Wear what you like when going for a cycle, unless you plan to work up a sweat this summer – in which case you’ll need to consider a cycle specific jersey. Here’s what to look for!
Cheat the wind
“You never have the wind with you – either it is against you or you’re having a good day,” said The Man Who Loved Bicycles author, Daniel Behrman. Wind is the enemy of performance, and surprisingly few of us consider that a jersey is one of the most effective ways to reduce drag. Avoid open shirts and loose material that flap in the wind. If you’re looking for a banging performance, get a jersey like Castelli’s Gabba 2. Added bonus – you’ll look like a ninja as you slice through the headwind.
Be comfortable in your body
If you’re getting back on your bike to lose excess weight, it’s important you feel comfortable – don’t think that it’s compulsory to buy a skin tight top. In fact, if you need the exercise, a loose top will make you work harder and improve your fitness quicker. Many budget ranges from shops like Aldi, Decathlon, and Evans offer looser, easy, and comfortable fits for this reason. You can always opt into the skin tight brigade once you’ve achieved your dream beach body. Until then, take a look at something like the Adidas Response Plures jersey.
Dance to the fabric
The two types of fabrics for cycling jerseys are synthetic and wool, and they’re both great for different reasons. Synthetic material is cheaper, so manufacturers use words like Profila, Windstopper, and Thermoflex to reassure you their proprietary fabrics create better results. In practice, they’ll all protect you from a chilly wind, won’t overheat your body, and they’ll all wick moisture away from your skin. Personally, I prefer merino wool on any ride below 15 degrees – it performs better than synthetic material, offers natural UV protection, and due to the naturally occurring antibacterial lanolin your clothes won’t smell as bad as your synthetic jerseys after a day in the saddle. You pay more for wool, but check out Giant Col’s great value merino jersey.
What are you packing?
Rule 31 states that spare tubes, multi-tools and repair kits should be stored in jersey pockets – so make sure your jersey has enough pockets for the length of your ride. My Rapha polo shirt is great for nipping into town but doesn’t have enough pockets for the tools I’d need to make repairs 40 miles from the nearest bike shop. My girlfriend has a great Gore Element jersey designed specifically for women and she swears by it – she has enough room for tools and plenty of space for mid-ride snacks.
Style doesn’t matter – until it does
Cars, motorbikes, and pedestrians don’t need a fluorescent yellow colour scheme and neither do you. If you’re cycling at dusk or night, put lights on your bike and wear what you want. If you want to show your support for MTN-Qhubeka, stop reading and buy their jersey – but for everyone else, choose a style you’d be comfortable wearing off your bike at the end of the ride. Rapha notoriously charge a fortune for pared back style but, unlike a dayglow spandex jersey, their Special Edition Classic won’t turn heads at the urinal of your local pub. There’s something to be said for that.