These merino wool knee warmers from Rapha are soft and comfortable, and they provide enough insulation for nippy autumn and spring rides.
It's probably a good idea for you to check out our review of Rapha's Merino Arm Warmers too because these are very similar... except they're for your knees.
They're 95% fine merino with 5% elastane (Lycra) in there to provide extra stretch and a bit of added durability. The wool feels super-comfy against your skin and offers a surprising amount of warmth given the light weight - about as much as a pair of roubaix warmers, give or take. (I wore a roubaix knee warmer on one leg and a merino one on the other leg to check. I think I got away with it. People thought it was a fashion statement).
Whereas arm warmers just sit there and look pretty - or not - knee warmers have to flex repeatedly up to a billion times every ride (it might not actually be a billion. But it's a lot). So, if knee warmers aren't stretchy enough, they can go baggy over the course of a ride and you don't want that. I've had wool knee warmers in the past that have struggled to retain their shape and, apart from not being a good look, they can bunch behind your knees and start to chafe.
These knee warmers don't do that. They're well behaved. They keep their shape throughout even a long ride and that's a good thing. They also stay warm if they get a bit sweaty and are much more odour-resistant than most synthetic fabrics.
There's just the one seam and it's flatlock stitched so you can't even feel it and a silicone rubber gripper stops the top from slipping.
More expensive than most knee warmers, but the super-soft merino wool means they put in a high-level performance
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Merino Kneewarmers
Size tested: Black - L
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?
Rapha say, "Made from a fabric developed exclusively by Rapha, these high-performance knee warmers combine the natural performance properties of merino wool with a degree of Lycra for stretch and durability. They provide insulation, are highly breathable and also transfer moisture effectively. The fabric is quick-drying so the knee warmers can be used in a variety of conditions."
I'm not sure if Rapha are aiming these at the urban market or the racy market but they're equally suited to either.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
They're 95% merino wool and 5% elastane. You'll probably know that wool still manages to provide a good level of warmth when it's damp.
These are simple wool tubes - no complicated construction.
Expensive if you compare them with standard knee warmers; not so expensive if you compare them with merino knee warmers
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. I've enjoyed using these.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The high level of comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is pretty high - although you might find it reassuringly expensive, I guess.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.