As with mountain bike shorts — and you should check out our 2021 Men’s MTB Short Roundup if you haven’t already — there are a ton of options out there for jerseys, in a huge range of styles and materials. We’ve been testing 11 options across the spectrum, and below you can check out our thoughts on how they stack up. There’s something for everyone in here, from basic T-shirt style options to classy-looking collared shirts, and short-, ¾-, and long-sleeve jerseys.
David Golay: We included the Shaw Shirt in our last roundup too, but I’ve now been spending time in it as well and, like Jonathan, am a big fan.
Though it’s long-sleeved, the Shaw is definitely a piece for relatively warm weather — the long sleeves maybe make it a touch warmer than an otherwise identical short sleeve jersey would be, but the material used for the Shaw is quite light and breathable. On the other hand, on rides where I know I’ll be in direct sunlight much of the time, the added sun protection of the long sleeves can definitely help keep things more comfortable. I’ve worn the Shaw in temperatures ranging from about 50° to 95°F (10° to 35°C) and it’s been perfectly serviceable throughout that range.
The fabric of the Shaw features a subtle grid knit that is quite soft against the skin and has held up well so far, including through a handful of crashes. While I’m often a big fan of wool bike jerseys, largely for their odor-resistant properties, the all-synthetic Shaw has done a decent job of avoiding undue stank
I also agree with Jonathan’s assessment of the fit of the Shaw — it’s definitely on the looser fitting side, especially through the body. The arms are a bit more trim, but by no means super slim fitting either. The only other thing I’d note is that the body of the Shaw is, if anything, a touch on the shorter side of average for a bike jersey, many of which have a significantly dropped rear hem for lower-back coverage when hunched over on the bike. The Medium has enough coverage for me at 6’ / 183 cm tall, but there’s a bit less overlap than with most of the other options here.
David: The Garrett Shirt is a bit like a short sleeve version of Flylow’s Shaw Shirt (above), though it uses slightly different fabric and features a longer body. The fabric in the Garrett is a bit less textured and not quite as soft as that in the Shaw, but breathes very well and is still plenty comfortable against the skin. As with the Shaw, the Garrett is on the roomier side through the body, but the Medium doesn’t feel unduly baggy on me at 6’, 165 lb / 183 cm, 74.8 kg — it’s just not a slim fit.
The Garrett gets the same goggle wipe as the Shaw, as well as a Polygiene treatment for odor resistance. It’s a nice, lightweight, very breathable option with a relatively roomy fit and good durability. It’s one of the cooler, better ventilated options here, and a strong choice for very warm weather in particular.
David: 7mesh says this about their Desperado jersey: “blending the durability of polyester with the breathability, moisture wicking and anti-smell properties of merino wool, the Desperado excels over multi-day adventures where keeping your kit fresh isn’t always easy.” I’ve worn the Desperado for several days in a row without washing (definitely for testing purposes and not out of laziness) and, like many wool garments, it does hold up to prolonged use without feeling or smelling too gross. It’s also notably light and cool for a wool garment, but durability has been very solid as well, likely due in part to the substantial polyester content of the fabric.
The fit of the Desperado is a bit on the slimmer side, with the Medium making for a nice, relatively trim fit on me at 6’, 165 lb / 183 cm, 74.8 kg. The shoulders and sleeves are a little looser, to avoid limiting range of motion, but the body of the Desperado is relatively slim, especially through the waist. The body is also notably long, for good coverage when hunched over on the bike. And while the Desperado is essentially a short sleeve shirt, the sleeves are slightly on the longer side as well, falling to near the middle of my elbow (6’ / 183 cm tall, +2’’ ape index, wearing a size Medium).
The Desperado Henley is a great option for fans of wool blend jerseys looking for a relatively trim fitting jersey for warmer weather use, with relatively understated looks. And if you like the sound of that but would prefer to forgo the henley collar, check out the Kitsbow Mullinax Tee below.
