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feature Recommends Cycle Clothing of the Year 2022/23: the best shorts, tights, jerseys, jackets, shoes and more

From shorts and shoes to jerseys and jackets, these are the clothes that impressed our team of reviewers the most over the past 12 months.

Here are the very best items of cycle clothing that made it into Recommends in 2022. We have everything from shorts and tights to jerseys and jackets, with socks and shoes thrown in for good measure...

How we made our selection

You probably know the drill by now… Every month we choose the top bikes, components, accessories and clothing that we’ve reviewed here on – and our sister titles and ebiketips, where relevant – and add them to Recommends. This is the area of the site devoted to the items that stand out as special. The only selection criterion is: do we think it’s REALLY good. That’s it.

Now we’ve gone back to Recommends, looked at each product on its own merits, and selected la crème de la crème.

We give out three types of awards:

Bargain Buy This goes to the product that we feel gives the best value for money.

Money No Object We take the price out of the equation for this one; it’s all about the performance.

Editor’s Choice This award is won by the product that gives the best combination of performance and value for money.

One thing to note is that the prices given in the headings were correct at the time we originally published our reviews. We’ve stuck with those – whether or not they've altered since then – because they’re what our comments are based on. We’ve given the best price we can currently find at the bottom of each write-up.

Let’s see which clothes impressed us most...

Altura Progel Women’s Waist Shorts, £40

2022 Altura Progel Womens Waist Shorts.jpg

The Altura Progel Women’s Waist Shorts are well-made, supportive and comfortable with a very effective pad, providing exceptional value for money.

The fabric is smooth and supportive thanks to the high elastane content, and reassuringly opaque. The waistband sits quite high and stays put as a result, minimising the chance of gaps between shorts and jersey. Sizing is spot on against Altura’s chart, and leg length is ideal for all but the shortest of riders.

Reviewer Lara Dunn found the shape, density, level of cushioning and pliability of the pad to be up there with the very best she has ever tried, which is amazing considering the price.

The fabric is sturdy and not prone to snagging so should last well, while the leg grippers are effective without squeezing you too much.

It’s hard to argue with the value on offer from a pair of £40 shorts that perform better than some at over twice the price.

Why they're here Supportive and flattering with an incredibly comfortable pad, these punch well above their weight for performance and value
Buy for £40 from Altura 
Read the review 

Santini Unico Men’s Bib Shorts, £179

Santini Unico Men’s Bib Shorts

The Unico bib shorts offer a great pad, luxuriously soft fabric with high stretch, and minimal seams to create a package that really works even for long days in the saddle. Our reviewer said that these are as good as any bibs he’s used which is a strong recommendation considering that, although not cheap, they’re less expensive than many top-end offerings.

Santini has worked hard to provide comfort on the bike, the most significant feature being the C3 seat pad which is usually found on the brand’s higher-end bibs. The variable thicknesses, perforations and gel inserts under the ischiatic bones mean these shorts are comfortable all day long.

Elsewhere, microfibre fabric has been used which is soft and luxurious to the touch, with more stretch than traditional lycra. There are very few seams. In fact, below the waist, there is just one thermo-welded seam running down the inside of each thigh. The leg ends and bib straps are raw cut with no silicone or other grippers yet the stretchy fabric does a good job of keeping them in place without causing discomfort.

The combination of pad, fabric and minimal seams really works even for long days in the saddle, and the value for money is high too.

Why they're here Great bibs, suitable for long days out in sublime comfort
Buy for £179 from Santini 
Read the review 

Endura FS260-Pro Aerogel Mitts, £35.99

2022 Endura FS260-Pro Aerogel Mitt.jpg

The Endura FS260-Pro Aerogel Mitts are comfortable, breathable, and grippy with a decent amount of padding. They absorb the worst impacts from rough roads, bumps, and jolts while still giving you some road feel.

The palms are a silicone microfibre, and the pads on the bottom of the hand have a much thicker, almost plastic covering. Rather than just stitching the pads in like normal, Endura secures the larger pads in place with a thick mesh to allow air to flow through. It also creates more squidge and feels more absorbent than usual – which is a nice touch.

In terms of the performance on the road, these mitts provide a decent amount of damping, but the relatively thin material towards the top of the palm leaves enough road feel for confidence.

The thin Lycra upper with a mesh fabric running across the top of the knuckles allows air to flow well; these mitts stayed cool and dry in all but the most sweaty situations.

