The clothing you wear while riding can have a huge influence on your comfort and performance, and in the summer months your jersey is always going to be one of the key pieces.
Advances in technical fabrics in recent years mean the difference in on-bike performance between the best cycling jerseys and normal clothes can be substantial, particularly if you’re concerned about going fast or riding in hot weather.
Of course, many roadies care about how they look on the bike too, so getting a cool cycling jersey can also be paramount.
While we certainly wouldn’t claim to be the arbiters of ‘cool’, we think all of these cycling jerseys fit the bill.
It’s worth remembering these jerseys are designed for riding in warm, dry weather, so don’t forget to check the weather forecast before rides. And, if you’re heading out for a long time, packing an extra layer to put on if the weather changes is always sensible.
Things to consider when shopping for cycling jerseys
Summer jerseys use lightweight and highly breathable fabrics or mesh panels to keep you cool. The cut is usually fitted to help with sweat wicking performance and aerodynamics. Excess fabric is kept to a minimum to prevent flapping in the wind, which can cause increased drag.
A well-fitting jersey with sensibly positioned seams and useful zip location is essential. A comfy collar and zip garages help to avoid irritation, while silicone-lined hems hold a jersey in place.
Stash space is important for storing your ride essentials such as a spare tube, pump, wind/waterproof jacket, nutrition and phone. Easy access is vital, while zip pockets are ideal for keeping valuables safe.
The best cycling jerseys in 2020
These are ten of the best summer cycling jerseys in 2020. Once you’ve read all the reviews, keep reading for our in-depth buyer’s guide to cycling jerseys.
Assos Equipe RS Aero SS Jersey: £145 / $189 / AU$323 / €170
Endura Pro SL Lite Jersey: £80 / $110 / €100
Sportful Monocrom Jersey: £90 / $150 / €100
Alé PRR Green Road Jersey: £125 / $150 / AU$185 / €125
Altura Icon Short-Sleeve Jersey: £55 / €65
B’TWIN Triban RC 100 Warm Weather Jersey: £18 / $25
Castelli Hors Categorie Jersey: £100 / $140 / €100
DHB Aeron Short Sleeve Jersey: £55 / $70 / AU$90 / €65
Pearl Izumi Interval Jersey: £125 / $125
Q36.5 L1 Pinstripe X Jersey: £142 / €162
Assos Equipe RS Aero SS Jersey
Assos has combined maximum efficiency with ride comfort but it doesn’t come cheap. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Black, Black/White/Red, Black/White/Green, White/Black
Price: £145 / $189 / AU$323 / €170
The Equipe RS is designed for aero efficiency, hugging the body like a second skin. This minimalist jersey feels perfect in the riding position but sizing is small so most will need to size up.
At the front, a soft-to-touch, three-dimensional dimpled knit fabric increases the surface area to push up evaporation rates and help with aerodynamic airflow. On the rear, a wider gauge mesh fabric increases breathability. This has limited vertical stretch and along with a silicone-lined hem keeps everything in place.
The smooth-fabric, raw-end sleeves are bonded to help with longevity, while the lower zip garage protects your shorts.
Even as a minimalist jersey there are three decent-sized, easy-access pockets. Assos has combined maximum efficiency with ride comfort but it doesn’t come cheap.
Assos doesn’t have a direct female equivalent, but its Dyora RS Summer SS jersey is the most similar option in its women’s-specific range.
Endura Pro SL Lite Jersey
Hot-weather performance is right up there and the stylish Pro SL punches above its price tag. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Concrete Grey, Sunrise
Price: £80 / $110 / €100
The new Pro SL Lite is the evolution of working with pro teams and is cut using lightweight fabrics specifically for warm days. It fits like a second skin without feeling tight.
Fine mesh front and side panels are cool, wick well and help with aerodynamics, while the grid patterned rear does a top job of shifting sweat.
The smooth fabric arms are not as long as some and feature raw ends with silicone bands that hold them in place. All critical seams are bonded, keeping weight and bulk down.
