While you can wear a t-shirt when you go cycling, you'll soon drown in your own sweat. Better to wear a specific cycling jersey made from a breathable fabric to keep you dry and cool no matter how long or hot the ride is, ensuring you remain comfortable all the way. Along with padded shorts, a good short sleeve cycling jersey for warmer weather is an essential part of any cyclist's wardrobe.
You can shed litres of sweat on long rides in the sun so a technical cycling jersey made with a high wicking fabric will keep you dry and cool. Worth noting is that many jerseys can be worn nearly year round, during early spring and late into the autumn. As part of a layering system, a cycling jersey can be paired with a gilet and arm warmers and used on cooler days around the calendar.
Summer cycling jerseys use lightweight, sweat-wicking fabrics to keep you cool, dry and comfortable on the bike, even on hot days.
It's not all stretchy Lycra; cycling jerseys can be made from woven synthetics for a less shiny look, or even very lightweight wool blends.
Full-length zips are good for cooling, but may not hang as well; half- and three-quarter-length zips are a great compromise.
The classic cycling jersey design with three rear pockets is the most common, but some manufacturers add a small zipped pockett for valuables
Remember your sun cream — you might even need it under your cycling jersey if you go for the very lightest mesh fabrics.
A summer cycling jersey is a simple garment in essence, but look through any catalogue or browse your local shop and you'll quickly realise there are hundreds of different jerseys. They're all trying to do the same thing though, but how they do it can be very different, so it's worth being clear what you're looking for before you starting buying.
You can pay anything from £5 to £130 for a cycling jersey, but an expensive one isn't necessarily 20 times better. Generally, you're paying extra for better and more advanced fabrics that are better at wicking sweat and keeping you cool and dry than very basic fabrics. You can also expect improved fit and styling and extra features.
Yes, you could wear a t-shirt on your bike. But cotton, as you'll find out if you ever ride in it on a hot day, isn't that great at dealing with sweat; it simply holds onto it, and before long will be soaked through. Add a light breeze and you can quickly chill. Not good.
So the aim of a technical jersey is to wick sweat from your skin to the outer side of the fabric, where it can evaporate. That leaves you dry, so you don't get clammy with sweat and won't chill if the temperature drops or the wind picks up.
Man-made synthetic fabrics are the mainstay of summer cycling jerseys, but natural materials – basically types of wool – are also good choices. Naturally sourced materials such as Merino wool have developed a lot in recent years with many improvements and developments leading to Merino wool being a good choice, even on hot days. One particular benefit of woollen cycling jerseys is that the fat molecules in sweat find it harder to cling to the organic fibres than they do with man-made polyester, so wool jerseys take a lot longer to pong.
Another consideration for cycling in hot weather is to look for a jersey with a fabric that provides some sun protection. Some cycling jerseys use very lightweight and loose weave fabric that can let a lot of harmful UV rays through, so manufacturers have started addressing this by making clothing with SPF and UPF ratings. When you're cycling you're exposing your back to the sun, the area under your jersey that you most likely don't apply suntan lotion to.
You can have the best and most expensive fabric in the world, but if the jersey doesn't fit well you'll lose a lot of performance. Fit is, naturally, a personal thing, and also depends on the style of riding you do. If it's sportives and racing, then tighter fitting jerseys are better, they're less flappy and more aero.
For touring and leisure cycling a relaxed fit with a more generous cut will be preferable. Equally too for commuting to the office. Such cycling jerseys can be made from highly technical fabrics, but offer a more relaxed style that is as comfortable on the bike as sitting in the beer garden for a post-ride drink.
Sizing is critical, whichever your chosen style, and here companies offer a range of sizes that should sit most body shapes. Some measure up smaller or larger than others, so don't take it for granted that you're a medium in one brand that you'll be the same size in all other brands. Trying before you buy is really the best way to proceed, if you have the opportunity.