You get the obligatory sweat/glasses wipe on the thumbs, a tag on the wrist to help get them on, and pull tags on the two middle fingers for getting them off.

Overall, these offer a great fit, impressive wicking and good breathability, while the padding soaks up the bumps without eliminating road feel.

Why they’re here Impressive and well-ventilated mitts that do exactly what’s needed on warmer rides
Buy for £35.99 from Wiggle 
Read the review 

Orro Sportive Socks, £9.99

2022 Orro Sportive Sock - 2.jpg

These Italian-made Orro Sportive socks fit well, look good, and are reasonably priced. They come in three colours and a wide size range that should fit most of us.

The Orro Sportives are made from an all-synthetic fabric, polyamide (which is nylon, essentially) mixed with 15% elastane. There’s a stretchy waffle-knit down the shins and a plain-knit at the calf. The stitching at the toe is flatlocked so there are no unpleasant lumps or bumps.

The Sportives are a mid-length sock, with a cuff that’s a good 2cm wide and grippy enough to keep them up. There’s another band of elastication around the mid-foot/instep area which ensures the sock’s sole can’t move about inside your shoe.

The fabric feels soft and proved to be comfortable and breathable in hot, dry weather. It washes well too.

Overall, these are high-quality and comfortable summer socks that stay in place and look good.

Why they're here Italian made, good looking, great fit and comfort, and under £10 a pair... worth stocking up on!
Buy for £8.99 from Orro 
Read the review 

Nopinz Endurance Bib Tights Woman’s, £114.99

Nopinz Endurance Bib Tights

The Nopinz Endurance Bib Tights Woman’s are a great-fitting option for winter endurance riding with a very good seatpad for the money. A hydrophobic coating helps protect against road spray, and the soft, fleecy lining keeps you warm.

The tights use a Roubaix-lined fabric that’s soft and fleecy inside. The fabric also has a generous amount of stretch, allowing you to move freely.

The straps are wide enough to distribute pressure evenly and the smooth surface sits comfortably at the tops of the shoulders. A mesh section at the back provides breathability.

The Teosport Armadillo endurance pad is a well-specced option for the price. It provides excellent support with no pressure points or chafing on long base-mile rides.

Heat-applied reflective detailing is included down the length of each calf, which is a welcome feature for improving visibility.

Overall, these bib tights perform really impressively, especially considering the price.

Why they’re here Wonderfully comfy bibs with a great fit, at a much lower price than the competition
Buy for £79.99 from Nopinz 
Read the review 

Albion Three Season Tights, £150

Albion Three Season Tights

The Albion Three Season Tights are warm, comfortable and water-resistant, offering everything you could possibly want to fend off the worst of the UK’s winter weather. 

As the name suggests, these bibtights are designed to see you through autumn, winter and spring and they do a fantastic job.

The fabric consists of a mixture of panels, each serving a purpose specific to its location. A mid-weight thermal fabric around the waist and thigh keeps you warm without getting too hot, while windproof panels at the knee protect against chilling.

Below this, there’s a lighter-weight Roubaix-backed section covering the lower legs and a silicone gripper keeping the ankle firmly in place.

Albion has treated the material to a C0 DWR (durable water repellent) treatment to help protect against light rain and road grime that inevitably gets splattered all over your legs in the winter.

That DWR coating works well – and keeps the tights looking good even after a severe coating of spray. They dry incredibly quickly, too.

Why it’s here Brilliant tights that will keep your legs very happy for many miles, from autumn through to spring
Buy for £150 from Condor Cycles 
Read the review 

Specialized S-Works 7 Lace Road Shoes, £300

Specialized S-Works 7 Lace Road Shoes

The Specialized S-Works 7 Lace road shoes offer super-stiff soles and supple uppers that hold your feet firmly and comfortably.

Metal eyelets for four of the six pairs of lace holes prevent any tearing of the upper, and an elasticated band that runs across the tongue provides a secure place for tucking the ends away.

Laces help keep the weight down, our pair of 46s coming in at just 254g per shoe – a few grams lighter than the same model with Boa dials, plastic hardware and a Velcro strap.

Specialized says that the Powerline carbon outsole is its lightest and stiffest ever and we couldn’t get it to budge in any direction.

The upper combines engineered mesh with areas of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). Despite being thin, it doesn’t feel like it stretches when you pull up, locking your foot in place to provide a secure feel.

The upper is also super tough while being supple and flexible enough that various foot shapes can get an excellent fit.

