September is my favorite month of the year for cycling. My speed usually picks up due to cooler temps and by September I usually have around 5,000 miles of cycling done for the year—in other words, I am at my best form of the year. However, September in the Chicago area usually means that I have to wear arm warmers (at least for the first half of my ride). If the temperature rises while out on a ride you can roll arm warmers up and stuff them in your jersey pocket. I use several different brands of arm warmers and here is a quick rundown of my three favorite brands.
The Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Arm Warmers are the ones I use most of the time. These warmers are made of a nylon/spandex/polyester blend and have a Windstopper membrane that keeps the wind out and a fleece backing traps warm air next to your skin to keep you comfortable. While these warmers are not waterproof, they do offer great protection from light drizzle. The reflective accents on these warmers are larger than you will find on most cycling jerseys or jackets. The “grippy” elastic hems keep these arm warmers in place. I use these arm warmers in temperatures from around 50 to 64 degrees. When the temperature drops below 60 I also put on a cycling vest—I try to avoid wearing a jacket for as long as possible. Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Arm Warmers retail for $50, but you can find them online (Amazon.com, Nashbar.com) for around $40.
Reflective Sleeves from Nathan Performance Gear are made with a form-fitting, ultra-stretchy synthetic fabric. These Reflective Sleeves look like traditional arm warmers, but they are not—they are intended to make you visible to motorists at night. They have a long 3M Scotchlite reflective strip on each arm and when the headlights from a car hit it they can be seen from up to 1,200 feet away. However, on mild days when you might not need a heavier pair of arm warmers they are perfect! Nathan Reflective Sleeves come in three colors (Grey, Yellow, and Black) and two sizes (S/M, L/X-L) and they run a bit small. The sleeves retail for about $25 a pair and I doubt if you find them in any bike shop. I purchased mine from a brick-and-mortar Dick’s Sporting Goods Store. If you cannot find them at a store in your area then you should check Amazon.com.
The Canari Veloce Pro Arm Warmer is made of 84% polyester and 16% spandex and uses single-panel construction to eliminate seams. An elastic arm gripper keeps this product in place. This not a thermal arm warmer, nor is it windproof. However, the Canari Veloce Pro Arm Warmer is great for those days when it is not cold enough for a long sleeve jersey, but not warm enough to wear just a short sleeve jersey. These arm warmers are unisex in design—based upon sizing for men (women should order one size smaller than usual). You will also find these arm warmers are a bit longer than most other brands and you will appreciate this on cool days! My favorite feature of these arm warmers is the color selection (Black, Killer Yellow, and Solar Orange). The Killer Yellow not only matches my hi-vis yellow jerseys, they also make it a lot easier for motorists to see me signal for a turn. This product has a retail price of around $30 and you can find them online at places like Sierra Trading Post or R.E.I.