If you're racing or seeking an aerodynamic advantage, there are a raft of new cycling jerseys designed to sit very close to the skin, with no excess material to flap in the wind, and help your upper body better cut through the air. They're not for everyone though... Remember, about 80% of the wind drag you face when cycling is caused by the body, so ensuring your body is aero is a better place to start than dropping £2K on a pair of carbon deep-section wheels.
Features can make or break a good summer cycling jersey, and generally speaking, the more features the higher the price. The very minimum you want is three pockets around the back for stuffing a ride's worth of food, money and spare tubes, and a zip at the front for when you need to cool down. That's your classic cycling jersey right there.
There's a myriad of extra options, with everything from zipped pockets, full-length zippers, mesh panels strategically placed for maximum ventilation, elasticated waists, silicone hems to stop them riding up, and reflective stripes, good for riding late into the summer evenings.
How the jersey looks is purely personal preference, there's enough choice out there to keep everyone happy. Your options range from team replica kit, understated but stylish branded wear all the way through to the current trend for retro inspired garb.
And the choice continues to grow. A big growth area has been in the cycle clothing that doesn't look like cycle clothing, that could happily be worn off the bike without raising eyebrows. Yet using the latest technical fabrics and smart fit, means they work well on the bike when you're hammering along the road.
Women are better catered for now than they ever have been in previous years, with most manufacturers now offering comprehensive choice of cycling jerseys specifically to cut to suit the female form. And some even manage to avoid making their jerseys pink or baby blue and plastering butterfly details over them, but if that's your thing there are still plenty of pink and flowery tops too.
It's not a good idea to wear your new cycle jersey more than once, even if it was just a short ride. Your perspiration settles into the fabric of the jersey, and the bad smell is caused by bacteria. So wash your cycling jersey after every ride.
For washing, it's important to follow the manufacturers guidelines printed on the care label. The temperature rating is the vital bit, and it's necessary to wash accordingly. If you do wash a fabric at a higher temperature than advised and do so constantly, the fabric will deteriorate in quality.
Washing liquid or gels are preferable to powder as they are less aggressive with the delicate fabrics, though powder is better at getting out really muddy stains. When it comes to drying avoid the tumble drier at all costs, unless you want your jersey a size smaller. Hang on the washing line or over a clothes rack and allow to dry naturally, the best thing about cycle clothing is how quickly it dries, so you won't have to wait long.
Other tips, don't forget to empty the pockets – sounds obvious but I've lost count of the times I've stuffed a cycling jersey in the washing machine and forgotten to remove a used gel wrapper. We would advise washing your cycling clothing separately from your ordinary clothes too. And don't forget to zip up the zippers as well.
Let's kick off with some of the summer cycling jerseys we've loved recently, then take a look at a broad range of evergreen favourites.
Oh, and if this selection's not enough choice for you, check out the full road.cc archive of short-sleeved cycling jersey reviews.
It's not cheap, but the ashmei Classic cycling Jersey does an amazing job of keeping you cool and dry, thanks to its Merino wool and polyester blend fabric. Tester STu Kerton said "I went on a fair few long rides in the Classic in some very warm conditions, and each time I was amazed at how cool I remained even when climbing, and that the jersey was just damp when I finished the ride rather than being soaked in sweat."
And it's comfortable too. Stu again: "The fabric blend also creates a very soft material which feels great against the skin, and even though the jersey has quite a form-fitting cut it doesn't feel restrictive anywhere."
Thanks to a breathable and highly-wicking blend of merino and polyester, the Lusso Women's Merino Jersey is "a really good British made performance-cut top, ideal for autumn and spring and cooler summer days," says tester Sarah Langridge.
It performs really well across a range of weather from from rainy rides and chilly days to full-on sunshine. "The merino gives the jersey odour resistance and high wicking ability and it certainly seems to work: you don't overheat, even on the tough rides," Sarah adds.
"A windproof jersey isn't something you would normally consider for summer riding," says tester George Hill, "but this ashmei design might change your mind. One of its key elements is the choice of material, which sets it apart from the pack. It's unlike almost any other fabric I have seen used in a jersey, with almost a rubberised feel. It also has an impressive amount of stretch, which means it sits comfortably regardless of your body type."
