When I first started mountain biking quite a few years ago, I remember going to a shop and asking for the thickest padded gloves they had. The mechanic asked me why I wanted pads, and instead suggested it was better to have no padding at all so you have more control of the bike. Made sense. So I got gloves with no padding, and besides a pair of Specialized BG gloves which had a pad on the palm, I never used padded gloves throughout my years of mountain biking. And the majority of the time I was riding a single speed with a rigid fork. I never had any issues with comfort even during 24 hour continuous rides.
Road riding is so much different than mountain biking in so many ways and I wonder if it's better to use padded gloves on the road? Almost all gloves available on the market today offer some sort of padding from minimal in one spot to gel or silicone all over the place from the fingers to the palm. So I decided to test it myself to see which worked better for me. Currently, I have three pairs of gloves. Pearl Izumi pittard leather gloves, which have foam padding all over the palm. The other two pairs are made by Castelli. One pair is the Rosso Corsa and the other is their logo glove. The rosso corsa is the top of the line, 50 dollars!, glove with silicone padding strategically placed (all over) with mesh between the pads and mostly mesh on top. The logo glove is a synthetic microfiber palm with no padding on the palm and a lycra top. Both are slip-on and have loops to aid in removing the glove. Something all gloves should have, but don't.
The last three long rides I've done I've used each pair on one ride and noted a few times, mentally, throughout the ride what I liked and disliked about them. It should be noted I'm using Specialized S-wrap tape - a cork tape with an elastomer integrated throughout to supposedly dampen vibrations. It's slightly thicker than Cinelli or Deda tape and feels great.
Pearl Izumi: Crunchy when cold. As the glove ages - it lasts a long time, longer than most - the leather gets stiff. It loosens up after I start riding each time, but if it's really cold it takes a lot longer to do so. The padding feels cumbersome and is overdone, in my opinion. It feels bulky. I never have discomfort issues with them on. I do not like the velcro closure. I'd rather have a slip-on model. The velcro closure creates the cyclist dot syndrome - white hands with a dark spot near the thumb. When it's warm the leather gets damp and never dries until you take them off. By the end of the day they appear notably darker and even soggy. I do not like this. The microfiber wipe does not work as well as a terry cloth wipe. Both Castelli's are far better gloves, in my opinion.
Castelli Rosso Corsa - The padding feels great and it seems like it aids with protection of the hands. For short riding or racing this glove is probably not ideal because you lose some handling due to the thick silicone pads which move around a bit if you are really cranking hard or sprinting. The grip, however, is very inspiring and tacky. Just not precise. The mesh breathes very well on the palm. No wet palms like the PI pittards. The mesh tops also are very comfortable. The terry cloth wipe absorbs well and is excellent for it's purpose. I think these are great gloves and the best I've used to date.
Castelli logo glove - The lack of padding seems to not cause any issues, but I think with a non-padded tape on the bar it might be an issue, for me at least. These gloves are very adequate for long distance rides on the s-works tape. They are not as comfortable feeling as the Rosso Corsa, but I'm not talking about the lack of padding here. The microfiber palm is warmer feeling, and the lycra top does not breathe as well as the mesh top on the Rosso Corsa. The logo glove also has the terry wipe so all is good in this area. The grip feels more in control than the Rosso Corsa. If these were 'cooler' feeling I would probably make them the go to glove for long rides, but, alas, they are not so the Rosso Corsa is first place for me. I will use them for commuting.
I'm surprised the non-padded glove was just as comfortable, but I attribute this to the S-works tape. Perhaps it is redundant to use padded gloves with such highly cushioned tape. I shall keep my eyes open for other non-padded gloves that offer a more breathable top, and hopefully, eventually, switch to the combo of a nicely padded bar with a non-padded glove. Overall handling is improved with no loss in comfort, and, even better, they are generally cheaper!