The low-cut neck sits well and does away with the need for a zip garage. The simple three-pocket setup is in keeping with the minimalist design, but they do sit a little higher than some. Hot-weather performance is right up there and the stylish Pro SL Lite punches above its price tag.
Those looking for a women’s-specific option might consider Endura’s WMS PT Wave S/S Jersey Limited Edition jersey.
Sportful Monocrom Jersey
A chic and high-performing summer jersey at a good price. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Anthracite, Black, Blue Atomic, Coconut, Dry Green, Sea Moss
Price: £90 / $150 / €100
We love the simplicity yet high function of this lightweight jersey. Sportful achieves the unique colour finish by creating a white jersey before dipping it into different colour dyes to achieve the final shade. As a consequence, every jersey is a one-off with all the component parts taking the dye differently. This gives it a neat, aged finish for a less race-inspired look.
The high-stretch mesh panels wick well and fit true to size, offering a more forgiving fit than some of Sportful’s race kit.
We liked the overall cut, with long sleeves and wide, raw-finish arm ends, low neck and a wide silicone-lined hem, all delivering a comfy fit. The three rear pockets are perfectly located and offer ample storage. A chic and high-performing summer jersey at a good price.
The Monocrom W Jersey is the women’s-specific version. The fit and range of colours are slightly different, but otherwise it’s very similar.
Alé PRR Green Road Jersey
This jersey is right up there for high-end race credentials. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Black, Burgundy, Blue, Turquoise, Yellow
Price: £125 / $150 / AU$185 / €125
The Green Road uses over 90 per cent recycled materials in this race jersey that’s cut on the skinny side. It’s body hugging without feeling restrictive, which makes it good in windy conditions and helps with wicking.
Alé uses a horizontal mesh on the front and a wider mesh on the rear and under the arms for breathability.
The smooth, raw-end sleeves have plenty of length and sit well, while the front zip offers further ventilation. A bottom zip garage protects your shorts but there’s no need for one on the low-cut neck.
Three regular-sized pockets take care of storage but sit a little higher than some. There’s also a useful nutrition pocket on the right side. This jersey is up there for high-end race credentials.
Alé also offers a version designed for females riders.
Altura Icon Short-Sleeve Jersey
The Icon is a good-value, bright and colourful jersey with 360-degree reflectivity. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Large variety of colours and patterns
Price: £55 / €65
The Icon is a good-value, bright and colourful jersey with 360-degree reflectivity and a forgiving fit that’s ideal for those who need more room.
Altura uses a smooth Lycra fabric on the front and rear panels along with wide mesh side/under-arm panels to help with breathability when you’re working hard.
There’s a full-length front zip with flap that helps with comfort, but it doesn’t have any garages top or bottom. That said, we didn’t get any neck irritation during testing.
Three well-located pockets, along with zipped valuables pocket, provide ample storage for your essentials. We did get some sagging with heavier loads though. The rear drop tail features a silicone grip hem that does a good job of stopping the Icon riding up. A solid performing, yet forgiving, jersey.
Altura also produces a women’s version in a similar variety of designs.
B’Twin Triban RC 100 Warm Weather Jersey
It’s hard not to be impressed by the RC-100’s low price-tag and user-friendly features. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Black, Navy, Red/Black, Turquoise, White
Price: £18 / $25
It’s hard not to be impressed by the RC-100’s low price-tag and user-friendly features. It has a forgiving cut but isn’t overly flappy.
The jersey’s designed specifically for warm-weather riding using recycled fibres and it breathes well. Temperature control is further enhanced by under-arm mesh panels and a full-length front zip. This features a zip garage at the bottom to protect your shorts, and though there isn’t one on the neck, we didn’t experience any irritation. Adjustment is made easier by the addition of simple tags. While a little crude, they work fine.
The rear is dropped, featuring a mesh panel with inner silicone to hold it in place. There’s ample storage with three decent-sized pockets, a zipped pocket and two side pockets to keep gels in.
B’Twin also offers low-priced women’s cycling jerseys, such as the Triban RC500 Women’s Short Sleeve Jersey.
