Close your eyes and think about a professional cyclist. What are the things that come to your mind? A person wearing a cycling helmet, padded gloves, bright jersey, tight shorts, glasses, and shoes riding on a bike. So, you see a jersey is an inevitable part of a serious cyclist’s attire.
Despite that, to wear or not to wear a cycling jersey has remained one of the most debated topics in the cycling community. A section of the community feels there’s no need to invest in a jersey that may cost $50 to $100 or even more when cycling can be done in a $10 t-shirt.
Well, we have all done that – cycling in our old t-shirts and shirts, haven’t we? So, what’s the point in getting a cycling jersey? Is it just a style statement or something more than that? If you ask me, I went around cycling in the neighborhood wearing t-shirts as a boy but when I took it as a serious sport, a cycling jersey it had to be.
It doesn’t require someone with an extraordinary IQ level to understand that regular loose-fitting clothes flap in the wind and offer more resistance. They irritate your skin and even make you pedal much harder. With a well-fitting jersey, you can reduce the wind resistance and protect your skin from chafing.
They offer a lot more advantages and the jerseys come in different types of fabric, styles, and designs to choose from. If you are still looking for reasons to throw that old cotton t-shirt back into a drawer and grab a cycling jersey instead, then read on.
Benefits Of Wearing A Cycling Jersey
#1. Sweat Resistance
When you ride a bicycle, you sweat a lot and the plain polyester fabric that most t-shirts are made of do nothing to ease off the discomfort, plus they don’t breathe. As your regular t-shirt starts soaking in the sweat, it gets heavier and impacts your pedaling performance. Having sweat run down the arms, armpits, and waist can be an irritating experience on top of that.
Cycling jerseys like this, on the other hand, are made of moisture-wicking fabric. They may contain polyester but they are technically designed to absorb moisture from skin. Some of the sweat-resistant fabrics include polyester and lycra composite; rayon; cotton and lycra composite.
Some brands of cycling jerseys are made from sweat-absorbing fabric instead of sweat repelling. They constitute of Quick Dry technology to keep the wearer comfortable.
#2. UV Resistance
If you ride in a hot and humid region, your skin is constantly exposed to the harmful ultraviolet rays that can have damaging long-term effects. Thankfully, there are UV-resistant jerseys that can protect you for making summer riding safer and more comfortable.
Ongoing constant research in the field of athletic fabrics has helped people identify the UPF or Ultraviolet Protection Factor rated clothing. The UPF potential is found to be highest in polyester and nylon fabric, wool and cotton fabric, and unbleached cotton.
Woven fabric tend to have more UPF potential than the knitted ones. As a result, jerseys made from woven fabric are tighter than the knitted ones, thus they restrict light from passing. If knitted fabric are used, they tend to be double knitted to increase the UPF value.
Cyclists that go on long-distance tours need to wear an anti-abrasion jersey made from fabrics that can take a lot of beating from various factors. Abrasion not only results in colors fading quickly but also impacts the moisture-wicking capacity, and shortens the life span of jerseys.
Abrasion is the wear and tear caused by rubbing the fabric with other materials. Most of the cycling jerseys today are made from anti-abrasion fabric that not only enhance the life but also the various properties.
#4. Wind Resistance
One of the biggest factors that affects a cyclist’s performance and speed on road is wind resistance. Compared to regular clothing, the cycling jerseys are designed aerodynamically to create resistance for strong winds. The technically designed fabric cuts the wind and moves them to your side to help you propel forward much easily.
The 3D tailored special cycling jerseys do not ride up as in the case of ordinary t-shirts and lets your body glide through winds with convenience. For complete aerodynamics resistance, you must stay low and tuck-in your elbows, zip-up your jersey/ jacket, and protect eyes with glasses.
#5. Keeps You Dry
The best quality cycling jerseys come with a ‘Quick Dry’ technology besides the moisture-wicking feature. We have already looked at the moisture-wicking benefits in sweat resistance, now let’s see what the Quick Dry does to improve comfort and performance.
