Choosing a Cycling Jersey

Choosing a Cycling Jersey

Guest Post by Michael

Is anything more humiliating than wrapping yourself in a cycling jersey? I’m going to attempt to explain why you should purchase and wear a skin tight cycling jersey. This will not be easy. First off, many of these are incredibly ugly.
What a sharp look. Just a hair off being skin-colored with a big foot on the chest.

Wow. Some brightly colored jerseys have a reason though. The rainbow jersey is worn by the current world champion.  Current world champion, Thor Hushovdt:

Typically they will wear a variant of their team’s jersey with the rainbow in the middle of it for the duration of the season.

During most multi-day races, there are a variety of competitions for crossing certain markers where points are awarded for reaching them if you’re one of the first few people there. Whoever amasses the most points in each category wears a uniquely colored jersey.Here are the 4 class winners of the 2010 Tour de France:

Left to right — King of the Mountains (red and white polka dot), Best Young Rider (white),  General Classification Winner (yellow), and the Sprint Jersey (green). The General Classification jersey is worn by the guy who is winning the race based on time. Because of this, yellow jerseys are incredibly popular. I think they’re ugly, but you’re entitled to your own (wrong) opinion.

So Why Get A Jersey?

I’ve done a pretty good job describing why you shouldn’t be caught dead wearing one of these things haven’t I? U-G-L-Y. Beyond that, most of us don’t look like human greyhounds with 5% body fat so we look and feel like we’ve been stuffed into a jersey that’s at least a size too small. But as always, there’s a point to the design of these things.

They’re tight for 2 reasons. The first is so they don’t whip around in the wind acting like a parachute which would slow you down and chafe you. The second is so they wick moisture away from your body thus keeping you cool (or warm in cold weather). In addition to wicking, the fabric is often designed to cut down on the amount of wind that moves through the jersey which again makes it better for regulating body temperature.

The other great thing about cycling jerseys is that they have pockets along the bottom of the jersey on the back. You can use these pockets to hold keys, food, and any other necessities that you may need. Wearing the jersey is better than wearing a backpack. Trust me.

Not all cycling jerseys are ugly and they can be a great way to describe your personality. Lisa thinks that this one describes me well:

I do have to admit that it looks pretty sharp. Beer related jerseys are incredible popular, especially here in the Northwest. This is a screenshot of a Google image search for “beer cycling jersey”. As you can see, there are many options.


If you’re looking for something a little more subtle, I suggest checking out the Twin 6 brand of alternative cycling apparel.

Other common themes are colleges, sports franchises, musicians and bands, and pro-cycling team brands (of course). They make simple classy looking jerseys as well though. The LiveStrong brand is one example.

That thing just looks fast, doesn’t it? It also doesn’t hurt that your dollars will go to LiveStrong programs and services for cancer survivors.  I tend to prefer Castelli’s simple plain stylish looking jerseys.

If you persist on not wearing one of the snug jerseys, there’s still one more option available for you.  Companies like Swobo and  Rapha both make casual themed cycling gear that often looks like street wear. It’s usually made out of merino wool, which is a natural fiber that wicks moisture.

Whatever you choose though, make sure it fits your personality. And seriously, don’t worry about how you look in the jersey. All riders have the same thoughts that you do.

Lisa’s Note: I hate the look of spandex. No matter how much weight I lose, or how great I feel about my body, putting on skin-tight cycling clothes never fails to bum me out. But I’ve learned the hard way that there is a good reason for having them! They are much more comfortable on the bike than “normal” clothes would be. Plus the wicking technology is crucial!

QUESTION: What do you currently wear when cycling?


Why You Shouldn’t Buy Cycling Shorts

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Cycling Shorts

Guest Post by Michael

Cycling shorts are the worst things ever. Everyone wears them though, right? I see people around town wearing these things everyday so how could the be bad? I mean, they’re supposed to be good…To clarify, I’m talking about cycling shorts, like these.