Out back you get Specialized’s PadLock heel – an external heel counter that squeezes your foot slightly to avoid any lift when you’re out of the saddle and pedalling hard. It offers plenty of stability and no discomfort. In fact, the level of comfort on offer is excellent throughout, despite the pared-back construction.

Overall, these shoes offer excellent performance, the fit will work for most people, and the level of comfort is high. If you want laced shoes in your life, you can’t go wrong here.

Why they’re here Laced shoes that offer super-stiff soles, supple uppers, and a top all-round performance
Buy for £179.99 from Cycle Store 
Read the review 

Liv Macha Pro Shoes, £299.99

Purple Liv Macha Pro Shoes on wooden surface in studio

Reviewer Emma Silversides fell in love with the performance of the Liv Macha Pro shoes. She said these have the stiffest soles she has ever tested, with zero flex when you sprint or climb standing up out of the saddle, while the wraparound upper envelops the foot and adds to that feeling of superior performance as it anchors the foot well.

The two micro-adjustable Boa Li2 dials work with what Liv calls an ’ExoWrap’ inside the shoe, to wrap the foot and pull it upwards into the shoe rather than downwards, as is usually the case. The ExoWrap is a tongue that sits on the arch-side of the shoe and has the Boa laces integrated into it, so when you tighten the dials, the tongue gets pulled up and around the arch.

The heel cup is sufficiently padded to avoid pinching, and its sharkskin lining eliminates slipping. The upper is covered in polyurethane, with welded front-facing seams to give a clean, aerodynamic finish, and laser-cut micro-perforations decent breathability.

Another big positive is how easily these shoes wipe clean; nothing more than a damp cloth is required to remove dirt or grease.

Shoes can directly affect power transfer, and the Macha Pros are undoubtedly pure racing shoes that will help you ride faster. If they fit your feet right and you can afford them, these are superb performance-orientated shoes.

Why they're here Stylish, stiff and light... if they fit, you’ve got a hell of a shoe
Buy for £299.99 from Balfe Bikes 
Read the review 

Van Rysel Men’s Mid-Season Long-Sleeved Road Cycling Jersey Racer, £54.99

roadcc recommends awards 2022-23 - Clothing of the Year - Bargain Buy

The Van Rysel Men’s Mid-Season Long-Sleeved Road Cycling Jersey Racer is a top choice for autumn and spring use – and even for winter if layered with other clothing. If you can carry off the slim fit, it’s well-made and well-detailed, while the stunning price wins it our Bargain Buy award.

This jersey is at its best when it’s a bit too cool for a short sleeve summer top but too warm for a full-on winter jersey. We’d say it’s ideal from temperatures from the high single figures Celsius to the mid-teens, though pairing it with a base layer and/or gilet will extend its usability when temperatures dip a little lower.

Rather than just being a summer jersey with longer sleeves, the fabric used here is thicker to cope with cooler weather, with thinner panels along the armpits, sides and back for efficient wicking. Even in the mid-teens, moisture management is very good, helped by the ventilated panels.

Reviewer Shaun Audane wasn’t expecting a DWR (durable water repellent) coating at this end of the market, but it helps in damp, misty conditions.

Raglan sleeves and a stretchy fabric help offer a close fit without any annoying flutter – although those self-conscious about body size might want to look elsewhere. Close-fitting cuffs ensure a useful seal between glove and sleeve, preventing any cold from getting inside. You also get flat seams for comfort.

Around the back, you get the classic three pockets with elasticated tops, plus a zippered ’end terrace’ for valuables. The main three are generous, with a decent amount of give so you can get plenty inside.

For those who like the slim cut, this jersey is hard to fault for the money.

Why it’s here Great jersey for cooler weather, provided you can carry off the snug racer cut
Buy for £54.99 from Decathlon 
Read the review 

Van Rysel Men’s Long-Sleeved Road Cycling Summer Jersey Racer Ultralight, £44.99

Van Rysel Men's Long-Sleeved Road Cycling Summer Jersey Racer Ultralight on a male mannequin

The Van Rysel Men’s Long-Sleeved UVP Road Cycling Summer Jersey Racer Ultralight is a great jersey for warm conditions from spring to autumn. Made from lightweight polyester/elastane fabric, this jersey is breathable while giving you a little bit of extra protection for your arms. It’s very good value too.

You get three rear pockets in the traditional layout although Van Rysel has sloped the two side pockets downwards towards the outside, giving you easier access when you are riding. You also get a zipped valuables pocket.

