Question: I began riding last fall and invested in tights for winter. Now it’s warming up and I see local riders wearing tubes of material on their legs and arms. Then they take these off when it gets warmer. What are these things? — Basil M.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: You’re describing leg warmers and arm warmers.
They pull on to convert your shorts into tights and your short-sleeve jersey to long sleeves.
The advantage, as you noticed, is convenience. Simply pull warmers on when it’s chilly and peel them off when the temperature rises. For that reason They’re perfect for changeable fall and spring weather. They stow easily in a jersey pocket or seat bag.
There’s also an abbreviated version of leg warmers, called knee warmers, that convert your shorts to knickers.
You’ll see some riders wearing warmers incorrectly. They should be worn under shorts and jersey sleeves, which help hold them up. Most warmers have a band of elastic gripper material that also keeps them in place.
Tips! Shaved legs keep warmers up better than hairy legs. On hair, warmers tend to act like a kid on a playground slide. Bare skin lets the gripper material do its job.
Instead of taking arm warmers all the way off (which, for a beginning rider would probably require stopping), you can also keep one hand on the bar, near the stem for added stability, and simply peel the warmer on that arm down so that it folds over itself on your forearm. Then do the opposite arm. This provides a nice “mid-way” solution that allows a little more cooling vs. taking the arm warmers all the way off.