We've review more cycle clothing than ever before on road.cc over the past year and here’s the very best of it — everything from base layers to waterproof jackets, socks to helmets, and everything in between.
How did we arrive at this selection? First, we looked at everything that scored very highly in reviews during the past year – clothing that earned an overall mark of 9 or a 10.
The test team then got really critical, assessing how each item matched up in terms of construction, performance, durability, fit, comfort and value, looking for any weaknesses.
Sometimes it was obvious that a product should make the final cut, sometimes it took a bit of debate, but we eventually made a final selection.
We've included links to our original reviews so you can easily find more information on any clothing that interests you. We've also added buying links (everything here is still available, at the time of writing) – just click on the blue buttons to go straight to retailers who can sort you out with the clothing you're after.
PEdAL ED's Odyssey jersey is designed as a long-distance top to cope with the load carrying that comes with the territory.
It has seven pockets. Yep, seven! Three deep ones at the rear in a standard roadie position with another one on each side of those. On the right hand rear pocket there is a zipped pocket for valuables, and on the centre pocket is a mesh one which is designed for stashing wet clothes or gloves and a gilet.
The main part of the jersey is made from PEdAL ED's Sensitive fabric (a polyamide/elastane mix) which feels lovely and soft. The thin mesh panels under the arms and down the sides have a decent level of elastane which gives them plenty of stretch to avoid tearing.
Overall, the jersey is rugged and hardwearing, the fabric taking plenty of pulling and stretching and snagging without damage. Breathability is impressive too.
The fit is semi-race – well-tailored for a flattering shape but without being restrictive.There is a decent dropped tail to keep your lower back covered, held in place by a small elastic hem.
The quality of the Japanese-designed/Italian-made jersey is exceptional, which goes a long way to justifying the price.
The Funkier Prima Pro Ladies Short Sleeve Jersey is lightweight, well made and really breathable. All this comes for an easy to swallow price, making it a top choice for riding on hot days.
This jersey is really well made from and incorporates plenty of lightweight fabric for breathability. The front, rear and sleeves are all made of a very thin, semi-transparent fabric – air flows in freely and heat easily escapes. The side panels are a mesh material that performs equally well in warm/hot weather.
Despite a relaxed fit, the jersey doesn't budge while riding – the elasticated waist performs well and the sleeve cuffs offer some gentle compression.
Funkier has pitched the price of Prima brilliantly, given its great performance.
The classically styled Sportful BodyFit Pro Thermal Jersey may look simple, but with the inclusion of plenty of technical fabrics it delivers on both comfort and performance. It's very well made too.
This jersey offers a great cut when on the bike and no flapping fabric or creases around the joints. It has a dropped tail to keep your lower back covered, and the front is angled up from each side to where it meets the zip which means you get no bunching of the material. The full zip leads up to a highish neck which is close enough to stop draughts, and there is plenty of length to the sleeves.
TDTxp fabric is used for the front and rear to protect your core from the cold wind. It's a fleece-lined Lycra fabric that's soft to the touch and does a great job of fighting off the windchill.
The shoulders and sleeves use stretchy ThermoDrytex Plus which is also fleece-lined to trap warmth, so the fact that it is thinner isn't an issue.
The quality of this BodyFit Pro jersey is absolutely top notch, with neat and tidy stitching throughout.
This warm and well-cut jersey offers amazing value for money. A blend of 90% polyester and 10% elastane, the fabric has a soft but robust feel to it.
There isn't any windproofing to the front panels, but the fleece-lined fabric traps body heat, taking the chill off any cool breeze trying to cut through.
The fit is on the relaxed side although that doesn't mean it flaps about in the wind. The RC 100 is still tailored to fit well when on the bike, with a slightly dropped tail and long arms that don't expose your wrists when stretched out on the drops.
You get four pockets, three traditionally laid out around the rear, with an extra one on your right hand side, perfect for a bar, gel or your snack of choice.
Overall, the Triban RC 100 offers all of the performance, fit and quality of a jersey double, if not triple, the price.
