Starting with a standard pair of their Thermoflex armwarmers and coating it with millions of silicone 'nanofilaments', Castelli have created a water repellent fabric called Nanoflex that causes raindrops to bead off of the fabric as you are riding keeping you drier for longer. That's the theory; and the practice?
Well, in practice the Nanoflex arm warmers, like the Nanoflex knee warmers we tested recently, are pretty impressive too. Light rain and road spray are just blown off the material by the wind as you travel along. This process works in heavier downpours until the fabric gets overwhelmed and once wet the thermal fleece fabric keeps you warm so it's no real problem. In the dry they work exactly the same as the standard Thermoflex warmers they are based on. While warm they are not overly so and can be worn on spring/autumn mornings without the fear of overheating.
The Thermoflex material offers thermal protection using a fleece inside which also provides comfort as well. The fit is close with the size tested covering from wrist to armpit on me, there are no size guides on Castelli's website but to give a little idea of how they measure up my arm length is 46cm and a 18cm diameter bicep. They stayed put all ride thanks to silicone grippers either end and the fact they are so long stops that annoying gap between armwarmer and jersey sleeve happening.
Price wise we're looking mid to high end here at just over the thirty quid mark and being just a couple of pounds extra than the standard Thermoflex the Nanoflex coating is a worthwhile extra. The de rigueur colour choice of white, black or red is available in sizes from small to extra large.
All in all the water resistant coating makes good sense especially at this time of year when a full waterproof jacket is too warm in the rain but paired with a gilet these warmers keep the worst of the dampness at bay. Thin enough to be used as a layer in the minus temperatures winter throws at us under a softshell or jacket coupled with being able to use them in spring/autumn without overheating makes them versatile and probably one of the most used bits of kit in your wardrobe.
There is a downside though as ever, a large seam runs the full length which can get irritating after a while plus the graphics don't look like they will stay attached very long and look a bit rubbish once the material is stretched over your arm.
A veratile product that should be of use for at least 75% of the year in the UK. The water repellent coating is impressive and works in all but the heaviest rainfall but by this stage you'll probably be thinking about a waterproof jacket anyway. A good fit though with a reasonable price tag which is only let down by that overly large seam.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Nanoflex arm warmers
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A standard armwarmer combined with Castelli's water repellant Nanoflex technology to create a more versatile piece of apparell. It does give them an edge over the competition and a solution to a problem you'd never realised needed solving.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A silicone coating provides the water repellent finish which keeps light rain and road spray out.
Look well made and the stitching held up to the armwarmers being pulled on and off plenty of times
The water resistant coating works as well as expected
Everything looks fine except for the naff logos
That irritating seam
The price is about on par with what you'd expect, there are more expensive options out there without the water resistance - it is worth looking around though because we've seen them substantially discounted on-line
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
In the dry these armwarmers are pretty standard fair, doing a good job of keeping you warm and pack down small in your pocket. When the weather is wet though having the water repellant coating works well and up to the level expected for a water resistant product
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit and the Nanoflex technology
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The large seam was uncomfortable after a while. Many other armwarmers I have worn have a seam half the size.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not really
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
About the tester
Age: 32 Height: 180cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Ribble Gran Fondo
I've been riding for: 10-20 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,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.