Wearing the right clothes for any sport is essential to performance. Cycling, whether for leisure or serious rides, is no different. We all know how uncomfortable it is to be all hot and bothered. Or cold and shivering. This is what happens to cyclists who wear everyday clothes when they hit the trails: they work up a sweat, then the wind chills them because the materials trap perspiration. Yet, for the price of a standard long sleeve T-shirt, you can, with a little guidance, find a great choice of long sleeve cycling jerseys. If style is paramount, today’s designs tailor to the fashion conscious and those who enjoy being part of the cycling clan.
What qualities to look for
With constant improvements in the technology behind the fabrics, the choice in quality cycling clothing is huge. And with 24/7 shopping available to all, together with a global market, the competition to supply the (alleged) best quality at the right price is mind-boggling. So, there’s a few things you should consider before clicking ‘buy’.
What to consider
- Comfort: you need to feel comfortable so you can enjoy the ride. If it doesn’t fit right, the best materials in the world won’t help. There’s plenty of choices in sizes and fit to suit most body shapes, and for different levels of cycling. Tight for better aerodynamics, loose for a more casual look and better comfort. Because sizes can vary between retailers, it’s helpful to check if their clothing tends to be a bigger or smaller fit than normal.
- Breathability: this is where the technical aspect comes into play. The purpose of a (technical) cycling jersey is to allow skin to breathe and stay dry from perspiration. Specially designed fabrics wick sweat from your skin’s surface to the outer fabric’s surface where it evaporates. These days, most designs, regardless of the specific material, should be high-wicking.
- Waterproof: you might think a waterproof cycling top wouldn’t work because it negates the breathability aspect. However, we live in a time where anything is possible. If you need a breathable waterproof cycling jersey, then you’ll have no problems finding one.
- Warmth: cycling naturally warms you up. But before you get going, and during the breaks to admire scenery or catch your breath, you cool down super-quick. Wool blends (polyester/wool) or fleece-lined jerseys are perfect in colder months. Otherwise, layer up.
- Features: typical features include three back pockets to put valuables in, mesh panels for breathability, and silicone hems to prevent your top from riding up. For cycling in low light, you’ll want hi-visibility strips.
- UV protection: regardless of the time of year, when the sun is out you’re exposed to harmful UV rays. Your back, the most exposed part, is the part you’re most unlikely to reach with sun cream. From tents to surf wear, many of today’s fabrics incorporate sun protection into their designs, cycling tops are the same.
To help, here are the top 9 reviews
1. Didoo Men’s Cold Wear Thermal Fleece Top – Bike Racing Team
An excellent choice for colder weather, this smart-looking long sleeve cycling jersey has a more minimal appearance as opposed to the bright colours typical with the sport. Featuring three pockets at the back and full-length zips, it’s constructed from lightweight, breathable fabric, with the flat-stiched seams providing extra comfort. Sizing suggestions are to order a size up for a better fit, or if it’s really cold, to leave enough space underneath for an extra layer. Many customers found the overall sizing system unhelpful, but the customer reviews have helped debunk the issue. Overall, and especially for less than £15, great value.
2. Tenn-Outdoors Men’s Coolflo Breathable Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey
Targeted at serious riders, this top features everything you’d expect. Silicone grips keep it in place, three rear pockets to hold your gear, hi-visibility to keep you safe, and a high-wicking material which professes to be technically advanced. Customers all agree that, for the price, compared to other brands with the same spec, excellent value. Although this is a long sleeve top, customers say it’s more summer weight; so despite the retailer stating it’s not a ‘second skin’ jersey, for all-year use you might want to order a bigger size to add an extra layer – or pack something to go over it.
3. Tenn Unisex Winter Weight II Long Sleeve Cycling Race Jersey
Specifically for colder weather, this Tenn’s cycling jersey sports the same quality materials as the Coolflo, and with the same hi-vis trim, but the material is comprised of brushed-back fabric for winter use. Although it’s undoubtedly a decent piece of kit for the money, and it looks the part, main customer grumbles are about warmth. There may be issues with it being totally windproof too. One consistency is that it’s well-made. Again, consider adding a layer under or over. This cycling top is also available in children’s sizes.
4. FDX Thermal Cold Wear Fleece
With a 100% Money back guarantee, expectations might come high with this one. With a fleece-lined inside, the specially formulated super thermal Roubaix fabric promises to keep you warm in the harshest weather. It features the standard three rear pockets, rubber grips, and a longer back more suited to riding positions. How effective is it? Customers generally think it’s good for the price and fits great. It might need a light warm up for it to achieve it’s seller’s claims, but purchasers say, once they’ve warmed up, it keeps them warm, yet is still lightweight and breathable.
5. Mountain Warehouse Breeze Men’s Bike Top
Machine washable, fast drying and antibacterial accompany the standard accolades about this cycling jersey. Probably because it’s also marketed as a general sports top too. Besides claiming to be high-performance and doing its job, customers who bought it state it goes beyond this, exceeding their expectations. It’s in the same price range as most in this review, but the RRP is around £35, which explains why it is such a great cycling top. It alsolooks nice and sporty without screaming ‘I’m a cyclist’.
6. Twotwowin Cycling Jersey Men’s Top Cool Design
Unlike a lot of these reviews, many (not all) customers say this top’s sizes come as they should, and with enough choice in size to suit every imaginable shape. Designed for mid-seasons, it’s made from breathable polyester. The four-way stretch, high-density fabric doesn’t feel restrictive, allowing you to fully flex during hard rides. Most report that it feels smooth against their skin and keeps them warm enough. And if you’re really wanting to look the part, its bright ‘unique and attractive colourful dynamic design’ won’t disappoint.
7. West Biking Men’s and Women’s Riding Jacket
featuring high-quality zips and ‘packable protection from cold and wind’ this unisex cycling jacket is made from windproof material and is fleece-lined. On appearance, it is a good balance between historically bright cycle wear and more toned-down ambiguous clothing – something you can sit in a beer garden with and not attract bugs or odd glances. With it being unisex, the helpful retailer suggest men buy a size larger, which seems to work well for their customers. Overall, incorporating all the bells and whistles, this is a great cycling top. Whether it is totally windproof or not is open for debate.
8. FDX Ride In Style Thermal Jersey
The most expensive out of the FDX range reviews, with a ‘sublimation’ design, the Ride In Style range is designed with winter racing in mind. With a unique fleece-lined inner, it promises all the features you’d expect (pockets, zips, etc.) plus providing breathability and ‘incredible heat retention’. Apart from the usual sizing conundrums, this is the first cycling top which lives fully upto its claims. Perhaps the extra £5 or so is worth the money. As for appearances, it looks the part, professional.
9. FDX Men’s Winter Cycling Jacket
Another decent FDX top. Advertised as ideal for winter, it dries quickly, is lightweight and, (the biggie) is breathable. Some customers report it to be a little tight, so the sizing issues continue. Others say the claim of it being ideal for winter falls short, suggesting to wear a base layer underneath. Despite these grumbles, everyone comments on how comfortable it is. Holding its position without riding up, having nice deep pockets, full-front zips and being snug around the cuffs are all plus points. For under £20, well worth the money.
Defining factors for choosing the right cycling top
In short, based on the reviews and the retailer’s blurb, you need to pick which one you think is fit for your purpose. There’s enough choice to make the right choice.
It’s clear that some people feel the cold more than others. Our world of different-shaped people serves a tricky issue for designers, but it’s the same across the clothing industry. Sizing, which (of course) is absolutely fundamental, seems to be the main sore point. Otherwise, there’s a perfect, good value, long sleeve jersey for everybody, at all levels, in all weather.