11 best men’s winter cycling jerseys for warmth and visibility on dark rides

·10 min read
We were on the hunt for fleecy thermal insulation, water resistance, high collars and reflective details  (iStock/The Independent)
We were on the hunt for fleecy thermal insulation, water resistance, high collars and reflective details (iStock/The Independent)

A new cycling jersey always freshens up your winter wardrobe – and if the thought of heading out in the cold fills you with dread, a nice, warm long-sleeve jersey might be all the motivation you need to get out and ride.

Look out for features such as fleecy thermal insulation, water resistance, high collars and reflective details. All of these can help keep out the cold and wet and keep you safe and seen in the darker months.

It’s also worth looking for roomier pockets, which are useful if you want to carry bulky items like a spare jacket or take your gloves off mid-ride.

Layering clothes underneath your jersey can also be a good idea, so it’s important to consider fit in a winter jersey.

On fast training rides, you won’t need to layer up as much so a more form-fitting jersey will suit you. On colder rides or commutes, you can wear a thicker base layer underneath to give you a bit more insulation. In this case it’s often worth looking for a more relaxed fit in a winter jersey to accommodate the extra bulk.

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How we tested

We tested our selection on chilly mornings, in heavy rain and even during the occasional sunny spell. We’ve tested their zips and pockets (even with gloves) to see how well they function on the road. We also ran them through the washing machine to see how well they stand up to wear over time.

The best men’s winter cycling jerseys for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Rapha core: £70, Rapha.cc

  • Best for serious training – Spatzwear heatr: £199.99, Spatzwear.com

  • Best for looks – Pactimo alpine thermal: £114, Pactimo.co.uk

  • Best for versatility – Invani reversible: £85, Invani.cc

  • Best for sustainability – Universal Colours mono: £140, Universalcolours.com

  • Best for slim riders – MAAP training thermal: £114.58, Maap.cc

  • Best for visibility – Freewheel pearl izumi attack: £59.99, Freewheel.co.uk

  • Best for racers – Kalas passion Z1: £129, Kalas.co.uk

  • Best for winter layering – Castelli fondo 2: £115, Wiggle.co.uk

  • Best for quality – Le Col pro aqua zero: £145, Lecol.cc

  • Best for commuters – Proviz podium: £79.99, Provizsports.com

Rapha core

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

With minimalist styling and that signature white stripe on the sleeve, this top looks the part. The relaxed fit means it’s easy to layer a warm base layer beneath for the harsh winter weather without feeling constricted. We loved the big gripper on the waistband as it helps to keep the top locked in place even when the three large pockets are loaded up. The fabric is extremely soft but breathable, so we didn’t find ourselves sweating excessively on climbs or on milder days. At £70, it’s also excellent value.

Buy now £70.00, Rapha.cc

Spatzwear heatr

Best: For serious training

Rating: 9/10

This jersey from Yorkshire was designed with year-round foul weather training in mind. There’s windproof fabric on the chest and shoulders, plus a dimpled stitched pattern on the sleeves and torso – offering extra insulation where you need the most protection from the flow of cold air. It’s expensive but we think it’s fairly priced considering how technically advanced it is. The collar is nice and high, so you might not even need to use a neck warmer in the depths of winter. Two slim pockets on the back will hold your phone and essentials and they’re decorated with a brilliant reflective chevron pattern which really stands out in headlights. This top is designed to be tight fitting and is aimed at people with more athletic physiques, so we’d suggest sizing up if you’re towards the top end of your usual fit.

Buy now £199.99, Spatzwear.com

Pactimo alpine thermal

Best: For looks

Rating: 8/10

This smart jersey is a great choice for autumn and winter training. Pactimo says this top will have you covered between four and 18C and we would agree. It’s perfect for dry, crisp days and the fit is generous enough that you can wear a base layer underneath. We really like the high collar and found we often didn’t even need to wear a neck warmer to keep draughts out. There are reflective stripes on the sleeves and pockets for extra visibility, while the three pockets offer plenty of storage even for long days on the bike. If you’re carrying a few extra pounds of winter weight you might want to go up one size from your usual for this one.

Buy now £114.00, Pactimo.co.uk

Invani reversible

Best: For versatility

Rating: 8/10

Here’s something really unique from a British brand – a reversible jersey for winter. Thanks to clever placement of three pockets on both sides of the top, discreet stitching and a YKK zip that works both ways, you can wear it as a red jersey then turn it inside-out and wear it as a burgundy one – two looks for the price of one. Despite being one of the lighter jerseys on test, it works really well when layered over a warm baselayer on cooler days. The top also comes with a handy essentials case which is great for carrying tubes and spares on rides.