This might not be the perfect winter softshell, but it's pretty close. The front, shoulders and the outer arms (basically all of the blue bits) are made from NeoShell, which is a waterproof and windproof softshell material. It works really well, keeping the coldest of winds from penetrating, and water simply beads on the fabric as you ride.
The rest of the external fabric is Power Shield Pro, which is a lighter weight softshell material. It's water resistant, and breathability is great.
To make sure your core doesn't get cold, dhb has used Polartec's Alpha Direct as an insulator.
The LAB jacket is made to a 'race cut', which is perfect for slimmer riders. The sleeves are the right length for stretching out into the drops, and a close, elasticated cuff stops any draughts.
The fabrics work really well, the water resistance is good, and if you don't like the navy colour, it's available in a dark green and bright red too.
The Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex jacket offers all the performance of the Gore-Tex Shakedry fabric with a few Rapha details. It's totally waterproof, very breathable and impressively packable.
Shakedry is a two-layer construction with the outer surface being the membrane. Water beads off and the waterproofing ability does not diminish over time. The real benefit is that it's more breathable and packable than any other waterproof fabric on the market.
The Rapha jacket adds a few signature details like the Pro Team stripes and the iconic armband. The zipper is two-way which makes for easy temperature control.
A very small mesh pocket on the inside can be used to store a few bits and bobs, or as a stuff pouch to compress the jacket into a very small size. It fits very easily in a jersey pocket and is so light you won't notice it, with the size medium we reviewed weighing just 125g.
The waist is cut high at the front and the rear is dropped down for good lower back and bum coverage. A stretchy rear waistband keeps it in place. The sleeves are a good length and the elasticated cuffs help when pulling the jacket on and off, as well as ensuring a good seal to prevent cold air flowing up the arms.
This is a cracking choice for riding hard in the cooler seasons, where changeable weather is the norm. With beautifully engineered technical features, it doesn't put a foot wrong.
At the front the triple-layer chest panel is waterproof and windproof, while around the stomach, shoulders and front of the arms you get a thermal brushed fabric, and across the back and under the arms a lighter, non-thermal fabric aids cooling and sweat loss.
Technical features abound. For instance, the full-length zip features a flap and garage at the top, the hem has a dual-stretch multi-angle design that keeps things snug when bent over, and there are reflective accents down each side.
The 1.5in cuffs are strongly elasticated to keep the long sleeves put under your gloves, and the pockets feature retention flaps.
This jacket is spot on for non-torrential spring and autumn days, offering protection where it counts from rain, spray and wind.
Made almost entirely from highly effective Reflect360 material, the Proviz Performance jacket is a great way to stay visible on your bike. This looks like fairly demure grey fabric in daylight conditions, but it reflects like a beacon with just a bit of light at night-time.
The Reflect360 is cut perfectly for road riding or fast commuting, with a form fit, plenty of stretch and a deep drop tail. It's also very light and packable.
The Reflect360 material is very good at protecting against a shower (the black mesh section on the upper back less so!). It's also a fairly decent windproof barrier, although there is no other insulation. In cold weather, you will need to use it as a last layer over proper winter garments. Don't be concerned about moisture build-up, though, because breathability is excellent.
There's little to moan about in terms of build either. It's all put together sturdily enough without being over-engineered, and there are the expected details, such as a zip garage and soft collar.
If you want a lightweight, packable jacket to keep you visible in the dark and which won't hamper your performance, this is an option you can't miss. And thankfully, neither can other road users.
This gilet weighs next to nothing, scrunches down to the size of an orange, and does a great job of keeping the chill off your chest – all while looking good and costing very little. It is a superb piece of kit, and will stand you in good stead from spring through to autumn
Construction is very good indeed. The windproof front panels are made of a ripstop-style fabric, while the back panel is fine mesh with additional perforations for excellent breathability.
The side panels are super-stretchy to give a close yet comfortable fit, with elasticated armholes underneath, and the body is a decent length with an elasticated drop hem lined with silicone gripper to keep it firmly in place. This all combines to give a flattering yet functional fit that keeps the wind out well.
