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Best cycling jersey 2023: The finest short- and long-sleeve options for year-round riding

Boost your comfort, aerodynamic profile and style credentials with our pick of the best cycling jerseys

The best cycling jerseys are the ones that enable you to ride faster in comfort, with bonus points if they make you look good while doing so. Along with a good pair of bib shorts and a seasonally appropriate base layer, a good jersey is a core component of your cycling kit. In fact, most people who ride more than once or twice a week will own several.

Dedicated cycling jerseys are designed to fit tight and hug the torso to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics. Specialist fabrics allow them to wick sweat away from the skin, keeping you cool and dry in the summer and warm in winter. Cycling jerseys also feature pockets in the lower back, which are easy to access while on the bike and handy for storing things such as a smartphone, snacks, tools or spare cash for those all-important coffee and cake stops.

Thinking of investing in your first cycling jersey? Or perhaps you’re simply looking for the latest addition to your collection? To help you decide, we’ve spent months out on the road, putting the best cycling jerseys from the most respected brands through their paces. We’ve tested short-sleeve and long-sleeve options to cover all seasons, and we’ve ridden extensively in all conditions, assessing jerseys in terms of comfort, fit, performance, looks and value.

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Best cycling jerseys: At a glance

How to choose the best cycling jersey for you

Do I need a cycling jersey?

No, but it will make your cycling experience a lot more comfortable and enjoyable. This is especially true if you regularly spend long periods on the bike. There was a time when cycling kit wasn’t much more advanced than a simple cotton T-shirt, but in today’s world of high-performance fabrics, body-mapping tech and low-profile fits, the difference between a purpose-designed cycling jersey and a regular top is enormous.

Should I buy a short-sleeve or a long-sleeve jersey?

That depends on the season and the general temperatures where you ride. Broadly speaking, it’s best to ride in a short-sleeve jersey in the summer and a long-sleeve jersey in late autumn, winter and early spring. Of course, there’ll be the odd freak weather day here and there, but there’s always the option of packing arm warmers for those awkward transitional times of year.

How should my cycling jersey fit?

Tight. If you’re a beginner, it might feel too tight, but cycling apparel sits close to the skin by design in order to reduce drag. That said, if you’re struggling with the zipper, then a size up is probably the way to go.

How we test cycling jerseys

A good cycling jersey should be comfortable, form hugging, durable and well made. We consider all these qualities when putting cycling jerseys to the test. We wear each jersey for cycling 100 miles or more to get a feel for how it performs on the road; it’s only after a good stint in the saddle that certain issues become apparent, with poor breathability, a lack of pockets or any issues with zippers coming to the fore. If we experienced any such issues, that particular jersey won’t have made the final cut.

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The best cycling jerseys you can buy in 2023

1. Rapha Core Short-Sleeve Jersey: Best all-round short-sleeve cycling jersey

Price: £75 | Buy now from Rapha

British cycling brand Rapha was one of the first to bring a stylish edge to the historically uncool world of cycling kit. It’s notoriously pricey, but its Core range offers a more financially accessible route into the label’s aesthetic.

This simple top is one of Rapha’s best-selling products and has been for many years. It’s a no-frills, short-sleeve jersey with the brand’s signature armband and its script logo to the chest and lower back, and it features three rear pockets, including a zippered one for valuables. The fit is trim, but not too tight – perfect for beginners who aren’t used to more aggressive race fits – and it looks great.

Key details – Sizes: XS-XXL; Colours: Light green, pale blue, red, teal, high-vis pink, navy marl, dark green, pale purple, ultramarine, black, gold; Materials: 100% polyester

Buy now from Rapha

2. MAAP Volt Race-Fit Jersey: Best race-day short-sleeve cycling jersey

Price: £155 | Buy now from MAAP

Australia’s MAAP is another brand that operates at the trendier end of the cycling kit spectrum, but make no mistake, there’s much more going on here than mere good looks. This particular jersey is designed in an aggressively tight race fit for maximum aerodynamics, with a contoured silhouette and bonded seams to allow it to sit as close as possible to the skin, minimising drag.

Aside from the looks, perhaps the best thing about this jersey is the fabric placement, with different types of performance materials strategically placed to enhance comfort. There’s high-airflow mesh to the sides, micro-perforated fabric for the body, and a sort of stretchy synthetic knit to the sleeves for range of motion. We think it works best in hot conditions and on days when you really want to push your limits. The only downside is the price.

Key details – Sizes: XS-XXL; Colours: Vapor blue, black; Materials: 86% polyester, 14% elastane

Buy now from MAAP

3. DHB Short-Sleeve Jersey: Best entry-level short-sleeve cycling jersey

Price: £35 | Buy now from Wiggle

Wiggle’s in-house brand DHB is usually a safe bet when it comes to reasonably priced kit for beginners, and this jersey is no exception. It’s a simple block-colour design, with small reflective details and a full-zip front, which fits well and has plenty of pocket space at the back.

