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Buyer's guide: Eight best long-sleeved cycling jerseys

Looking to refresh your winter cycling wardrobe? Here’s our pick of the best long-sleeved thermal jerseys

Cyclist magazine
4 Dec 2018

The British winter, much like the British summer, is a strange beast that often can’t make up its mind what it wants to be.

Unless you live in the far north of England, in Scotland or high up in the Welsh mountains, chances are you’ll only get a few really extreme days and most of the time it will be fairly mild.

This leaves you with a bit of a clothing dilemma. It’s too cold to wear just a regular jersey, even with a decent base layer, but a full winter jacket, on the other hand, will be far too warm.

Luckily, most makers of cycling clothing recognise this and so offer garments that are somewhere between the two – essentially regular jerseys but with long sleeves and made from fabrics that offer a bit of extra protection from the elements, such as thermal Roubaix Lycra to keep you warm, and occasionally with some degree of water-resistance, if not full waterproofing.

The best long-sleeved cycling jerseys

1. Sportful Spring BodyFit Pro 2.0 Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey 

Buy now from wiggle for £90

Offering something of everything, Sportful’s Bodyfit Pro ticks the boxes for insulation, rain and wind protection as well as breathability making it a great all-rounder for riding in all three seasons.

Available in seven sizes and four colour options plus a women’s cut, Sportful classify it as an ergonomic fit so it’s made to be racer-tight.

Three rear pockets, with no security option, can take plenty of ride essentials and thanks to the fabric on the body only stretching around you not vertically, you can bet it won’t sag when loaded for a day trip.

The arms, on the other hand, use ThermoDryTex so they stretch for that snug fit. Well made with lots of attention to detail, the BodyFit jersey gives plenty of warmth and comfort in cold conditions. Read our full review here

Buy now from wiggle for £90

2. Rapha Pro Team Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey

Buy now from Rapha for £150

Carrying the moniker of Pro Team indicates that Rapha means business with this long sleeve thermal jersey it’s designed for racing and training and comes in six sizes.

Cut in a ‘Race’ fit it’s designed to be snug and use the elasticity of the fabric to give that close fit which stops flapping fabric and reduces drag. A low pile, brushed fabric on the inside offers the thermal capability one needs from a three-season garment.

On the rear you’ll find three conventional open pockets as well as a fourth zipped one that’s tucked behind for storing your valuables, this one also holds an elasticated glass cleaning cloth.

Stylish and well-made as we’ve come to expect from Rapha, this jersey is ideal for late-season races or sportives. Not cheap, its close fit belies a level of protection which has more in common with most jackets than it does the average flimsy jersey. Reflective details for signalling are also a nice touch.

Buy now from Rapha for £150

3. Gore C5 Thermo Long Sleeve Jersey

Buy now from Leisure Lakes Bikes for £69.99

This Gore jersey might not use any of the brand’s famous water or windproof fabrics, however, through clever utilisation of different density materials it still does an excellent job of regulating your temperature.

Slim and, in our opinion, very attractively cut, its low-key appearance belies some clever design work. The use of a thermal fabric across the torso area is intended to keep your core warm. A lighter version of this is then employed on the lower part of the sleeves and side panels.

Allowing ventilation from the parts of your body least targeted by the wind, the result is versatile insulation in a close-cut garment.

The features included are also above average and include three rear pockets, black reflective transfers, an ergonomically shaped collar and a mesh insert to prevent the back pockets from sagging when laden with stuff.

Buy now from Leisure Lakes Bikes for £69.99

4. Le Col Aqua Zero Long Sleeve Jersey

Buy now from Le Col for £135

With a former pro rider as owner and product developer, you can bet that when Le Col says its jersey is form-fitting, it really means it – and the seven size range confirms this.

Designed for high aerobic loads, Aqua Zero is constructed from a fabric that has been given a hydrophobic treatment to keep out the rain, yet at the same time, it still allows your skin to breathe and let warm vapour to get out, while the inside has a small amount of brushing so can trap warm air within.