David: Kitsbow’s Mullinax Merino Tee is a 75% merino wool, 25% polyester blend tee that’s made in the USA — a relatively rare move in the world of bike apparel (and especially noteworthy, given that Kitsbow’s prices aren’t wildly high). Kitsbow also makes each Mullinax Tee to order, in an effort to only make what’s needed and reduce waste. It’s a very cool concept, and while it might delay the instant-gratification factor of ordering an in-stock shirt off the shelf, Kitsbow says they generally ship shirts the day they’re made, and lead times tend to be fairly short. Check their website for the latest on that.
The fit of the Mullinax is similar to the 7mesh Desperado (above), but with slightly shorter sleeves and somewhat roomier body. I’d call it a fairly average medium fit, but with a notably long body for good coverage on the bike. Compared to the Desperado, the fabric of the Mullinax is a touch heavier and warmer, but not by a huge margin. It’s quite soft and comfortable against the skin, but just slightly thicker and heavier than some of the other options here. I’ve still happily worn the Mullinax in temperatures up to around 85° F / 29° C, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for the very hottest days. Kitsbow seems to agree, as their site recommends the Superflow Cooling Tee when things get really hot.
For everything short of ultra-hot temperatures though, the Mullinax is a comfortable, durable, and low-key looking shirt that’s at home on or off the bike.
David: Race Face’s Stage jersey is a ¾ sleeve option with an especially soft polyester fabric used throughout. The fit is a little bit on the slim side of average, especially through the arms, though the fabric has a bit of stretch to it and doesn’t feel like the tighter fit restricts movement at all. Breathability is about average for a typical synthetic jersey material — plenty to be comfortable in relatively warm weather, but a notch below the very most breathable options here.
My biggest gripe with the Stage is that the printed on graphics on the right sleeve actually make that portion of the jersey appreciably stiffer and heavier — it’s a relatively subtle difference compared to the un-printed left side, but it’s there, and I’d like the jersey better without it. Overall though, the Stage is a solid option for fans of ¾ sleeve jerseys and it has an especially soft fabric and a trim fit.
David: Club Ride’s New West Shirt is pretty different from your typical bike jersey, in that it’s actually a button-up collared shirt. Don’t let the appearance fool you though — it’s actually a much higher-performance piece than it looks at a glance.
The material is very thin and light at 100 g per square meter, and it’s an exceptionally breathable garment, supplemented by some cleverly hidden mesh vents under the armpits. It’s impressively comfortable in very hot weather, and I’ve also taken to wearing it casually when the temperatures really climb. The only slight limitation is that the very thin fabric of the New West doesn’t wick moisture as well as some thicker, heavier fabrics. It can get a little clammy if you’re really drenched in sweat, but short of that it’s extremely comfortable.
The fit of the New West Shirt is about average — not super slim by any stretch, but far from super baggy, either. The back hem is dropped a bit for coverage on the bike, but subtly enough that the New West looks in place being worn around town. It’s also worth noting that Club Ride says that some colors of the New West run about ½ size larger than others. The version I’ve been testing is one of the “standard” fit ones, and I’d say the Medium I have does run true to size.
The styling of the New West might be a bit love-or-hate for on-bike use but it’s an outstandingly comfortable shirt, especially in hot weather, and looks pretty sharp for a bike jersey that might see double duty for casual wear too.
David: Club Ride’s Helios Sun Shirt is a super light, super packable long sleeve hoodie that’s meant to offer some shelter from the sun while being as cool and ventilated as possible, and it mostly delivers. The fit of the Helios is somewhat roomy, especially through the body, and it features a quarter zip closure that can be opened for a bit of extra ventilation. The sleeves also have a snap closure at the wrist to make them easier to roll up. There are also two small, zippered hand pockets, though between the loose fit and very light fabric of the Helios, they’re not ideal for holding anything large or heavy.
The hood on the Helios isn’t sized to go over a helmet but I think that’s a reasonable call — a helmet would largely remove the need for sun coverage on the head (my recent foibles notwithstanding) and the non-adjustable hood on the Helios would be floppy and annoying without a helmet if it were sized for one.