Cycling shorts exist to increase your performance. They allow you to ride longer distances than you’d be able to do if you wore regular shorts. They have moisture wicking padding (called a chamois) that lines up between your body and your saddle. The tight legs are designed to provide compression to your quad muscles that are supposed to provide increased circulation and blood flow. There should be some type of material that prevents the legs from riding up. These commonly feel a little bit like rubber or dried rubber cement. These shouldn’t irritate the hair on your legs or your skin but should hold them in place. But remember, cycling shorts suck.

These things suck because the waist is terribly uncomfortable. All brands are like this. There is no great brand that doesn’t do this — they’re always too tight. I could just lose a few more pounds but really, this won’t resolve the issue. Besides, there are cycling shorts that don’t suck. They’re called bib shorts and all of the pros wear them. When in doubt, look to the pros. They ride 100 miles a day so they’re going to be smart about the gear they wear.

Bib shorts are far more comfortable because they don’t have a waist band. Now, you’ll feel ridiculous when you put these on because you’ll think that everyone that sees you will laugh at you for wearing shorts with built in suspenders. Once you put on a jersey though, no one can even tell whether you’re wearing shorts or bib shorts but you’ll know because you’ll be far more comfortable than those who are wearing cycling shorts.

All brands of bib shorts are not created equally. Personally, I like Craft clothing. Craft makes triathlete clothing as well which may appeal to some readers.

There’s really only two things to look for when you buy bib shorts — the height of the waist of the shorts and the chamois quality.

Waists — Some people will prefer the lower waist and some will prefer the higher waist.

High Waist Bibs


Low Waist Bibs

The higher waist can help keep your stomach flatter and out of the way while you pedal though some people will hate the sensation of wearing a high-waisted pair of shorts. I prefer the low waist variety and could stand to use a few lbs around the midsection. The moral of the story is that you’ll really want to try these on before you buy them or if you’re shopping online, buy one of each with the intention of returning the pair you like less.

Women’s bib shorts can look quite a bit different than men’s equivalent. I cannot give you any advice on these. I can’t even figure out how you’d get some of these on your body let alone pretend to know which is the most comfortable style. I imagine it will vary by body type.

Women's Bibs

Women's Bib


If you’re buying an Italian brand like Castelli, remember to order at least one size up. I’m 5’11” and wear an XXL and that has nothing to do with my weight. I normally wear a size L t-shirt. The American brands tend to be more size-true but they are commonly inferior in quality.

Chamois quality is very important if you want to be comfortable out there. Many people don’t know this but you are not supposed to wear underwear with cycling shorts because the chamois needs to touch your skin in order to wick moisture properly. Now that you know this, you’re probably thinking that it’s worth the money to spend an extra $30 to get the good chamois.

You want your chamois to have a smooth surface to it with a series of indentations that allow the chamois to bend to your body’s shape and not bunch up. Run your fingers over it. If there’s any variance in texture, it feels like a packing foam or a slightly dried sponge, move on. They should not have any seams on them beyond what is around the edges to attach them to the shorts. If you stick with Craft and Castelli, you’ll do fine.

Here is a brief look at the different types of chamois Craft makes. These all appear to be good quality though I’ve not seen all of these in person. Note that the tri chamois is smaller and thinner. This is so it dries faster and is easier to run in than traditionally shaped chamois are.

One last note on shorts in general: Don’t buy shorts that are white in the crotch. I’ve heard stories that these can be see-through. Unless you’re in to that sort of thing…

How do I know this stuff? Well, I first bought a pair of Pearl Izumi shorts thinking they would be good. They weren’t. They sucked. Then my friend said I should get a pair of Castlli’s. The chamois was better but they still sucked. That same friend suggested I get some bib shorts. I didn’t really want to spend that much money for shorts but I begrudgingly agreed to after he insisted they were better. He was right. He was sooooo right. In fact, this is all I’ll wear anymore. Don’t make my mistakes. Buy bib shorts from the get-go and you’ll be much happier much sooner than I was.

QUESTION: Do you ride your bike with or without bike shorts?