Despite what you might think, the best cycling jerseys are more than just thin zipped tops, designed to rip cycling enthusiasts off. On the contrary, the best cycling jerseys – much like the best cycling shorts or even the best bib shorts – have a range of features that can help you ride the best road bike faster and in more comfort, as well as keeping you dry when the rain starts to come down.
See, the modern cycling jersey is designed to fit the torso like a glove made out of lycra, meaning its wearer positively slices through the air like a hot knife through butter, without a baggy T-shirt flapping in the wind and causing all sorts of nipple issues.
Today's road cyclists, seemingly spurred on by the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome also like to push themselves further and harder on two wheels, so require fuel and supplies for these epic Sunday jaunts. In that respect, a good cycling jersey has you covered, as it should feature a number of handy and easy-to-reach pockets at the back for said accoutrements.
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Best cycling jersey: what to look for
Zips can become deeply unpleasant torturers of your Adam's apple over long rides, so look out for jerseys with 'zip garages' (yes, really) if you put in big mileage. These are fabric flaps that cover the zip when it's done up.
Most jerseys have pockets at the back, but make sure they're the right size to hold whatever you habitually carry when riding without breaking for freedom at every bump in the road, but loose enough to easily retrieve items on the move.
All of our picks will keep you mobile and flexible, as well as cool and sweat-free on warm days and protected against the most biting winds on colder ones, but if you’re looking to keep cycling into the colder months then it may be worth investing in a long-sleeved jersey or one with extra wind-proofing and thermal properties — we’ve listed the seasons to which each jersey is best suited.
Finally, we’ve described the fit so you can find one that’ll both flatter your bod and work around your workout.
While you don’t want something that’ll flap around you dramatically in the wind like Batman on a Boris Bike, buying a cycling jersey needn’t mean donning something that’ll slowly crush your internal organs.
If you’re serious about cycling, a super close-fitting race fit jersey will suit, keeping you lean and aerodynamic with no excess material to slow you down. If you take things a bit more casually, or have the habit of stopping for cake after a long ride, a more relaxed performance fit cycling jersey will do the job nicely.
Here is our pick of the best cycling jerseys available today.
The best cycling jerseys, in order
Slightly set aside from Rapha's typical high-performance range, the Brevet line-up focuses on longer, more adventurous rides with a range of comfortable jerseys that blend fabrics with multiple advantages.
The addition of Merino wool has been chosen for its natural wicking and antibacterial properties, along with its ability to both insulate against the cold and breathe in warmer conditions.
Plus, the Brevet jersey is designed with comfort as a top priority, meaning it has no awkward seams or zips that could chafe when the mileage starts to clock up.
Better still, the jersey’s fit is tailored enough for on-the-bike advantages, but not too aggressive to make you stand out like a split sausage in a condom at café stops.
Donning the Megmeister Woven Zig Zag Jersey for a morning was an interesting experience. The jersey felt heavier than a regular lycra cycling tops, but maybe it was the relatively less flexible material that gave me that impression. Don't get me wrong, the Megmeister Woven Zig Zag Jersey is not rigid but the yarns have a bit of a hold, making the top feel more premium since there is a bit of a weight to it.
The woven nature of this jersey is definitely the main feature: the structure provides a closer fit, helps moisture management and looks darn good too. Unlike lycra jerseys that give riders the unflattering MAMIL-look, the Megmeister Woven Zig Zag Jersey sits close to the skin on every body type. The natural material expands and retracts as the contour of your body and your riding position changes over time.
The yarns are partially made of regenerated polyester as opposed to the 'virgin' variety, reducing landfill waste during the production of the jersey. However, this eco-friendliness doesn't come at the expense of performance since the Megmeister Woven Zig Zag Jersey's won't flap around your body as you ride and create drag. No, this jersey will help you go faster and look cool at the same time without the feeling of guilt for being non-eco-friendly.
The Megmeister Woven Zig Zag Jersey have some features for more comfortable riders too: silicone waist grippers keeps the jersey down as you lean forward and there are also pockets for drinks, gels, or anything else you might want to take with you for a ride. There is even a small zipped pocket for things you definitely don't want to lose.
