Why do cyclists wear jerseys?

Have you ever wondered why cyclists sometimes choose to wear a jersey?

These guys at the top is an extreme example, but jerseys come in all sorts of styles. From Vulpine’s subtle colours, to team jerseys.

Here’s a look at why some cyclists choose them.

Materials

Firstly, cycling jerseys are designed for sweating in. Even when it isn’t that hot, you’ll be surprised how much moisture you lose. A cotton T-Shirt will attract all of that moisture, soak it up, and plaster it against your skin – potentially making you cold when you stop.

Summer jerseys use man-made synthetic fabrics, whilst winter kit sometimes features wool such as merino. In a jersey, you’re looking for materials that provide good breathability, and wicking – wicking being the ability to draw sweat away from the skin.

If you’re not comfortable with the aesthetics of cycling jerseys, technical t-shirts such as those designed for running will have the same properties, without the traditional cycling apparel appeal.

Fit

The difference between a running t-shirt and a cycling jersey is that the jersey is designed to fit a person on a bike.

Generally a tighter fit, the cycling jersey won’t flap around in the wind. Though fit varies between garments, you can usually anticipate how closely wrapping a jersey will be by brand. If you want loose fit, go for Altura, Endura and in some cases Gore. If you’re looking for a racey, aerodynamic, close fit, go Castelli, Assos, or Mavic. The racier you go, the more technical features you’ll get, and the more you’ll need to fork out. A simple, commuting style jersey like the Airstream from Altura will set you back just over £30.

Cycling jerseys are also designed to stay put when the rider leans forwards, whilst t-shirts for other sports don’t anticipate you being in this position. A cycling jersey will have silicone grippers or band of tighter fabric on the sleeves and along the bottom, meaning it won’t ride up as you lean forwards, or slip on your arms. Again, the more commuter fit kit from Altura will usually give more room for movement, whilst jerseys from Castelli or Assos might be designed to stay put, with tighter grippers.

A good tip when buying a cycling jersey is to actually lean down, as though riding a bike, in the changing room. The jersey should not ride up – if it does, you need another size, or another jersey.

Pockets

A traditional cycling jersey is marked out by having two or three pockets on the rear. These pockets are incredibly useful, even if you are riding with a backpack. Though you may be able to store a spare tube, allen key and keys in your backpack, if they’re sitting in your rear pocket, they are easier to reach. If you’re riding outside of your commute, this also means you can go packless, keeping everything you need in your pockets.

Cycling jerseys often have a waterproof, zip fastened pocket on the rear as well now, which is perfect for storing a phone, keys, and a debit card (always carry a ‘just in case’ card or £10 in cash).

Choose your style

The cyclist look isn’t for everyone, and if you’re after something that doesn’t look overtly sporty, there are plenty of options emerging on the market.

Vulpine make some great casual options, such as the Merino Button Jersey and women’s Merino Button Jersey. As the name suggests, these are made of 100% merino, offering breathability, wicking, and the famous odour busting qualities of the super fabric. They also have rear pockets, have reflective loops for a light, and are designed for a cycling position.

All that said, one of these will set you back £85, which is a bit more than an entry level Altura Airsteam Jersey, at about £35.

Have you ever worn a cycling jersey? Leave a comment below!

Join 9,241 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

7 Responses to Why do cyclists wear jerseys?

  1. Alehouse Rock 12/05/2014 at 12:46 am #

    [[[[[[ Why do cyclists wear jerseys?Well, what else could you do with them?
    A.R.

  2. Tammela 13/05/2014 at 3:25 pm #

    Wiggle also often has deals going on their dhb jerseys — I snagged one for £15 and it’s a nice race-fit with the traditional three pockets plus a waterproof zip pocket (great for keys).

  3. John 16/05/2014 at 11:04 am #

    Golfers wear plaid trousers, bikers wear leathers,divers wear wet suites, cyclists wear SMILES and jerseys.

  4. Cas Burke 16/05/2014 at 5:46 pm #

    I wear a jersey because I can get them for 7 quid at Decathlon. Simples.

  5. Eddie 16/05/2014 at 11:07 pm #

    I always wear cycling jerseys due to a number of factors, bright reflective colors, wicking, perfect fit (well they are meant for cycling in & they do the job well). also the back pockets are a god send & they do wash easy & fast drying. And of course wearing a jersey saves ruining your clothes which can happen when cycling.

  6. George 17/05/2014 at 9:08 pm #

    My question would be why do cyclists wear fancy dress ? I have ridden a bike for about 70 years in various countries and climates and have never touched Lycra or wore a helmet. I’m perfectly comfortable with ordinary clothes !

  7. Alehouse Rock 17/05/2014 at 2:08 am #

    [[[[[ Ay thang yow, laze 'n' jemmun!
    A.R.

Leave a Reply