You get a tall, snug collar, lined with a super-soft contrasting fabric, and the zip garage means there's no chance of snagging your neck when zipping up. A 7in-wide slot across the rear, just below the mesh back, lets you reach through to access your jersey pockets. Reflective logos and strips beside the zip, plus a thick stripe at the rear, add welcome visibility.
This base layer – which can be used as a t-shirt too – wicks sweat from the rear panel well and is nicely shaped – and it's a bit of a bargain.
The Koulin uses different fabrics front and rear. The front is solid polyester, whilst the rear is polyester too but in a mesh, and slightly thinner, for maximum breathability.
The rear mesh dries quickly, faster than the front, while the front is more robust and offers a better barrier against a breeze or mud splashes.
The female-specific cut is a flattering shape with a round neckline, capped sleeves and well placed side panels. There’s a contrasting flatlock stitching throughout to prevent rubbing and there's no seam on top of the shoulders. You also get a slightly dropped rear hem and a tiny pocket back there.
The dbh Aeron women’s short sleeved merino base layer is a great shoulder-season underlayer that washes well, dries quickly and has a soft feel against the skin. It retains its shape well too.
The Aeron is made from 160gms fabric (65% merino/35%polyester) which is the perfect weight to slip under a long sleeved outer on coolish days, or with a long sleeve and a waterproof when it's raining hard. It might be a tad thin to keep you warm in the depths of winter without needing too many layers on top, though.
The Aeron is a slim fit with a round neckline, a dropped hem and raglan sleeves. The seams are flatlocked all around, and dhb guarantee the wool comes from a non-mulesed source.
These 7Mesh Mk3 bib shorts might become the best shorts you've ever worn. They are incredibly comfortable regardless of the length of time you spend in the saddle because of their hammock chamois lining, material choice and cut, and the luxurious, wide shoulder straps. They're worth every penny.
The overall fit of these shorts is superb. 7Mesh has chosen Gravity Interpower fabric from Miti, which is hydrophilic; it allows moisture to pass through easily and spread out and evaporate quickly as you ride. The fabric is also anti-odour, which is a bonus, and more abrasion-resistant than most.
The shorts' pièce de résistance, though, is the floating chamois hammock. The Elastic Interface chamois is attached at the top of the rear of the shorts under the bib yoke strap and at the front of the shorts about where the waist would be, but nowhere else. The design allows you a little bit of movement on top of the saddle without rucking up or pulling the outer short, and is undoubtedly the reason for the superb comfort.
Sportful's Fiandre NoRain 2 bib shorts are a great option for rides in the rain. The soft, thermal fabric is cut long for extra protection of the lower quads, while the water resistance will see off a good amount of water and keep you warm when soaked through.
The main feature of these bib shorts is the material that makes up the legs. This brushed thermal Roubaix-style material is brilliantly soft. Out on the road, the extra thickness of this fabric helps to block out some of the cold air, though it isn't totally windproof.
Mixed weather is where these really excel. The water resistance might not be enough to see off persistent heavy rain, but it's perfectly capable of keeping you dry during a short downpour and it'll prevent wheel spray from soaking through.
Internally, the TC Pro seat pad is dense, well placed and a very nice place to plonk your behind for longer road rides.
The leg ends are raw cut for a clean finish and there are silicone dots inside to keep them in place. The bib straps support the shorts well, feeling perfectly comfortable when in the riding position.
The dhb Aeron bib shorts have long been favourites and this version is the best yet. The quality, comfort and performance are excellent at an impressive price
dhb has gone with Miti's Granfondo fabric which offers a fair amount of stretch but with a slight amount of compression to it, and it feels great against the skin.
The multi-panel cut fits like a glove and no matter how hard or fast you are riding the shorts let you move fully with no feeling of restriction. There is no rucking or bunching anywhere.
The Aerons dry quickly and are always comfortable. The leg grippers are unobtrusive, with the silicone section taking up about two-thirds of the circumference while the other third is an elasticated strip of fabric. This works well whatever the size of your thigh.
