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Giro believes that gloves should provide a sensible level of protection and otherwise stay out of your way. For an all-mountain model like the Giro Xena glove, that translates to shielding key areas without making any compromises on fit and bar feel. It seems to work for Katie Compton, who used the Xena on her way to becoming the world's top-ranked cyclocross rider.

Like the men's Xen model, the Xena's features start with the palm. The Super Fit design uses three panels of Japanese-made Clarino synthetic leather that fold along the same lines as your hand when you make a fist. The advantage is that the Super Fit palm adheres to the bars and your hand without bunching up around the base of your fingers like other gloves.

Giro has also removed almost all padding from the palm of the glove, leaving the job of absorbing impact to your bike's suspension. That makes sense to us. On the heel of the hand, Giro has kept a 2mm cushion of Technogel, a pretty amazing material that Giro claims is 300% better than standard gel at distributing pressure and doesn't degrade over time.

Although Giro has taken pains not to overbuild the Xena, it's still a rugged design with strategically placed armor on the pinky and ring fingers, across the knuckles, and around the wrist. The upper is made from a durable, 4-way stretch breathable mesh; silicone print on the fingertips enhances grip against your shift and brake levers. Pull on the Xena with the wrist tab and secure it with the low-profile Velcro closure.

The sizing of a Giro women's glove is similar to the comparable Giro men's glove one size smaller, but with a narrower body. The Giro Xena glove is available in Black/Charcoal or White/Gold in Small, Medium or Large.

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