Arm-warmers are the ideal solution for adjusting your comfort level ?on the fly? in changeable British weather. Yet this simple item is available in bewildering variety. We help you pick the best pair for your needs.

One of the simplest garments in a cyclist?s wardrobe ? the humble arm-warmer ? is an absolute ?must have? item. These tubes of material, usually a nylon/Lycra blend, are indispensable and, at this time of year especially, you should rarely leave home without them, giving you the flexibility to cope with our persistently unpredictable weather.

Buying advice

Above all, fit is crucial. There is nothing more irritating than slipping arm-warmers. Ideally an arm-warmer should reach to just below the start of your armpit ? so it is comfortably under the sleeve of your jersey ? and reach your wrist, feeling snug along the length of your arm.

The skin on the inside of your arm can be sensitive, so grippers that are too tight or aggressive might prove uncomfortable. Look for silicone or smooth finishes.

Roubaix Lycra provides warmth and some wind protection, so is the most common material choice. It may be too warm at times so materials such as Meraklon can provide chill defence yet are more breathable. Thin Lycra arm-warmers are useful for racing or even just to keep your arms out of the sun.

Check out how easy they are to pull on and off. One of the main benefits of arm-warmers is that it is good to be able to whip them on and off on the go, so make sure this can be achieved with relative ease. (It?s best to practise this skill too, before tying your arms in knots out on the open road).


Assos £24.99

Sizing: I, II

Black, blue, yellow, red, white, titan

Size tested: I

Length: 455mm

Assos has used a good weight of Roubaix material to ensure its arm-warmers are best suited to cooler days but will cover most conditions. With a high Lycra content, fit is good but a middle size would have offered the best combination. Internal labels are quite big, rough and a bit scratchy, plus the logo has a tendency to peel off in time, but otherwise they last well.

Contact: Yellow Ltd 01785 811810, www.assos.com


Gore Thermopower £19.99

Sizing: S, M, L, XL

Black only

Size tested: L

Length: 460mm

A three-panel, left and right-handed anatomic cut means more seams but the fit is excellent and, in reality, the flat-locked seams are not an issue as the Gore was one of the most comfortable on test. The fabric density is what stands out: thinner than most but with ample warmth. There are no grippers to keep them up though.

Contact: Gore Bikewear 01506 460123, www.gorebikewear.com


Rapha £35

Sizing: S/M, L/XL

Black (white stripe),

white (black stripe)

Size tested: S/M

Length: 440mm

The devil?s in the detail and these left and right-handed, typically ?Rapha-esque? arms are stylish. Italian Roubaix fabric is soft, stretchy, and fits comfortably all over. Also comfy are the silicone grippers which work well, and there are two small cord loops to aid pulling them up or down. Removable size and care labels are a thoughtful touch, but the price is not.

Contact: Rapha 020 7485 5000,

www.rapha.cc


Biemme £15.99

Sizing: S, M, L, XL

Black, navy, royal blue

Size tested: M

Length: 460mm

A standard sewn tubular construction, with flatlock seam, Biemme has achieved a good, comfortable fit with ample length. The elastic grippers kept them up well, but they had a tendency to stick to the skin and feel uncomfortable after a few hours. Reflective logos are welcomed for a bit of visibility from the side.

Contact: DHW Agencies 01704 545838, www.dhwagencies.com


Pearl Izumi Therma Fleece £20.99

Sizing: S, M, L

Black only

Size tested: S

Length: 450mm

The Therma Fleece is quite warm, but breathes well and is comfortable. Durability is good as we have tested these over some length of time and they have held up very well to regular use and washing. The top gripper is concealed within, which means no skin contact, which is both comfortable and still sufficient to hold the arm-warmers in position.

Contact: Pearl Izumi,

www.pearlizumi.com


Santini £15

Sizing: XS, S, M, L

White, blue, red, navy, black

Size tested: S

Length: 420mm

Coming up a little short, nearly an inch less than others on test here, and slightly baggy at the top, even in small, means we can?t give the Santini?s top marks for fit. However, the soft brushed internal feels really nice against the skin. Also, these are one of the few designs to be available in white, if current fashion is your thing.

Contact: Geoffrey Butler 0208 688 5094, www.gbcycles.co.uk; Prendas Ciclismo 01202 248649, www.prendas.co.uk


DeFeet Armskins £17.99

Sizing: S/M, L/XL

Blue, red, black, white

Size tested: S/M

Length: 380mm

Circular knit, seamless construction makes these feel really comfy, if a little different aesthetically. A tad on the short side, but the roll-top works well and they stayed put. The extended cuff is an excellent feature, making it snug at the wrist, keeping out any breeze, and the open weave of the fabric means the Armskins are very breathable.

Contact: Jim Walker 0870 752 8777, www.jimwalker.co.uk


Prendas Ciclismo Meraklon £7.95

Sizing: S, M, L

Black, white, blue, red

Size tested: S

Length: 425mm

The lightest material of all on test, Meraklon is very breathable and dries well, so is best suited to warmer, damp days. Fit is superb, snug all over thanks to the seamless construction, but with plenty of stretch to allow freedom of movement. Like DeFeet they look different to nylon/Lycra, but you?ll hardly know you are wearing them and they?re cheap too.

Contact: Prendas Ciclismo 01202 248649, www.prendas.co.uk


Specialized £14.99

Sizing: S, M, L, XL

Black only

Size tested: M

Length: 440mm

Shaped for left and right use, these fit snugly from wrist to upper arm. Silicone grippers hold them in place without feeling restrictive, and there is a thinner ?stretch? panel in the upper that helps with shape and comfort. The seams are well placed, away from possible irritation in the inner bend. Specialized?s Therminal fabric is a medium weight that is great for all conditions.

Contact: Specialized UK 0208 3913500, www.specialized.com


dhb Rogate £19.99

Sizing: S/M, L/XL

Black only

Size tested: S/M

Length: 420mm

dhb has renewed its design since the Merston arm-warmer. However, the Rogate is worse, not better. Double-layered elbows are unnecessary: they come up short, and are baggy and badly fitting with seams in irritating places. A reflective logo and silicone gripper do little to redeem things, especially as it?s now twice the price of the original Merston.

Contact: Wiggle, www.wiggle.co.uk.

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