How To Buy a Cycling Jersey

A reg­u­lar tee is fine for tool­ing around town, but for more vig­or­ous rides a cycling-spe­cif­ic jer­sey is ide­al. Jer­seys that resem­ble more casu­al “street” clothes are now more wide­ly avail­able, enabling you to be fash­ion­able in your per­for­mance gear at the park or the pub or wher­ev­er your ped­al­ing takes you. But like cyclists, not all jer­seys are designed to excel at the same things. This guide will help you learn to choose the best cycling jer­sey for your needs.

Mate­ri­als: Brands design cycling jer­seys from mate­ri­als that dry quick­ly, breathe well, and feel good against the skin dur­ing a long day on the sad­dle. Most are light and airy to pro­mote cool­ness dur­ing high out­put. Win­ter-spe­cif­ic jer­seys will have long sleeves, heav­ier fab­ric and a brushed lin­ing to increase warmth. Here are a few of the mate­ri­als you’re most like­ly to come across when shop­ping for a jer­sey:

Tech­ni­cal poly­ester: Blends of syn­thet­ics are the stan­dard for the bulk of jer­sey man­u­fac­tur­ers. The light­weight mate­r­i­al offers excep­tion­al breatha­bil­i­ty and mois­ture wick­ing capa­bil­i­ties. It also pro­vides pro­tec­tion from the sun dur­ing long days in the sad­dle.

Meri­no wool: Wool is retro, but legit­i­mate. While sythet­ics are prized for their mois­ture-wick­ing capa­bil­i­ties, Meri­no wool pro­vides a soft hand, nat­ur­al feel and still dries quick­ly and wicks well. This does mean it takes longer to dry. An added bonus, Wool is nat­u­ral­ly anti-bac­te­r­i­al and pre­vents funky smells from foul­ing your gar­ment. Wool is also renew­able and sus­tain­able. Wool jer­seys are more expen­sive for rid­ers on a bud­get but cheap­er than a wash­ing machine.


Fit: There are two main cut types for cycling jer­seys: the Euro­pean form-fit­ting rac­er style and the Amer­i­can inspired club or relaxed fit. The slim fit­ting ver­sions pro­vide both and aero­dy­nam­ic advan­tage and quick­er wick­ing of per­spi­ra­tion. The club cut can feel cool­er as air is allowed to cir­cu­late against the skin and may also be more com­fort­able for rid­ers new to jer­seys.

As with oth­er cycling gar­ments, Euro­pean brands’ sizes tend to run small­er than those of their U.S. coun­ter­parts.


Zip­per: These fall into the per­son­al pref­er­ence cat­e­go­ry. The short­er, pre­vi­ous­ly stan­dard, 5‑inch zip­per is best left for casu­al rid­ing. For more intense or hot-weath­er rid­ing a half, 3/4, or full zip will allow for much bet­ter ven­ti­la­tion and the abil­i­ty to adjust on the fly.

Pock­ets: Depend­ing on the brand, size and pur­pose, the aver­age jer­sey will have between one and three pock­ets sewn to the back. The pock­ets, which have elas­tic cuffs, can be used to hold every­thing from your keys to snacks to tubes and patch kits for safe and easy to access.

For moun­tain bik­ing, look for zip­pered pock­ets, as an endo or yard sale crash may launch valu­ables into bush­es, creeks or ravines and leave them dam­aged or irre­triev­able.

Ded­i­cat­ed media pock­ets with cutouts for cords are becom­ing pop­u­lar, as rid­ing with cell phones is becom­ing more preva­lent.

Many jer­seys fea­ture bright graph­ics, which at first might seem flashy or even gar­ish, but they have a prac­ti­cal side in that their true intent is to help you be seen by motorists. Some jer­seys will also have reflec­tive trim to aid vis­i­bil­i­ty. Remem­ber, to ride safe, you have to be seen.