Group test: Women’s non-jersey cycling T-shirts

Three non-jersey cycling T-shirts were reviewed; left to right: Findra, Howies and Rapha
Not everyone likes cycling in a jersey, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose out on the technical benefits. Cycling UK’s Caroline Grogan put three tops through their paces

The chance to review three cycling T-shirts which can be worn just as easily when not on the bike definitely appealed to me, as I don’t always wear cycling jerseys, nor am I always fully kitted out when on my bike.

Why choose a top like this in the first place? The main benefit is versatility – you can wear them when doing various activities off the bike, while retaining the technical qualities of a cycling jersey. These T-shirts help to change the perception of what people who cycle look like and show how multi-purpose cycling clothing can be.

Rapha Women’s Explore Technical T-shirt, M, £65

This is the most technical top of the three I tested. It uses light micro-mesh fabric, knitted in a gradient structure, to wick away sweat. The loose, women’s specific fit also helps to keep sweat away from your body and has a more relaxed feel than other cycling tops.

The T-shirt is made from 100% polyester, offering a balance in terms of natural and non-natural fibres in these reviews.

The Rapha Women’s Explore Technical T-shirt looks the most stylish of the three for commuting on a bike; due to this I would be comfortable also wearing it in a social setting. The shirt also wicks away sweat very well due to its technical features and dries well and has a handy neck hanging loop, if your drying facilities are limited.

Verdict: the Rapha Women’s Explore Technical T-shirt was the best at wicking away sweat due to its micro-mesh and gradient knit structure. It was my favourite in terms of looks, wicking away sweat and how quickly it dries

Howies Active Merino Sorona Zip Top, M, £35

The athletic fit was nice to wear, as the M was equivalent to a size 12, which is a size bigger than I would normally wear and I prefer a looser fit. I also liked the zip option, which allows more breathability.

The T-shirt is made with an interesting mixture of 72% sorona, a plant glucose starch, and 24% Merino wool. So, it’s mostly made from sustainable fibres, which is a consideration to bear in mind if you cycle to help reduce your carbon footprint or just enjoy the extra benefit of reducing carbon emissions.

There’s a fair bit of give in this T-shirt, so it feels nice and stretchy. I also like the small, reflective strip on the back, adding increased visibility in addition to your lights when cycling in the evening.

I’m not sure about its antibacterial claim, as it still smelt sweaty after cycling, even though it seemed to wick away the sweat quite well. I don’t think I’d wear the Howies Active Merino Sorona Zip Top in a social setting due to the fit and zip, which make it feel more like a sports top.

Verdict: the Howies Active Merino Sorona Zip Top athletic fit was the nicest, with the added zip feature to increase comfort. The fact that the majority of materials used to produce this top are plant based, also means it wins points with me

Findra Orla Print Tee, M, £55

The first thing that stood out for me with this top was just how soft it is, as it’s made from a specially fine form of Merino wool from Australia.

Merino wool is renowned for its exceptional qualities such as softness and breathability, while its microscopically fine diameter means it’s more versatile than common wool types.

Originating in Spain, most Merino wool is now produced in Australia and to illustrate just how precious and valuable a commodity the wool is, up until 1986 Australians banned all exports.

When I’d finished cycling, the Merino wool did feel warm, and this is the unique selling point of this T-shirt as the temperature regulating feature is good. Although I feel like the top did a good job of wicking away sweat, I’m not convinced by how quickly it dried. The Orla Print Tee is nicely fitted and would perform well as a hybrid casual or sports T-shirt.

Verdict: the Findra Orla Print Tee is definitely the softest and warmest of the three and a top which looks like it would be most at home worn while cycling or doing other activities

All prices correct at time of publishing.

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At Cycling UK and Cycle magazine, we are proudly independent. There’s no pressure to please advertisers as we’re funded by our members. Our product reviews aren’t press releases; they’re written by experienced cyclists after thorough testing.