BLUEGRASS GLOVE RANGE REVIEW
WHICH MODEL IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Adam Lievesley
Bluegrass, the Gravity focused sister company of MET, has had gloves in their range for quite a while now, but for 2020 they decided to dive in with an all-new range of 4 gloves for different uses and budgets. Bluegrass hoped that this range would cater to the full spectrum of gravity and BMX riders, with the lightweight Vapor lite model (not tested) added for less aggressive cross country and trail mountain bike and eMTB use. Read on to find out how the range performs, and which glove will suit you best.
The Prizma is designed to be the heaviest hitter of the Bluegrass glove range, with the tag line “make hard lines easier”. An ergonomic shape with refined internal seams allows the Prizma 3Ds to provide the best fit on the grip for charging hard. The palm is perforated to improve ventilation and help to avoid the dreaded sweaty palm, with a four-way stretch mesh on the back to give mobility and further aid cooling. On top of this mesh on the backside of the hand is an array of TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber) prisms that give the Prizma 3D its name, designed to add extra impact protection to the knuckles and allow full concentration on attacking the trail ahead. The slim fit neoprene cuff offers improved durability and comfort, with an adjustable Velcro wrist closure allowing fine tuning of the fit. Rounding off the features at the end of the fingers are silicone grippers on the braking fingers; capacitive threads on the first two fingers and thumb; and thumbnail reinforcements to aid their longevity. Bluegrass offers the Prizma 3D’s in 5 sizes from XS-XL, and three colors: black, red and camo green (tested), retailing for €45 (£38.50).
The React is designed to be the comfort-oriented glove in the Bluegrass range, targeted at riders looking for a solid and durable glove. The palm features thin padding in critical areas to offer cushion on the grip and protection in a crash. A four-way stretch mesh forms the back of the glove, offering a breathable and lightweight solution to keep your hands cool and fresh. The knuckles on the braking fingers are equipped with flexible zones that are designed to allow for the finger to articulate as freely as possible. Matching the Prizma 3D are the slim fit neoprene cuff which offers improved durability and comfort, with an adjustable Velcro wrist closure allowing fine tuning of the fit, as well as the silicone grippers on the braking fingers, capacitive threads, and thumbnail reinforcements. In between the fingers are moisture wicking mesh gussets to promote airflow into the glove, and the thumbs are clad in a soft-touch material to clean dirt and sweat off the face comfortably. The React is offered in sizes XS-XL, with 4 colors featuring fade-resistant sublimated graphics, and retail for €40 (£34.50).
The Union gloves are Bluegrass’ answer to the more budget-oriented market, for riders looking for a glove that still performs like a premium model but doesn’t sport such a high price tag. They feature the same four-way stretch mesh backing, capacitive seams, silicone fingertips and soft-touch thumbs of the React, keeping the features Bluegrass deemed rider-essentials. The cuff is still a highly stretchy neoprene with a gripper to keep them in place but loses the Velcro strap to fine tune the fit. The Union is available in sizes XS-XL with 6 colors from plain black through to highlighter yellow, and retails for €29 (£26).
Upon receiving the three Bluegrass glove models, I was relieved that their fit accommodated my chunky-large hands without issue, with complete consistency between the three models in terms of the overall fit. I found that pulling the Prizma 3D and React gloves on is actually harder than the Union even though they have the Velcro, as the neoprene cuff is slightly tighter, and the maximum size of the opening is about the same. The Velcro only adds extra tightness to make the glove sit extra tight around my wrists, meaning I was running it relatively loose so not to create too much pressure, but this won’t be the case for the less chunky-wristed out there. Other than this, the gloves all fit like…well, gloves. They are average sized gloves for their size with reasonable finger length and enough “give” in the material to conform to the individual contours of your paws. The palm material, outside of the slightly padded React, is of a good thickness as to maintain excellent bar feel, didn’t bunch up uncomfortably, and wasn’t overly hot, though equally not the coolest out there. The feel of the gloves when wet was especially excellent, with the palm material avoiding the dreaded “heavy hand”, and instead offering another level of bar grip above when dry. As tends to be the case with capacitive threads on the fingertips, they were a little temperamental, but no more so than other companies’ offerings.
The Prizma 3D’s TPR prisms detract a little from the overall comfort at the back of the hand when off the bike and the fingers spread, but when wrapped around a grip you can’t really tell they’re there. I’d suggest the hard TPR prisms aren’t particularly good in a direct impact with a hard object, with them concentrating the force to a smaller area if anything. They’re also easy to forget about when rubbing your face or giving your buddy a fist-bump, which leads to discomfort all round. But they’ve certainly got their use and it’s one that shouldn’t be discounted. The Prizma 3D does a fantastic job at fending off “whip” from bracken and sting from nettles when riding through slightly overgrown terrain. With a particularly warm and wet summer in the UK we’ve seen the trails lined in an unprecedented amount of foliage, and the Prizmas have been somewhat of a godsend at times. They’re not impenetrable of course, but seriously reduce the amount of pain I could have had to endure. The price does seem a little high to me, but the potential pain saving is priceless.
I was expecting the React’s padded palm to feel vague on the bar, but was happy to discover this wasn’t the case, with it flying under the radar and providing a great bar feel. That said, I’m not entirely sure how much extra comfort they offer – it certainly wasn’t a large difference, as there’s not a huge amount of the padding actually resting on the grip. I did have a slide-out that led to a palm slap to the ground, which I’ve no doubt they made slightly more pleasant, but otherwise the React doesn’t scream out as a game changer, but they’re a comfortable glove that’ll happily serve as a daily driver. I’m not convinced the flexible knuckles zone does anything different than if they’d kept with the 4-way stretch mesh for the whole fingers, but equally it produced no issues, so perhaps for a slightly different finger or rider it’s a good thing. I think it’s a big shame that Bluegrass didn’t opt to equip the React with padding on the back of the hand too, especially with Bluegrass utilizing D30 in their other protective equipment, but then that may detract from the idea that this glove offers the fastest reactions.
It may come as a surprise, but the Union turned out to be my favorite glove of the range, thanks to its no-frills comfortable performance and dialed fit. The slip-on cuff is of an elasticity and diameter that just feels right on my wrist, the simple backing material feels like a second skin, and they look the best in my eyes too. Designed to be “a versatile glove that you can wear easily, on any ride and in any condition”, Bluegrass has nailed it with this one – just a well put-together glove that comes in at a decent price.
Having the three gloves at my disposal throughout the test meant I was able to be selective about the model I would use for a given condition or trail type. I opted to run the Prizma’s on the gnarlier rides initially but ended up opting for the React’s instead for park laps due to the protection on offer seeming more valuable. The Prizma’s were then reserved for the rides I was expecting the most bushwhacking. Throughout the test period the Union was the lesser used of the gloves as I was trying to deduce the character of the more feature-packed models, but they were always a welcome glove to run, and I’m stoked to keep them on rotation in my kit bag for regular rides.
Durability has generally been great across the models, with the exception of the stitching on the velcro-equipped cuffs, which ended up tearing on both the Prizma 3D and React’s after a good bit of use. This occurred on both when pulling them back on when they were slightly wet, needing a good yank to get them over my wrist. Perhaps a fault of my ham-fisted (in both ways) self, but still a potential weak point. Other than this, it’s clear the Bluegrass glove range is of high quality all round.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Bluegrass glove range maintains a high quality throughout, with some features that offer benefits in specific situations out on the trail. Bar feel and general comfort is excellent, as is the durability for the most part, so choose your valued features and you can’t really go wrong.