We've reviewed 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 eyewear, and all those layers in between.
We're including 25 items of clothing here. How did we arrive at our selection? To begin with, 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.
The products aren't ranked in a particicular order but we do give out these three awards:
Bargain Buy This goes to a product that we feel gives the biggest bang for the least buck; a superb performance but with an emphasis on value for money.
Editor's Choice This goes to a product that gives the best combination of performance and value for money.
Benchmark Product This goes to a product that offers the highest level of performance outright – one that sets the technical and performance standards against which all the rest are judged, and price doesn’t even come into it. Think of it as the money-no-object award.
We've included links to our original reviews so you can easily find more information on any clothing that interests you.
The prices given are as they were when we compiled our review, whether or not they have gone up since.
The Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Light Women's Jacket is very well made, delivers high performance and is a comfortable three-season option. Although it is a significant upfront cost, it does do away with gilets or numerous base layers – it is an ‘all-rounder’ which protects brilliantly in a wide range of temperatures and weathers.
The jacket has a double layer build, with each getting its own YKK zip. On the inside there is a lightweight, insulation fabric called ProSecco Strada, while outside, the front panels and sleeve fronts are made of Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper 150, and the back and underarms of Nano Flex Xtra Dry fabric, for protection against rain—in showers the water beads off but after 30 minutes of heavy rain it begins to feel damp (yet not cold).
It easily functions without a base layer on mild days, with the torso soft and comfortable against bare skin, although the sleeves not so much. Down to near-zero, only a long-sleeved base layer is needed underneath—this jacket keeps the bitter wind chills off superbly.
The Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Light Jacket is also available in a men's cut with exactly the same fabrics and features. Castelli also offers the Castelli Alpha RoS (a non-Light version) – designed for lower temperatures – for both women and men (£280-£290).
The Rapha Winter Gore-Tex jacket is for those days when you know it's going to be awful so you really don't want to roll the wheel out the door, but with the addition of this jacket to your winter layering system, it’ll be easier to brave these worst weather days.
The jacket features a three-layer Gore-Tex fabric from Gore's Infinium range and this performs fantastically at keeping out absolutely all of the elements.
A high cut front has been paired with a dropped tail for a fit that suits an aggressive riding position. The fabric doesn't conform to your body shape but the well-designed shape keeps it close and we didn't find it flapping around during testing. For an even flusher finish around the waist, the adjustable drawcord at the hem is easy to use for minor tinkering.
There are only two rear pockets, which means they are both roomy, although not so deep. The entrance is dipped slightly at each side, so the angle you swing your arm round to get in when riding is catered for nicely.
The Lusso Aqua Repel V2 Jacket is impressively warm and waterproof for such a lightweight jacket, and the performance is excellent.
The jacket is surprisingly thin considering how warm it keeps you, and the windproofing works well, blocking chilly draughts from hitting your core. Its slim cuffs tuck easily inside your gloves to stop your wrists getting cold and its cut is close and racy, but without being restrictive. Testing the jacket, Stu Kerton was happy riding in this with just a long sleeved base layer underneath, down to 4 or 5°C.
The dropped tail at the rear provides good coverage, while the added storm flap really covers you, which is a useful touch for when riding without mudguards.
At the top of the pockets and down below at the hem are two reflective strips which stretch the width of the jacket for added visibility.
The Showers Pass Elite 2.1 is the lightest, most waterproof triple-layer jacket the company makes and it really stands out because of its ventilation capability.
This jacket manages necessary airflow without compromising waterproofing, through the simple Velcro-tab closure sleeve cuffs and two side vents, with 24cm-long waterproof zips that open from the top down. The latter lets in prodigious amounts of air, yet never, ever feel flappy or draggy. Air then heads out via the huge, permanently-open flap across the shoulders that is very well designed. This system maximises through air flow, without giving the sensation you are wearing a parachute.
In occasionally atrocious weather ranging from 15°C sunshine to below-zero heavy snow, the Elite 2.1 keeps you dry and enables the continuous management of temperature and moisture.
