With the hot summer months ahead of us, we’ve looked into a few quality shot sleeve cycling tops to consider when updating your riding kit. It’s not just about functionality; you need to look good out there too.
What to look for in a top?
Comfort is your main concern so, unless you have a top by the same manufacturer, always try the top on before you buy. Then do some stretches, mimic your riding position to make sure nothing crumples up in an annoying spot or rides up your lower back.
Sizing is the next big issue. Some of the Italian brands in particular seem to be sized smaller than the general leisure t-shirt sizes in South Africa. If you’re shopping online it’s worthwhile to check the returns policy or play it safe and go with a brand you already know fits.
UV protection is essential given our hot African sun and the time you’re going to spend in the saddle. Look for the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) standard rating. UPF 50 for example provides 50 times better sun protection than your unprotected skin.
Ventilation without compromising the UV protection is another concern to bear in mind. A high tread count cotton shirt will give you great sun protection but you’ll be sweating buckets, so go for something a bit more high-tech.
Safe storage pockets located on your lower back are more than just handy. If you’re not using a hydration pack you’ll need the pockets to keep essentials like snacks or a multi-tool. The pockets should be elasticated at the top to keep the contents from bouncing out at the very least and a separate zip sealed compartment, for expensive valuables like a credit card or phone, is a key feature too.
Newline Bike Vent Jersey
Features: Slim fit, stretch fabric, airflow mesh, full chest zip, anti-glide elastic back and four rear pockets, one with a zip closure system.
Constructed from a non-restrictive, elasticated, airflow mesh combined with Spandex for a slim fitting and highly breathable cycling shirt. In addition to the above listed features the Vent Jersey features reflective logo prints and flatlocked seams for added comfort. It’s designed for race orientated riders to be easy to care for and to be fast-drying. Available from www.evobikes.co.za for R 750.
Nalini Zincite Cycling Jersey
Features: Lightweight, innovative MantoDry material, hydrophilic, full chest zip and three rear pockets.
Constructed with smart MantoDry fabric to absorb moisture away from the skin and facilitate cooling, it’s been designed to be light weight and fit skin tight. The made in Italy label and fact that not too many other riders will be sporting a Nalini will appeal to the rider wanting to stand out, without the fashion fail of standing out by wearing something garish. Available from www.evobikes.co.za for R 595.
Assos SS Mille Jersey
Features: Full chest zip with zip protection, slim fit, clima regulation, rear ventilation system with Assos patented stabilizer panel, UV protection 50+, zippered safety pocket with iPod compatibility, back elastic hem and reflective visibility stripes.
The SS Mille Jersey is superbly designed, as you’d expect with the price tag. With larger riders taking part in endurance events in mind, this is the top for local riders in local conditions. The iPod compatibility is a really nice touch and shows the thought that went into designing the top. Available from www.cwcycles.co.za for R 1 700.
Zerorh+ Vario Jersey
Features: Pre-formed anatomic construction, ventilation “air through technology”, ¾ chest zip, 6 rear pockets (2 side mesh pockets and 1 with zipper), dual fit pocket locking system and grip fit non-allergic jersey bottom.
Constructed around the “air through technology” system, the Vario cycling top allows for great moisture wicking and cooling when riding under the hot African sun. It’s packed with pockets and features a non-allergenic grip fit strip to ensure the top doesn’t slide up. Available from www.cwcycles.co.za for R 670.
First Ascent Radar Jersey
Features: Moisture wicking Quik-Wic fabrics, reflective prints, extended back panel with silicone hem grip, full chest zip, three plunge pockets and a zip secured, water-resistant lined secure pocket with earphone cable routing.
Constructed with Quik-Wic Bamboo Charcoal material this First Ascent cycling top offers great value for money, featuring everything you need in a well-considered design. The secure pocket lined with a water-resistant shell isn’t going to keep your phone dry if you fall off a floating bridge, but it’ll keep the sweat and a bit of light drizzle off your valuable electronics. Available from www.firstascent.co.za for R 549.
Craft Performance Bike Tour Jersey
Features: Ergonomic construction, classic race design, functional fabric to enhance cooling and moisture transport, full chest zip, elastic fabric for perfect fit, bodymapped mesh inserts in hot spots with elastic hexa-channel fabric for active cooling and moisture transport, silicone bottom hem, four rear pockets one with zip and earphone cable routing.
The understated but immaculately constructed gear from the Swedish designers at Craft will keep you as comfortable as possible on the bike. The Performance range of clothing is their mid-range offering and the Performance jersey features all you could need in a cycling top. Plus you can get a fully customised kit from Craft (minimum order of 10 units) for your business or club. Check out www.thebicyclecompany.co.za for more info or drop into your local Trek dealer. RRP from R 700.