Gone are the days when the best cycling jerseys were little more than a t-shirt with a quarter-zip, collar and some handy pockets sewn into the back to keep your tools and snacks.
Cycle clothing companies have since invested a lot of research and design into perfecting fit and sourcing technical advanced materials so that your jersey will help you perform at your best. Whether it’s material that stretches to provide the optimal fit and aerodynamics, wicking moisture away from the body keeping you cool and dry when it’s hot or to work as part of a layering system to protect against inclement conditions.
With summer in our midst, it's a good time to start thinking about your cycling kit for the fair-weather months ahead. As waterproof jackets and warm layers are shed, a jersey's task transitions from an insulation layer to a moisture management layer.
Most performance jerseys will be constructed from a synthetic material such as nylon or polyester. These materials offer superb wicking and breathability to move sweat away from the body so it quickly evaporates leaving you dry and comfortable when you are working hard. Thin mesh style materials are incorporated to maximise breathability where it is needed the most, such as under the arms, which further helps with cooling. High levels of stretch both two-way and four-way can be engineered into synthetics for a perfect close fit to reduce bunching and maximise aerodynamic properties.
That's not to say natural materials such as merino don’t have their advantages and companies like Rapha have been developing high-performance merino-based materials that are still extremely breathable and well-fitting. Both soft and hardwearing, merino will keep you warm even when soaked and the natural material resists odour build-up. Thanks to these properties, natural fibres lend themselves well for long days in the saddle where comfort trumps super aggressive aero designs.
Fit is key so it is important to choose a jersey that suits your intended style of riding. An aggressive race fit is designed to be ridden in the drops and to cut through the air with maximum efficiency. They feature shorter torsos and longer arms to optimise fit while in a more aggressive position. Slim-fit jerseys are a little looser and longer to improve comfort for longer rides or relaxed coffee runs.
Almost all jerseys use a full-length zip so when it’s very warm the front can be unzipped to help regulate temperature. To reduce irritation a flap on the collar houses the zip so it doesn’t rub while riding.
Three rear pockets are the standard for storing tools, snacks and anything other mid-ride essentials. There are variations on this with some companies adding a loop to secure a pump or a handy fourth secure zipped pocket to keep valuables.
Finally, reflective details improve visibility when riding in poor light. This might not be a consideration when choosing race orientated wear, but for riders who are going on all-day epics and training rides, this is an important aspect to consider to help keep you safe on the road.
Of course, having a well-fitting jersey is key, but looking good is also important. Jerseys are available in a wide range of colours and patterns to suit all rider's style whether you want a subtle classy look or want to stand out from the crowd.
Castelli Aero Race 6.0
Fit: Race | Colours: 3 | Material: 100% Polyester | Pockets: 3 | Reflective details: Yes
With the Aero Race 6.0 jersey, Castelli has developed a jersey that promises real-world aero gains. While this is hard to prove without access to a wind tunnel, there is no doubt that Castelli has put a lot of thought into their design and material choice.
Castelli has focussed on creating a jersey that fits close to the body while remaining comfortable for the duration of a ride. Utilising their stretchy Velocity Rev2 material for the front and elbow-length sleeves. The back of the jersey uses a 3d mesh that is extremely breathable.
A dropped tail features a silicone gripper around the hem, keeping the jersey in place while riding and allowing for optimal pocket placement.
Sportful Bodyfit Pro Evo
Fit: Race | Colours: 5 | Material: 85% Polyester, 15% Elastane | Pockets: 3 | Reflective details: Yes
Sportful may have designed the Bodyfit Pro Evo for the rigours of the WorldTour but that doesn’t mean it isn’t comfortable for club runs and training rides.
Sportful haven’t gone for an all-out aero fit - for that, they have the Bomber jersey - however, the BodyFit Pro Evo still sits close to the body thanks to highly stretchy shoulder material that hugs the top of the body. A low v-neck collar features minimal stitching to add to the all-day comfort of the jersey.
Silicone detailing and elastic around the waist holds the jersey in place while laser-cut lay-flat elastic cuffs stop the sleeves from riding up.
Castelli Gabba 3
Fit: Slim | Colours: 4 | Material: 92% Polyester, 8% Elastane(Spandex) | Pockets: 3 | Reflective details: Yes
The weather isn’t always sunshine so it’s important to have a jersey that will keep performing well even when the clouds roll in. This is where the Castelli Gabba 3 comes in.
Made from Gore Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric the Gabba 3 offers superb wind protection and a water-resistant finish to protect against showers. This doesn’t come at the sacrifice of breathability or mobility thanks to Castelli’s NanoFlex technology.
The tail of the Gabba 3 is extended to provide a storm flap to protect from wheel-spray. Even the pockets feature drain holes in case the weather gets very unpleasant.
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