Visibility-wise there's a strip of 3M retro-reflective tape across each forearm and across the back, along with reflective Showers Pass logos on the left breast and rear pockets.
Galibier's Izoard gilet is a cheap and effective way of adding a warm layer to your cycling wardrobe, and its neutral styling means you can wear it off the bike too.
It's a comfortable and well-fitted gilet, and is great at keeping the wind off your organs on a cold start. The insulation is well judged: enough to make a difference without bulking the gilet out too much. You can just about stuff it in a jersey pocket later on, or it won't take up too much space in a frame bag or seatpack.
The gilet is reversible, with a black outer and orange inner if you're feeling in need of some extra visibility. Both of these sides have a chest pocket that is big enough to carry a smartphone, and the black outer also has a full-length pocket with zips at both ends.
Most insulated gilets we’ve tested are north of £100, so priced at less than £50, Galibier’s offering really is a steal for a useful warmth layer on and off the bike.
dhb’s Merino Long Sleeve Base Layer is a great first layer in the lowest of winter temperatures, and its 100 per cent merino construction is a genuine luxury at the sub-£50 price bracket.
Its thermal properties are excellent, offering up warmth from its natural fibres but without 'blocking in' the heat. You can wear it indoors with the central heating on before a ride and not get too hot, yet step outside with simply a single softshell outer on top, and not instantly feel the chill—even when just above freezing.
This merino layer is very well made, too, with high quality stitching and seams throughout – no hint of fraying or unthreading in the couple of months reviewer Leon Jennings was testing it.
With the dhb's full wool construction it does mean you'll likely be wearing something else when the warm weather comes around, so it's not as versatile as some—but still a bargain for a winter layer that works wonders fending off the proper cold.
The Craft Active Extreme X Crew Neck base layer performs well in cool weather, providing warmth when it's needed while also offering excellent breathability when you’re working hard—good to use comfortably for three seasons.
The waffle-knitted material – Coolmax and 'Seaqual' polyester, produced from recycled marine plastics – is very effective for wicking moisture away from the skin quickly, helping to manage your temperature effectively. Strategic vents around the armpits really help with this.
This short sleeve base layer has a long body, so it can be easily tucked in and won’t ride up.
Gore’s C5 Thermo Jersey manages to maximise warmth without unnecessary bulk. This long sleeve jersey is part of Gore’s ‘slim fit’ range so sits close to the body, but not so it’s restrictive or tight like an aero jersey.
Its polyester/elastane mix is impressively warm, especially considering its low weight at just 285g for a size medium. The side panels and backs of the sleeves are a lighter version of this blend—breathability in these areas impressed our reviewer. The thicker parts block the wind well.
The brushed fleece inner lining is comfy enough for the jersey to be worn without a base layer, in temperatures up to about 15°C. When it plummets a long-sleeve base layer easily slips underneath, and it’s not too bulky so a jacket works over the top as well—with this versatility and its excellent temperature regulation its been tester Jamie Williams’ go-to jersey on any dry ride.
As close to a skinsuit as you can get with a jersey, the Assos Dyora RS Summer SS jersey delivers an exceptional performance and is perfect for racers, serious sportive riders, and anyone with a competitive streak that enjoys some speedy riding.
The front panel is made from a lightweight, textured fabric, which is soft, stretchy and very breathable. While the rear stretches well horizontally, it has very limited vertical stretch—this prevents loaded pockets from dragging the jersey out of shape.
The sleeves are made with Push Pull fabric and sit snugly without compressing; they never budge and there's no elasticated or silicone-lined hem to potentially squeeze the arms.
Assos has done away with any kind of collar on the Dyora, which helps to keep you cool when giving it some. Off the bike, the jersey can feel quite short in the body, particularly at the front, but as soon as you shift yourself forwards onto the hoods or drops, it drops in place, exactly where wanted.
The Le Col x Wahoo Indoor Training Jersey is a supremely breathable, good looking top for wearing on your trainer, or outside if it's stinking hot. With most of the features you'd expect of a premium jersey, it's a versatile bit of kit for all-out efforts when you need the best setup.
