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The Castelli UPF 50+ Light Arm Skins are a decent set of sleeves that keep the sun off and offer some protection on descents.
As the sun comes out, so too do the razor sharp cyclist tan lines and the realisation that despite the ride starting under clouds, you are now in bright sunshine with no suntan lotion. This is the kind of situation that the Castelli UPF 50+ Light Arm Sleeves aim to stop.
They're a simple construction of a polyester based material in a tube with the two sides stitched together along a single seam.
The material used is stated as UPF 50+ so it doesn't let harmful UV rays through to burn your skin, although according to Castelli they actually block out 99.8% of harmful rays. I used these on some days with fairly intense sun and nothing got through, so they seem to do what they're designed for.
They aren't just useful for keeping the sun off, though. Okay, they aren't the warmest of warmers, but they do keep the worst of the wind off your arms on descents, and I also used them a couple of times on early morning rides.
They're very light too, so it's a no-brainer to stick them in a jersey pocket when it's not too sunny, as they can provide a little extra protection on the other side of climbs.
Despite the simplicity of the design there are some nice elements such as the silicone gripper at the top of each sleeve both inside and out, so they hold on to your skin and the sleeves of your jersey.
An RRP of £25 puts them on par with many of the warmers we've tested on road.cc, a little higher than some, a little lower than others, and given their usefulness as both sun and wind protection, they go some way to justifying it. Sugoi's similar offerings that David tested were £24.99 in 2013, although the Castellis don't claim to cool...
Overall, I found them to be really useful, both at keeping the sun off my skin and giving a little protection against the wind. Yes okay, as David pointed out a bottle of suntan lotion is cheaper, but that won't keep your arms warm on the downhill...
Simple but versatile sleeves that are useful for keeping off the sun or the wind
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli UPF 50+ Light Arm Sleeves
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Designed to keep the sun off your skin on sunny days, but also doubles as something to cover your arms to partially protect against the wind.
Castelli says, "Surprisingly useful - We can officially only rate these warmers at UPF 50+, but in our laboratory tests they actually blocked 99.8 percent of damaging UV rays. We used a polyester base that is not only more effective than nylon at blocking UV rays but is also much better at keeping you dry, which means these skins are better in both cooler and warmer conditions. We've kept the construction very clean to eliminate seams that can rub, and we used our double-sided silicone elastic to make sure they stay in place. They fold up extremely small, so they're great to stick in your pockets for your next big mountain day."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Solare fabric keeps the chill off without causing overheating
UPF 50+ protection
Polyester based for excellent moisture management
Double-side silicone elastic at top for excellent grip
Well made with a decent material choice and strong stitching along the single seam.
Did everything I expected: kept the sun off my arms while also giving some protection against the wind on descents.
They aren't designed to be some kind of heavyweight arm warmer, but they are still relatively sturdy.
Nice stretchy material means they can fit a wide range of arm sizes.
The mediums I tested fitted as I would expect.
Very lightweight, so easy to keep in a jersey pocket during a ride.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, simply washed at 30 and hung out to dry without any issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed well; a simple product but they did everything they needed to.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How useful they are, whether you've just come over the top of a climb and need protection the other side, or you need to keep the sun off your arms.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Perhaps a bit pricey for what they are.
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 overall score
A simple but effective set of sleeves that keep off the worst of the wind and all of the sun. Castelli has added some nice features too, like the double-sided silicone grippers.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cinelli Gazzetta My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.