Gone are the days when a short-sleeve cycling jersey was not much 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 highly technical 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.
What to look for in a short sleeve jersey?
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.
The best short sleeve jerseys you can buy today
Assos Equipe Evo8
The Assos SS.équipe_evo8 is an aggressively cut short sleeve jersey that has been designed for riders who like to push hard
Fit: Race | Colours: 5 | Material: 19% Polyamide (Nylon), 66% Polyester, 15% Elastane | Pockets: 3 | Reflective details: Yes
When constructing this jersey, Assos has used three different materials based on specific characteristics. Assos’ Sens Classic Tex offers lightweight stretchy properties for the side panels and their Stabilizator S7 Knit forms a cooling panel and UPF30 protection on the back. The rest of the jersey uses Mini Check Tex, a 3D knit fabric that offers high levels of breathability.
The materials are bonded together to add comfort and improve aerodynamics around the waist, full-length zip and v-neck collar.
Assos Cento Evo8
A café ride fit, with comfort-enhancing construction and performance-minded materials
Fit: Slim | Colours: 3 | Material: 63% Polyamide (Nylon), 20% Polyester, 17% Elastane (Spandex) | Pockets: 4 | Reflective details: Yes
Not every day is a race but that doesn’t mean you need to forgo clothing performance. The Assos SS.cento_evo8 shares many of the same materials and bonded construction from its racier équipe cousin but in a friendlier slim fit. The only difference is Assos has opted to use their Mount Pine Tex knit fabric to regulate temperature for riders taking on longer rides.
The pockets are reinforced and laser cut to allow ventilation while still resisting sagging when stuffed with tools and snacks. They also feature a zipped valuables pocket with a headphones port and reflective detailing.
Castelli Gabba 3
Almost synonymous with poor-weather jerseys, the Gabba will keep you comfortable when the heavens open
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.
Castelli Aero Race 6.0
A race-fit, warm-weather jersey that claims to make you faster
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.
Rapha Classic II
Rapha’s popular Classic jersey, updated and improved, but it’s merino construction lacks the breathability of race-focussed jerseys
Fit: Slim | Colours: 5 | Material: 64% Polyester, 36% Merino wool | Pockets: 4 | Reflective details: Yes
Rapha’s first jersey, the Classic, saw much success over the years and the Classic II promises some key updates to an already popular design.
The forward-fit cut has been tweaked to be more comfortable and a new softer RPM150 Rapha Performance Merino material is now bonded rather than stitched to make the jersey more streamlined. By using a merino based material the Rapha Classic II can breathe well when it’s hot while still offering insulation when the temperature is cooler.
Rapha has reworked the pocket design to improve the stability of loads and features details such as a secure zipped pocket with reflective detail and a pump loop.
Rapha Pro Team Aero
Skinsuit tech in a fast, comfortable and stylish jersey
Fit: Race | Colours: 4 | Material: 86% Polyester, 14% Elastane | Pockets: 4 | Reflective details: Yes
The Rapha Pro Team Aero is a race jersey that owes much of its design to Rapha’s WorldTour winning skinsuit development.
To enhance aerodynamics Rapha have utilised multiple materials. The front of the jersey has a smooth texture to aid airflow over the body, this is bonded to the rear which has a napped texture to minimise drag. Unsurprisingly, the Pro Team Aero is aggressively cut and Rapha has lengthened the sleeves which may divide opinions.
It’s not all-out race orientated, three slim gusseted rear pockets offer storage for essentials, a fourth zippered pocket provides security and Rapha have added some reflective detailing to help with visibility.
Sportful Bodyfit Pro 2.0 Evo
A versatile jersey that will comfortably see you round the Sunday club run while standing up to the needs of a WorldTour pro
Fit: Race | Colours: 5 | Material: 85% Polyester, 15% Elastane | Pockets: 3 | Reflective details: Yes
Sportful may have designed the Bodyfit Pro 2.0 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 however the BodyFit Pro 2.0 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.
Endura D2Z Aero
The D2Z Aero takes cues from Endura’s UCI-banned D2Z speed suit, and tailors it for the everyday cyclist
Fit: Race | Colours: 1 | Material: 72% Polyamide (Nylon), 18% Polyester, 10% Elastane (Spandex) | Pockets: 1 | Reflective details: No
Endura has worked hard to develop an aero jersey for the everyday rider going for local PB’s rather than the WorldTour pros at peak performance.
They have done this by optimising the aerodynamics for a speed range of 32-50kph which is more realistic for the everyday rider. Working with Drag2Zero the Endura D2Z Aero jersey has been designed using a close-fitting multi-fabric construction and textured sleeve to enhance efficiency whilst still offering breathability.
The three rear pockets are narrow to keep away from airflow and are covered by a flap which is designed to stop air getting caught and causing your pockets to act like little parachutes.
Le Col Pro
The Pro is Le Col’s fastest ever jersey and is suitable for cool summer days thanks to its thicker construction
Fit: Race | Colours: 3 | Material: 81% Polyester, 19% Elastane (Spandex) | Pockets: 4 | Reflective details: Yes
Le Col has been to the wind tunnel and claims the Le Col Pro jersey is the most aerodynamic and fastest jersey they have made.
Made in Italy, the Le Col Pro has a close race fit and uses a thicker 4-way stretch fabric for the body and a lighter weight material to improve ventilation on the sleeves. The use of thicker material than other aero jerseys makes this an appealing option for those cooler summer days. Silicone grippers are used to keep the sleeves and hem in place when riding.
Three low profile rear pockets offer storage as well as a fourth waterproof pocket with a zip for valuables. A big reflective strip up the middle of the rear pockets should help you stay visible.
Le Col Pro Air
Le Col’s Pro Air is a jersey that is suited to the hottest of summer days thanks to its extreme levels of breathability
Fit: Race | Colours: 2 | Material: 100% Polyester | Pockets: 4 | Reflective details: No
Le Col has designed the Pro Air for those who ride in temperatures around 20 to 40 degrees. Maximum airflow is achieved using an open weave mesh which channels air and wicks moisture away quickly to help maintain a comfortable body temperature, this also results in an extremely lightweight garment.
The Pro Air features the same aggressive aero focussed fit as Le Col’s thicker Pro version as well as three rear pockets with a fourth water-resistant valuables pocket and silicone grippers.
Chapeau! Club Pro Jersey
A slim fitting jersey with aero cues, soft fabrics and a range of colour choices
Fit: Race | Colours: 12 | Material: 100% Polyester | Pockets: 4 | Reflective details: Yes
The Chapeau! Club jersey is a classic in the quintessentially-British-brand’s lineup, with endless colour and style options available in a short sleeve jersey that is comfortable, well-fitting and hard-wearing. The new Club Pro takes the good bits from the Club jersey and makes it faster with aerodynamic cues such as longer sleeves and faster materials.
This doesn’t mean it’s unsuitable for everyday cycling, though. There is a zip-up valuables pocket, and a small reflective logo on the rear, along with a cam-lock zip for quick one-handed unzipping. The Club Pro jersey is available in a range of colourways, including a number of nostalgic limited edition themes.
Finally, Chapeau! offer a crash replacement guarantee, so if your jersey is damaged in a crash, they’ll replace it free of charge, offering peace-of-mind that your new investment won’t be wasted.