This slim cut jersey takes the baselayer-as-radiator theory and makes it look seemly, while adding three pockets, a silicone grip strip, full-length zip (with garage) and laser-cut arm grippers.
Made of very small holes to allow airflow, it is not surprising this 80% polyamide/20% elastane blend jersey weighs just 90g—but you do get three standard pockets included for stashing something to eat while on the trainer.
After an hour of all-out efforts, with a saturated cap and sweat all over the floor, our tester Mike Stead found his upper body felt comfortable, with no sense of undue wetness— the fabric was still able to take up sweat and then allow it to evaporate.
With its incredible breathability qualities, this jersey also dries quickly after washing, ready to go again for another sweatfest.
Endura’s Hummvee Lite Icon gloves are simple elasticated pull-on affairs, with no wrist straps or Velcro, and are fantastic for riders who demand exact control. Grip is superb thanks to their ultra-thin construction and silicone prints on the palm and first two fingers—the feeling of connection is excellent.
The way the Lite Icons go about achieving this performance is by excluding all cushioning on the palm: there's nothing more than the synthetic leather between hand and bar grip. That said, they are surprisingly comfy in use.
With a thin mesh fabric on the back and laser-cut perforations on the palms, breathability is also good. The downside of these gloves is that they offer little in the way of weatherproofing—while they’re not too bad at keeping the wind out, they do get soggy quickly when it starts to rain.
These gloves are a specialised bit of kit for those who desire grip, control and feel, but for cushioning and water-resistant it is best to look elsewhere.
The Velotoze Waterproof Gloves are an excellent option for early-season racing where rain, cold temperatures and bitter winds are common. The slim design and stretchy material result in exceptional dexterity and feel of the bar. There is no special surface or padding on the palm but they are still grippy.
Designed to provide a barrier between you and the cold, neoprene gloves keep your hands warm in the rain by trapping a layer of water and letting your body heat keep the warm. These waterproof gloves from Velotoze do this, but also have an extra waterproof and windproof outer.
The extended cuff eliminates the chance of a chilly gap between the gloves and your jacket sleeve. Velotoze’ temperature range claims of -5°C to 15°C are pretty accurate, although your hands may get sweaty when riding at the upper end of that, like our tester Liam Cahill found.
These gloves don’t have the bulkiness often found in winter gloves; the fit is very close with that second-skin feeling, with the slight stretch in the material helping the gloves to conform around the knuckles and sit correctly between the fingers.
Decathlon’s top-model Triban 900 Winter Cycling Gloves keep your hands toasty down to zero Celsius, and stand comparison with gloves costing twice as much.
The softshell outer glove has a fleece lining sewn in which stops the wind completely in its tracks and fends off showers surprisingly well given they make no claim to being more than ‘water-repellent’.
Its soft, flexible palm in Chicron synthetic suede provides decent grip, and the fingertips have patches of conductive material so you can operate a touchscreen.
To help get these on, there’s a pull-tab that extends from the palm past the cuff and this also has a plastic press-stud so the gloves can be clicked together when not in use—a handy touch.
These are very good gloves at an excellent price.
The MAAP Team Thermal Bib Tights are high quality, fit well and offer sublime comfort levels for even the longest rides, thanks to a pad that feels breathable and moulds nicely.
Made from a midweight Roubaix style fleece-backed fabric, with four-way stretch and a touch of compression, these feel very soft against the skin and work well down to around freezing and up to the low-teens Celsius. With a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, these will keep out drizzle. Heavier rain does get through rather quickly, but the upside is that you do remain warm.
These bib tights have a race cut, which results in no bunching and our tester Stu Kerton found all of the seams are positioned out of the way so no problems with irritation. The straps are wide, eliminating any pressure points over the shoulders, while the mesh panel at the rear does well at transferring heat away. Elasticated bands keep things in place at the bottom of the legs (instead of zips) and proved to have no movement at all.
The material choices of these bib tights are not only impressive in terms of performance but they are also Bluesign certified, which means they are produced using only chemicals and processes that are safe for people and the environment.
