Whether you’re a new or seasoned cyclist, picking out a new jersey can be a daunting task. There are so many choices. With a bit of experience under my belt, I’ve found a few thing that I look for when purchasing a jersey for rides in all conditions. Read below for the seven considerations I make before adding a new kit to my collection.
As a bib cycling short convert (read about my favorite bibs here) full zip jerseys are a must; otherwise bathroom breaks would devolve into chaos. Aside from making pit stops easier, full zip jerseys are practically a necessity in New England, as you can experience a 20 degree (F) shift in weather in one ride. The ability to open your jersey up completely is a game changer.
On long rides, sunscreen comes off when you sweat, but thankfully, your jersey doesn’t – unless you want it to 😉 . More and more brands (like Sugoi) are making sure their jerseys offer UPF protection, even on mesh paneling. While this results in some funny tan lines, I’d rather have that protection than not.
Small Zipper Pocket
While I generally prefer elastic at the top of my pockets, a small zipper pocket is a nice addition. One big enough to store a credit card, your ID, and a key or two is the perfect size in my opinion. I always worry about those really important items flying out, especially on shorter rides where my pockets aren’t stuffed with snacks, a multi-tool and tubes to keep things in place. This way I can pack the items I don’t want to lose worry free.
Speaking of pockets, the bigger the better. With changing weather conditions, I’m constantly removing or adding layers, and having pockets big enough to fit a jacket/gilet, sleeves, snacks, a multi-tool, tube(s), your cell phone, pump, CO2 canisters, more snacks… you get the idea, is crucial. You need a lot of space! This jersey from Pedla has pockets that are roomy, but still feel secure.
Safety first! So many brands fail riders by not including features that keep them safe – like lots of reflectivity. The process to achieve this high level of reflectivity on this Giordana jersey, for example, is a treatment that fuses reflective glass particles directly into the fabric before the printing process. Pretty cool, huh?! The floret dot design reflects light in low light and inclement weather conditions in select panels like the large back pocket and armbands.
For newer cyclists, you may be averse to diving in to the land of lycra and polyester, but the increased breathability (I may have made that word up), moisture-wicking, and aerodynamic qualities of these highly technical fabrics, rides are much more enjoyable. If you have become a bit more of a discerning shopper when it comes to your gear, also look for a larger number of panels – which improves fit, flat stitch seams, and compare climbing vs. regular road jerseys for the amount of mesh that works best for you.
Never in a million years did I think I would be so persnickety on sleeves of my workout gear, but here we are. when it comes to traditional short sleeve jerseys, I have hopped on the longer sleeve train. I like a sleeve that is finished with a portofino gripper for a thin, clean finish that goes all the way down to the elbow. This Sugoi jersey (above) is a perfect example of my ideal sleeve. I have been know to go a bit shorter, as you can see in the other images, but this is my general preference for comfort, UPF coverage, and style.
There are certainly other things I think about when buying a jersey, like style and coloring, but I think those are secondary to the above, which is more focused on functionality. Do you have any other key items that you keep in mind when looking at cycling jerseys? Let me know in the comments below.