Summer cycling jerseys will keep you dry and cool no matter how long or hot your rides. Here's what to look out for and our choice of a few of the best.
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 pocket for valuables
Remember your sun cream — you might even need it under your cycling jersey if you go for the very lightest mesh fabrics.
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, 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.
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 a comprehensive choice of cycling jerseys specifically 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.
The 7mesh Ashlu Merino Jersey is a really versatile short-sleeved summer top that copes fantastically with 28˚C rides without overheating, yet stays warm when temperatures plummet and the rain arrives. The five pockets carry huge amounts comfortably, it's really well made and it's perfect for long or multiday rides. There's no denying that price makes it a serious investment, though.
Tester Patrick writes: “One of the pluses of merino is its ability to air-dry and not stink, thanks to its natural antibacterial properties. The useability without constant washes is a good thing for the environment, and excellent for you and your friends on a multiday ride – although there's obviously a limit because sheep definitely smell... I can confirm the Ashlu is good for at least three days, however.
“The Ashlu jersey is an absolutely brilliant piece of kit, but then it should be for £130. Happily its exquisite design, excellent quality and brilliant performance mean it's a worthwhile investment, especially if you ride long days either as one-offs or consecutively. As a jersey for riding mile after mile in comfort with all sorts of stuff in the pockets, it’s the best I’ve used. It's very comfy, very well made and that capacious floating pocket is just brilliant.”
Sometimes all you want is a nice looking jersey at a reasonable price that does the job it's supposed to. The Primal Pixel8 Women's Cycling Jersey goes beyond that, being a good looking jersey that performs really well, at a great price
Tester Lara writes: “Aside from the relaxed-but-not-baggy fit, which is well shaped to suit the female form, this jersey differs from many by having no gripper tape or elastication at the hem or arms. Interestingly, this caused little in the way of problems, with no gap developing between shorts and jersey – the jersey stayed put nicely throughout rides. Taller women may want to look at wearing bib shorts just to be on the safe side, though.
”The 100% polyester fabric wicked moisture well and dried quickly, even on a hot day. It's a slightly heavier weight than some high performance jerseys, but it still gives a comfortable and dry ride in both warm and cooler conditions. Out on the bike it kept my temperature stable in a variety of conditions including a muggy, stormy, warm day. Coupled with arm warmers and a gilet, it'd be good for chillier autumn and spring rides too. A full-length high quality YKK zip gives plenty of ventilation options.”
The Assos Dyora Rs Summer SS Jersey is as close to a skinsuit as a jersey can get. Its features and performance make it perfect for racers, serious sportive riders and anyone with a competitive streak who enjoys speedy, time trial style riding.
Tester Emma writes: “I was genuinely transported back to my race days when I pulled on the Dyora; I felt the urge to ride fast and feel some pain. The skin-tight fit, fast-drying fabrics and minimal cut are all designed for high-end performance. The Venus Violet colourway that I tested is understated but certainly won't see you go unnoticed on the road.
”Despite always working hard enough to break a sweat in the jersey, even on the hottest of days I've never sensed my torso or underarms being clammy or damp with perspiration. The fabrics are all doing what they claim.”
Santini's Women's Tono Chromosome Jersey is a lightweight top that performs well in the hottest of weather. It's a striking design, although alternative colour combinations are available if it's too much for you. Its slim fit makes it ideal for aspiring racers and its functional fabrics will suit those wanting a pro-performance jersey.
Tester Emma writes: "The jersey is designed for warm weather riding – Santini says it has a range of 18-35°C – and it shows. I combined it with a lightweight baselayer at 18+ degrees and it was spot on; above 23ish, on an intense training ride, it works well on its own.
"The rear and side panels are made from ultra-light 'Think Opacity' fabric, a mesh-like fabric that dries out as quickly as it wicks. I could really put the hammer down, sweat profusely and arrive home with a virtually dry back, which doesn't happen with many jerseys."
Rapha's Lightweight Brevet jersey takes the recipe of the original short sleeve model and makes it lighter. In effect, it's a brilliant summer weight jersey for anything but the freakishly hot days.
Tester Leon writes: “It's noticeably thinner and lighter than the standard short sleeve version, weighing 221g in a large, and when you get going, air can penetrate right through to keep you cool, thanks to the 100gsm fabric on the main panels and mesh-like fabric on the flanks. On some of the warmer days this year, it's performed brilliantly.
‘”It's fast become one of my favourite summer jerseys, and I'll probably only switch to something warmer and rain resistant when I'm reluctantly forced to.”
The dhb Aeron Lab XC Short Sleeve Jersey is perfect for summer rides that leave the tarmac behind. It manages to be more durable and resistant to abrasion than a typical summer jersey while not compromising on breathability or performance.