The Lusso Adventure Repel Bibtights are new to the range, and feature the usual great choice of fabrics, quality manufacturing, sensible pricing and high performance that the Manchester-based manufacturer has become renowned for.
These are very practical bib tights that also deliver on warmth, breathability and its TMF pad is really good too.
Lusso uses a separate panel for the knees, so the seams sit above and below – just right. It means you can pedal for hours without any fear of something rubbing and irritating. Another neat touch of this panel is that it is made from reflective material, which bounces back at decent chunk of light.
For long-distance adventure rides, there are pockets on each thigh with a DWR coating. These are deep and, thanks to the stretchiness of the fabric, they impressed with how secure they are. Your keys, cards, and mobile phone won't ever budge.
Ashmei's Winter Merino 3/4 Bib tights are an excellent balance of warmth, windproofness, water-shedding and breathability, coming together in a package that will leave your lower body happy for many, many cold, windy, rainy miles.
The lower panels (waist down) are 51 percent merino, the rest a mix of synthetics. The hems are laser-cut, with the bottoms comprising six panels, each shaped to provide a very close fit overall—not compressive, but snug.
The upper panels come up high, with a zip to help with getting on and off, while the straps are wide, soft and proportioned just right so as not to be noticeable. Overall the fit is impressive, with no feeling of fabric bunching behind the knees – always a risk with a thicker material.
The pad is another great effort, consisting of a high-density foam which Ashmei says is designed not to absorb excessive amounts of water, and tester Mike Stead vouches for that. The pad initially feels pretty thick, with what feels like a firmer raised area under each sit bone – so more sitting 'on' than 'in'. Once riding, this feeling disappears.
Through anaerobic hell, the Ashmei Winter Merino 3/4 bibs don’t feel too hot, and not a trace of sweat is left unwicked. These truly deliver on breathability.
The La Passione Club Bib Shorts are very comfy even when doing longer distances thanks to a well-judged pad, great shaping and a secure fit.
The polyamide/elastane shorts section performs well with its slight compression feel that results in a ideal, secure fit, and prevents the material bunching as you ride. Broad, elasticated cuffs and silicone grippers, 5.5cm wide, do the rest in keeping the fairly long legs just where you put them. Up top, the very light polyester/elastane mesh straps breathe well and are airy with a finely judged tension.
Comfort-wise, the Elastic Interface pad works really well, with two very distinct thicknesses and a soft feel that resists compressing and firming up over time.
The construction throughout is super-neat, and even the light mesh sections proved to be robust. That said, the grey option we had on test did show sweat when working really hard, but there are dark blue and black versions that shouldn’t suffer from the same issues.
The quality of the Velocio Concept bib shorts is high and they're supremely comfortable. They're well worth the investment if you can swallow the initial outlay.
The material feels high quality throughout, the legs are compressive without feeling restrictive, and the bib straps are so comfortable, and with seams kept to a minimum with cut raw edges, it's easy to forget they're even there. Holes in the bib back panel have also been laser cut to help with breathability, and prove effective.
Velocio says that it has used an entirely new pad construction combining high-density foam, anti-vibration inserts and a shaped, anatomically moulded contour with exceptional breathability. Stitched in place only at the front and rear, the pad is designed to ‘float’ in the bibs so it doesn’t get dragged around by your shorts or saddle as you’re pedalling. This design really works. Added to that, it is thick enough for long rides but also well suited to an aggressive riding position.
The Assos Dyora RS Bib Shorts combine a race fit and performance with outstanding comfort, even with the compression cut.
Using Assos-exclusive Golden Gate technology, the chamois is up to serious milage with the layered setup of a superAir microShock foam and 3D waffle top sheet that is absent of stitching at the sides—this allows the pads to move with you, rather than with the shorts.
Keeping the shorts locked in place are the A-lock straps, which have varying degrees of elasticity for a comfortable and secure hold. It has also allowed Assos to get rid of any excess mesh or panelling at the front or rear, minimising overheating of the torso and lower back.
The fabric of the main shorts is silky soft against the skin, and Assos claims a 30 per cent seam reduction, which all adds to the superior comfort levels of these shorts.