The zebra print pattern might be a bit bold for some, but fortunately other designs are available and worth looking at because this cycling jersey is exactly what Lusso says: breathable with a pro fit. To top it off, it's made in Manchester.
ANd the fit's great too. Tester Emma Silversides says: "It's snug without being skinsuit-tight, and doesn't cling at any single point. I found its proportions spot on in terms of length and tapering. It basically ticks all the boxes for anyone looking for a jersey that offers pro performance without the often associated super-tight, skinsuit fit."
The Sportful BodyFit Pro 2.0 Evo Jersey is a brilliant summer cycling jersey for racing and fast riding, at a very good price. The breathability, soft fabric, close fit and excellent cut on the arms are only slightly let down by an annoying seam.
So far, the summer has provided us with a total split between lightweight jerseys and rain jackets. When the sun has shown itself, we've been really happy to have the BodyFit Pro 2.0 Evo jersey in the wardrobe. It's comfortable to wear on long rides, looks great and breathes very well when you're going full gas on the climbs.
The Castelli Aero Race 6.0 Jersey is a great update, offering excellent breathability and a comfortable fit, and promising some go-faster aero qualities.
The key element of this cycling jersey, as you might have guessed from the name, is its aero qualities. In this, the sixth iteration of the jersey, Castelli has used 'CFD analysis of wake flow in the riding position' to improve aerodynamics. As always, we can't give any accurate review of this given that we don't have access to a wind tunnel to test it.
However, the fit, the elongated sleeves and the way the jersey sits against your body in a crouch makes it clear that aerodynamics are at the core of this jersey. Given that, as with everything in cycling these days, this is about marginal gains, we didn't notice a huge difference over another aero cycling jersey, although it may well exist.
PEdAL ED's Odyssey Jersey is designed as a long-distance top and to cope with the load-carrying that comes with the territory. The jersey itself has a plethora of pockets and is brilliantly breathable in even really warm temperatures while feeling supersoft against the skin.
It's part of a range of clothing that is all designed to work together, along with the bib shorts and the vest that make up a complete package. The Odyssey is a really functional cycling jersey, whether for epic treks or lesser ones, where you need to carry kit and have easy access to it on your rides.
For starters, it has seven pockets. Three deep ones at the rear in a standard roadie position with another one on each side of those – ideal for snacks that you can grab quickly while still riding.
The Funkier Prima Pro Ladies Short Sleeve Jersey is lightweight, well made and really breathable, with a relaxed fit. All this comes for an easy to swallow price, making it a top choice for riding on hot days. The only negative is the waterproof pocket – the same gripe as with the men's cycling jerseys tested recently.
The first thing that struck me about the jersey was how well made it was and just how much lightweight fabric had been incorporated to make the jersey exceptionally breathable. The front, rear and sleeves are all made of a very thin, semi-transparent fabric – air flows in freely and heat easily escapes.
The side panels are a mesh material that performs equally as well. The jersey really is designed for hot weather. I've had it teamed with undervests to date and found this perfect for temperatures around 18-20 degrees.
Polish boutique cycling brand Podia has produced a stormer of a performance cycling jersey here with its Club Colours. It's superb quality, keeps you cool in the heat, fits beautifully and looks great. It's not the cheapest jersey out there, but I'd say it's well worth the money.
At its core is a race-ready but rider-conscious fit, put together using highly breathable mid-weight fabrics. If you want to go lightweight for the hottest days, Podia's Dust Super Light jersey is apparently the one to opt for, while the Club Colours jersey comes in at 187g.
The Aeron Lab Raceline Short Sleeve Jersey is part of the new performance range from dhb and it's a no-nonsense piece of race kit with top-end fabrics, a slim fit and impressive performance, especially in the summer temperatures.
dhb is renowned for its quality kit and sensible pricing, and even though this Lab Raceline jersey will set you back £110 it's still impressive value for money when you consider what you are getting.