The fabric of the Helios is ultra light and airy, and while I admittedly haven’t subjected it to too much crashing yet, it’s holding up just fine so far. Given its weight and just how thin the fabric is, I wouldn’t expect this to be some ultra-bomber piece, but if it were, it would be far worse at its primary job of being cool and light.
The Helos Sun Shirt is a really nice option for people spending a lot of time in very hot, very exposed areas, and the roomy fit helps it trap a bit of cooler air around the body. It’s about as comfortable as you can hope for when the temperature is high and the sun is beating down, and well worth a look if that’s a frequent use case for you.
Luke Koppa: As I noted in our mountain bike short roundup, Pit Viper surprised a lot of people this year when they launched their first line of technical mountain bike apparel, dubbed High Speed Off Road (HSOR). And while some scoffed at this notion, I’ve become a big fan of some of the pieces.
The HSOR short sleeve jersey immediately stands out due to its unique print pattern, and I’d be lying if I said that isn’t part of what makes me reach for it more often than some other, more traditional-looking jerseys in my closet. However, the main reason I’ve been using the HSOR short sleeve jersey this summer is its combo of a roomy fit + a very light, very breathable fabric. This has become my go-to jersey for when things get really hot. The grid fabric is also really soft on skin and not sticky, and combined with how breathable it is, it makes for a really comfortable overall package when things get steamy.
As I just touched on, the HSOR short sleeve jersey has a pretty relaxed fit with a dropped rear hem for good on-bike coverage. The only quirky thing with this jersey is that it has a notably more open and low-cut neckline. It doesn’t really affect performance or anything, it just might be somewhat polarizing for people who have specific aesthetic preferences.
All in all though, I’m a huge fan of this jersey. It’s well made, looks sweet in my opinion, and it’s probably the most comfortable jersey I have for when things get hot.
Luke: This jersey is just the long sleeve version of the short sleeve one — same fabric, very similar fit, etc.
Given that they both share the light, airy fabric, the HSOR long sleeve jersey wouldn’t be my top pick for really chilly rides, but it’s great if you’re looking for added sun protection. The only real difference between the two Pit Viper jerseys here is that, while they both share a roomy fit through the torso and that low neckline, the long sleeve’s sleeves are on the slimmer side. I’ve got no issues with that, but if you happen to run elbow pads, it might feel a bit restrictive.
Luke: Foehn’s Keats Merino T is a pretty standard, merino / nylon T-shirt. The fabric is a very versatile weight — plenty breathable for the hottest days we get here in Crested Butte, but not so paper-thin that I think it’ll tear the moment I hit the dirt. Like most merino products I’ve used, one of the main selling points with the Keats is that I can wear it for several rides in a row without it smelling.
As far as fit goes, the Keats is on the slimmer side of things. It’s a whole lot slimmer than the Pit Viper HSOR jerseys, and about in line with the Fox Ranger Henley below. While I love that fit for casual use, I think if I were to get one purely for biking (where I typically prefer a more relaxed fit), I’d probably size up.
Overall though, the Keats is a very versatile piece that works great on the bike, but thanks to its minimalist styling and fabric, is something I’ll be wearing for just about everything.
Luke: Fox’s Ranger drirelease Henley combines a soft, airy fabric with a more casual-looking henley silhouette. The fabric on the Ranger Henley is a bit thicker than the three pieces above, though it’s still pretty breathable — especially the mesh portion used on the back of the jersey. I’d still pick the Pit Viper HSOR short sleeve for the hottest rides, but the Ranger Henley is great for most days.
The fit on this henley is pretty slim — the size Medium (my normal size) fits pretty similarly to the Foehn Keats Merino T, with both pieces fitting pretty snugly through the arms and chest. The ability to pop a few buttons for extra airflow is nice, and it also makes this piece look a bit less “bike-jersey-y” than many alternatives.
In sum: the Ranger drirelease Henley breathes and moves comfortably on most rides that don’t extend into the “holy crap” end of the heat spectrum, and it looks pretty nice while doing it.