Three spacious pockets on the rear combine with the zipped waterproof pocket for valuables, and the material itself offers good stretch so it shouldn’t flap or bag to slow you down. One for racing physiques, the Aqua Zero scores highly for quality construction and excellent features.

Buy now from Le Col for £135

5. Chapeau Club Colour Block Long Sleeve Jersey

Buy now from Chapeau for £99.99

Chapeau’s take on the long sleeve jersey is at the more serious end of the scale. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy it, just that it’s that bit heavier in terms of its thermal rating.

Made of a deluxe-feeling thermal fabric, it’ll pair well with a base layer for cool days, or provide serious insulation if worn underneath a waterproof or windproof shell.

With a degree of windblocking ability inherent to its close-knit yet stretchy fabric, it’s exactly the sort of jersey you’ll find yourself reaching for throughout the UK’s three chiller seasons.

Three traditional pockets feature across the back, the central one has a zipped section and is lined with water-resistant fabric to keep your phone dry and doubles up to protect your back too. Available in four sizes either low-key dark blue or cheery red colours, its cut is on the slim-fitting side.

Buy now from Chapeau for £99.99

6. Lusso Stripes Long Sleeve Jersey

Buy now from Lusso Bikes for £55

Manchester-based Lusso has been producing hand-made British clothing since 1982 and is rightly proud of it. Another close-fitting garment, the fabric used in the Stripes jersey is relatively high stretch so combined with the five sizes available should accommodate most riders.

Suited to an intermediate temperature range, it features Roubaix fabric on the body for warmth and breathability, with a thinner perforated fabric on the arms, allowing it to be dressed up or down according to the temperature and weather.

A classic three rear pocket design also features a fourth, waterproofed pocket with a hole for a headphone wire. All considered, plenty of useful features make this British-made jersey ideal for autumn riding, plus it’s a bit of a bargain too.

Buy now from Lusso Bikes for £55

7. FWE Roubaix LTR Long Sleeve Jersey

Buy now from Evans Cycles for £45

Made from a mix of fleecy Roubaix material and polyester, this relaxed-fit jersey is best suited to rides above 7°C, although we found with the right layering strategy it worked well in temperatures down to around 4°C.

Although it offers little in the way of rain protection, the overlocked seams and the storm flap behind the full-length zip kept the worst of the wind out.

The four pockets at the back (including a zippered valuables’ one) kept our bits and bobs very much in. The silicone gripper around the hem also did a sterling job of keeping our kidneys from being exposed to the elements.

Black reflective trim is a nice touch on the sleeves, the rear and along the zip. Available in this fetching dark purple or a green colour, it runs in size from XS all the way up to XXXL.

All in, a solid jersey from Evans’ house brand that performs well in the dry, as long as temperatures stay above freezing. Not much more you could ask of a jersey costing half of what most other brands want.

Buy now from Evans Cycles for £45

8. Pactimo Alpine Thermal RT Jersey

Buy now from Pactimo for £112

Is it a jersey? Is it a jacket? Pactimo’s Alpine Thermal RT jersey is a hybrid of the two. Made from something called Ardénte Winter fabric, it’s almost like a softshell jacket but with a soft, fleece lining that proved both breathable and great at trapping warm air against the body.

It stood up well in temperatures of around 4°C and with a good base layer would doubtless perform well when the mercury drops even lower. The RT in the jersey’s name refers to Reflective Technology. We’ve seen it before on Pactimo garments and it still has the power to impress us.

The fabric is infused with what Pactimo describes as ‘refractive elements that explode with brightness when illuminated by direct light’. These feature on the arms, chest, across the yoke and on the hem and really do work well at night.

Other features include a full-length zip with storm flap and zip garage, a silicone gripper, four rear pockets including one zippered one, a super-stretchy neck to add a little comfort to its athletic fit and an ear-bud loop in the collar.

All in, a robust, comfortable jersey that copes very well with properly cold temperatures, and even manages some clever reflective bits for added safety.

Buy now from Pactimo for £112

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