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Madison's Road Race Optimus Softshell Arm Warmers are versatile, well fitting and very good value. What makes them so good is that they're weather-resistant – you don't feel the wind chill and rain simply beads on the surface and rolls off.
I tested Madison's claim of 'waterproof fabric' and after a prolonged soaking water did seep through at the seams, but you'd have to be riding in a monsoon to emulate those conditions. Breathability is good, too, with just a bit of perspiration build-up inside the forearms when working hard.
These unisex warmers are anatomically shaped for the left and right arms, each constructed from three softshell panels with a thinner Lycra insert on the inside bicep to prevent overheating. As the reflective logo reads, the RoadRace Optimus warmers are 'Pro rider developed' but I'm not sure if so many panels really add to the comfort because they necessitate lots of seams, which I find can niggle. However, all the seams are flatlocked to reduce any irritation, likewise there's no care label to cut out, and the material feels soft against the skin.
The fit is snug – compared to the Craft Arm Warmers I tested at the same time (literally – one on each arm) they almost feel like compression sleeves, especially around the forearm. This tightness makes them a bit slower to put on. To help you pull them up, Madison has incorporated finger tabs on the inside of the broad and comfortable top band, but they're a little fiddly to get your fingertips into. I needed a medium size, despite my bicep measurement indicating I was a small (I'm modelling the smalls in the photos), so I would definitely recommend sizing up.
These warmers are a good long length to ensure no gaps – you can even team them with Madison men's RoadRace short-sleeved jerseys, which have silicone arm grippers compatible with the silicone print on the outside of the warmers' arm bands. Interior gripper prevents any slippage of the warmers, too.
In all, these are very strong contenders in the arm warmer arsenal, and you can find them discounted to £17.99 on a couple of online stores, which makes them even better value. If you'd prefer a simple thermal arm warmer, Madison does the fleecy-lined Sportive Thermal for £14.99, though I can't say how well they work.
Water-resistant arm warmers for all seasons that keep you dry and toasty, and great value
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison RoadRace Optimus Softshell arm warmers
Size tested: Medium
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?
Madison says: "The ultimate cold weather warmer, the Optimus softshell arm warmer keeps the rain away from the skin without letting you overheat"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
4-way stretch fabric
Waterproof softshell fabric
Finger tabs in the upper cuff to help pull warmer up
Silicone printed grippers
Lightweight Lycra fabric inside the elbow to prevent overheating
Limited lifetime warranty
Perfectly matched with the Road Race Optimus jersey
It sizes up small. I selected Small according to bicep measurement on Madison's size chart but it was far too tight. The Medium fitted well.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine washed well.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – they keep your arms warm and dry and aren't too sweaty.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fact that they're water-resistant.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These are very good warmers all-round – they work well and are a great price. I would have scored them a 9 if it wasn't for all the seams and slight fiddliness to pull up.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax