Choosing a Mountain Bike Jersey to Optimize Riding Comfort

Is a mountain bike jersey really necessary? Why can't you just ride in a t-shirt? Those were questions I asked when I started riding and they may be questions you are asking if you are new to mountain biking. This site will answer those questions and give you tips on selecting mountain bike jerseys.

Bike jerseys are made of materials that are designed to wick away sweat, which means that the sweat transfers to the outside of the clothing where it can evaporate. Not only does this help keep you cool on hot days, but it helps insulate and keep you warm on cold days because you stay dry.

If you mountain bike in a regular t-shirt, your sweat sticks to you and does not dry quickly, which is very uncomfortable. This also causes you to be hotter on hot days and colder on cold days.


Bike jerseys come in many different colors and styles. Some have bright colors and logos of sponsors or team names, while others are less flashy. While you want a style that fits your personality, try to choose based on comfort first.

Consider the Climate

When looking for a cycling jersey, make sure that it has good wicking properties. Think about what type of climate or weather you will be riding in and decide whether you want long-sleeved, short-sleeved, or sleeveless. Also consider the fabric weight. If you are going to be riding in warm weather, a lightweight material is best, but if you will be riding in colder conditions, choose a heavier material.

I was unsure when I bought my first cycling shirt and bought a short-sleeved jersey along with some arm warmers. That worked well for me because in the short sleeves I could stay cool, but could easily slip on the arm warmers if needed.

Fitting Options

There are many different options that can determine how well a jersey fits. Bike jerseys are made up of fabric panels, which are basically cloth pieces sewn together. Some have more panels than others and are tailored more to fit your body type. Some have stretchable fabric to stay close to your body and not be constricting.

Sometimes, cycling jerseys have elastic waistbands so they do not flap in the wind. Mountain bike jerseys are usually longer cut in the back than in the front so when you are bent over the handlebars, you are not mooning your buddies behind you.

There are differences between men's and women's bike jerseys. Women's jerseys are not just smaller versions of men's jerseys, but are designed to fit a woman's body. Women's jerseys are designed to taper in more at the waist area and are wider in the hips and breast areas. The torso area is also shorter in a women's jersey.

A cross-country mountain bike jersey is usually more form fitting than a downhill or freeride jersey and should fit snugly so it can wick moisture and does not flap around. It should be loose enough so you are not constricted in your movements on the bike and your body can breathe.

Downhill and freeride mountain bike jerseys are looser fit for greater movement on the bike and to fit body armor underneath. They usually have full length or 3/4 length sleeves to help protect the arms. Unlike cross-country jerseys, they usually do not have zippers in the neck area.

If you are shopping for a jersey online, it is a good idea to check the sizing chart that is available on the website since some brands tend to be tighter fitting and others are looser fitting.

Additional Features and Options


Cycling shirts often have a zipper in the front that starts at the neckline. This zipper can range in size from a few to several inches. The zipper is a nice feature because you can regulate your temperature. Some jerseys also have mesh panels for riding in hot weather.

Mountain bike jerseys often have two or three pockets in the back to hold small objects. The pockets usually have elastic or zippers so things don't fly out when going over bumps of if you take a spill.

Wool Mountain Bike Jerseys

The first cycling shirts were made of wool because of its natural wicking properties. Today, most cycling jerseys are made of man-made polyester or polyester blends; however, merino wool jerseys are making a comeback. The old school wool was itchy and stretched after continuous use, but these new wool jerseys are comfortable and soft. They are nonallergenic and have better wicking properties than the man-made materials.

The really nice thing about wool jerseys is that they don't get smelly when you ride, unlike the jerseys that are made of man-made materials, so they don't have to be washed after every use. If you are considering purchasing a wool jersey, check the care instructions. Most can be washed in the washing machine on the cold temperature setting and laid flat to air dry.

The disadvantage of a wool mountain bike jersey is that it is often much more expensive than a synthetic mountain bike jersey, but it will last longer since you don't have to wash it as often.

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