If you choose the right cycling jersey, it will make your ride much more comfortable and enjoyable. Whilst you could just ride in a t-shirt, cotton absorbs sweat and holds it against your skin which makes for a clammy, cold ride. Whatever kind of riding you do, there’s a jersey that’s been created with your specific needs in mind.
Materials – synthetic v. natural
Cycling jerseys were originally made from wool which could be itchy and harbour smells.
Most modern cycling jerseys are made from a synthetic blend. Synthetic fabrics can be engineered to wick away sweat which will keep you dry and comfortable. Blends are tailored to suit specific weather conditions. Look for water-resistance, wind-blocking and breathability depending on when and where you’ll be riding.
If you prefer natural fibres, look out for cycling jerseys made from merino wool. Merino sheep have adapted to cold winters and hot summers, so their wool is naturally wicking and stays warm when wet.
Unlike some natural fibres, it is naturally odour-resistant which is why it’s perfect for base layers, particularly if you’re travelling and might want to wear the same one for several days at a time. Merino wool is soft and breathable so it’s also great for sensitive skin.
Merino cycling jerseys generally use a blend of merino and synthetic yarns to provide additional strength and durability.
Road cycling jerseys
How should a road cycling jersey fit?
The cut is optimised for the position you’ll be riding in. Most cycling jerseys will be longer at the back than the front so that your back stays covered.
The front might even feel a little too short but this is so that you avoid excess fabric causing discomfort when you are bent over the handlebars
You might find that, when you stand upright, the fabric is tight across the shoulders. If in doubt, assume the riding position when you try on your jersey.
When you are choosing your jersey, think about the kind of riding you’ll be doing. On sociable rides where you’ll be stopping for coffee, you may feel less self-conscious in a looser fit. If you’re planning on racing, a tight aero-fit might give you an advantage.
Choose long or short sleeves depending on the weather conditions you’ll be riding in. Short-sleeved jerseys can be more versatile – with the addition of arm-warmers or clever layering they can see you through most of the year.
Features and technologies
Grippers and hems - When you’re out on the bike, clothes that ride up can be an unwelcome distraction. Most cycling jerseys have silicone grippers at the hemline and on the sleeves. Performance and race-cut jerseys may also feature ‘laser cut’ sleeves which are designed to sit like a second-skin for aero advantage.
Flatlock seams - Most cycling jerseys will have seams that lay flat to minimise chafing.
Visibility - If you’ll be riding in low light conditions, consider brighter colours and look for reflective details.
Front zip - A full-length zip allows you to cool down on long, hot rides. Look for jerseys with a ‘zip garage’ to prevent it irritating your neck and chin.
Pockets - Road jerseys will typically have three rear pockets for spares and food. Some may have an extra zipped pocket to store money and valuables. Winter jerseys might have a weather-proof pocket so you can carry your phone safely.
Wind-and-water resistance - Modern wind and water-resistant materials are generally designed to be breathable, but you may find that panels of lighter-weight fabrics are used to further aid ventilation, for example on the back or the underarms.
SPF protection - If you’re out in sunny conditions, remember that the sun’s rays can get through your jersey. Some modern fabrics now come with built-in SPF protection.
What type of road cycling jersey do you need?
When you choose your road cycling jersey, you need to think about fit, function and riding conditions. Most will generally come into one of the following categories. We've picked out some of the best examples for each:
An 'active fit' is more relaxed for a leisure riding position. Perfect for those weekend cafe rides.
dhb created the MODA collection from the ground up specifically for women. This 100% polyester jersey comes in eye-catching prints and has three generous pockets, making it great for the commute as well as weekend rides.
Perfect for long summer days, thanks to the breathable mesh panels and moisture-wicking fabric. An anti-slip silicone gripper inside the bottom hem means you don't need to worry about this jersey riding up.
This lightweight, fast-wicking jersey will keep you comfortable so that you can enjoy your ride. The flattering fit looks just as good off the bike. Generous pockets give you plenty of capacity to carry everything you need.
A performance jersey has a more fitted cut. The fabric sits close to the body for a performance-minded riding position. Ideal for training or those faster club-rides.
