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These high quality Santini Beta Arm Warmers prove a decent set – as long as you realise they aren't designed for the very coldest rides, and accept that they might not match all your riding kit...
Santini, the Italian premium cycling clothing brand, is seldom short on quality with its products, and it's a theme that continues with these arm warmers. Like the Beta jacket I tested a couple of months ago, they incorporate Windstopper technology to great effect.
Breezy rides are no issue for the Beta Arm Warmers, keeping out penetrating wind and maintaining body temperature underneath. However, there's no Roubaix lining to be seen here – which means if the air temperature does drop to close to freezing, the resultant windchill effect isn't quite kept at bay (supporting Santini's advice that the lowest ideal operating temperature is 10°C).
That means I got the best use out of them in cool weather while riding at a high tempo. The lack of Roubaix lining coupled with the technical membrane means moisture wicking and breathability levels are very good. I found a little dampness built up in the course of a three-hour ride, but even the best fabrics will still cause this in my experience. The bottom line is: even when the sun broke out and I expected to get too warm, I didn't.
Construction is excellent too – seams are well made and don't rub, while the gripper at the tip of the arm is made using an elasticated fabric supplemented by silicone nodules. On the reverse there's Santini branding that doubles as an external silicone gripper to help retention inside a short sleeved jersey. All these elements maintained their quality through a few 40°C washes, even though caring instructions stated to wash them at 30.
These work well for their designed purpose within the confines of the sizing. I found that the arm warmers came up slightly small – a theme I find with most Italian cycling clothing – and so for me I'd be looking at ideally buying an XL/XXL size, and I don't have 'big' arms. They really do fit in a race cut and compress your arms somewhat, which might limit their appeal to some.
Included too is a reflective 'Beta' logo on one of the sleeves near the wrist. It's a good touch, but I do feel if you're going to include reflective graphics, Santini would have been better off putting them on both arms. That way when indicating, you the get the benefit whichever way you turn.
If the weather gets a bit damp, the Beta arm warmers are also capable of resisting water as well. It's not full and prolonged beading, but it's enough to keep your arms insulated from showers for short periods of time. Also, thanks to the breathable nature of the fabric, water is wicked away fairly easily – which means if you do get wet, you hopefully won't stay too wet for the rest of your ride.
The test pair I had came in a red and black colourway, which was stylish enough (although it did clash with my jersey colours). Alternatively, you can opt for a blue-turquoise and black version, but again the clashing issue remains. I find it a shame that you can't get these in a simple black, if I'm honest.
Santini's European website has these marked for retail at €59, while most UK stockists note an rrp of £39.99. Although the warmers are impressive in many respects, they aren't perfect, and this strikes me as quite a lot of money – especially as they won't match up with all your kit. Luckily, you can find them discounted to £25.99 at time of writing, which I reckon is about right, all things considered.
In many respects these are excellent arm warmers, but with just a few niggles
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Beta Arm Warmers
Size tested: Medium, Red/Black
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?
Santini says: "Made of the exclusive Windstopper Laminated 178 fabric, [the Beta arm warmers] will offer you thermal insulation and wind protection in cold temperatures (10-15° C or 50-60° F) and breathability and comfort at higher temperatures (15-20° C or 60-70° F)."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Flexible fabric
- Breathable material
- Windstopper technology
- Dual sided silicone nodules to help retention
Seams are well made, and I've noticed no degradation elsewhere. Near top marks.
These arm warmers perform well as described, with the added benefit of a small amount of water resistance thrown in. I certainly wouldn't buy them for this slightly unexpected feature, but it's nice that it's there nevertheless.
No complaints here from me - colour, fit and material quality has maintained despite washing it 10° warmer than recommended.
They are almost compressive in nature - indicating a race cut. Fine, if this is what you like, but I suspect it will limit appeal.
Like a lot of Italian kit I've come across, they come up small. I ideally need a size up to XL/XXL, when usually a large will suffice.
They're certainly not heavy - easily pocketable if required. But you will need a whole pocket for them.
Comfortable - I particularly like the silicone gripper nodules that avoid restricting you without losing grip on the upper arm.
At £40 rrp, these need to be nigh-on perfect - and they're not. Luckily, you can get them for around £25 if you scout around online.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does a solid job - performing well in the major key areas Santini claims it's designed for.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Gripper system, breathability and windproofing with a touch of water resistance from new.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The small sizing, reflective tagging on only one arm, and limited colour options (they really could do with a plain black).
Did you enjoy using the product? Largely, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No - not in the colours on offer.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not unless they already had kit that matched them.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding