Are you new to the sport of cycling or perhaps you’re in need of a new kit for the upcoming season, specifically a jersey or bib shorts or maybe both? Well, there are a few things to keep in mind while shopping for cycling apparel, which can be very expensive.
So, here are a few tips to help you along your buying journey so you make the right choices. As inspiration, here’s a fit guide video from Giordana, one of my favorite brands, about how to select the right jersey and bib shorts to keep you riding all season long.
Selecting a Good-Fitting Jersey
There are many types of cycling jerseys out there for riding. You can choose a straight pullover type jersey, a jersey with a half zipper, or a jersey with a full zipper. All good cycling jerseys are usually made with moisture-wicking properties and contain three rear pockets for storing riding essentials.
One important thing to remember is that cycling jerseys are form-fitting and will not hang loosely like a t-shirt. Usually, there are two kinds of fit that get mentioned when it comes to jerseys: athletic fit and club fit.
- Athletic Fit: This type of jersey is worn by the pros and for those who race. It fits very tightly across your body but still allows for free movement.
- Club Fit: This type of jersey is for the everyday cyclist. It is meant to be worn during training rides, etc. While still form-fitting, it fits looser and stretches more than an athletic-fit jersey.
What Goes into a Well-Made Cycling Jersey
A well-made cycling jersey should fit tight but not so tight to restrict movement. If the jersey is too large, it will flutter in the wind and not work well to move moisture (sweat) away from your body.
Here are some other good points to keep in mind when selecting a cycling jersey.
- Built-in antibacterial protection. These properties will help the jersey retain its shape after numerous washes.
- High-quality zippers and zipper guards that prevent fabric or skin snags.
- Hem and silicone zippers at the waist and around the sleeves.
- Improved ventilation
- UV protection
- Reflective strips
- High-quality stitching so seams are hidden.
Selecting a Good-Fitting Pair of Bib Shorts
I would say that choosing the right bib shorts is even more important than choosing the appropriate jersey. The reason for this is rather simple: comfort.
If your bib shorts aren’t good quality, your ride will be impacted. And notice I said bib shorts versus cycling shorts that tighten at the waist.
Cycling shorts, even if they seem to fit right, will shift during riding and maybe cause chafing. That’s in addition to the possibility of saddle sores, which may or may not keep you off the bike for an extended period of time. They are meant to be worn by a casual rider.
Bib shorts are for the cyclist who rides lots of miles every week. Bib shorts have shoulder straps to keep the pad (chamois) from shifting during riding and will, most likely, prevent chafing. Here are a few other parameters a pair of quality cycling bib shorts should meet based on an article from Cycling Weekly.
- Quality seat pad (chamois)
- Comfortable shoulder straps. If you can find a pair of bibs with wide straps, choose those because straps, if too thin, might slip or cut into your shoulders.
- Quality fabrics that support a comfortable fit.
- Silicone or elastic leg grippers that keep shorts from sliding.
Prices for Jerseys and Bib Shorts
While it is recommended to pick a good jersey and a quality pair of bib shorts for cycling, these items aren’t cheap. Expect to pay $100 and up for a jersey and anywhere from $150 and up for a quality pair of bib shorts.
Brands like Giordana, Castelli, Pactimo, Rapha and many more make high-quality gear. While Giordana is probably my favorite cycling apparel manufacturer, I rarely, if ever, pay full price for my kits, and I don’t buy from them exclusively. Make sure to shop their sales and check out online places like Competitive Cyclist for discounted apparel.
Cycling Apparel Company Alternatives
There are lots of small companies making cycling apparel. If you are on Facebook, you can join their pages and then jump out to their website. I’ve never tried these places so I can’t vouch for them or the quality of their garments. Their prices, on the other hand, seem more reasonable compared to the bigger names.
If you are new to cycling, this might be a good alternative to see what works for you without spending lots of money. This way you can discover what you like as far as apparel. If you are an experienced cyclist, then you already know what you like. But if you want to try something outside the traditional, give these companies a try.
Choosing good quality cycling apparel can be a challenge. If possible, I would suggest going to your local bike shop or somewhere like REI to try on some garments before buying online. However, if that isn’t an option for you, most cycling retailers offer a fit guide to help you select the right garment. Just keep the parameters I’ve mentioned above in mind to guide your shopping.