth, pre-curved, lycra material between the fingers. This helps create a nice snug fit around the fingers and pretty much eliminated any break-in period. Comfort wise, they felt like a well-worn and familiar pair of gloves from day one. Fingers can wiggle against one another freely without catching on the seams. Speaking of finger seams, right now they are still intact and there are no loose threads showing, which is typically where most of my gloves fail.
The palms are made with a very thin material that Novik has dubbed the "Bomb-Palm". To me, the fact that they are thin is a great thing. I like thin palms for the same reasons I like thin grips - I can feel the bike better and arm pump is much less of an issue on super bumpy rides. Durability of the palm seems to be good so far and the material isn't drastically worn in any area. Note that I have yet to crash while wearing these gloves, so I can't weigh in on how they'd hold up if you were to hit the ground.
I have a good set of calluses going and have yet to get a blister while riding with the T.E.C. gloves. To aid against blistering, the palm is pre-curved so there's no material bunching, and the padded thumb provides enough cushion in the most tender area. As you can see from the dark spots in the upper right photo above, my grips rub right in-between the seams on the "Q-span" thumb reinforcement panel.
This surprised me the most - the caution themed fingertip grips are still fully intact, aren't peeling, and are still flexible even after letting the gloves sit in the sun for countless hours.
That's a lot of positives so far, but these gloves aren't perfect (what is?). For starters, sizing is a little weird. There is no velcro clasp on these gloves, so to provide a snug fit Novik recommends going one size smaller than what you usually wear. To put them on you have to give a good tug on the pull tab. Too many gloves suffer from poor pull tabs that are easily ripped off. Not so with the T.E.C. gloves. The tabs are reinforced with small pieces of rubber and are sewn directly to the palm material.
My biggest gripe? The palm material started out with a great, smooth feel to it, but after a few long, hard, sweaty all-mountain rides the material started to harden once the gloves dried. So much so that when I go to put them on for the next ride, I often have to uncrumple them. After 5-10 minutes of riding they usually loosen back up nicely. Maybe they could just use a good cleansing in the ol' washing machine? It's certainly possible, but I haven't had a pair of riding gloves do this to the same degree in several years.
Finally, you can tell a lot about gloves by looking at their insides. On the plus side, you'll notice that there's minimal excess material and very few seams to tear or rub holes in your hands. On the downside, they use only a single stitch along most seams, which makes us question durability in the event of a crash. Then again, they are still kicking after three solid months of use…
What's The Bottom Line?
The moto guys were right. Novik is onto something. If you're the type of rider that likes to really feel and control your bike, the Novik T.E.C. gloves are a great choice. They feel great from day one, appear to last quite a while, come in at a very reasonable price of $20.99, and they look the part, too.
About The Reviewer
Brandon Turman likes to pop off the little bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when he's in tune with a bike, and to really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill. His perfect trail has a good mix of flow, tech, and balls-to-the-wall speed. He loves little transfers, rollers, and the occasional gap that gives him that momentary stomach in your throat kind of feeling. Toss in some rocky bits with the option to double over them or risk pinch flatting and you've got a winner in his book. In 13 years of riding he worked his way through the Collegiate downhill ranks to the Pro level. After finishing up his mechanical engineering degree, his riding focus turned to dirt sculpting and jumping with the occasional slopestyle contest thrown in for fun. Nowadays he's Vital MTB's resident product guy.