While not as vital as good shorts, a cycling jersey can really help enhance your on-the-bike comfort. Here are the best cheap cycling jerseys — they're all under £50.
Even cheap cycling jerseys are made from wicking fabrics that move sweat away from your skin so it can evaporate. Look for a high neck to keep the sun off, and long back to keep you covered in the riding position.
A long zip for ventilation is a must; full-length for summer cycling jerseys. You want at least three rear pockets — it's not really a cycling jersey without the.
The Scimitar Eco1 Recycled Cycling Jersey is a great lightweight top in its own right, and the fact that it's been made from recycled materials is a bonus. The polyester used in this jersey is sourced from up to seven recycled plastic bottles – the main body is 83% recycled polyester, the collar 100% recycled polyester.
Tester Shaun mostly used the Scimitar jersey on an indoor trainer and writes: “Worn against the skin during indoor trainer sessions, the fabric does feel slightly synthetic – no more so than modern summer jerseys, really, although if you're used to waffle weave polyesters you might be more aware of the difference. The stretchy fabric and raglan sleeves offer unrestrictive movement, brilliant for alternating between hoods, tops and drops. Even hunkered down for long periods, the silicone hem has kept the back in perfect alignment. No bunching, or gathering here.
“I've been pleasantly surprised by the Scimitar. It's a well-executed jersey, proving that recycled doesn't mean expensive. Not everyone will appreciate the racing snakes cut, and I'd welcome a bigger zipper tag, but overall performance has been very good.”
There isn't much cycling kit you can get for a tenner: a pair of socks maybe, or a of couple water bottles. Or, you can buy a fully functioning Triban Essential cycling jersey from sports superstore chain Decathlon. You'll have change too.
It may be basic but the Essential Jersey isn't just a rehashed t-shirt. You get breathable material with various panels, two rear pockets and a front zip plus Decathlon's two-year warranty against defects. You kind of wonder what the catch is. As far as we can see there isn't one.
dhb's Women's Short Sleeve Jersey is a great choice if you like a casual fit and don't tend to load up pockets, and the £30 price is excellent, belying the quality finish, decent performance and comfort on offer here.
Tester Emma writes: “The understated design and relaxed fit make this jersey a really versatile bit of kit; it'll appeal to commuters, gravel riders, tourers or trail riders, not just roadies. There are also three colour options – teal, navy and dark red – whih should cover most tastes, and it's available in sizes 8 to 16.
“My one and only gripe is with the pockets. I try to load pockets evenly with loose-fit jerseys to prevent them from swinging around, but this is impossible with the dhb jersey. Rather than the conventional three-pocket arrangement, there are two asymmetrical pockets here. Also, the elastic topper is stitched to the main body on the larger pocket to create a pump holder, which I found to be poorly placed, right on the spine, and would inevitably slide to one side.
“The quality finish and versatility of the jersey is seriously impressive for £30; dhb has produced an excellent, versatile jersey for not a lot of money. It's difficult to get too critical about the pockets, since this won't be a sticking point for everyone, and there's little else to find fault with.”
The Altura Nightvision Men's Short Sleeve Jersey is an interesting summer weight design with a more relaxed fit and some subtle yet welcome tweaks for this season. Designed for commuting — hence the emphasis upon reflectives and generally being seen — there's a lot to like here. The fabric is soft and not overly synthetic, the retro-reflective detailing works well and it's competitively priced.
The fabric is stretchy but without feeling fluttery – good for touring and general riding, in my view, and permitting a thicker baselayer without any unwelcome bunching/gathering. Silicone at the hem also prevents unwelcome movement when hunkered low or just making those subtle adjustments in positioning. The satin type yarn feels very soft against the skin and only noticed in the most positive sense. Baselayer quality allowing, it also responds very well to rider effort – I've been cruising along at 18-20mph for 2-3 hours without feeling damp.
Tester Shaun writes: “Overall, the Nightvision jersey is a good bet for general riding, not just commuting. I like its semi-fitted cut for touring and more general riding, and the retro-reflective and other detailing is also very effective and well thought out.”
