Do you really need a cycling jersey? Good cycling jerseys vary in price from around $40 to around $180, and even more. You may be wondering: “Why would I spend that kind of money, when I already have plenty of perfectly good shirts?” Yes, you could cycle in a ten-dollar cotton tee shirt. In fact, I did that all the time as a boy. But then, I was mainly just riding around the block, or down to the beach. Plus, my standards were pretty low back then – and I was a lot more resilient than I am now!
The truth is that cycling jerseys have technical features that will make you more comfortable while you ride your bike. And if you are into performance cycling, a great jersey will definitely help you to ride faster and longer.
The Problem with Cotton for Cycling Wear
The problem with cotton is that it does not deal well with sweat. Cotton hangs onto sweat like white on rice. So if you are doing a long bike ride, you will soon be soaking in your own sweat. Plus, if a breeze gets up, your sweat will cool on your skin. And soon, you may start to feel cold. Your shirt will start to feel heavy and you may start to chafe. You may even get a rash.
All of this is just not going to help you to cycle well. And it certainly is not going to make for a comfortable bike ride!
To choose a great jersey, see our post on 7 of the Best Cycling Jerseys
What a Great Cycling Jersey Does
Cycling jerseys are technical garments that use lightweight, sweat-wicking fabrics to keep you cool, dry, and comfortable while cycling. Good jerseys are made from breathable fabric that will help to keep you comfortable as you ride. A good cycling jersey will wick sweat away from your skin to the outer side of the fabric. There, it can evaporate without impacting your core temperature.
Bottom line: a cycling jersey made from a really good breathable fabric will keep you dry and cool. This is true no matter how long you ride, or how hot the weather is.
This means that a good jersey is an essential part of any cyclist’s wardrobe once the weather begins to warm up, or cool down. They are ideal for the bridge seasons between winter and summer.
Cycling Jerseys Are Designed for Cyclists
Pockets for Your Scooby Snacks and More!
A great thing about cycling jerseys is that they are designed for the specific needs of cyclists. For example, they usually have pockets to store items that you need to carry while cycling. Such as your keys, your cell phone, your Scooby snacks, and so on.
And the pockets are positioned at the back of the jersey, so that your stuff does not fall out while you are angled forward, leaning over your handlebars and focused on nothing but the ride!
Optimal Comfort while You Are Cycling
Usually, the sleeves and shoulders of a jersey have a wider cut than regular shirts. This ensures that your arms are more comfortable as you lean forward over the handlebars.
The Two Basic Styles and Cuts of Cycling Jerseys
There are two basic styles of jerseys. These are based on the kind of cycling you do. The first kind is a racing cut or fit cycling jersey. The second is a club (or relaxed) fit. The one you choose will depend on the type of cycling you do.
Race Fit Cycling Jerseys
These are designed for what we call serious cyclists – cyclists who are so fast that they can actually compete against other cyclists. If that is you, a race-cut cycling jersey is a no-brainer, as they are more aerodynamic. The down size is that race-fit jerseys are very form fitting.
While they will show off your body (for good or for bad!), they nonetheless have an ergonomic design so that they will not restrict your movement. If you are one of these cyclists, you are going to need a cycling jersey designed for you, such as the Castelli Aero Race 6 Cycling Jersey.
Club-Fit or Relaxed-Fit Jerseys
For Average Joe Cyclists (and that is most of us!), club-fit or relaxed-fit jerseys are going to be a better choice. And not just because they are cheaper! They will often feel more comfortable, as they are looser fitting. They usually have plenty of give, so that you will feel very comfortable while moving around in them. Some club-fit cycling jerseys are also longer in the torso than race-cut cycling jerseys. A great example is the Pearl Izumi Select, which is a technical garmet that is relaxed, comfy, and great value.
Why Are Some Jerseys So Expensive?
Once you start looking for a cycling jersey, you will quickly realize that they are not particularly cheap, and also that there is a vast range of prices. Why?
First, cycling jerseys tend not to be cheap because breathable fabrics are the result of advanced fabric design technologies, which helps to explain why cycling jerseys cost more than cotton tee shirts.
Second, prices have a wide range because some cycling jerseys are more technologically advanced than others. Higher priced jersey usually are made from more technologically advanced fabrics that will wick sweat better and keep you cool and dry better.
Some cycling jersey are Lycra; other cycling jerseys are made from woven synthetics for a less shiny look. There are even some cycling jersey made from very lightweight wool blends.
Types of Fabrics for Cycling Jerseys
Polyester Wicking Cycling Jerseys
Cycling jerseys made out of polyester, are made from a type of polyester that is woven in a specialized way so as help to draw moisture from your skin. You will still sweat, but you won’t feel damp because the sweat will be quickly wicked away.
