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The Van Rysel Merino Arm Warmers 900 are very soft, impressively warm and – in the absence of bulky seam – comfortable too. Make sure you go up a size though, as they're small.
Merino wool is a lovely material; it's very soft, and great at regulating temperature. These Van Rysel arm warmers feel cossetting thanks to the fabric composition of 47% wool – which has its own 'give' – and 4% elastane, which gives that bit more stretch. The rest is polyamide.
There is barely any bunching at the elbow, and despite being a patchwork of panels, there's nothing to irritate or dig in. The seams are flat and fluffy.
The way merino regulates temperature means these work over a big range. For me, that's about 12°C down to a recent cold morning ride of -2°C.
They aren't quite as thin as lycra arm warmers, but they still roll into a small enough bundle to fit in your pocket should things warm up.
Speaking of size, I must mention the Van Rysels come up on the small side compared to many brands. Against a typical medium from Lusso or dhb, the Van Rysel M/L measures up a bit short and tight.
I'd say I'm right on the upper limit for these, so if I was buying them for myself, I'd definitely be going for the XL/2XL.
The overall quality is good. They look neat and tidy throughout with no signs of stray threads or weakness, which only bolsters their value further in light of the £19.99 asking price.
That's a fiver cheaper than the Condor Merino Arm Warmers at today's price, though those have the edge when it comes to aesthetics.
The dhb Merino Arm Warmers are a few quid more expensive at £22, though they enjoy almost double the merino content at 97% (the rest is elastane). That makes them look really good value for money.
Performance wise I found the Van Rysels very good, especially considering the wide temperature range they cover. They're comfortable too, while offering decent value for money. The only downside is needing to make sure you size up.
Soft, warm and very comfortable, but go up a size
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Van Rysel Merino Arm Warmers 900
Size tested: M/L
Tell us what the product is for
Van Rysel says, "These arm warmers have been designed for your autumn and winter outings to protect against the cold while maintaining breathability. Merino wool allows you to maintain a comfortable body temperature (keeps you warm in cool weather and cool in hot weather). The wool limits bad odours from sweating."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Warmth: The merino wool provides exceptional warmth and breathability.
Odour control: Body odour is limited thanks to the properties of the merino wool.
Softness: Ultra-thin, soft merino wool (18.5 microns). No itching.
Moisture management: The wool's excellent absorption capabilities help keep your body dry.
Anatomic design: The merino wool has good stretch and comfort when moving.
Wool origin: We only use wool from Merino sheep raised on farms in South Africa which do not use mulesing.
They come up small compared to UK sizing.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Van Rysel recommends a 30 degree wash and drip dry. I followed that and had no issues with shrinkage, which can happen with some wool products if you aren't careful.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Warm and comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good range of temperatures.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing major, just the sizing is a touch small.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are a similar price to the dhb warmers mentioned in the review, although the latter has a much higher merino content. They are two-thirds of the price of the Condors, but I do prefer the way those look.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but the next size up
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a well built product with plenty of warmth and comfort for the money. They do come up a little small, but the three sizes should cover most.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!