by Rena Hartman and Molly Hurford
Finding the right legwarmers can be a simple process for some people, but for others, finding a knee- or legwarmer that doesn’t chafe, cut or otherwise irritate may seem like the impossible dream. When a pair finally feels comfortable, it slides off. When a pair feels a bit tight, but stays in place, so do deep scratches after a cold ride. Having once come in from a century with actual bloodstains on my (light-colored) shorts from where the legwarmers hit my thighs, I’m admittedly a bit picky about what legwarmers I’ll wear. Armwarmers, to be honest, I’m OK with as long as they stay up and keep my arms cozy.
So when Assos offered to send us some arm- and legwarmers to check out, I scoffed. I was positive that even the company known for being the most expensive option out there (their logo is ‘Sponsor Yourself’) wouldn’t be able to put together a legwarmer that I could stand. And as an added challenge, they were sending pairs to two of us, Rena Hartman and I. While I’m on the short side of the spectrum, my co-tester is on the opposite side, several inches taller (Molly: 5’4″, Rena: 5’10”), and we have very different body types. Impressing us both would be a challenge.
The Assos S7 leg, arm, and knee warmers look like your average warmers upon first glance as they rest in their packaging. After removal it becomes obvious that Assos dedicates a great deal of time designing these items with the cold-climate, year-round, racer-in-training in mind. The L-shaped curve appropriate to the respective knee or elbow bend is a big difference from the glued-end triangular design of most warmers. In theory, this design would use the form of the body to better keep the warmer in place. Assos even places detailed instructions for the rider trying on their items in every package.
The company even specifically states that their apparel is made for a cyclist’s body. In this regard, I [Rena] feel like the bigger parts of my body, thighs and upper arms, were ill-suited for their arm, leg, and knee warmers. I experienced a lot of slipping down my legs and arms when I began my rides. It was a pain to have to keep adjusting. However, the second my skin began to perspire and I was steady on my ride the warmers stayed in place. There is no silicon strip or dotting on the arm, leg, or knee warmers. With bib shorts, that tacky silicon on the bottom of the leg can cause some pain. With these warmers, I was missing that tackiness. Small dots of silicon would have helped immensely in keeping the warmers in place. I experienced slippage most with the arm warmers. The leg and knee warmers only ever so slowly inched out of their position under my shorts. One major plus on the leg warmer is an extra scallop of fabric up the quadriceps/hamstring that lays on the side of the leg. This scallop not only provides extra warmth on the outside of the leg, but gives the leg warmer greater surface-area to hold under the shorts.
What Rena saw as a problem (the lack of grippers), I [Molly] was actually feeling great about! Maybe it’s a simple sizing issue, or maybe it’s that that grippers on my shorts held the warmers in place better, but whatever the reason, I was finding myself happily putting in long miles without any slippage at all. Even on bathroom breaks, they stayed in place despite the lack of any gripper. The scallop, designed to keep your (ahem) glutes a bit more covered, also served to keep the warmers in place better: without it, I doubt they would have been as stationary. The armwarmers fit well too, and had a similar setup in the shape of a shoulder flap. If you’re a major connoisseur of armwarmers, these might be a good choice for you, but the pricetag that they carry put them a bit out of my “realistic kit” range.
As far as fit goes, I would actually disagree with Rena. That said, she brings up a good point. “Built for a cyclist” is a simple proposition when talking about male cyclists (or simpler than talking about women), and when the warmers are offered as unisex, it makes us question, “Which cyclist, exactly?” I’m 5’4″ and 118 pounds, and was wearing the unisex XS range of warmers. I found them to be comfortable and fit properly (the XS could maybe fit up to a 5’6″ person, but much taller and I’d size up). It wasn’t until I started looking at pricing on legwarmers (usually ranging from $70 to $170 for well-known brands and fabrics that are weather-proof rather than just spandex), I realized that paying close attention to sizing and even possibly contacting the company for sizing suggestions is a smart move, since the warmers’ ability to stay up is so closely related to proper sizing.
Lastly, the warmth and breathability of the fabric is unique: they’re almost fleece-lined, but not at all bulky. On the East Coast, we had enough days where temperatures dipped low enough to safely say that the warmers are better than average at keeping cozy on chilly rides: especially the legwarmers with the extra scallop section up the back of your thigh: normally a spot that gets hit by win and doesn’t have an extra layer to protect it!
As we said earlier on, Assos kit doesn’t come cheap. But legwarmers can extend the life of your shorts into year-round kit, so if you don’t have a lot of cold weather gear, getting legwarmers can be a lot cheaper (and offer more versatility, and add less to your weekly laundry pile) than buying a few pairs of tights. So, if you’re able to afford it and haven’t had any luck with other knee- or legwarmers, we would say that these are definitely worth a try.
ASSOS S7 Leg-, Knee-, and Armwarmers
Material: 70%PA, 16%EA, 14%PES (ASSOS Textile Laboratory Lugano designs the fabrics)
Material: 69%PA, 16%EA, 13%PES, 2%PP
Material: 55%PA, 17%EA, 26%PES, 2%PP