The overall quality is brilliant for the money too. The stitching is neat throughout with no signs of any stray threads left poking out. It’s robust too.

The cut is close all around with stretch in the fabric allowing for plenty of movement so you don’t feel restricted.

The fabrics used are highly breathable and great at wicking sweat. The whole jersey is made from UV-resistant fabric with the arms slightly thinner than the main body. It’s a great option for days when you arm coverage, and if it fits easily under a gilet if there’s an early morning chill. With a lightweight base layer underneath it’s thick enough to keep you warm on the climbs when the temperature is in the upper single digits Celsius.

If you want a slim race jersey but with the addition of long sleeves for cooler days or sun protection, the Van Rysel is a very good choice. It’s a lot of jersey for the money.

Why it’s here An impressive race jersey when it comes to performance and quality with the benefits of long sleeves for those who want them
Buy for £44.99 from Decathlon 
Read the review 

Endura Women’s Pro SL S/S Jersey, £89.99

Endura Women’s Pro SL S/S Jersey

This performance-orientated top does a great job of keeping you dry and comfortable on long, hot rides.

The high-quality Women’s Pro SL is made from Italian fabrics – a mix of elastane (12%) and polyester (88%). It also has UPF50+ built in, which for a summer jersey is a huge benefit.

Along with its breathability and wicking prowess, this makes the jersey perfect for summer conditions, even when the temperature is exceptionally high. Small holes on the back and under the arms provide additional cooling.

You get a full YKK zipper at the front and three pockets on the back, with subtle reflective detailing.

The jersey has a slight aero feel to it, with laser-cut sleeves – with silicone grippers to keep them in place – and a low collar. It’s very comfortable, feeling almost like a second skin.

Reviewer Suvi was impressed by the quality of this jersey; there were no signs of wear after frequent washing, the stitching remained intact and the zips worked flawlessly.

Overall, this is a high-quality jersey with great breathability that excels in the heat. It looks great, fits well and is decent value for money.

Why it’s here Light summer jersey for hot temperatures, with great quality and breathability built in
Buy for £77.99 from Endura Sport 
Read the review 

Stolen Goat Tappa Bodyline Jersey, £75

2022 Stolen Goat Tappa Bodyline jersey.jpg

The Stolen Goat Tappa Bodyline Jersey is a stylish top and the highly breathable fabric makes it great for summer days. While this is marketed as a hot/warm weather jersey, it is more versatile than the super-lightweight mesh jerseys out there.

When reviewer Ben Woodhouse wore this on a trip to Mallorca and gave a big effort up a long climb in 25°C heat there were some damp patches on his back and armpits, but it quickly wicked away sweat and felt dry again once he picked up a bit of speed. He also wore it on cooler spring days with arm warmers and a gilet, and it performed perfectly.

The ’performance’ fit is designed to be ’comfortable yet aerodynamic’ and it’s a great balance between the two. The four-way stretch fabric – 80% polyester and 20% Lycra – sits well against the body without flapping, while the sleeves are quite long with laser-cut ends that stay perfectly in place without any gripper.

The quality is good throughout and the stitching remained perfect after frequent washing. Overall, this is an excellent jersey. It’s comfortable, offers a great fit, performs well in warm weather and looks stylish.

Why it’s here Excellent jersey – comfortable, great fit, performs well in warm weather and looks stylish
Buy for £52.50 from Stolen Goat 
Read the review 

Gore Spirit Jacket Men’s, £149.99

Gore Spirit Jacket Men’s

The Gore Spirit is an ideal jacket for a range of riding styles (and it even works well off the bike), the Gore-Tex Infinium fabric keeping you protected against the elements while breathing well too.

Gore-Tex Infinium fabric is ’an ultra-thin protective layer laminated to a lightweight textile’, according to Gore. This means you get solid protection against the wind, a good deal of breathability, and some resistance against rain.

The other benefit of Gore’s fabric is that it’s light and reasonably packable. It’s also tough enough that you shouldn’t need to worry too much about it getting damaged if you decide to hit the trails.

Unlike waterproof jackets, which tend to be a bit crunchy and cold to the touch, the Spirit feels soft and supple, so it’s really nice to wear. It’s almost like a cross between a jacket and a jersey.

Reviewer Hollis wore the Spirit in temperatures from 8°C to 17°C and it coped well. At the lower end of that range, you need a layer or two underneath to help you build up some heat, but thanks to the jacket’s excellent windproofing that doesn’t take long.

