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The Kostüme Unisex Arm Warmers sit towards the top of the market, but you can certainly feel where that investment has gone when riding in them. The combination of thick material, the multi-panel ergonomic fit, and the deep gripper create a top-end feel and they make a great accompaniment to a well-made short-sleeved jersey, providing warmth down to single digits. The price will put some off, but their sturdy construction and carefully thought-out fit justifies the investment to some extent.
For more options, check out our guide to the best arm and leg warmers.
These arm warmers were lucky enough to accompany me to the Dolomites where they were put through their paces on early morning valley runs, and pulled back on for 1,000-metre descents. They packed away nice and easily in a jersey pocket, and once on, they kept my arms totally snug with their fleecy innards and, thanks to the brushed outer layer, didn't instantly soak up the showers that often accompanied the swift changes in altitude.
As well as doing all of the simple things you'd expect of arm warmers very well, Bristolian brand Kostüme brings its environmentally conscious and bespoke attitude to these warmers so you are purchasing thoughtful kit that has a smaller impact than other more mass-produced alternatives – there are only 350 of these arm warmers in existence, as Kostüme works on a limited volume basis. Plus they are all black and shaped like an arm – I think Kostüme is on to something.
I really enjoyed the fit and feel afforded by the multi-panelled design, which was both snug and comfy, without being restrictive, although those with extra-strong arms might find them on the tight side.
The extended grippers made a huge difference to the positioning of the warmers throughout a day's riding, with barely a moment's adjustment required at any point.
Small touches like the reflective panels indicating which arm goes where speak to Kostüme's practical intentions, and should also assist with safe indicating on the road.
I like the little quirks Kostüme includes, too, like the washing instructions that implore you to "not accept sweets from strangers".
These are some of the more expensive arm warmers on offer – the same price as Rapha's Thermal Arm Warmers and more than Assos' Spring Fall Arm Warmers at £32 (though Rapha's Pro Team and Merino Arm Warmers are both £55 a pair).
But rather than just a single piece of fabric which is merely tight, here you have different panels built to fit a bent elbow and it really does work. Kostüme would also point to its environmental credentials as one of the other ways to justify the price.
While I've existed quite happily with bang-average arm warmers for the last couple of years, these Kostüme warmers are a noticeable improvement in the quality of life for my least-exercised limbs – especially in terms of fit. They brush off light drizzle and do a good number on chilly wind ingress. I really can't find much not to like, though you can undoubtedly find a pair of workable arm warmers for around a third less cash.
If you're happy with the price, these bespoke feeling warmers are excellent – for you and the environment
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Kostume Unisex Arm Warmers
Size tested: M-Long
Tell us what the product is for
They're for those transitional seasons when you want to be able to pack away your lower arm and elbow insulation.
The Kostüme signature arm warmer combines everything we've learned from countless uncomfortable miles ridden in the land that arguably invented changeable weather.
For our signature warmer range, we use a mid-weight GRS-certified recycled fabric with a luxurious brushed microfibre inner that feels super-soft on the skin.
Although warm enough to deal with the worst that shoulder season has to offer, it also has the breathability needed to comfortably deal with temperatures up to 12C, reducing the need to adjust your layering as the conditions change.
Modest amounts of two-way stretch also allows for some lateral expansion to accommodate larger arms, but without stretching and deforming when pulled repeatedly on and off.
Despite our 'less is more' ethos, we know from experience the limitations of a one-piece tubular warmer, so we've developed an ergonomic pre-shaped four-panel construction, complete with low-profile flatlock seams. Designed to mimic the natural position of the arms when cycling, this also means a slightly longer length at the outer wrist edge, and less fabric in the elbow crease to minimise bunching. TLDR?: Supremely comfy. No chafing.
In a final nod to comfort, we've specified an extra-wide gripper panel using offcuts of the amazing recycled fabric from our bib short, meaning less waste, less unsightly bulk under your jersey sleeves and a smoother transition between fabric and skin. And to eliminate the ancient guessing game of 'which arm is which' you'll find the answers printed on reflective tabs sewn discreetly into each forearm seam.
Our arm warmers are available in six (count them) different lengths, meaning whatever your build there should be an option to suit.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® certified recycled brushed-back main fabric
Articulated 4-panel construction for ergonomic fit
Flatlock seams for comfort and performance
Two available lengths per size
Handy left/right indicators
Reflective tabs and transfers to aid night safety
Optimal temperature range 2-12c
Made in Romania
A really well-constructed four-panel item with sturdy seams placed in unobtrusive locations. The gripper band is about four fingers wide, meaning the pressure point is stretched so minimal sagging and repositioning occurs. The body is lined with a soft, fleecy material that adds to the insulation.
Minimal drag is created by the tight fit, and they were amply breathable without overheating at the top end of the temperature range. Don't rely on these warmers to cope with extreme wet weather, though – you'll still need a proper layer for that.
The decals on the arms seem vulnerable to washing after a few uses. However, the rest of the garment is sturdy and resilient.
Reassuringly snug across the majority of the arm with a slight loosening around the watch area of the wrist. The ergonomics of the panelling really do make a difference to elbow bunching.
Kostüme offers sizing details on its website which worked perfectly for me: 186cm male requires a medium. It also provides each size in two lengths to cater to different limbs. My pair were in long, meaning they ran from almost armpit to the bone on my wrist. Slightly shorter would also have been fine. I have never lifted a dumbbell in my life but the elastane felt secure on the bicep without being constrictive.
Not the lightest or the heaviest in this space, but the weight of a couple of bags of crips isn't going to hurt you too far either way.
Incredibly comfortable – especially once you've snipped out the washing label.
At the dear end of the arm warmer market but they're like sleeves cut out from an expensive jersey, with a delightful feel to the material and excellent fit and functionality.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Kostüme encourages you to use a delicate cycle and a gentle spin at 30 degrees max. No problems whatsoever.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These are expensive but they feel and perform impeccably.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's all well and good apparel containing recycled fibres, but here they also feel svelte and well considered, and that's a real win. The admittedly simple addition of reflective right/left tags have already saved me hours of faffing, and they pack down nice and small.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's very little I would change about Kostüme's arm warmers; they don't hold off extreme weather, but don't claim to either.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are some of the more expensive arm warmers on offer: up there with Rapha, and more than Assos. The warmers from dhb and Specialized mentioned in the review are £15 less – although Kostüme would point to its environmental credentials as one way to justify the price. And Rapha does have a couple at £55.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you're looking for environmentally-sound apparel and acknowledge the associated costs of such production methods, then spending a bit more on one of the cheaper items in your cycling kit arsenal won't concern you. The price hurdle is really the only one that exists for the Kostüme arm warmers, as everything else is high-end and impressive. They are well made, durable, aesthetically pleasing, practical, snug fitting, and warm.
About the tester
I usually ride: Pearson Hammerandtongs My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Ultra endurance