This technology starts soon after the moisture is pulled off and transferred to the outer layer of the fabric. The ‘Quick Dry’ initiates the evaporation process and this helps in lowering the overall body temperature to keep you dry, cool, and comfortable.
Unlike the pure cotton and nylon t-shirts that start dripping when the fabric absorbs sweat, the synthetic cycling jersey stays ultra-light and dry even after moisture absorption. Besides keeping you dry and comfortable, this feature also offers odor resistance and reduction.
#6. Convenient Storage
A bike does not have a lot of storage space and people often struggle to keep essential tools when embarking on a road trip. Most people prefer using a saddlebag, backpack, or a front tube pouch. What about the important things like your cell phone, keys, cash and credit cards?
Fortunately, the cycling jerseys come with functional pocket at the back that offer some sort of storage area. Most of them have 2-3 pockets that can be used to carry a small towel or handkerchief, smartphone, wallet. This not only helps your backpack stay lighter but also keeps essentials in easy access.
When cycling is taken as a sport and you ride on the mountainous trails, you will want to wear a closely knitted jersey that offers good athletic fit. Despite tight fit, the fabric should also be elastic and stretch-able to allow the freedom of movement.
The elastic jersey fabric like this allows you to stretch your hands around freely when riding a bike. This is more important for the mountain bikers who need to go through rough terrains and sometimes pull off stunts in order to overcome the hurdles. Thus, special MTB jerseys are made from fibers that are flexible and treated for enhanced UV protection.
#8. Optimal Comfort
We have already seen that the bicycle jerseys are more comfortable and breathable than the regular t-shirts and shirts. There are other benefits that add to further comfort level. For example, the shoulder and sleeves on a cycling jersey have a wider cut for enhanced comfort as you reach the handlebars.
#9. You Look Cool
With a tight-fitting and brightly colored jersey, you look cool like a pro cyclist. The jerseys may be worn as far or low according to the weather and often it takes the shape of your torso. On the other hand, if you wear a t-shirt that gets wet and heavy due to all that cycling, expect to get distasteful sneers. So, it’s up to you whether you want enviable stares or look ridiculous.
#10. Prevent Butt Crack
If you wear a cycling jersey, chances are that you will pair it up with shorts and bib that ensure your body is not overly exposed. Unless you are riding a commuter or cruiser bike that allows for an upright position, chances are that you will be bent over the handlebars, leading to a butt crack exposure. The jerseys are specially cut longer at the back to save you from indecent exposure and butt cracks.
#11. Adjust As Per Body Temperature
One of the additional benefits of a cycling jersey is that they come with a zipper and collar. Hence, you may leave the zipper open or close it as per your body temperature. This helps in staying cool as more air passes through the jerseys while you are cycling.
Most cyclists believe that a jersey fits them better than any ordinary t-shirt. If you are new to cycling then it may take you a while to see the difference between a bike jersey and regular clothing. Once you do, you will never want to go back.
#12 Better Fit
Taking about better fit, let’s not forget that the jerseys are cut in a way to optimize the position in which you ride. Most of them are longer at the back to cover you while you lean over the handlebars. At the front, it might feel slightly short but this is just to prevent excess bit of fabric folding near the stomach and causing discomfort.
The best way to ensure a good fit is to think of the position in which you ride. When riding casually around the town, you may want a looser fit. Those who plan to go on a mountain tour or race may be better off with a tight aero-fit.
Fabrics And Materials Used In Cycling Jerseys
The amount of sweat you break into while cycling depends on the kind of climate in the area you live in and the fabric you are wearing. There are some individuals who sweat more than others. Hence, there cannot be one size fits all for everyone. Here are some types of fabrics and materials used:
Polyester Wicking Jerseys
While most bicycles are made of polyester fabric, it is woven in a way to absorb moisture from the skin and keep you dry while you are riding. This is to ensure that you stay dry and comfortable while riding instead of being damp and heavy. Another advantage of using polyester wicking material is that colors stay for longer.
