Buying your first cycling jersey can be a stressful experience, especially when you look at the costs ($100 for a single top?). But finding the right jersey can make a world of difference in your experience on the bike. The best part is you can find a solid jersey at any price point if you know what to look for.
How Much Do Cycling Jerseys Cost?
A cycling jersey can cost anywhere from $15 to $350 dollars (or more). This huge range is primarily due to the quality of the jersey – generally speaking, the more expensive the jersey, the better it will be.
This does not mean one needs to expect to spend $300 for a single piece of clothing. But you may want to avoid the super low end of the price scale, too. These tend to be made out of cheap material and flimsy components. You’d often be better off wearing a standard performance tee at that price (though you likely wouldn’t have the handy pockets, vents, or zippers).
|Cost (USD)||What to expect|
|Under $100||Lower quality fabric May be unflattering Budget-friendly options Grippers on hems (to prevent slipping)|
|$100-$200||Locking zippers High-quality fabric Non-slip hems without grippers Non-sagging pockets Directional panels (to help with air flow)|
|$200+||Everything in the $100-$200 range, plus: Custom tailoring Proprietary fabrics “Kit doping” (looking good = going faster)|
- How Much Do Cycling Jerseys Cost?
- What Is the Point of A Cycling Jersey?
- Does a Cycling Jersey Make a Difference?
- Why Are Cycling Jerseys so Short?
- Why Do Cycling Jerseys Have Zippers?
- Why Do Cycling Jerseys Have Sleeves?
- Do You Wear a Bra Under a Cycling Jersey?
- Do You Wear Anything Under Cycling Jersey?
- How Tight Are Cycling Jerseys Supposed to Be?
- Final Thoughts
What Is the Point of A Cycling Jersey?
Cycling jerseys are ultimately designed to make riding more comfortable, especially for longer distances when you’ll need to refuel. Cycling jerseys eliminate the need for backpacks because they usually have pockets in the back for storing food and supplies. These pockets are designed to hold supplies in while you lean forward on the bike, so the rider do not need to worry about losing anything.
Some people new to cycling will opt to use a backpack for longer rides, but quickly find that they don’t quite cut it. Backpacks add weight and trap heat. They also can limit mobility and create uncomfortable pressure points. They can also be dangerous if they aren’t properly strapped down, causing them to swing back and forth which can lead to imbalance.
That being said, cycling-specific backpacks are commonly used by mountain bikers. Mountain biking is done in a more upright position and it’s hard to jump or go over technical trails with heavy back pockets (not to mention the risk of something flying out).
Does a Cycling Jersey Make a Difference?
Yes, a well-fitted cycling jersey can really make a difference. The rider may be able to get away with wearing tops they already own at first, but as they start adding in longer-distance rides, they would want to make sure you have the right tool for the job.
Having a cycling jersey means you can carry all of your nutrition and essentials on the ride without adding too much weight to the bike. This can make a significant difference on all rides, but especially rides lasting an hour or longer. A good jersey will also keep you cool and sweat-free for longer, making for a more comfortable ride overall.
Why Are Cycling Jerseys so Short?
Cycling jerseys tend to be shorter in the front and longer in the back to provide the most amount of comfort while riding. Cyclists do not want to have their jerseys bunch up or constrict around their stomach as they’re bent over – but it’s also important to make sure the back is long enough to protect the rider’s skin.
While it may feel strange to wear such a short top when standing up and walking around, it makes sense when you get on your bike, especially if you’re in a performance position. Of course, the jersey shouldn’t be so short that you risk exposing your skin. Tall cyclists often need to go up a size in order for their jerseys to fit properly.
Why Do Cycling Jerseys Have Zippers?
The zippers in a cycling jersey allow a rider to control the airflow in order to help them cool off during a ride. Some cycling jerseys have zippers at both ends so you can either unzip only from the top or unzip from the bottom up. There are also cycling jerseys that only unzip partway. However, many cyclists will choose the full-zip style because it provides more temperature regulation options and it’s easier to take on and off.
Why Do Cycling Jerseys Have Sleeves?
The sleeves provide sun protection and a more aerodynamic ride. Cycling fabric is more aerodynamic than skin, so it can provide a slight advantage. Most professional cyclists will wear jerseys with sleeves (though this may also be in part due to providing more room for sponsors to place their logos). Sleeves can also help prevent chafing between the arms and the torso, adding a layer of comfort.
There are sleeveless jerseys, too, which some riders find more comfortable. These can provide a better fit for cyclists with larger arms or those who have trouble moderating body temperature. It can be useful to have a sleeveless jersey for particularly warm days, especially for riders prone to underarm sweating. If you can only buy one jersey, though, a short-sleeve option would likely be the most versatile.
Do You Wear a Bra Under a Cycling Jersey?
Sports bras can provide a much-needed support layer under a cycling jersey. It can also be useful for providing coverage when unzipping a jersey. The trick, though, is finding the right sports bra.
Cyclists with less breast tissue can generally get away with a low-support bra while cyclists with more breast tissue need a more supportive option, though it all ultimately comes down to personal comfort. It can be difficult to find a supportive sports bra that also has cycling in mind (think quick-drying, light-weight options).
Most bras meant for cycling fall into the “compression” category, meaning they flatten the breasts against the chest to restrict movement. These sports bras tend to have the quick-drying properties that cyclists love, and because cycling isn’t considered a high-impact sport, many athletes will choose to go with this option. However, those who want a more supportive sports bra should look for one that provides both compression and encapsulation (meaning there are separate and defined cups plus a panel at the front for compression) (Source).
A good sports bra will often have a greater impact than a cycling jersey, so if you have to choose one option, invest in the sports bra first.
Do You Wear Anything Under Cycling Jersey?
Aside from a sports bra, most cyclists won’t wear an additional layer under their jerseys. A cycling jersey is already very tight, so adding a layer can make for an uncomfortable ride. It can also make air ventilation difficult, leading to an increasingly warm ride. If it’s a chilly day, a base layer can be added under a jersey to help maintain body temperature. These are very thin layers that still allow for airflow and sweat-wicking.
For more on this, we highly recommend that you check out our post “What to And Not to Wear Under Cycling Jersey ? Brief Bike Wearables Guide!“
How Tight Are Cycling Jerseys Supposed to Be?
Cycling shirts should fit snugly against the body without restricting movement or creating pain points. The sleeves should be tight enough that they prevent chafing and don’t cause air pockets when riding into the wind. If you can pinch a half inch or more of the sleeve’s edge, it’s likely too big.
The waist should also be snug so that it doesn’t hang down, especially when you fill the pockets. You want to limit as much drag as possible – after all, the point of the cycling jersey is to provide a more aerodynamic structure.
To test if the jersey is long enough, you should put it on and then bend forward like you would on the bike. The back should sit right below the hip line and the front should only have a minimal amount of folding. A too-big jersey can get caught on your bike saddle, which would be very dangerous. Ideally, you’ll be trying on multiple sizes in store to find the perfect fit. Different brands and styles will fit differently, so continue trying until you find one that works for your body.
Getting a good cycling jersey can make a big difference in your riding. Not only will you be more aerodynamic, you’ll also be able to carry your essentials without overheating or dealing with awkward bags. Try to buy the best jersey you can afford and take good care of it until you’re ready to upgrade.