Buy now £85.00, Invani.cc

Universal Colours mono

Best: For sustainability

Rating: 8/10

Perfect for those fast winter training rides or autumn commutes. The mid-weight fabric is ideal for chilly mornings, but when it gets really cold, you can wear it under a gilet or jacket with a base layer. For such a form-fitting jersey, the three pockets are generous, with more than enough space for a phone, snacks and tools. We like the reflective detailing on the sleeves and torso as they give you that extra visibility in murky conditions. We also like that the fabric and zip are made from recycled materials. It does come up on the small side so you might want to nudge up a size.

Buy now £140.00, Universalcolours.com

MAAP training thermal

Best: For slim riders

Rating: 8/10

You wouldn’t automatically think of an Australian brand for a winter jersey, but this one’s a cracker. The lightly-fleeced fabric provides just enough warmth for those cool morning training sessions, while those reflective transfers spelling the MAAP logo and an orange stripe on the back will help keep you seen in the dark. We love the close-fitting cuffs as they really help seal out cold air, while the slimline pockets provide enough room for your essentials – just make sure you don’t overstuff them and ruin the sleek profile. It comes in four colours so you’re bound to found one that suits you.

Buy now £114.58, Maap.cc

Freewheel pearl izumi attack

Best: For visibility

Rating: 7/10

Drivers should spot you nice and early with this neon number – aptly named “screaming yellow”. It’s very lightweight but there’s room to layer underneath depending on the weather, and that semi-relaxed fit makes it super-comfortable for commuting or leisure riding, while the three pockets have plenty of room for all your bits and bobs. It’s also a great buy if you’re worried about the environmental impact of your cycling wardrobe as it’s made from materials created using recycled water bottles.

Buy now £59.99, Freewheel.co.uk

Kalas passion Z1

Best: For racers

Rating: 8/10

Kalas might not be the first brand you think about in cycling kit, but they kit out global superstar Mathieu Van Der Poel’s team among other big names. This top’s definitely one of the more form-fitting ones on test, helping you to cut through the air on those fast winter training rides. However, it’s not the most insulating top in our test so you’ll definitely want to get your layering right on colder days. There are three practical pockets on the back along with reflective detailing on the sleeves and back. In the box you’ll also find a laundry bag to keep it safe in the washing machine, plus a waterproof wallet for your phone. Have a good look at the online sizing chart before you buy – we found a size three to be similar to a tight medium in other brands.

Buy now £129.00, Kalas.co.uk

Castelli fondo 2

Best: For winter layering

Rating: 8/10

Inject a little Italian style into your winter wardrobe with this one. The light polyester fleece feels fabulous against your skin and it will work well as both an outer layer on autumn and spring rides, or under a jacket when winter takes hold. As you would expect from the 145-year-old brand with its famous scorpion badge, the quality is top-notch – with an excellent zip, three decent pockets and a high collar to keep the chills off your neck. We love the understated look and it comes in a variety of colours including grey, green and the red that we tried out. The fit is flattering but not too tight, with longer arms and a slightly shorter body.

Buy now £115.00, Wiggle.co.uk

Le Col pro aqua zero

Best: For quality

Rating: 9/10

It won’t keep a downpour at bay but the hydrophobic coating on this gorgeous top will certainly defeat drizzle, and that fleecy lining will keep you toasty too. The pro aqua zero has been updated for the new season, with some jazzy colours including a sunny yellow and a classy racing green – all with a rear reflective stripe to help you stand out in the murk. Our favourite shade is the classy navy blue we tried out while testing. The cut is flattering without being constricting, and we like the fact there’s no flap from the sleeves as you cut through the wind. With gloves on, you’ll appreciate that huge zip puller – it’s so easy to grab and make adjustments while on the go.

Buy now £145.00, Lecol.cc

Proviz podium

Best: For commuters

Rating: 7/10

If you’ve got longer arms you’ll love this one – there’ll be no more chilly wrists thanks to the extra fabric in the sleeves. The rear tail is also a little longer than in many other winter tops, meaning it should help keep your backside a little warmer. Those red, orange and yellow bands give it a nice Spanish feel as well as helping you to stand out on the road. There are the usual three pockets at the back, plus a fabric flap behind the full-length zip to hold draughts at bay. Being polyester it’s a doddle to wash too. If you want a jersey you can wear during the week on the commute while saving your swankiest outfit for the weekend, it’s well worth a look.

Buy now £79.99, Provizsports.com

The verdict: Men’s winter cycling jerseys

You can’t go wrong with Rapha’s core jersey, whether tackling long rides in the cold at the weekend or just doing your daily commute. We’re making it our best buy due to it’s premium feel, brilliant performance, and amazing price. If you’re after a serious garment for serious training, you can’t go wrong with the Spatzwear heatr. It’s very expensive but the performance is incredible across a range of weather and temperature conditions. It’s perfectly versatile for riding in the UK and even after several cycles in the washing machine you can’t tell it’s been worn. Searching for something outside the usual brands? Take a look at the Pactimo – it’s really well made, fits superbly and looks the business.

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