Review: women’s short-sleeved jerseys

Women's short-sleeved cycling tops: Endura, Torm and Rapha (L to R)
Finding the balance between quality and cost when choosing women’s cycling jerseys can be tricky. Here are three favourites from Cycling UK’s project manager cycling development Hannah Chivers

Over summer and the early autumn I have been trying out three women’s short-sleeved cycle jerseys. When choosing a jersey I want something which is comfortable, fits well, has space in the pockets for essentials and can stand up to plenty of washing.

I put these tops through their paces in a mixture of settings which included a commute to Guildford from Haselmere (around 18 miles), a social club run and a short weekend tour.

I am 5ft 3 and a size 12 which meant all the jerseys I tested were the manufacturers’ recommended medium size. I also tried them all in red, as everyone knows it’s the fastest colour!

Rapha Women’s Core Jersey

£60. Available from ​Rapha.

This top is part of Rapha’s essentials range which offers simple designs at a more affordable price point.

For me the fit was perfect – it was long enough to cover my back fully, tight enough to feel stylish but loose enough to have a post-ride cake. For those after a tighter race fit I would recommend going down a size as I found it to be slightly baggy around the shoulders.

One feature which I liked was the flat hem around the bottom, as it was fitted with a particularly grippy edging. This meant that it held really well against my shorts even when moving out of the saddle, even after several washes.

The top has four pockets, including a very handy zipped pocket for keys and cards, which together provided plenty of space for a pump, cereal bar and inner tube. For anyone on an overnight trip the polyester material, although exceptionally soft and cool in the heat, did need a 'freshen up' after a busy day, but it washed well and dried very quickly.

This is the first piece of Rapha clothing I have tried and I approached it with a couple of pre-conceptions. These, however, were quickly dismissed when I tried this jersey which kept me comfortable in a wide range of conditions and felt beautifully soft against my skin.

Torm TL7 Jersey

£65. Available from Torm.

The first thing I found striking about the Torm jersey was the deep red colour. Women’s cycling gear is often only available in ‘girlier’ shades, but the design of this top, with its simple black on detailing on the sleeves, felt stylish and timeless. The fit was the most relaxed of the three, meaning that although not baggy, I felt as comfortable stopping for a pub lunch as I would on a ride.

The jersey is a blend of merino and polyester called Sportswool, making it slightly thicker and heavier compared to the polyester versions. On first inspection I was worried I would get too hot in the Surrey sunshine; in practice, though, I found it held up to differences in temperature very well as it was breathable in the warmer weather and insulating on a cooler evening ride.

The thicker fabric also meant that I was confident that it would hold up to a trek through the woods or a tumble.

Out of the three, this jersey took the longest to dry, although in a warm room you could do it overnight. However, the fabric meant that it didn’t really need a wash, as the smell wasn’t too bad even after two days of touring.

Another feature which made the product great for longer trips was the design and sizing of pockets. It had two smaller zipped and three generous pockets, which I thoroughly tested by fitting a round of sandwiches, pump, inner tube, waterproof jacket, phone, keys and some money (in the secure pocket) – almost with enough space leftover for a cuddly toy!

The smaller pockets had a re-enforced shower-proof lining, perfect for protecting any electronic items.

Endura FS260 Pro II Jersey

£59.99. Available from Endura.

This jersey is part of Endura’s Sportive range designed for performance cyclists at any stage of their journey.

It had an anatomical cut and it fitted very close, but still it felt very soft and not at all restrictive. The sleeves were longer than other tops I tried, but the large flat seam meant they weren’t flappy over the narrower part of the arm and ensured, back in sunnier times, my upper arms didn’t get sun burnt. The gripper on the hem held the jersey close to my shorts and the pockets were generous.

The jersey has an eye-catching and well-thought-out design. A ‘pillar box red’ central panel is complemented by a bright silver zip and two contrasting white panels which run down the sides and under the arms. The white side panels are made from a highly breathable fabric which helped me stay cool in the summer heat, and I felt were quite flattering.

A thoughtful feature is the subtle reflective detailing found on the sleeves and collar. Combined with the bright colour, it helped me think I was a bit more visible when zipping through shadier lanes. With a sporty fit, shrinking was a bit of a concern, but after several washes the shape has stayed perfectly, although the white panels do mean you have to be careful what you wash it with!

Overall a cool summer jersey clearly aimed at those who prefer a racier fit, but still with those thoughtful design features which will suit any cyclist.

If you’re looking for cycling shorts to go with your tops, check out our accompanying article which looks at a range of the season’s cycling shorts too.

All information correct at time of publishing.

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