Tester Steve writes: "The enhanced abrasion resistance is achieved by the arm and underarm panels being made from an 'advanced woven fabric' and the main body being made from a high gauge fabric. I'm a big fan of the sleeve panels, which have a textured feel and have done a good job of fending off bramble attacks on overgrown summer trails. The lack of snags or puckering bodes well in the event of a crash and I would have more confidence in this jersey surviving over most standard road jerseys and especially ones this lightweight. Fortunately, I haven't had to put that to the test, but given the excellent condition of the jersey after a month of abuse I'm more than happy to accept the abrasion resistance claims.
"At first, I was a little skeptical that the high gauge fabric wouldn't be detrimental to breathability. High gauge basically means that there are more stitches per inch on the garment and that a thinner yarn has been used more tightly. This means that there are fewer gaps in the fabric for air to pass through. Despite this, the breathability of the jersey has been good. Admittedly there are some all-out summer jerseys that will do a better job if you're slugging up a hot mountain all day but in reality, especially in the UK, rides often consist of ups and downs and usually about three seasons of weather as well.”
The Rapha Core Lightweight jersey performs impressively well in high temperatures. Its two ultralight fabrics supply great ventilation, build quality is impressive and it has Rapha's distinctive look and feel.
Tester Simon writes: “The construction of the jersey is just right for the long, hot, midsummer riding it's designed for. Two lightweight fabrics – a mesh front and sleeves for efficient ventilation, with a slightly denser knit on the back for UV protection, according to Rapha – do a great job of simultaneously letting in the airflow and not holding onto moisture. I wore it in the hottest days of the June heatwave without a baselayer and felt comfortable riding hard, never overheating. Although it excels above 20°C, I would also argue that you could wear it in temperatures in the high teens with a baselayer if you were worried about getting enough use out of it.”
The La Passione PSN jersey has a sleek and form-fitting cut that's comfortable, light and breathable. Build quality is excellent and it's perfect for hard riding in hot weather, but the smooth, single-colour fabric shows up dark sweat patches on hot days.
Tester Simon writes: “The moment you find a jersey that not only fits well but is also nicely designed, good quality and super comfortable, is worthy of its own victory salute. That was me when the La Passione PSN jersey arrived. A month on I am still celebrating, but being more careful about raising my arms aloft because I've discovered the smooth, block-colour fabric absorbs sweat more visibly than textured fabrics. It's my only criticism.
“Otherwise, this is a great jersey and my firm favourite of recent weeks. In the June heatwave the La Passione PSN performed exceptionally well. The extremely thin fabric lets air straight through, and keeps you comfortable and cool whether riding hard or on longer, steadier club runs.”
The La Passione Duo Jersey is very well made, uses excellent fabrics, and offers a great performance fit. All the tiny details make it even more of a pleasure to wear, such as zip garages top and bottom, laser cut sleeves and plenty of storage. The only thing missing is a pocket for securing your valuables.
Tester Stu writes: “The Duo jersey is available in 10 colours, all with two-tone designs like this Grey/Ice model. La Passione use a range of fabrics in the construction, in various mixes of polyester and elastane. They are all very soft to the touch, which means the Duo is very comfortable to wear.
”This has been one of my go-to jerseys when the temperatures are high, as it is very breathable. The fabric isn't overly thick anywhere so it doesn't trap heat, and when climbing or putting in hard efforts, the mesh side panels and perforated back (which has noticeable holes compared to the smooth front panel and sleeves) really help.”
The Vulpine Alpine Merino Blend jersey is a stylish and functional garment that combines the famous properties of the fine wool with a casual, urban aesthetic, and it works well for long rides, café stops and city commutes.
Merino is a good insulator in slightly cooler weather, and before the sun came out in mid-April this jersey worked well as a layer under a lightweight shell at around 10°C. It also breathes incredibly well and is – slightly counter-intuitively since it's wool – one of the coolest fabrics to wear in hot weather, although it does absorb moisture more than synthetic materials.
The Pearl Izumi Interval jersey is a lightweight, breathable, and comfortable warm weather jersey. Although there is no getting round the high price, the performance goes a long way to justifying it.
The first thing you notice about this jersey is just how lightweight it is – not only coming in at a smidge over 100g, but also the material itself which is thin and perforated, so feels almost weightless when you're wearing it. What this normally means is that it's see-through, but that's not the case with this jersey, so you don't feel exposed. It is therefore no surprise that this is a great jersey for hot weather.
The ashmei Women's Cycle Croix De Fer Jersey is a thoughtfully designed, stylish and versatile top that offers excellent protection in cool conditions without making you overheat as things warm up. It might be a significant investment, but it will serve you well through at least three out of four seasons.
The fit is best described as relaxed (it's not me in the photos). If you want something tighter, I'd say size down. There's plenty of length in the body, especially in the tail. You can pull this right down over your bum; it won't stay there, but that gives you an idea of just how generous it is.
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."
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 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.
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.
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 Triban Essential short-sleeved jersey. You'll have change too.
It may be basic but the Triban Essential 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.