Brighton-based clothing brand Morvélo is renowned for its striking colour schemes, and this EFX Nth Series jersey continues that theme. Bold graphics aren't there to mask an average product, though, as this top is impressively comfortable and offers superb performance no matter how hard you're riding.
The Nth Series jersey uses a combination of different fabrics in its construction, and by holding the jersey up to the light you can easily see the difference. The main front section uses a material that is pretty thin and has a very small-holed mesh style design which lets through plenty of cooling air but without you getting cold, so the jersey isn't restricted to just the really hot days.
The Flux Chevron jersey is a well-thought-out, high-performance piece of kit available exclusively from Evans Cycles for a great price.
The Lycra main body is stretchy so that the race cut never feels restrictive, whatever position you tend to ride in, while also keeping fabric bunching to a minimum. At the same time it's very soft with lightweight flat stitching on the inside that helps minimise rubbing, so comfort levels are impressive too.
The Sportful R&D Cima cycling jersey offers excellent hot weather performance with a very figure-hugging, race-ready fit that makes it ideal for summer cycling and racing.
Sportful works closely with the pro teams it sponsors and learns valuable lessons from the demanding world of racing. The R&D Cima jersey is the latest product to come out of the Italian company's research and development programme, a pro-tested jersey designed for hot weather and high mountains.
The Assos SS.centoJersey_evo8 is one of the nicest and most comfortable cycling jerseys I've tested this year. It combines top-end fabrics and construction with a fit that is a little more relaxed than some, superb breathability and some nice details, making it a lovely jersey for long summer rides.
Assos has developed its own fabrics for the jersey and uses one with a high stretch factor so it's a little more accommodating than some, ideal if you're no Chris Froome weight weenie. It's still close fitting but it's not exactly racing fit constrictive. The mesh back panel helps breathability and stretches horizontally but not vertically, to prevent the pockets sagging.
There are recurring themes to Castelli cycling jerseys: typical quality, performance and Italian style (good), set against an Italian fit (erm... not always good) and value (ditto). The Entrata, however, is a summer jersey almost without flaw.
The ProSecco GT fabric – a stretchy textured polyester material – has plenty of give, while the Air Mesh sections down the flanks and on the arms and shoulders hint towards the summerwear aim of the jersey. It performed brilliantly at wicking moisture away during the recent warm weather spell, while it all comes together to provide a glove-like fit.
There isn't much cycling kit you can get for a tenner: a pair of socks maybe, or a of couple water bottles. Or, you can buy a fully functioning B'Twin 300 cycling jersey. You'll have change too.
It may be basic but the 300 isn't just a rehashed t-shirt. You get breathable material with various panels, two rear pockets and a front zip plus Decathlon's two-year warranty against defects. You kind of wonder what the catch is. As far as we can see there isn't one.
dhb's Blok range is inspired by jockey racing silks and retro team geometrics, which change every year.
The fit is described as 'anatomic'. In practice, the fabric is highly elastic, and I found the cut figure skimming; stretching comfortably over the hips and chest and in at the waist. I could have happily sized up for a more relaxed fit without compromising a female silhouette.
The excellent fit is compounded by the generous length of the jersey. It sits comfortably on my hips, and combined with the added security of a silicone strip running along the hem, doesn't ride up at all. The standard three-pocket design is supplemented by a nifty hi-viz zip on the right, giving access to a smaller pocket easily big enough for keys, coins or a debit card.
With a racy fit and cooling areas built in, Altura's Podium Elite cycling jersey is aimed at the higher performance end of the market than the UK brand's usual fare, and it's spot on for hot summer rides.
This is definitely a jersey for hot days. The sheer mesh on the underarms works really well at keeping you cool when it's 20 degrees or more out.
Compared with other racing/performance jerseys, around £60 is pretty good value for what you are getting with the Altura Podium. We recommend it to anyone looking for a jersey they can ride fast in on hot summer days.
The Podium Elite is the updated version of the Podium jersey we tested a few years ago, and liked.
