Assos Roubaix Armwarmers
Certainly, you can be a cyclist without owning arm warmers. At the same time, once you've started accumulating cycling-specific clothing, it's hard to imagine not owning a pair. Or more. We don't think there's a more necessary clothing accessory, though short-finger cycling gloves might fight for equal billing.
If you don't have a pair, buy one. If you have a pair, you probably would use a second if they happen to be handy. Just like there's sweater weather, there is warmer weather. It's a subset of fall and spring. Depending on where you live, this could be anywhere from a few weeks twice a year to all winter or all summer. Arm warmers don't get funk the way base layers do, but after a certain amount of sweat and dirt, having a second, or third, pair, so that you don't need to be constantly washing the first makes sense.
For us, regular riding in 65-degree Fahrenheit weather demands an undershirt. The arm warmers are busted out when it's a few degrees cooler, like 62-degrees. The arm warmers stay well into the 50s, though the undershirt gets changed for a heavier one, and a vest is eventually donned. We'll even have them on in the low 50s if we expect to be hammering (so, for all road racing in this weather), or if we know the temp could rise to 60 or above.
When we first started riding, Assos was far and away the acme of cycling wear. Very few companies made good arm warmers, and nobody made warmers to match team kits. Show up at a race in the spring or fall, and the smart racers had the white Assos "A" tattooed on their forearms. We were pretty excited when we got the mark as well. Always had to have the logo turned out just so.
And many years later, little has changed. Assos Arm Warmers (also known as the Arm Rubi) still sit atop the heap of quality and innovation. Touch the warmers, they feel rich. Pull them on and you almost feel as if stretching velvet over your arms. Riding with them, they're warm and comfy, stay in place when up, slide down easily when overheating.
It was exciting to get a new pair of the Arm Rubi. Titan color, Size I. As usual, Assos lives in its own sizing world. We have Small in other warmers, but I, in Assos naming conventions, is a medium. They have three sizes, 0, I, and II. The warmers are largely similar to that first pair. Plush, Roubaix-style fabric, big "A" on the arm, grippers at the top.
Only a few updates over the years. The warmers are now claimed to be part of Assos' AEPD, Advanced Ergonomic Pattern Design. They have reflective tabs on the upper arm sticking out of the seam, the grippers are "welded" for durability, have the Assos logo embedded in the gripper material, and the Assos labels are stitched into the grippers. It's a small touch, but we get a smile every time we see "have a good ride" embedding in Assos clothing.
The critical fit issue, and one you'll be confronting every ride, is lining up the seams properly so the reflective tabs are in a position that the beam of a car headlight can strike them. Luckily, this is easy. Though arm warmers shouldn't have a left and right, the tabs make it so the left is the one with the Assos logo so it can be seen on your forearm and the seam following a line from your pinky finger to the back of your wrist up your arm. And the seam will stay in place so long as you get a pair that snugs against your arms. Critical, and easy.
Assos Arm Warmers do their job, and well. They'll probably last for years and years. Somehow, we are a bit disappointed. Disappointed because Assos hasn't moved their warmer design forward in the way they have with shorts, jerseys, and winter clothing. Other companies have caught up with Assos on the warmer front, haven't passed, but many seem to be on the same plateau. We don't know what the next level is for arm warmers, or if there is a next level, but we wish the outside-the-box thinkers at Assos would don their thinking helmets and come up with something. As well-realized as arm warmers are, as few complaints as we have, we wonder if there's progress yet to be made.