The cycling jersey seems to be one of the “forgotten” pieces of clothing. Okay not really but many cyclist invest in cycling shorts, gloves and shoes before the jersey. It surprises me when I see cyclists riding bikes with shorts, gloves, cycling shoes and a t-shirt flapping in the wind. The jersey is so much more than a shirt with pockets in the back.
A jersey is cut with the position of a cyclist in mind. A longer cut in the back keeps the jersey from sliding up your back keeping it covered. With a shorter cut in the front the jersey won’t bunch up around the waist. Of course the design takes into account movement around the arms and shoulders. All of this makes movement easier and reduces the likely hood that the wearer will have any areas of chaffing caused by the garment.
The pockets let’s not forget them. A well designed jersey takes into account how the pockets will sit and feel when fully loaded with all the stuff we like to carry. Now a days it is common to find a zippered and often waterproof fourth pocket. A key feature in securing or protecting important items such as keys phones etc. Many offer a cable exit hole so you can place your mp3 player there safely.
But there is a much more important role of the jersey often overlooked. Moisture Management and breathability. Managing your bodies’ moisture is critical to your overall performance and comfort.
Here is a great overview:
During hard physical activity body sweats and in conventional clothing like cotton, the moisture traps out. The sports and leisure wear exert a barrier for efficient transfer of excess heat resulting in a rise in core body temperature and skin temperature greater than 37°C which increases sweating. The moisture locks out between clothing and body and then it increases body temperature and perspiration even more. The excess heat moistens the fabric, which then reduces the body heat and makes the wearer become so tired. So the fabric worn next to the skin should have two important properties. The initial and the foremost property is to evaporate the perspiration from the skin surface and the second property is to transfer the moisture in the atmosphere and make the wearer feel comfortable.
From: Significance of Moisture Management for High Performance Textile Fabrics Dr. S. K. Chinta, Ms. Pooja D. Gujar D.K.T.E Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India – http://www.ijirset.com/upload/march/46_Significance%20of%20Moisture.pdf
You could go super deep into this area of sports science but basically the body uses moisture as one of its indicators of how hot or cold it is.
The jersey plays an important role in helping your body manage its temperature. Wearing a jersey close to the skin helps speed up the process of transferring the moisture from the skin to the jersey and off the body. Many Americans prefer to wear a jersey more loosely which hampers the jersey’s ability to do its job. Let’s face it many of us don’t have a physique that is conducive to wearing a snug jersey. There is a trick for that, a base layer. Wearing a base layer under the jersey and tight against the skin will allow the moisture to transfer from the skin to the base layer and from the base layer to the jersey and off the body.
Not to be overlooked are the performance advantages the jersey offers; more aerodynamic than a t-shirt flapping in the wind, it won’t get heaver because it is retaining moisture in the fabric. Not only is the jersey breathable allowing heat and moisture to escape but the zipper on the front helps you regulate temperature too.
Cycling jerseys come in different cuts such as a race cut, semi form fitting and a more generous club cut. It is normal for a jersey to run smaller than your regular clothing. After all it is designed to be worn closer to the body.
The fun designs and colors jerseys come in make them a great way to personalize your cycling style.
The next time you are reviewing your collection of cycling clothing don’t forget about the jersey.