A cycling jersey is a technical piece of apparel that is designed to help you function at your best while riding. Road jerseys come in various fits and fabrics to suit different styles and conditions of riding, but all focus on breathability - keeping you cool while you pedal away.
Even though all cycling jerseys are engineered to ensure you're comfortable on the bike, prices vary considerably and you can pay anything from £20 - £150.
So, if you think you'll be able to get away with wearing that cotton t-shirt on your next 30-mile Sunday jaunt, think again!
Why wear a cycling jersey?
- Cycling jerseys are designed with wicking fabrics that help regulate your body temperature, key for a comfortable ride and preventing you from overheating.
- You have the ability to carry all necessary accessories required for a ride on you in specially designed pockets that are easy to access while cycling along.
- When you're in the riding position, cycling jerseys fit perfectly and keep all the right parts of your body covered.
- More recently jerseys are being constructed from material that protects you from the sun's harmful rays. It's quite easy to get caught out in the UK, so this is a great addition to check for.
With more women's cycling attire on offer than ever before, we guide you through the key elements you need to consider when purchasing a road jersey.
[part title="Fabrics and Materials"]
Cycling jerseys are made from wicking materials that help regulate your temperature while providing important protection from the elements.
Wicking fabrics prevent you from staying moist by moving sweat away from your skin to the outside of the garment where it can be evaporated more easily. This means you stay drier for longer and don't suffer a chill when the wind blows.
Consider your exertion levels on the bike, if you heat up quickly, look for a high performance wicking fabric with mesh panels for speed cooling down the sides and under the arms.
If you're a multi day cyclist, woollen-based fabrics are often favourable over man-made synthetics because of their ability to stay pong free for longer. Apparently fat molecules in sweat find it harder to bind to organic fibres.
Manufacturers have also been able to create fabrics that incorporate sun protection, with SPF ratings and even specially-treated materials that have anti-microbial and cooling properties. All additional things worthy of consideration.
[part title="Fit and Cut"]
There is nothing worse than an ill-fitting jersey that either flaps in the wind or hugs just a little too tightly. At worst it can expose flesh that you don't want the world to see, making for a distracted ride.
Just remember that panels are your friend in the world of cycling jerseys. Preferably the more the merrier as they follow the curves of your body, skimming the lumps and bumps we all have creating a flattering shape.
Admittedly road jerseys are tighter fitting than your usual sports clothing to make you more aerodynamic and to aid the wicking process. If you're not keen on this skin tight feel, make sure you look for jerseys with 'relaxed' or 'casual' fit.
It's also worth noting that European brands tend to come up on the small side, so if you're purchasing online from the likes of Assos and Giordana remember to order a size up from your usual.
[part title="Sleeve Length and Construction"]
Another consideration is sleeve length. It may seem bonkers to buy a short sleeve jersey in the midst of winter, but it's a versatile item that can be teamed with either arm warmers when you set off with a nip in the air, or combined with a long sleeved baselayer when you know it's going to stay cold all day.
If you regularly ride in colder climes then having a long sleeve jersey in your cycling wardrobe can't harm.
Whether long or short, take a look at the construction of the sleeve - is it a raglan or set-in design?
Raglan sleeves provide a nicer fit in motion, are shaped like a triangle that starts at the neck and wraps around the shoulder and upper arms, showcased by the red jersey in the image above. Set-in sleeves are designed like those on a traditional t-shirt.
[part title="Hem Details"]
Pay attention to the hem as it's often overlooked at the buyers' peril and can have a big impact on your riding comfort.
The rear of the jersey should have an extended tail to cover your lower back when you're bent over in the riding position. Don't be afraid to try the jersey on and assume the position, it's the only real way you're going to find out if the length is suitable.
Jerseys with casual fits aside, most jerseys will have elastic at the hem to help keep it in place and stop wind from sneaking in. It's also worth looking for jerseys that include a gripper all the way round the inside of the hem to stop movement when you change position on the bike.
It's obvious that a full-length zip will provide more ventilation and make it easier to access the braces of bib shorts than a 3/4 or half-length zip, but there are other things you need to consider when looking at the zipper.
Other considerations include - is there a zipper garage? That magic little piece of material that helps to prevent chafing of the chin. What about a tactile zip pull that makes for easy shifting of the zipper up and down as you ride along?
For the more discerning cyclists there's also the option of the "invisible" zipper, that are sewn in such a manner that when they're done up look like they're not there and don't disrupt the jersey's print!
Whether you enjoy leisurely rides, sportives or dabble in a bit of racing, it's advisable to have at least 3 rear pockets on your jersey to carry all the requisite necessities for a spin.
If you can find one with a zippered fourth, well that's a bonus, but it's not a deal-breaker as most have deep enough pockets to keep things secure.
Some pockets have elastic tops, which are useful if you like to carry a lot of gear. And if you like to have music on your ride, look for jerseys that have earphone ports so you can thread the cable through the inside of the pocket to keep it out of the way.