Elastic Interface has been the pad manufacturer of choice for dhb for many years, and the Paris HP chamois used here features three different densities of foam along its length.
The overall quality is up to dhb's usual high standard, with excellent stitching throughout, and the shorts feels much more upmarket than the price might suggest.
These excellent tights are super-stretchy and flexible so there's no restriction of movement, the padding is really comfortable, and they come with Pearl Iziumi's PI Dry technology on the back of the legs to prevent you getting soaked from spray. This is a hydrophobic treatment that repels water without affecting breathability. The idea is that it coats each individual fibre and never loses its effectiveness over time.
The straps are soft so they cause no irritation at all, while the backside and legs are lined with a soft fleecy fabric that provides plenty of warmth and excellent breathability.
There are cheaper options out there, of course, but warm, water resistant and very comfortable, these are well worth the money.
The 7Mesh TK1 bib tights are very warm, technically loaded and can carry as much kit as a three-pocket jersey. As always, the pad fit may not be to everyone's liking, but if it does suit you these are excellent winter tights for on- or off-road riding.
These are 7Mesh's "warmest, most protective thermal legwear" and, as with the 7Mesh Mk3 bib shorts (above), the chamois can move independently from the rest of the construction.
The TK1 is a masterclass in anatomically-accurate panel cut and assembly, giving an excellent fit, and the fabric is treated with a DWR coating.
The bib straps are a whopping two inches wide, and are soft and seam-free, and on the back panel are stitched three pockets, exactly as you'd see on a jersey.
The rationale for pockets on a set of bib tights may not be self-evident, but they give you plenty of options for carrying spare items of clothing such as gloves and headwear, and there's little risk of anything ejecting accidentally.
These mitts harken back to the era of Fausto Coppi, offering classic styling matched with first-rate materials and construction.
They have a luxury feel. The naturally dyed goatskin leather is supple and soft, and after a few rides begins to take on the shape of your hands. They will only fit better over time.
The padding under walnut brown palm is spot on for thickness without getting in the way of feel on the bars or hoods.
Over the back of the hand there's a double snap closure although there is no nose/sweat-wiping pad – this is far too classy a garment for that sort of thing!
The Campionissimo mitts are definitely most suitable for warmer weather, with hundreds of perforations in the leather, and bare areas on the back of the hand and each knuckle.
These gloves are warm enough even for freezing temperatures without being bulky, and they live up to their billing by keeping the rain out.
They use Primaloft Gold insulation which is lightweight and doesn't affect lever feel too much. If you ever wanted to take them off mid-ride, roll them together and they'll take up about half a jersey pocket's worth of space.
The gloves are made largely from a softshell fabric with a seam-sealed internal membrane to make sure that water stays out. That membrane is also breathable. The palms aresynthetic leather with grippy overlays to stop your hands from slipping on the bars and levers.
The insides are fleecy and comfortable throughout and the long cuffs ensure there are no draughts around your wrists. The fingers of the inner layer don't turn inside out when you take the gloves off so there's no messing about trying to sort that out next time you want to put them on.
These socks are genuinely waterproof, ideal for the worst possible conditions. Our reviewer used these in the pouring rain for hours, went through huge puddles, and even put them on and stuck his feet in a bucket of water. Nothing got through.
They don't feel like normal socks – they're a little like using a wetsuit – and they're not as breathable as non-waterproof socks, but they're nowhere near as sweaty as you might expect and are still fine for rides of a few hours.
They fit very well and stay up admirably. They are thicker than standard socks, which could be an issue with tighter fitting shoes, but they offer good insulation.
The Ekoi Legende is light and ventilation is excellent. It is available in nine base colours with a choice of 20 different finishes, so you should be able to choose exactly the look you want.
On the head, the first thing you notice about the helmet is that it is small compared with most modern lids. One of its big benefits is the high level of ventilation, removing excess heat perfectly.
