Leg warmers aren't just for winter, well not in Britain anyway and a good pair are worth their weight in gold - as I write gold is trading at £26/g which makes these Castelli Thermoflex Leg Warmers something of a bargain.
Often with kit from the likes of Castelli, you can look a picture of it, read the spec and still wonder why it costs twice as much as ostensibly similar items from other brands. When you pick it up, stroke it and - most of all - wear it for a long ride, things can become clearer. That's not always the case, but it is with these leg warmers. They're dead simple, no multi-panel construction, no fancy graphics, no pre-shaped anatomical fit, not even a revolutionary nanoscopic water resistance. They're simply a tube of lovely, lovely soft brushed-fleece-lined super stretchy fabric.
These are a Large and they fit me well - they're unusually long, in fact, which means that you get a couple of extra inches of warm thigh - never a bad thing. There's the usual silicon gripper strip (inside and out) at the top which works well - I never had to hoick these up during a ride. At the bottom is a zip to make it easier to get them over your foot - on one leg there's a strip of red material next to the zip with Castelli written on it (sorry, a "sublimated Castelli wordmark") - this is the only brand identification visible, actually. It matches the single red wrist stripe on the Thermoflex arm warmers. Last year's model had the customary scorpion graphic on each leg but that's not present here - in my experience they're rather prone to peeling off after a few washes, so perhaps they just decided to save your washing machine the bother and leave them off altogether. So they're really rather discreet for Castelli, which I for one am quite happy with, although I would prefer some reflectives - there are none here.
Earlier this year I tested the Sugoi RS leg warmers and the contrast is quite pronounced. The cut on these Castellis is much simpler - a gently tapering tube with a single seam - whereas the Sugoi warmers use wavy seams to give a more anatomical fit. But the fabric here is so much stretchier that I found these were easier to put on, more comfortable and stayed in place much better.
Unlike Castelli's NanoFlex leg warmers, these make no claims of water resistance, so they're best suited to cold dry days. That said, the fleece does a decent job of helping retain some warmth even when it's wet. Castelli recommend that these are suitable for use in the 5-15° range. For me that's not far off the money for a steady ride; if I was going for it then I'd personally not wear leg warmers over 10 or 11°, but there are creakier knee'd members of the road.cc team who who would definitely break them out in those temperatures - at least at the start of a ride. Castelli also have a lycra leg warmer in their range, which they suggest you might like to use in temperatures up to 20°. Those crazy Italians.
How do these fare against their competition, then? Perhaps their stiffest competition will be in-house - you can get Castelli's NanoFlex leg warmers for only a fiver more, and the added protection from the elements is definitely worth the extra cash. Other brands, inevitably, have cheaper offerings and I've been very impressed by dhb's leg warmers in the past, but there's no doubt that the Thermoflex material here is the real star - softer, stretchier and more comfortable than any of the cheaper leg warmers I've used previously.
Simple, stretchy and extremely comfortable leg warmers, but a fiver more buys you extra shower protection
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Make and model: Castelli Thermoflex leg warmer
Size tested: S, M, 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?
Thermoflex fabric for soft, warm, stretchy comfort
Microfiber gripper elastic at top
Sublimated Castelli wordmark
Reflective bands (where?!) and camlock zipper
Comfy and warm for long rides. But if you can add water-resistance for only another fiver, wouldn't you?
Should last for ages - and you don't even need to worry about the scorpion peeling off!
The most comfy leg warmers I've ever used.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Thermoflex material is what you're paying for - soft, stretchy and very comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I would like some reflective details - proper sewn or bonded ones that won't peel off. There aren't any reflective details.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, although I'd probably go for the Nanoflex version.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
In terms of comfort and performance (on a dry day) these are a 9, but I'd like to see some reflective detailing (pardon the pun); plus the fact that the Nanoflex version with added rain protection is only a fiver more pulls these back to an 8
Age: 35 Height: 190cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.