A versatile jersey that will take you from weekend cafe rides to the big sportive. The wicking fabric keeps moisture away from the skin and an antibacterial treatment will keep your jersey fresh wash after wash.
The slightly less racey RegularFit makes this stylish jersey perfect for those long summer rides with a leisurely lunch break. Assos' high-performance Type.157 Stripe Tex fabric is comfortable and moisture-wicking and the odorControl treatment keeps your jersey feeling fresh wash after wash.
Endura recognises that riders come in all shapes and sizes so they created this high-performance, close-fitting jersey to suit everyone from the skinny climbers to the powerful sprinters. Snug, lycra sleeves deliver optimal aerodynamic efficiency without restricting movement.
A race cut will feel very short on the body and tight. Loose fabric creates aerodynamic drag so the more streamlined you can go, the better. If you're racing somewhere hot or expecting a lot of climbing, specialist ' climbers' jerseys' are available which are constructed from much lighter, and often more see-through, fabrics. For time-trialling, some jerseys incorporate texture on the shoulders to disrupt air-flow.
This high-performance jersey has been constructed from eco-friendly recycled fibres, making it kinder for the environment, but it's still cool and moisture-wicking so you'll stay comfortable on those long climbs. A 'J Stability' system at the waist means a perfect fit even as you adopt a lower, more aggressive riding position.
When every second counts, this aerodynamic jersey promises to give you an unfair advantage. Castelli has used CFD (Computational Flow Dynamics) to analyse wake-flow, creating a jersey that has been optimsed to fit better and minimise drag in an aggressive racing position.
With an uncompromising second-skin fit, the Aeron LAB Ultralight jersey is made for speed. Three lightweight performance meshes area combined for optimum moisture-wicking when you're putting in the hard efforts.
Unlike some lightweight jerseys, the Aeron LAB Ultralight has been designed with pockets that lie flat when not in use but don't sag when they're in use because dhb recognise that most of you won't have a team car following.
If you want to train through all weathers but prefer the performance of a jersey rather than layering up with jackets, you should look out for jerseys that use weather-resistant fabrics.
A perfect choice come rain-or-shine. The Perfetto is an evolution of the Gabba, a jersey that has such a reputation that pro riders would buy it with their own money and cover the logo so they wouldn't upset their kit sponsors. GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ 205 warm brushed water-resistant fabric on the front keeps you dry and GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ 203 on the rear adds stretch and breathability.
The Fiandre Light NoRain makes it easy to decide what to wear on those awkward autumn and spring days. It's super-light and has an aero fit so you can ride as hard as you want. The front, shoulders and upper-arms are made from a wind-resistant fabric while the back and forearms feature Sportful's NoRain technology for breathable water resistance.
Get the best of both worlds in the Gore Wear C5 Windstopper Zip-Off Jersey. As you set off on those cold mornings, you'll really feel the benefit of having sleeves. Then, if things heat up, simply zip them off. GORE® WINDSTOPPER® provides breathable protection from the wind and the rain.
If you'll be carrying on through deep winter, you'll need something with extra insulation. Most deep-winter jerseys are designed to be worn with base layers to help to retain a layer of warm air.
A versatile mid-weight insulating jersey. Choose a heavier base-layer and a jacket to stay warm on the coldest days, or wear with a mid-weight base-layer when it gets a bit milder. The fabric is designed to wick away moisture, minimising chill on descents.
Originally known as the 'Gabba,' Castelli's iconic winter long-sleeve was renamed to 'Perfetto' because that's exactly what it is. Perfect. Gore® Windstopper® X-Lite Plus fabric delivers protection from wind and rain but it still feels like you're wearing a jersey. Laser-cut drain holes in the pockets ensure you don't get weighed down if you're riding in the rain.
Isadore combines the finest merino wool, polyester and elastane to create this luxuriously soft and comfortable jersey. It feels amazing against the skin but you can layer it up for those really cold days.
Mountain bike jerseys
How should a mountain bike jersey fit?
Mountain bike jerseys are cut for the riding position so it's important to choose one that suits your riding style. An aero-dynamic fit isn't as important, with the exception of the tighter-fitting XC race jerseys. A more casual cut also looks great for those cafe or pub stops.