A nylon cycling jersey is made out of a specialized blend of microfiber and spandex. Both of these materials can help to keep you cool while you are cycling by absorbing moisture. Note that colorful nylon jerseys may fade over time, because nylon does not hold color dyes as well as other fabrics.
So, if your priority is to be highly visible while on your bike, you are best off to consider a polyester cycling jersey that will hold the bright colors longer.
Merino Wool Cycling Jerseys
These are ideal for cold weather bike riding. Merino wool cycling jerseys also help to move moisture away from your body – while at the same time also keeping you warm. And if you are worried about wool being itchy, note that merino wool tends to be a lot less itchy than other types of wool. So, if you have sensitive skin, a merino wool jersey is likely to be worth the higher cost (relative to other types of wool).
Better Features Also Push Up the Price of Great Cycling Jerseys
Better features will also push up the price of cycling jerseys. For example, you can expect to pay more for better fit, styling, and features. For example, zippers are a great way to help you stay cool. Zippers help you to manage your body temperature, by allowing for more air to pass through the jersey. You can open and close the zipper as required, while you’re cycling.
Zippers – Full and Half Length
Full-length zips work really well for cooling, but they can also push up the price. The very highly rated Castelli Gabba 2 is an example.
Design Features for Cycling
Cycling jerseys also have a lot more design features than tee shirts, all designed to make your bike riding more comfortable and organized. For example, the classic design with three rear pockets is the most common for cycling jerseys, and is certainly handy – but some have even more features, such as a small zipped pocket for valuables, or a side pocket to keep something handy, such as your phone.
Many Jerseys Offer Protection from UV Rays
It’s great to get a tan while cycling, but you do not want to be laying the groundwork for future skin cancer as you optimize your cardiac health on your bike. So really, if you plan to spend hours in the saddle, you should be looking for a cycling jersey that offers you some protection from the sun.
For the longest time manufacturers focused exclusively on making jerseys that would keep you cool. As a result, they neglected UV protection. This was a problem, seeing as we totally expose our backs to the sun when we cycle. Now, however, a lot of manufacturers take this into account and make clothing that is designed to protect you from the sun.
Obviously, getting sun protection is a great benefit in a cycling jersey, and is in itself a good reason to get a cycling jersey.
You Can Get a Fit that Matches Your Cycling Style
Unlike tee shirts, cycling jerseys come in a range of styles, appropriate for different kinds of bike riding.
Jerseys for Racers
For example, if you are racing, you need a tight-fitting jersey that does not flap in the wind. Most of the wind drag when you are cycling is caused by your body. After all, your body is a whole lot larger and heavier than your bike. So, keeping your body as aerodynamic as possible makes a lot of sense.
A great example of this kind of jersey is the Castelli Aero Race 6 Jersey. This is a serious garment for competitive cyclists. It is very high-tech and aerodynamic, with excellent sweat wicking abilities and excellent breathability.
Jerseys for Coffee Drinkers!
On the other hand, if you plan to stop off for frequent coffees along the road, your needs are different. So, you can no doubt live with a more relaxed fit. Similarly, what if you want a cycling jersey for commuter cycling that will look good if you suddenly decide to meet your partner for a drink on the way home? In this situation, you will not want to look like a sausage stuffed into a tube. So, elaxed would be better.
For a relaxed fit, you cannot go wrong with a Pearl Izumi Ride Select Tour cycling jersey, which features Select Transfer fabric for maximum breathability in a Relaxed Fit (two of my favorite words when it comes to cycling gear!)
Chart Showing Various Styles of Jerseys
This chart summarizes our top picks for best cycling jerseys. As you can see, there is a wide range of styles and prices available.