Castelli Hors Categorie Jersey
A high-performing yet practical and robust jersey. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Dark Grey, Dark Steel Blue, Red, Vortex Grey, Yellow
Price: £100 / $140 / €100
Designed for hard, hot days in the saddle the Hors Categorie uses Castelli’s Velocity Rev3 fabric on the main panels with a cool mesh on the rear and wider mesh side panels. The result is a cool jersey that performs in warm weather. The front zip with neck garage provides further temperature control.
The arms are cut long without any fancy cuffs or raw ends, but ride comfortably and help with longevity. A drop tail with silicone detail helps the Hors Categorie to sit pretty. The overall cut is fitted and most will need to size up.
The three well-supported rear pockets are perfectly located and easy to access on the fly. There’s a zip valuables pocket too. A high-performing yet practical and robust jersey.
Castelli doesn’t do a women’s-specific version of the Hors Categorie jersey, but it does offer a wide selection women’s jerseys.
dhb Aeron Short Sleeve Jersey
An impressive performer, considering its low price. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Black, Blue, Orange, Purple, Red, Turquoise
Price: £55 / $70 / AU$90 / €65
The Italian-made Aeron is a well thought-out summer jersey with many top design characteristics. It’s good looking, fits true to size and delivers a forgiving yet comfortable ride. dhb uses a lightweight yet durable dimpled mesh fabric that helps to keep you cool and dry when temperatures rise.
The centre back panel features wider mesh to increase breathability. It also features UPF40+ treatment for sun protection and an anti-bacterial treatment to stop it stinking.
The neck is comfortable despite the lack of a zip garage. Laser-cut arm grippers do their job well and provide an air of class. Three decent-sized pockets and a zip pocket provide ample carrying capacity but sit higher than some. A silicone hem helps to hold the rear in place. An impressive performer, considering its low price.
The women’s-specific version is the same price and features a similarly bold design.
Pearl Izumi Interval Jersey
The Interval is a minimalist, high-performance and neat-looking race jersey. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Pine/Atomic Red Transform, Navy/White Beval, White/Wet Weather Triad
Price: £125 / $125
The Interval is a minimalist, high-performance and neat-looking race jersey. It has a next-to-skin fit with a silky feel inside and out thanks to the Italian knit Elite Transfer fabric that breathes well.
This mesh material has lots of stretch for a good fit and is relatively robust compared to some minimalist jerseys. There’s a Coldblack treatment to reflect heat on warm days.
The rear hem has a silicone liner to keep it in place and three well-located pockets sit above this. These have bonded tops and inner support patches on the high stress points, but there’s no zip pocket in keeping with the sleek design.
The overall cut on this low-neck jersey is fitted but is more generously sized than some of the Italian brands.
An equivalent jersey designed for female riders is also available from Pearl Izumi
Q36.5 L1 Pinstripe X Jersey
Beautifully made and quick drying, but at a price! Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Colours: Black Grey, Orange, Purple, Navy
Price: £142 / €162
Q36.5 was started by former Assos designer Luigi Bergamo, so it has a great pedigree, and the L1 is all about modern materials and tech.
The three-dimensional fabric increases the surface area to aid wicking, while the striped silver thread’s high-thermal conductivity is said to increase breathability and help reduce odours. It’s also claimed to minimise electrostatic allowing muscles to operate more effectively, but it’s hard to quantify on the road.
It has a race cut and features longer raw-end sleeves, a low neck and full-length zip with a short-protecting lower garage. Storage is good and the ‘hidden’ pockets are not only easy to access but in keeping with the minimalist design. Beautifully made and quick drying, but at a price!
Q36.5 also produces this jersey in a women’s-specific cut.
Buyer’s guide to cycling jerseys
Why should I wear a cycling jersey?
Whether or not you’ll be happier in a dedicated cycling jersey really depends on what kind of riding you’re looking to do.
Do you want to ride fast or efficiently, without wasting watts? If so, a properly fitted cycling jersey is going to serve you best.