The Trasparente V Jersey is a thermal cycling jersey but by using Polartec NeoShell technology at the front, Castelli made it so you can ride in conditions that would normally call for an extra vest layer or even reaching for a light winter jacket.
The Castelli Trasparente V Jersey is both water and windproof and the 4-way stretch provides a snug and comfortable fit for performance bikers. The fabric at the back is the Nano Flex Xtra Dry which warmth and water repellency.
Functional details have also been considered: there are front and rear reflective panels, three rear pockets make space for essentials and a zippered chest pocket to so you you you don't have to tuck your money and keys in your socks when you're out and about.
The Gore Wear C7 Jersey is the ultimate good weather cycling jersey for people who appreciate craftsmanship and comfort above all. The front and the back of the jersey has a dense mesh fabric to protect you from the wind while the sides – under the arm – have an open mesh construction for added breathability.
On the back, you'll also find the customary pouches for bottles and and gels but there is also a zip pocket if you need to make sure your phone and keys stay in place as you ride. The pockets have reinforced seams so it is harder to rip them open – although you don't necessarily want to test it, just for the sake of it.
On the arm hem, the silicone lining holds the arms of the jersey in place as you ride: you could also say the arms won't ride up as you pedal (pun intended). Please do bear in mind, this is a warm weather jersey and as much as the Gore Wear C7 Jersey would protect you from the wind, it won't protect you from the cold. Just stating the obvious here.
Le Col's Hors Categorie jersey has been created from a technical fabric which is designed specifically for the wide-ranging temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, it offers high wicking and cooling properties in hot weather as well as providing insulation against the cold, making it a great spring/summer jersey.
Made in Italy, we particularly like the classic, understated styling of this jersey with its subtle gold detailing setting off the black really nicely. There's reflective trim, too, for enhanced visibility.
The jersey also features flat-locked seams, laser cut shoulder grippers, lock-down zip puller with a chin guard, three rear pockets with concealed fourth waterproof pocket, and a silicone hem around the waist.
The cold weather-friendly shape and high-tech construction of this Sportful top come together to make it a great ally against chilly winds and light rain, and our overall best jersey for cycling. The longer-than-average arms hit just above the elbow to cover without restricting, and the high neck and extra reinforcement around the shoulders and upper arms are designed to keep biting breezes at bay.
Reviewers commented on the impressive waterproofing, saying that lighter rain simply beads and runs off, and were chuffed with its great value weatherproof performance. The only downside is the lack of pockets, so if you’re on a long ride with lots of kit, consider layering up with a lighter pocketed jersey underneath.
The dhb Classic Long Sleeve Jersey has been designed to keep you on the road as temperatures drop. Using a breathable, wicking polyester fabric a warm microclimate is created. The fleece traps warm air while perspiration is transported away from the skin to keep you dry and comfortable.
If you do find yourself too warm during harder efforts then you have the full-length front zip to expel warm air and allow for extra air circulation. An internal silicone gripper holds the hem in place when in your riding position as well as sealing the jersey effectively, keeping warm air in and cold air out.
The dhb Classic Long Sleeve Jersey is a performance fit garment. To keep you on the road for longer, at the back you'll find 3 vertical pockets - keeping all your ride essentials easy to hand - plus a secure zipped pocket for your valuables.
The Morvelo Women's Wildlife Thermoactive Long Sleeve Jersey is made from a light fleeced-backed fabric that's aimed to keep you warm in cold weather but also let your skin breathe when you cycle hard. We all know that you can't win it all and if a cycling jersey can keep the moisture out, it will most likely keep it in too.
Saying that, the Morvelo Women's Wildlife Thermoactive Long Sleeve Jersey does a good job balancing the two and offers a reasonably comfortable ride. The comfort is further enhanced by the antibacterial lining and the special wicking technology so even if you sweat excessively in the jersey, it will wick most of it away fast.
To the back, three deep pockets provide space for gels and bars, multi-tool while a silicone gripper at the waist holds the jersey firmly in place. For cycling in spring and autumn, the Women's Wildlife Thermoactive is ideal to take the chill off and when temperatures plunge during winter, it makes a great mid-layer insulator.