Test of the Sportful Fiandre NoRain Arm Warmers

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The Sportful NoRain arm warmers are part of a trio of accessories from the brand, alongside knee and leg warmers of similar construction, each aiming to add versatile, removable protection on days when the weather can’t decide. .

Over the past few months almost all of my rides have been spent wearing weird arm warmers in an effort to figure out what the best cycling arm warmers are available. Luckily most of them are black so my fashion faux pas regularly went unnoticed but during that time I wore the Sportful NoRain arm warmers alongside the Assos Evo 7 arm warmers, Castelli Nano Flex 3G arm warmers and others in hot, cold, wet, dry and even snowy.

They’re priced at £40.00/$60.00, which is what I’d expect from a good pair of cuffs, but if you shop around (or use the price comparison plugins on this page), you’ll almost certainly get them for less.

A pair of Sportful NoRain arm warmers on a cobblestone floor

A silicone band keeps them in place, while a small reflective tab adds a touch of low-light visibility (Image credit: Josh Croxton)

Design and specifications

According to Sportful, NoRain refers to the treatment it applied to the material used, which is essentially a hydrophobic coating on the fibers of the fabric. This differs slightly from a DWR coating, but the end result is similar; a material that forces water to bead and roll, rather than soaking.

They currently come in a grand total of one colorway – black – although they have previously been available in other choices such as bright red (you can still find them in this color at select retailers). Older models print a large “norain” wordmark on the outer arm. A recent redesign added a rubberized orange ‘Fiandre’ stripe down one arm in place of that ‘norain’ wording, but for this particular pair I have an all black design with only a reflective Sportful ‘S’ logo for branding . For all of the above, the material and construction remain the same.

Unsurprisingly, given that they come from the same factory as Castelli, they are quite similar in construction. While some brands add preset bends to the elbow – specifically placed seams or diagonal cuts on the upper arm – it’s simply a tube of material with a single full-length seam, a double-folded cuff stitching and a silicone band on an elasticated band at the upper.

In fact, the only real difference with the Castelli Nano Flex 3G is the slightly smaller fit, which may actually be a symptom of the material feeling a little thicker.

A pair of Sportful NoRain arm warmers on a cobblestone floor

The small “S” is reflective and is the only Sportful branding on display. (Image credit: Josh Croxton)

Performance

The main selling point of the NoRain cuffs is the “no rain” terminology, so to put that to the test I did a few things. The first was an obvious test of wearing them in the rain, which they well ignored, but it’s worth clarifying that heavy or persistent rain will still get its way, as it does for all competitors. The second test was a bit more comparative; I turned on the kitchen faucet, put on the cuffs one by one, and counted how long it took for my arm to get wet. In this test, the Sportful NoRain arm warmers lasted significantly longer than some – including a supposedly waterproof pair from Santini – but they were outperformed by Castelli and Assos.

However, this is not the only measure on which to compare the success of an arm warmer. Warmth and wind resistance go hand in hand, and the NoRain was the warmest in testing. As mentioned, the material is slightly thicker than the others, which translates to extra warmth, but also a little less ventilation. The result is that it was often the arm carrying Sportful that ended the ride feeling the sweatiest. Not uncomfortable, but enough to be noticeable. Now that the tests are complete, these are the arm warmers I use on the coldest days.

Comfort is the other deciding factor, and a big part of that is whether or not they stay in place while riding. In this respect, no pair was safer than the Sportful NoRain, in fact I often ended a ride with an indentation on the circumference of my arm where the rubber band and silicone were. Again, it wasn’t uncomfortable, but if you’re more blessed than me in the biceps department (which wouldn’t take much) then you might find them on the tight side.

Verdict

When comparing the Sportful NoRain cuffs to its two closest competitors Assos and Castelli they finish in last place but before you rush out and buy one of the others there are reasons why you should always consider them.

As the safest pair, they’re a great choice for anyone who struggles to drop their cuffs, but their compressive elastic hem could cause problems for anyone with anything above the stereotypical skimpy cyclist arm. . Also, as the warmest pair, they’re a great choice for those living in more temperate climates but, again, beware of reduced ventilation – something that could become a problem for those whose walks continue under the afternoon sun.

To sum up, and I’ll take my book of metaphors: Finishing third in this event is a bit like completing the Paris-Roubaix podium behind Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel. You wouldn’t be unhappy with a podium there, and you wouldn’t be unhappy with a pair of Sportful cuffs here, but you could do better.

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