It’s September and I, like most other cyclists hate to admit it but the height of summer is behind us! The days are getting shorter and the weather cooler, changeable and unpredictable – the ride into work in the morning can be 10 degrees, but the ride home in the evening more like 20 degrees!
Without leaving the house armed with a wardrobe of cycling kit how do we contend with such changeable conditions?
One answer is arm / leg / knee warmers! Small, simple and indispensible items which should be in all cyclists wardrobes.
What are warmers?
If you haven’t heard of warmers (also known as covers), the best way to describe them are tubes of lycra that you wear over your arms or legs to keep your extremities warm and dry while riding in chilly conditions. Warmers come in three varieties: Arm warmers, leg warmers and knee warmers (no prizes for guessing which goes where)
Arm warmers are designed to be used in conjunction with a short sleeve jersey, they start at the wrist and go all the way up to just below the shoulder – the sleeve of your jersey then goes over the top of the arm warmer
Leg warmers are designed to be used in conjunction with cycle shorts, they start at the ankle and go all the way up to the mid-point on your thigh – the leg of your short then goes over the top of the leg warmer
Knee warmers are the same as leg warmers but stop just below the knee rather than the ankle.
Why use warmers?
What’s the point? You might be asking! Why not just wear a long sleeve jersey and a pair of tights? While a long sleeve jersey or a pair of tights will effectively do the same job as a set of warmers, they are nowhere near as versatile.
The 10 degrees in the morning / 20 degrees in the afternoon scenario is the perfect example of where warmers come into their own. When it’s chilly pop the warmers on (i.e. autumn mode), but when the weather warms up later in the day just take the warmers off (i.e. summer mode) – because they are so compact you can roll them up and stuff them in a jersey pocket or stash them in a backpack. You also see a lot of riders roll their arm warmers down around their wrists, and if the riding gets chilly again (for example when descending) riders will roll the warmers back up their arms.
And warmers are not just for roadies, they’re suitable for commuters and mountain bikers as well (they are baggy short compatible).
What to look out for when buying
Not all warmers are equal! When deciding which arm, leg or knee warmers to buy there are a few features to look out for
- Grippers – grippers are elastic / rubber bands at the top and bottom of the warmers that help keep them in position and stop them falling down, as featured in these Specialized arm warmers, leg warmers & knee warmers all feature grippers
- Thermal / wind resistant fabric – usually found on the ‘leading side’ of the warmers a thermal fabric will help prevent the wind coming through the warmer and cooling you down, as featured in these Assos arm warmers, leg warmers & knee warmers.
- Leg zips – for leg warmers, make sure you look for a set with zips at the bottom of the leg, you’ll need this to easily remove or fit the leg warmers without taking your shoes off (as featured in these Gore Bike Wear leg warmers)
- Sizing – warmers come in sizes from small to extra large. When choosing a size go for your usual jersey or short/tight size