Fit is managed through the harness at the back of the head combined with adjustable buffers at the back and clips on the side. The helmet comes with 9mm and 3mm pads, and a netted version to keep out bugs when riding.
Each strap consists of two thin but robust strips of material with mesh between them. This helps with breathability and prevents them getting soaked in sweat during a hot ride. Connecting the two is a magnetic clip: just slide one half over the other and they lock into place.
Ekoi has used a polypropylene internal cage, which creates the foundations for a robust helmet despite the 28 large vents. It's this cage that means the helmet can be so well ventilated despite being so small on the head and relatively lightweight.
Yes, it's expensive, but Giro's Aether is a fabulous helmet that offers an excellent level of ventilation, plenty of comfort and new MIPS Spherical technology.
MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) technology is designed "to reduce rotational motion by absorbing and redirecting rotational energies and forces transferred to the brain from angled impacts to the head". It usually comes in the shape of an internal liner but this helmet features two distinct layers of multi-density EPS foam that can move relative to one another. The idea is that in the event of an angled impact, the inner layer slides beneath the outer layer, reducing rotational motion transferred to the brain.
The advantage of MIPS Spherical compared with liner is that there's no obstruction to ventilation. Loads of channels in the EPS foam liner allow air to flow over your head. If things do get sweaty inside, an internal pad stretching right across your forehead helps stop moisture dripping down into your eyes.
Giro's Roc Loc 5+ Air fit system is excellent, and on-the-fly adjustments via a clicky dial are easy, even if you're wearing chunky winter gloves.
Shimano's highly impressive race-orientated RC7 shoes are very comfortable, secure and well-vented. The carbon soles are stiff and vibration-free.
Two Boa dials allow you to tune security precisely, creating a fit that's both firm and unconstricted. The uppers and tongue are heavily perforated, and cooling is effective.
That carbon sole is stiff, although there are stiffer ones out there. A degree of toe flex is designed to help with power transfer efficiency and smooth pedalling. Our reviewer felt they could have been a little stiffer without sacrificing comfort.
Initial cleat setup is easy thanks to a wide range of adjustment and clear alignment markings. Walking is aided by the rubber heel and there's a toe bumper to protect the carbon sole, too.
The standard insoles are impressive, with firm cushioning and well-judged arch support, while the heel cup is deep and secure.
These are stiff, comfortable and thoroughly modern shoes. They'll please everyone from keen amateurs to sportive riders and occasional racers.
The Trans Boas come with an Easton EC70 carbon sole, a very breathable microfibre and mesh upper, and an attractive mix of matt and gloss panels. Closure is handled by a lower Velcro strap and an excellent Boa L6 dial that tightens in 1mm increments.
The Boa lace tightens over a broad tongue that's relatively thickly padded, meaning comfort is excellent. The deep and well-padded heel cup means you don't have to do the shoe up super-tight for a secure fit.
Toebox width is roomy without being sloppy, and if you have particularly wide feet Giro also offers a high volume (HV) version.
You're unlikely to struggle excessively with heat buildup given the large, open mesh panels and perforated uppers. There's also a small vent beneath the toes.
Fitting your three-bolt cleats is easy thanks to broad, clear alignment marks, while the nylon heel protectors are retained by two heavily recessed bolts – meaning the hex heads won't be mangled when the time comes to replace them.
These overshoes offer good protection from water along with a lightweight feel and a solid underside.
Making these overshoes feel light was one of dhb's primary concerns and so it turned to Polartec's NeoShell material. This softshell fabric is thin, flexible, windproof and good at keeping out rain and spray. It results in overshoes that sit very close to the shoes and allow the ankles their full range of flexion. The material extends a good length up the leg and ends in a large gripper that sits snugly against the skin.
The temperature range is also good thanks to the breathability of the fabric. Our reviewer used these from around 12°C down to about 5°C on their own, with oversocks underneath for a little extra insulation at lower temperatures.
The £50 RRP is high for overshoes but these were £35 on Wiggle last time we checked, and the tough underside means they should last far longer than normal.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.