Although it doesn’t offer the full protection of a waterproof jacket, the Spirit excels in its all-round abilities. That it looks, fits, and feels great is the icing on the cake.

Why it’s here A brilliant all-weather jacket, for a multitude of riding styles
Buy for £104.99 from Gorewear 
Read the review 

Castelli Idro 3 Jacket, £320

roadcc recommends awards 2022-23 - Clothing of the Year - Money No Object

Castelli’s Idro 3 is a brilliant lightweight waterproof jacket that uses Gore’s top-line Shakedry technology. It was already an excellent option for wet weather riding and a series of small tweaks have made it even better.

Recent updates include a longer cut for improved coverage, a re-jigged forearm construction, a chunkier zip for easier adjustment, and a new fabric – also from Gore – on the lower rear section that’s able to stretch while maintaining complete waterproofness. 

These changes keep the Idro right at the front of the pack when it comes to top-end waterproof jacket performance – although we rate the Gore Race Shakedry Jacket very highly too. 

Gore’s Shakedry, which has been around for a few years now, is fully waterproof and incredibly breathable while also being extremely lightweight and packable. The Idro 3’s seams and the overall quality of the construction are right up there too.

No jacket featuring Shakedry fabric is cheap and the Idro 3 is more expensive than most. That said, there are precious few jackets out there that can match its performance. If you have the budget for it, this is an exceptional waterproof, which is why it takes our Money No Object award.

Why it’s here Very expensive, but if you have the budget for it, the Idro 3 is a brilliant lightweight waterproof jacket
Buy for £199 from Merlin Cycles 
Read the review 

Gore Lupra Jacket Women’s, £179.99

Gore Lupra Jacket Women’s

The Gore Lupra women’s jacket is excellent – a classic realisation of the company’s design know-how, appreciation of functionality, and use of superior technical fabrics. As a versatile outer you can use on the bike and off, it’s near-perfect. Off-roaders, gravel riders, bikepackers, tourers and commuters will all appreciate its protection, packability and subtle styling.

This jacket shines in changeable weather. Strategically placed panels of Gore-Tex Infinium offer great protection against wind and rain without hugely compromising breathability, although intense uphill efforts might see you heating up and reaching for the easy-to-use zipper. Prolonged heavy rain will eventually penetrate the shell but the Lupra protects very well from chilly winds and moderate showers.

The material boasts four-way stretch, which improves comfort on and off the bike, and the elbows are shaped for a cycling position. The Lupra is well-proportioned, with plenty of sleeve length and a good drop at the rear. 

If you are looking for a versatile jacket to handle the changeable weather on a commute, a multi-day adventure, or simply out on the trails, the Lupra is brilliant. It may be a rather stripped-back design but there are no compromises where quality and performance are concerned. It’s functional and versatile, so should serve you well across a multitude of disciplines and works well off the bike, too.

Why it’s here Excellent jacket for a variety of riding – practical and well made – there’s very little to fault here
Buy for £95 from Sigma Sports
Read the review 

Stolen Goat Men’s Mango Alpine Epic Jacket, £190

roadcc recommends awards 2022-23 - Clothing of the Year - Editors Choice

Our Editor’s Choice award goes to the Stolen Goat Men’s Mango Alpine Epic, a jacket that features some novel design ideas and works extremely well for riding in winter.

This jacket will keep you warm, comfortable and mostly dry through wet and/or cold training rides. You want to be generating plenty of your own heat for the Alpine Epic to work with; this isn’t a jacket for pootling along.

That said, there’s something remarkably clever about the waffled/dimpled fabric Stolen Goat has used on the front and sleeves. Wearing it, you know that it’s cold and wet outside, but that cold and wet doesn’t get through and seep into your bones.

Even if you get sweaty inside, you’ll stay comfortable because the Alpine Epic’s fabric blocks the wind extremely effectively, and insulates even when it’s damp.

The water resistance is impressive too. Persistent rain eventually gets through because the seams aren’t taped but light rain beads and runs off.

Overall, the fit is snug and completely non-flappy. It feels more like wearing a beefed-up jersey than a winter jacket until you notice how comfortable you are.

If you want a jacket that’ll keep you riding – and riding fast – through the cold and wet of a British winter, this is a great choice. It’s not cheap, but it’s in the ballpark for a very high-quality softshell jacket and if it keeps you riding for several winters it’ll more than justify itself.

Why it’s here Excellent winter softshell for big efforts in crummy weather
Buy for £190 from Stolen Goat 
Read the review 

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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