Nylon Bicycle Jerseys
Another type of fabric that is popular besides the polyester wicking material is nylon. The nylon bike jersey is typically made from a mix of spandex and microfiber materials that have the ability to absorb moisture so that your skin stays dry and cool.
Although nylon has a considerably longer shelf life, you can see the colors on your jersey fading over time. This is because nylon as a fabric is not good at holding the various color dyes. So, if you want the colors to last longer and stay visible, we recommend that you opt for the jerseys made from polyester wicking material.
Merino Wool Jerseys
If you ride in a colder climate, you will need a jersey that keeps you warm and merino wool is the right choice. This is a special fabric that helps in absorbing the sweat and keeps you warm at the same time. Despite being a woolen fabric, it is significantly less itchier but more expensive so it may not be an affordable option for all cyclists.
Layering is another good option for cycling in the cold weather. You may want to get a long-sleeved jersey like this. if you live in an extremely colder region and even consider wearing a windbreaker over it. This can help you add or shed layers as needed.
Different Jersey Styles And Cuts
When you are in the market looking for a bike jersey, you will basically come across two types of styles and cuts – race fit style and club fit style. Which one of the two suits you will depend on the type of cycling you prefer.
Race-fit bike jerseys are meant for the cyclists who go on competitive racing. These type of jerseys are designed in a way to improve the overall performance and give you a better aerodynamic experience. They are usually form-fitting and sport an ergonomic design, conforming to the body shape so that your movement does not get restricted.
Club Fit bike jerseys are designed to help people feel more comfortable as they have a slightly loose fitting jersey than the race-fit counterparts. Thus, it allows for a more flexible and free movement. There are some club fit jerseys that may be longer in the torso part, as compared to the race-cuts.
Tips To Help You Choose The Right Cycling Jersey
With so many different fabrics, styles, design, and cuts, it can be confusing for a beginner to choose the right cycling jersey. We have put together some useful tips to help you find the right quality jersey to suit your needs:
- To increase your visibility on road, we suggest that you use a fluorescent cycling jersey that can help drivers see you clearly from a distance.
- Colors like yellow-green and fluorescent yellow can also help the colorblind drivers see a cyclist clearly on the road.
- Give priority to quality materials and comfort more than bright colors and style. A cheap jersey with bright colors may soon fade away and not give you good results.
- Look at the type of guarantee offered by the manufacturer. If the color fades too fast or the fitting goes bad, they should take measures to help you.
- Don’t assume that you know the right size for you because most cyclists find that it fits too tight or loose once they arrive. So, follow the size chart before ordering online.
- If you prefer going for long rides, you may want to pick a jersey that has several pockets to give you additional storage space for useful things.
- Look for a jersey made of waterproofing material if your region gets a lot of rain. Water-resistant materials tend to dry up quickly and help you stay comfortable and light.
- Most good quality jerseys come with an elastic gripper in the waist area to prevent the jersey from moving upwards as you pedal hard.
- Elasticity is important but avoid getting a jersey that’s too elastic or else it will cause the jersey to sag and make you uncomfortable.
- Style is important but make sure it comes last in your priority list after you have taken care of all the above pointers when making your decision.
How to determine the type of cycling jersey you need?
When looking for a cycling jersey, look into factors like fit, function, and riding conditions. The ‘active fit’ is for a relaxed and leisure riding position. Performance and race-fit jerseys have special cuts for the racers to improve their performance. Foul weather and winter jerseys are meant to battle adverse climatic conditions such as strong winds, rains, and chilly temperature
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What special features are needed in mountain biking jerseys
These are the typical long-sleeved jerseys with elasticated cuffs to prevent distraction. They have grippers on the shoulders to keep the backpack straps in place and microfiber panel in the lower hem to keep mud away from glasses. Other features may include wind, water resistance, ventilation, and zippered pockets.
What’s the best way to clean cycling jerseys
As they are made of lightweight materials, we suggest soaking and hand washing to remove the mud and sweat odor. If you have to wash in a washing machine, make sure to run the cycling clothing separately, close the zipper, velcro, etc, and always use a mild detergent.
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