The Galibier Regale Ultralight Jersey is an incredibly thin design intended for warmer days and indoor training. Tester Shaun writes: “I've been impressed by its comfort, durability and lack of compromise, especially at the pockets, which are deep and stretchy yet surprisingly secure, and the price is very appealing.
“Galibier says its goal with the Regale was to produce the lightest jersey on the market while still offering sun protection (SPF30). It's made from three different gauges of polyester and feels a little synthetic to the touch, but that goes unnoticed in the saddle when worn directly against the skin.
“I've tested it outdoors in temperatures between 13 and 25°C (its suggested range is 20-40°C) and did a couple of indoor trainer sessions with the heating ramped up to 30°C, and am pleased to report I've felt comfortable at both ends of the spectrum.”
For many riders, Merino wool is the holy grail of cycling jersey fabrics. It's comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, deals efficiently with sweat and deters the growth of the bacteria that make clothes smelly. That means you can use a Merino jersey for several days in a row and it won't stink, and that in turn makes it ideal for multi-day rides or commuting.
We really like the long-sleeved version of this jersey. For £50 this short-sleever is a bargain.
The Boardman Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey is a lovely everyday top at a great price. Boardman hasn't messed around giving its jersey a complicated name, nor has it messed around adding unnecessary features to a simple and functional piece of kit.
dhb is the house brand of cycling mail order specialist Wiggle, and the ever-changing Blok line features a wide range of colourful patterns.
It has a full-length zip and a silicone waist gripper. There's a zipped pocket in addition to three open-top large pockets and there's reflective detailing at the back for evening and night-time visibility.
The Funkier Stream Gents Short Sleeve Active Jersey offers a decent specification for modest money and performs surprisingly well. The Stream is snug but not second-skin close, so doesn't draw unwelcome attention to minor lumps and bumps we might be self-conscious about.
The relatively thin, summer-weight fabric, vented panels and full-length zipper make for an airy and generally dry inner climate. Need more air? Simply drop the sensibly proportioned zipper tag. This has been easily operated in liner type gloves, and at around 20mph.
The cheapest of DHB's short-sleeve cycling jerseys has a relaxed cut, and a full suite of the features you expect: three rear pockets, full-length-length zip, and a silicone gripper to keep the rear in place.
If you don't feel the need for a full-length zip you can save yourself a fiver by picking the 1/4-length zip version.
The Altura Icon Men's Short Sleeve Jersey comes with some clever fabric that really helps on the breathability front and in the anti-whiff stakes. The semi-relaxed cut means you don't need to be a racing whippet to wear it, either.
Tester Stu writes: “It has what Altura describes as a full silhouette redesign, and uses a high-wicking fabric for the main body and a carbon material for the underarm panels; the latter is made by Italian manufacturer Miti, which claims it draws toxins away from the skin to keep you feeling and smelling fresh in key areas. In use, both fabrics feel soft against the skin and work well. I wore the jersey for an entire week's worth of riding without washing it and it did indeed smell fresher than most, especially around the armpits.
“Overall quality is good, with the fabrics showing to be durable and robust. There are some loose thread ends in various places which let it down a touch, but to be fair they aren't visible when you are wearing it. The Altura Icon is comfortable to wear and works across a broad range of temperatures, and for the money is a very tempting proposition.”
This simple but high quality cycling jersey features raglan sleeves, full-length front zip, mesh pit panels and a zippered extra pocket for your keys and change. We can't see why you'd spend more for a summer/autumn cycling jersey unless you're very sensitive to the feel of the fabric, which is initially a little more 'synthetic' than you'll find on pricier cycling jerseys.
Decathlon has put some major effort into the appearance of its clothing in the last couple of years. As well as this tidy design in shades of blue, there are versions in several other tasteful colours and patterns.
Phenomenal bang for very modest buck.
Want to know more about the ins and outs of cycling jerseys? Read our guides:
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John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.