This is a pretty basic jersey, which means there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking going on in terms of materials, but it does the job for a good price. It’s a great option for newbie cyclists looking for something affordable, or for more experienced riders on a tight budget.

Key details – Sizes: XS-2XL; Colours: Black, blue, blue 2, green, navy, red, red 2; Materials: 60% polyester, 40% recycled polyester

Buy now from Wiggle

4. Assos Mille GTO C2 Jersey: Best premium short-sleeve cycling jersey

Price: £220 | Buy now from Assos

If you’re the type of cyclist that has to have the best of the best, then this highly technical jersey from Switzerland’s Assos will be right up your street. It makes use of the brand’s lightest, softest and most technologically advanced fabrics, and uses body-mapping tech to place them where they’re needed most.

It has a snug yet comfortable precision fit that works well for everything from long-distance days out to fast-paced, anaerobic training rides. This comes from details such as the set-in sleeves and the strategically placed darts to stop the fabric from bunching when in a riding position. There’s also reinforcement in the back pockets to stop them from sagging when stuffed full of Haribo and flapjack – a pet peeve of ours.

It’s a fantastic jersey, but unfortunately expensive, making this one for deep-pocketed riders only.

Key details – Sizes: XS-TIR; Colours: Rock grey, black, yubi blue, kosimo granite; Materials: 61% nylon, 23% elastane, 16% polyester

Buy now from Assos

5. Albion Long-Sleeve Jersey: Best all-round long-sleeve cycling jersey

Price: £105 | Buy now from Albion

British brand Albion designs simple but effective kit with an emphasis on sustainability. There’s also a strong focus on creating apparel that’s just right for dealing with wet and gloomy UK conditions.

This long-sleeve jersey is a favourite of ours, something we find ourselves reaching for every autumn, winter and spring. It’s made from a lightweight, fleece-backed fabric that’s warm, but not overly so, and comes in an ever-changing selection of tasteful block colours.

There’s nothing on this jersey that doesn’t need to be there – just a contrast zipper on the front, three reassuringly robust pockets at the back, and a small, rubberised logo patch on the left arm. The only potential downside for some will be the lack of a zip pocket, but overall this is a solid jersey that will suit most cyclists looking for an understated mid-range option for cool-weather riding and cold-weather layering.

Key details – Sizes: XS-XXL; Colours: Earth brown, botanical green, fluro green, hydro blue, orange, black; Materials: 82% recycled polyester, 18% elastane

Buy now from Albion

6. Pas Normal Studios Mechanism Jersey: Best premium long-sleeve cycling jersey

Price: £175 | Buy now from Pas Normal Studios

Few brands do stylish cycling kit better than Denmark’s Pas Normal Studios. Created by the co-founder of the fashion brand Wood Wood, it uses trendy branding, moody marketing campaigns and a tastefully muted colour palette to entice spendy cyclists who like to look the part while they’re setting new personal bests.

“Mechanism” is PNS’s most fitted line of kit, geared towards fast-paced training, racing and intervals. That said, we’ve used this jersey extensively and have found it to be a good all-rounder for any type of autumn and winter riding. It’s made from a lightweight, fleece-backed fabric that does a great job of wicking moisture while keeping the skin warm. It has a distinctly premium feel to it, too, which is just as well given that it will set you back a rather hefty wad of cash. 

One thing that might put some people off is the bold branding to the back. If that’s the case, there are colour options available with tonal logos that are a bit less in your face.

Key details – Sizes: XXS-XXL; Colours: Hazel, off white, dark grey, burned orange, deep red, navy, purple, black, olive, earth, black/medium grey, dark navy/dusty mauve, off white charcoal, dusty navy, brown olive, anthracite; Materials: 86% polyester, 14% elastane

Buy now from Pas Normal Studios

7. DHB Long Sleeve Jersey: Best entry-level long-sleeve cycling jersey

Price: £40 | Buy now from Wiggle

You don’t have to spend a fortune to wrap up for cold-weather riding. If you’re new to the sport and want something that will do the job while leaving some cash for all the other bits and bobs you’re going to need, then this jersey is the solution. It’s very reasonably priced and can happily go toe to toe with options twice, or even three times, as expensive.

The jersey has a full zip, two rear pockets and silicone grippers to the hem to keep it in place while riding. It’s available in five colours, including two hi-vis options, and comes complete with reflective details to help keep you seen on the roads.

In terms of fit, this isn’t a jersey for the slimmer cyclist. If you have an athletic build, we’d suggest getting the next size down for a nice tight fit. The pocket setup won’t be for everyone, either – three equally sized pockets is pretty standard for a cycling jersey, but DHB has decided to go with two: one huge and one regular size. Some people might like this, as it could be easier to fit another layer in the large pocket, but if you’re used to the traditional way of doing things then you might not be a fan of this unbalanced alternative.

Key details – Sizes: XS-XXL; Colours: Black, blue, blue marl, fluro yellow, red; Materials: 100% recycled polyester

Buy now from Wiggle

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