Jenson USA carries one of the most extensive selections of curated bike gear online. We’ve developed learning guides to aid you in making informed decisions and we have backed this up with our expert Gear Advisors who are available by phone, chat, or email 7 days a week.
As in every aspect of cycling, jerseys come in a variety options to suit your needs. From the materials used, to the overall fit and design of the garment, there’s plenty to consider when making your selection. This guide will help differentiate between styles, fabrics and features of some of the most popular jersey types.
Many of the characteristics covered apply to all jerseys. First, we’ll cover fit, then fabrics, and last we’ll touch on features. Let’s begin!
Fit will vary depending on personal comfort and riding discipline. Nothing is stopping you from wearing a cotton T-shirt, however purpose-built items are made with comfort and usability in mind.
The tightest fitting options are Road or XC jerseys. For our purposes, these can be referred to synonymously. Compared to a normal T-shirt, these jerseys are typically tighter fitting and use synthetic fabrics to stretch and conform to the body. Road jerseys also feature rear pockets and a zippered front closure.
The most common fits found in road jersey are Club Fit and Race Fit. Club Fit jerseys offer a more generous fit that accommodate more body types while Race Fit jerseys are tighter fitting and designed to work best when in an aggressive riding position. One disclaimer here would be to double-check sizing charts. Many European brands sizes don’t align directly with American sizes.
Next up on the list is the trail jersey. This is the closest in fit to a normal T-shirt, however you’ll find fabric and features will set these jerseys apart. Unlike a cotton T-shirt, trail jerseys are often made of lightweight, synthetic fabrics that breathe and wick away moisture. Also, these jerseys often feature a drop-tail cut, meaning the back is slightly longer to provide proper coverage when hunched over on a bike.
Last up is the downhill jersey. The most common fits found in downhill jerseys are the Enduro and Gravity jerseys. Enduro jerseys are often slim fit, however not as slim fitting as a road jersey would be. Gravity jerseys are looser fitting to accommodate pads being worn underneath. Both Enduro and Gravity jersey are often found in ¾ or long sleeve lengths.
Most cycling specific clothing is made of synthetic polyester fabrics. These are lightweight, stretchy, breathable materials that help wick moisture away from the skin to help regulate body temperatures. Brands will often have their own proprietary polyester blends accentuating particular properties of the fabric, but for the purposes of this guide we will refer to them all as “polyester”.
The problem with cotton comes down to flexibility and moisture management. Cotton fabrics offer very little give, meaning they can feel restricting with certain movements. Also, when cotton gets wet (think sweat), it wads up and holds onto the moisture. This creates unwanted weight on hot days and will do nothing to help keep you warm on cold days.
While polyester makes up most of today’s products, some garments built for a specific use will utilize alternative fabrics. For instance, you’ll often see garments made from insulated thermal fabrics and merino wool. Thermal layers are great for extreme cold weather while merino wool is a good fabric for year-round use due to its natural temperature regulating characteristics.
Despite their appearance, cycling jersey are packed with helpful features. From closure types to storage capabilities, every aspect of a jersey has its purpose.
Pockets are the most notable feature of any jersey. Road jerseys have 3 large rear pockets while trail and downhill jerseys usually limit this to one “hidden” pocket secured by a zipper.
Front closure systems are a great way to let in some air to cool off. Mostly found on road jerseys, zippered closures typically come in ¼ or full-length.
Other features like ventilated mesh panels and integrated goggle lens wipes can be found on all types of jerseys, but are often added at the manufacturer’s discretion.
When it comes time to choose your new jersey, be sure to consider the type of riding you expect to do, what features you'd like incorporated, and most importantly what feels comfortable to you.SHOP JERSEYS