The leg grippers are wide, elastane bands which also impress as they offer enough compression to hold the shorts where wanted, without any unpleasant squeezing on the thigh.
The Gore C7 Women Long Distance Bib Shorts+ are exceptionally comfortable, with a chamois that lives up to the name.
The 70% polyamide, 30% elastane blend forms a soft, supple feel and sits plush to the skin, without any excessive compression. The low cut front and minimal bib strap setup contribute to decent breathability. These ribbon-like straps are very stretchy, but our tester Emma Silversides found them a little long.
The pad is what sets the C7s apart from other shorts. The dual-density design does away with unnecessary excess bulk and prevents overheating, while the channels between the differing densities ensure the pad conforms perfectly to your shape. The pad also stops well before most at the front end, avoiding any jutting edges.
Santini’s Mille High Profile are stylish, designed to complement Santini’s own jerseys, but are a good quality and comfortable choice in their own right.
These Italian-made socks are very thin and perform incredibly well in hot weather, allowing the feet to breathe effectively. They also impress with how quickly they dry.
Measuring 25cm from heel to cuff, the top of these socks sits just below the calf muscle in the ‘pro zone’ and, by gripping with even pressure, they stay this tall and wrinkle-free throughout the ride. Very well made, along with being good lookers.
Shimano’s RX8 SPD shoes have the ruggedness and durability for dealing with gravel trails, as well as being comfy, light and stiff like a top-end performance road shoe. If you take gravel riding seriously, these are a great option.
The synthetic leather upper has a wraparound design which prevents any pressure points when tightened up with the Boa dial and Velcro strap at the toe box end.
The shape of the sole is very supportive, while the heel cup is a snug fit, which stops the rear of your foot lifting when pedalling hard on the upstroke—giving a feeling of efficiency while maintaining comfort.
Bonded to its full carbon sole are two treaded sections to help you trek across the rough terrain. These are not as deep as those on Shimano’s XC shoes, so best suited to the hardpacked than the sloppy mud.
Le Col's Pro Carbon Road Shoes are impressively stiff with a great shape and a soft, supple PU leather upper that pulls taut and wraps itself smoothly around your foot without creasing when fastened up with the Atop dials.
The well-padded tongue ensures there are no tension points or hot spots, and means these shoes are unbelievably comfortable.
Breathability is good thanks to quite large venting holes down the sides of the shoe and covering the tongue, aided by mesh vents at the toe box. There are also a couple of vents under the toes in the sole.
These performance shoes have a full carbon fibre sole, with a uni-directional setup (all the fibres run in one direction). This makes for a super stiff sole, but without feeling harsh.
The overall quality is exceptional, with all the stitching neat and tidy, and the surface is easy to wipe clean.
Northwave’s Celsius R Arctic GTX winter shoes are warm, extremely comfortable and impressively water resistant.
The neoprene collar, with a Gore-Tex Rattler membrane, provides considerable warmth around your ankles and prevents water and wind from getting through—it is also unrestrictive when pedalling.
Its Arctic 4Layer insole is both effective and plushly soft, though not so soft that it compromises pedalling feel. The rest of the inside has a fleecy lining which proves to be incredibly cosy.
The heel cup is very well judged and these boots feel exceptionally secure to wear. The SLW2 dial works very well to tighten these up, too, as pulling up on the (metal) lever releases the cord completely to allow room to get in.
Boasting a retro look, Smith Optics' Flywheel glasses are light, comfy and provide excellent coverage.
The semi-framed glasses are made from a very flexy thermoplastic (TR90) and come with auto-lock hinges and adjustable two-position nose pads. The build and nosepiece combined makes the Flywheel very natural-feeling and comfortable to keep on all day.
Aiding airflow to keep the lens from fogging, this nosepiece also holds the glasses away from your face and it does a great job.
The lens fitted uses Smith’s ChromaPop technology, which makes everything clear and sharp, while the hydroleophobic coating makes them easy to clean. It’s rather durable too: after wiping mud off the mud, the lens remained unscratched.