We wouldn't suggest that you need to suit up like a Tour de France rider every time you get on your bike, but for longer rides where you’re getting a decent workout, a quality jersey will be a great help.
Most modern jerseys use a zip closure which comes in different lengths. A short zip is fine for mild weather and a three-quarter length zip gives you the option of opening a jersey without it coming undone and flapping as you ride. Full-length zips are brilliant for very hot days because you can open up your jersey when climbing, allowing the breeze to cool you down.
Look for jerseys with multiple rear pockets. Pockets will allow you to carry your essentials like keys, phone, wallet, a snack, multi-tool, puncture kit and mini-pump. Pockets are usually open topped but some quality jerseys do have a secure zipped pocket for more expensive items.
On modern jerseys cooling methods include the use of mesh and perforated fabrics to promote airflow. Many jerseys also feature materials that have a sun protection factor (SPF) to reduce burning. Many summer jerseys will also be made of fabrics that draw body heat and moisture away, while drying quickly.
As you can imagine, clothing that’s designed to be used while exercising can get a little whiffy, so manufacturers have looked to fabrics enhanced with carbon, which has a natural anti-bacterial property, to help reduce smells. Louis Garneau's Elite Carbon jersey uses just such a fabric and also benefits from a special surface treatment called 'Coldblack' to reflect the sun’s rays.
Jerseys are available in a multitude of fits, from a super-close fitting pro-style jersey to a more relaxed fit for more leisurely pursuits. Brands like Assos, Castelli, Louis Garneau and Endura all offer ranges with fits tailored for different riders. Louis Garneau's Course Superleggera is designed to be both lightweight and very close fitting, whereas their Transit jersey has what they call a semi-pro fit, which has a more relaxed shape for us more average shaped riders. Legendary Swiss brand Assos have recently introduced their Cento S7 jersey range, designed for endurance and long distance rides (so a great choice for sportive riders). It’s cut a little more relaxed than their usual super-close pro fit, but still uses the very best fabrics around.
On cooler spring days, you may want to opt for a long sleeve jersey for a little extra warmth. Most brands offer long sleeve versions of their top selling jerseys. Though the choice isn't as wide as with short sleeves, you can find some clever and versatile long sleeve options. Castelli's Gabba Windstopper is a top quality, warm choice for chilly spring rides, which features a windstopper membrane under the fabric. Many winter and spring long sleeved jerseys feature wind blocking material on the front to prevent chilling wind getting through.
A mountain bike jersey is a versatile piece of kit. Depending on the weather, a jersey can be worn on its own, within a layered system of clothing (like over a base layer), or under a jacket.
Mountain bike jerseys tend to follow one of two styles – tighter lycra jerseys (which get their inspiration from road bike jerseys) and baggy jerseys, more favoured by downhill and enduro riders.
Lycra jerseys should have a close fit to help them wick sweat away and stop them flapping around. They’ll often have a quarter or full-length zip, along with pockets on the back to carry tools, pumps or nutrition.
Baggy mountain bike jerseys will have a loose, stylish fit, and will tend not to have pockets or zips. Their extra room often allows space for body armour underneath.
Both lycra and baggy jerseys will come in short and long sleeve options, depending on the season.
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