The fit on the Bodyline jerseys is top drawer; it's no exaggeration to say that it's on a par with high-end jerseys costing over £100. The sleeves are undoubtedly the highlight. Super stretchy fabric gives a tight aero fit on the skinniest biceps with a raw cut end - no seams.
I'd never previously found myself irritated by a seam on the end of my sleeves, but raw sleeve ends are what the pros are mostly wearing and they're bloody lovely. Quite simply, they are the best-fitting and most comfortable sleeves of any jersey I've worn, at any price.
The torso is also a close aerodynamic fit which I found was very comfortable and not at all restrictive; you can really see the expertise of manufacturing subcontractor Bioracer here. Breathability is decent, if (unsurprisingly) not on a par with the ultra lightweight jerseys that the likes of Castelli, Rapha and Adidas have produced recently for the hottest of summer days.
Rapha's Core Jersey joins the Core Bib Shorts, in its 'affordable' range. Although £60 is still not what you might call super-cheap, it is a fair bit less than other Rapha jerseys and, crucially, it's very good.
It takes design cues from the Classic range and strips it back, eschewing the signature contrast stripe on the sleeve and instead opting for a subliminally stitched version. Elsewhere, you find same-colour stitching and a fabric that more closely matches the Pro Team jerseys than Rapha's wool-based offerings, just without the skintight fitting.
It's a great compromise that includes decent features and fabrics from Rapha's previous designs and research. It has a slim yet not restrictive cut, with a long back and sizeable pockets. Each of the three open pockets and the zipped fourth are easy to reach, although when the pockets are empty the jersey can ride up. Our tester found this occurred especially when he had a jacket on over the top, even though the silicone grippers around the waistline are prominent and feel high quality and grippy to touch.
Great fit and style comes from a wool-based jersey from Isadore – called the Woolight – and it's nigh-on perfect for sunny days in the saddle. Maybe you're off to the Continent...
Isadore pitches its products to the higher end of the market, priding itself on creating sleek designs using the best materials for the serious and stylish cyclist. That much is clear from this jersey, and it more than delivers in terms of performance too.
Moisture-wicking is extremely good thanks to its merino wool blend (you'll find 23% merino and 77% polyester in this jersey, hence its name), and so remains comfortable to wear whether you've just gunned it up a steep climb and are getting a real sweat on, or just out for a gentle spin around your local flatlands – in which case the warmth afforded by the wool comes into play very effectively.
Bontrager's Ballista range is all about top end performance, which is why the £119.99 jersey fits so well while offering both breathability and an unbelievable range of movement. It carries an impressive amount of attention to detail too.
Made from Profila fabrics, the Ballista is all about technology and what can be achieved with it to create the best garment possible. It's a jersey of very few compromises and comes with an unexpectedly robust build quality, something a lot of lightweight kit doesn't offer.
The Assos SS.laalalaiJersey_evo7 is a superb summer jersey in terms of both comfort and functionality; if you are happy with the price tag, you certainly get a quality garment.
Initial impressions of this jersey were that 'there's nothing to it'; all of the material used is exceptionally thin and lightweight. Assos' type.002 material is used for the main body – it's a thin, stretchy fabric that glides over the skin while simultaneously wicking away any moisture and allowing good airflow.
It's the rear panel of the jersey that predominantly delivers cooling, though, and comprises Assos' mono-stretch type.220 material. This fabric offers some stretch horizontally across the back, so constantly adapting to the body's movements on the bike, but no give in the vertical weave, ensuring stability under the weight of objects in any of the three rear pockets.
Assos' SS.equipeJersey_evo8 is the eighth generation of the classic Equipe, a racing jersey with a high tech design but at a price that makes it competitive with rivals from other premium brands. It offers style, an excellent fit and superb breathability.
This version of the Equipe represents a change of style for Assos, with a hazard pattern replacing stripes on the left sleeve and an asymmetric design. It's a bold looking jersey, especially in this yellow option (other colours are available, including a more muted black) and you'll definitely stand out on the club run.
We test jerseys to help you choose the right one for your needs, take a look at the archive here.
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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.