Arm, leg and knee Warmers are for me an essential part of your cycling wardrobe. There are few reasons why, and I’ll try to explain why.
Because your arms & legs have long veins in them they work like radiators in the body allowing you to keep cool, and to feel the cold when the temperature drops. It’s amazing to pop some arm warmers on and feel the change in your core temperature. Your legs can go for longer without warmers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them.
Sometimes it’s too hot for leg warmers so knee warmers become the order of the day. Leaving a gap between the calf and the ankle allows the legs to regulate the heat, and bizarrely doesn’t feel cold when riding hard. For racers using embrocation is very popular, as it prepares the muscles with a warming herbal oil or cream. This allows the delicate knee joints to be protected and the muscles are primed for the activity they are about to undertake. Sometimes an embrocation is used on it’s own, or sometimes under the Knee and Leg warmers in case they are removed so at least the legs have some protection if they are exposed to the elements.
What does this mean for the sportive or weekend rider. Popping a set of arm warmers into your back pocket will aid comfort and warmth if suddenly the weather takes a turn for the worst. If you ride into work you can experience a wide range of temperatures from morning to evening. Packing some arm & knee warmers into your bag turns your jersey into a long sleeve and your shorts into a pair of 3/4’s. Surprisingly these small tubes of brushed material are highly effective for allowing you to stay comfortable for longer.
If you are starting an early morning sportive you can make sure your joints are protected and as the day warms up you can pop them in your back pocket. I prefer on those mixed days to use embrocation as the oil/balm on the legs and its never much of a problem unless you get above 30*c.
If I could summarise why I think everyone should have Warmers in their wardrobe it’d be flexibility, protection and more enjoyment while riding, and at the end of the day that’s what we all want.