When you try on your mountain bike jersey, think about how you'll be sitting on the bike. You shouldn't feel like your movement is restricted as you'll probably be shifting your body more than you would on a road bike.
If you'll be wearing body armour, look for a looser fit to allow for the extra bulk.
Think about where you'll be riding and for how long. For overgrown trails and downhill riding, sleeves will protect your arms from thorny branches. If you need to carry a backpack or you'll be riding in warmer weather, ventilation panels will keep you comfortable.
Features and technologies
Elasticated cuffs - On long-sleeved jerseys, elasticated cuffs will keep drafts at bay and prevent the sleeves from rotating or bunching which can be a distraction.
Grippers on shoulders - Some jerseys may feature grippers on the shoulders to keep backpack straps in chase, minimising chafing.
Zipped pockets - Look for at least one zipped pocket so you can keep valuables safe even if you take a tumble
Colour – Will you be on the road between trails? Or maybe you'll be riding alone and need to be easy to spot if you get into difficulty. Many MTB jerseys come in garish colours - don't be afraid to stand out.
Glasses wipe - A microfibre panel inside the lower hem allows you to clean away mud quickly and get back on the trail.
Wind-and-water resistance - Look for breathable fabrics that will protect you from the elements.
Ventilation - Panels of lighter fabric on the back and underarms will make all the difference on warm days, but especially if you need to wear a backpack.
Cut for armour - If you will be wearing body armour, some jerseys are cut specifically to accommodate. For example, some jerseys feature a neck-line designed specifically to wear over a neck-brace.
What type of mountain bike jersey do you need?
As with road jerseys, when you choose your mountain bike jersey you'll need to consider fit, function and riding conditions. We've identified three main categories and picked some of our favourites for each:
Fitted XC (Cross Country)
XC racing jerseys have more in common with road jerseys. The fit is tight to eliminate material flapping around and causing a distraction. You might not be wearing a backpack so you'll find three rear pockets for spares and food.
Premium, moisture-wicking technology, mesh under-arm panels and built-in UPF of 50+ deliver all-day comfort even in the height of summer. A high-gauge knit means a more durable fabric so you'll be enjoying this jersey for years to come.
A highly versatile jersey that looks great on-and-off-road. Aero stretch fabric on the shoulders and sleek laser-cut sleeves will give you the edge and the highly breathable fabric will keep you comfortable The eye-catching design and reflective details will get you noticed if you're still out as the sun starts to set.
Assos designed the Rally jersey to meet the demands of XC and marathon bike racers. The combination of Mount Pine Tex and 3D mesh fabrics helps to regulate your body temperature as you push the pace. The shoulders have been designed for durability for those long rides when you need a backpack.
Made from a mid-weight wool mix, this jersey will wick away moisture so that you'll stay dry and comfortable all day. The three rear pockets are spray-proof and there's also an additional zipped chest pocket to stash any items you might need to access quickly.
These are generally constructed from thicker fabrics with panels of lighter fabric for ventilation. The fit should be loose and comfortable like a t-shirt, but technical fabrics, flatlock seams and a bike-specific cut sets them apart.
This deceptively casual-looking t-shirt is actually made from breathable fabric with mesh under-arm panels and an anti-odour treatment which means it will keep you feeling fresh and dry all day on the trails. Reflective details at the back keep you visible as the sun sets.
The loose fit feels like your favourite t-shirt, with the added benefit of a seamless vent design to move cooling air around your body. The TruDri™ fabrics will keep you fresh on those long summer days. Super-functional on the trails but stylish enough for post-ride drinks.
Made for sunny days when the trails are dry, dusty and fast. Designed for a flap-free fit as you fly along. The lightweight fabric wicks away moisture and feels great on the skin.
Designed for downhill mountain biking, these lightweight, airy jerseys have been designed to accommodate body armour. Elbows and sleeves may be reinforced for resilience in the event of a crash.
Nukeproof have used 100% recycled S.Café fabric which is made by combining used coffee grounds with 100% recycled yarn. The loose fit gives you freedom of movement with plenty of room for body armour.
With a WindBlock chest and active moisture-wicking back, this versatile jersey is a great option for a variety of conditions. It's packed with technical features like a neckline that's been designed for wear with or without a neck brace and the fabric easily repels dirt and water.