Fitted cycling jerseys, like this Superlight jersey by Katusha, are ideal for cyclists who want to ride fast in hot weather. Yogamaya von Hippel / Immediate Media
If you’re more interested in taking it easy and staying casual, or you’re looking to stop off in shops and towns mid-ride, then there’s nothing wrong with wearing your normal clothes, or a mix of cycling-specific clothes and normal clothes.
Just be mindful that if it rains or you get sweaty, everday clothes aren’t designed to be as breathable or quick drying as cycling-specific kit.
There’s nothing wrong with mixing and matching cycling kit with normal clothes, if that’s more your cup of tea.
Fit, fabrics and aerodynamics
It’s well established that tight, close fitting kit is more aerodynamically efficient than loose, baggy clothing. It’s been proven in the wind tunnel, but it’s also easy enough to test yourself – just go out in a baggy top, the increased air resistance is obvious.
What’s less well known is that both the type of fabric and the placement of seams can also have an effect on the aerodynamic efficiency of cycling jerseys.
These jerseys are often more complex and expensive to design and manufacture than standard jerseys though, so you’ll likely need to cough up some extra cash to get your hands on them.
The Souplesse Aero Women’s Jersey by Rapha is a great example. It performs excellently, but the price is accordingly high.
They arguably represent a good value performance upgrade though, because aero jerseys can have a relatively large effect on how aerodynamic you are but cost much less than aero road bikes or wheels.
Both wind tunnel and real world testing has proven that tight fitting jerseys help minimise your aerodynamic drag. Courtesy Specialized
On the other hand, if you’re not fussed about optimising your aerodynamic efficiency, a lightly looser jersey might be more comfortable and offer a little more breathability in hot weather.
Just be wary when sizing up that if a jersey is too big for you, the rear pockets might sag a bit when full of stuff.
Other than the fact that it doesn’t look amazing, it’s not a huge problem, but it will likely make the pockets a bit harder to reach while riding.
How much money do I need to spend on a cycling jersey?
It depends on your goals. Lower priced jerseys tend to be perfectly functional but are most often targeted at non-racers, so if you’re looking for a very tight fit you may need to size down.
Higher priced jerseys have usually been subject to more in-depth research and development, possibly using wind tunnel or real world testing to refine the fit and aerodynamics. You may also get more advanced fabrics with features such as protection from UV rays.
Styling also tends to improve as the price increases because premium brands invest more in design and aesthetics, but this is obviously subjective so we’ll leave it up to you to make the ultimate call on that.
Replica kits and funky cycling jerseys, hot or not?
Unlike other sports, cycling has a curiously muted relationship with amateurs wearing replica pro team kits.
The traditional idea was that you’re supposed to have earned the right to wear a professional team kit, by literally becoming a professional. The reality probably has more to do with the fact that many cycling teams aren’t location based, and don’t tend to stick around for long enough to generate a loyal following of fans who might wish to buy such kit.
It’s also perhaps fair to say that professional cycling jerseys, often covered in gaudy brand logos as they are, aren’t always the most stylish option for many.
For some though, pro team kit can be a way to show off their appreciation for the more obscure side of our wonderful sport. Once these designs have aged enough to be retro, they’re also a sure fire way to prove your knowledge of cycling history.
The full-Euro-fluoro look, made possible by the 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo pro team kit (by Sportful), is quite the fashion flex for those bold enough to try it. Immediate Media
The wearing of World Champions or race leaders jerseys, like the famous Yellow, Green and Polka Dot jerseys of the Tour de France is similarly contentious. Like with pro team kit, it’s often argued these jerseys should be reserved for racers who have ‘earned’ the right to wear them.
If you’ve been inspired by a hero who’s worn these jerseys, and wearing one makes you feel a little bit special, then don’t let anyone hold you back.
Tacky holiday jerseys (yes, they are a thing) and other novelty jerseys also hold a well established place in our sport. While you perhaps wouldn’t see many BikeRadar staff in them, they serve as a wonderful reminder not to take things too seriously. Cycling is supposed to be fun, after all.