|Half-length front zipper||Best Price on Amazon Right Now: Price not available|
This jersey offers excellent sweat wicking abilities and breathability
|3 rear pockets to keep snacks, keys, and phone||40+ UPF protection to protect your skin on long bike rides||BEST FOR those trying their first technical cycling jersey, who don't want to spend a fortune. It is semi form fitting, and excellent value for money. Best selling cycling jersey of all time. Lightweight and comfortable. Elasticized hem to keep it in place. Bright and colorful options. Even available in screaming yellow. Has some reflective elements. In short, relaxed, comfy, and great value. Note: if you have a long torso, order up a size.|
|Very short front zipper, invisible for clean lines||Best Price on Amazon Right Now: $56.10|
This jersey features very good sweat wicking abilities and breathability
|1 small pocket||Not stated||BEST FOR: Women cyclists who want to combine a functional cycling jersey with style. This jersey is not excessively form fitting, and features light weight fabric and shorter sleeves. The styling is tapered, skimming the body. Because of the stylish design, it is ideal if you want to interupt your bike ride to stop at a coffee shop or a resaurant. This women’s cycling jerseys is good value for money, fashionable and extremely durable.|
|Full length front zipper||PRICE: Usually around $180. Please click here for current price on Amazon.|
This jersey rates exceptionally high for wind-proofness and breathability, and is water repellant as well
|3 rear pockets to keep snacks, keys, and phone||Not stated||BEST FOR those who are advanced enough to participate in bike racing, and who want an extremely highly rated jersey. This is a designed-for-simplicity garment made entirely of Windstopper X-Lite fabric, except for the stretchy Nano Flex inserts in the underarms. It features a Race Fit, yet it is still comfortable. Ideal for cooler weather cycling and in the rain, due to outstanding wind stopping, breathability, and rain resistance. People rave about this jersey. It was originally designed for the shoulder seasons, with enhanced wind-stopping abilities.|
|Full length front zipper||PRICE: Price is usually less than $50.|
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Offers very good breathability and windproofing
|3 rear pockets to keep snacks, keys, and phone, plus an extra pocket on side||50+ UPF protection for superior protection on ultra-long bike rides||BEST FOR those who want to keep cool while cycling very athletically. And those who aim for speedy, athletic cycling without overheating. More affordable than many of the other technical cycling jerseys, this jersey offers superior keep-cool technology. The cut is Pro Fit, which means it is designed to adapt to the positions and movements of cycling, while not bunching or flapping. Known for its cooling abilities, due to Garneau’s Airfit polyester fabric and well-placed mesh panels. Improved airflow over skin and enhanced wicking. The fluorescent orange color is super bright and noticeable|
|Full length front zipper||Best Price on Amazon Right Now: Price not available|
Offers excellent sweat wicking, breathability, and windproofing
|3 rear pockets, held close to the body by a compressive mesh band||Not stated||BEST FOR competitive cyclists who want to cycle as fast as possible. This jersey is very high-tech and aerodynamic, with excellent sweat wicking abilities and excellent breathability. It features an Aero Race fit, which means it is tightly-form-fitting, so it is ideal for serious racers looking to shave off wind drag and improve speed. Castelli’s Aero Race fabric has long been admired for being one of the fastest cycling fabrics, and this year it has been improved further. Available in bright colors with some reflective elements. If you plan on achieving your best times ever this year, then this cycling jersey is for you.|
|Full length front zipper||Price is usually less than $120.|
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Offers very good sweat wicking and breathability
|3 rear pockets to keep snacks, keys, and phone||Not stated||BEST FOR spring and fall cycling, as it resists wind and light rain. This jersey combines windstopping abilities in the front with water resistance on the back. Windstopper 150 panels will protect you from the wind, while water-resistant Nano Light panels on the back will protect you from light rain. This garment aims to be a combo short sleeved cycling jersey/jacket, protecting you from wind and rain while allowing you to generate your own heat without getting soaked in your own sweat (thanks to good breathability). The cut os form fitting. The jersey has some reflective elements and comes in bright colors.|
|Half-length zipper||PRICE: Best Price on Amazon Right Now: $60.00|
Offers very good sweat wicking and breathability. Features Select Transfer Fabric for maximum breathability
|3 rear pockets to keep snacks, keys, and phone||Not stated||BEST FOR commuting, and for stopping at the pub on the way home. This jersey features Select Transfer Fabric for maximum breathability. Pearl Izumi describes the cut as Relaxed Fit. Available in bright yellow with reflective elements if you value high visibility, or in more subdued colors if you don’t. If you are an average cyclist looking for a great cycling jersey with a relaxed fit (so you can stop at a coffee shop without feeling too out of place), then this would be a great choice for you.|
How to Care for Your Jersey
Once you have spent some money on a decent jersey, taking good care of it will ensure it lasts longer (and smells sweeter!) If you don’t take good care of it, sweat will settle into the fabric of your jersey, creating bacteria, which creates a bad smell. So it is best to wash your jersey after every ride.
However, be careful to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. To prevent the jersey from deteriorating rapidly, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s advice on laundry temperature and techniques. Generally speaking, you will need to avoid high temperatures.
Also, avoid using a tumble drier. Allow your jersey to dry naturally. Cycling clothing dries quickly!
We Hope We Helped!
We hope this post is helpful. And we trust that you will find a few great cycling jerseys to make your bike rides more comfortable. You can read more in our post about 7 of the Best Cycling Jerseys – or just take a short cut by reading our summary in the table below!