It can be hard to motivate yourself to go for a bike ride when it’s grey and gloomy, but having a nice warm long-sleeved jersey to pull on might just make the thought of heading outside a little more appealing.
When choosing a new top for the colder months look out for features such as water resistance, high collars and lightweight thermal insulation to keep you warm and dry for longer.
Thicker jerseys can replace a jacket on drier, cold days, while thinner ones are great for layering up underneath a rain shell or wearing as an outer layer on warmer autumn and spring rides.
Merino wool is better at regulating your temperature than many man made fabrics, it also feels great against the skin and doesn’t smell if you wear it more than once between washes – worth bearing in mind if you plan to wear a jersey on your work commute.
Other fabrics such as Gore-Tex infinium and Polartec’s power wool offer features such as wind or water-resistance while still feeling soft against the skin.
More tailored tops are great for speed demons who don’t want fabric flapping around, whereas a relaxed fit will allow you to add a base layer underneath for extra warmth.
We have been out riding in wind, rain and even autumn sunshine, tugging at zips, pulling seams and putting them through the washing machine to find our pick of the best jerseys on the market.
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Chapeau! etape LS merino
If you think less is more when it comes to cycling kit, you will love this classy merino number. There are no gaudy logos or gimmicky features here, just soft and breathable sportwool fabric. The arms are a touch longer than on many designs – great for tucking into gloves with no draughts. There are the standard three rear pockets plus a zipped and water-resistant section for your phone. It’s a fairly slim cut but there’s still enough room to layer up underneath. It’s pricey but the brand offers a crash replacement deal – don’t forget to sign up for it.
Le Col pro aqua zero
With a fleecy lining and water-repellent hydrophobic coating, there’s a lot to like about this one. That saffron colour will stand out on gloomy winter roads and there’s a highly reflective stripe down the middle of the three rear pockets for some extra visibility. We like the thicker than usual neck which really helped to keep draughts at bay, and the huge zip puller that’s super-easy to grab with gloves on. It’s well worth a look if you want an outer layer for those slightly damp days when the weather doesn’t quite warrant a jacket.
Stolen Goat boss bodyline
Thinner long-sleeved jerseys like this are great for layering up in really cold weather, or you can wear them on their own on cooler days right into early summer. This one’s got a nice body-hugging fit and laser-cut cuffs so there should be no flapping fabric when you are riding hard. At the back are three fairly narrow pockets plus an extra zipped one for valuables. We really like the geometric design too. If it’s not your cup of tea, then check out some of the other colours and patterns in the range – they are all backed up with Stolen Goat’s five-year guarantee and crash replacement offer.
Proviz Sports classic peloton
The team at Proviz are experts in reflective cycling wear and now the brand has moved into making jerseys too. This polyester and Lycra number has an eye-catching dotty design with just a thin band of shiny silver beneath the three decent-sized pockets where it will catch the eyes of drivers. Our tester has got long arms so really appreciated the extra length in the sleeves. There’s no fleece lining so it’s best used as a layer beneath a jacket or as an outer layer on warmer days.
Vulpine alpine merino blend
This one feels so soft and comfortable thanks to the fabric being a blend of 80 per cent merino and 20 per cent polyester. It’s great for regulating your temperature – never too hot or too cold. The jersey has a real quality feel with nice touches such as a leather puller on the full-length YKK zip and a zipped pocket for valuables. The sleeves are longer than average and there are three decent rear pockets with reflective details on the outer ones. You’ll have to wash it on a wool setting or by hand, but we had no problems with shrinkage. You can buy it in navy, charcoal or red, but if you want something different, check out the green version we rode in.
Gore Wear C5 thermo
If you really want to stand out on the roads this neon yellow number could be the one for you. It’s form-fitting but not super tight, so you can wear a long-sleeved base layer underneath it in the colder weather. Living up to its thermo name, the lovely fleecy lining means this jersey will stay comfortable down to around 5C. The full-length zip has a wind-blocking flap behind it to ward off chills, and there are three main pockets at the back – the side two are a bit narrower than usual – plus a small zipped section. The slightly dropped, elasticated tail kept the cold off our tester’s lower back while riding and the soft “zip garage” stopped any irritation at the neck when it was done right up.
Santini adapt wool
We tested this top in some shocking autumn weather, both under a waterproof and as an outer layer when downpours were replaced by drizzle. It’s a great three-season design that will keep you warm thanks to its use of “Polartec’s Power Wool” fabric which combines merino with a synthetic layer to keep the cold at bay while letting moisture escape when things heat up. It feels great against the skin while keeping chills and light rain out without being too bulky. Nice features include a big zip puller that’s easier to grasp with gloves on, and there are broad elasticated cuffs on the sleeves as well as a thicker waistband to keep the warmth in and the cold out. All-black isn’t a great idea on darker winter roads so the designers added an orange band right around the chest to keep you safer. If you are new to Italian designs you might find the fit a bit smaller than you’re used to, so you may want to got one size up from your usual.
Rapha pro team thermal
If you like to ride hard and fast during the winter months to get a head start on your rivals when spring rolls around, this could be the top for you. It’s got a body-hugging, racy fit and there are nice features such as pockets that lay flat when empty to help you slip through the air. Although the fabric is fairly thin it’s got a nice brushed finish on the skin side to help you stay cosy. There are reflective details on the wrists and rear pocket in case you’re out training when the sun sets, plus a grippy waistband to prevent it riding up when you are pumping the pedals. In keeping with Rapha’s other products, it’s packed with quirky features such as loops for headphone cables, a hidden motivational message in the zipped security pocket, and a loop for a pocket mini-pump that’s emblazoned with the French word “merde” – every cyclist’s natural reaction to a winter puncture.
Assos mille GT spring fall
Although it’s meant for autumn and spring riding, the cut of the understated Mille GT is generous enough for you to wear it over a base layer, so it should see you through the cold winter days too, with or without a jacket over the top. Assos kit is always top-notch in terms of quality and this understated jersey is no exception – it’s beautifully stitched together and features a really good zip with a puller that’s big enough to operate easily with gloved hands. That patterned fabric under the arms doesn’t just look good, it plays an important role in wicking away moisture and dries quickly too, keeping you comfortable when riding hard.
Castelli perfetto ROS
If you’re wondering, the ROS in the name stands for rain or shine – a nod to this fine jersey’s ambitions to replace your cycling jacket. It uses two different forms of Gore-Tex infinium fabric to keep out the wind and repel water. There’s a broad protective strip across the outside of the main zip for added protection, while the shoulder seams have reflective tape to guard against the rain and keep you visible when light levels drop. At the back, you’ll find two large pockets – one with a sleeve for a mini-pump – plus a dropped tail to give you a little extra protection from the damp if you’re riding a bike without mudguards. There are also under-arm zips that you can open to get a bit of extra ventilation when riding hard. Be aware that it’s an Italian design so you may have to go a size up from your usual. It’s expensive but a great all-rounder that’s a lot more versatile than a standard cycling jersey.
The verdict: Men’s winter cycling jerseys
We instantly fell in love with the luxury feel of the Chapeau! jersey – it makes colder weather riding less of a chore and looks fabulous too. If your budget won’t run to a jersey and a jacket this season, have a look at the Castelli perfetto – tops like this are very popular in the professional peloton when the weather turns and for good reason. If you really want to stand out in the murk go for the attention-grabbing Gore Wear C5 thermo offering.
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