Pulling on a new jersey is one of the small joys of cycling and it’s virtually guaranteed to put a bit of extra whizz in your wheels.

The tops on the market nowadays are packed with technical features and little details to keep you comfortable. And the latest production techniques mean designers can use a palette of colours they could only dream of a few years ago.

We’ve put short-sleeved jerseys from a host of big names and smaller brands through their paces, judging them on fit, look and practicality (how easy it is to open and close zips, the size and shape of pockets, and so on). Our choices use a range of super-stretchy, breathable materials, incorporating elastane and high-tech polyesters to cut wind resistance and improve fit.

Some are meant for hot weather, while others will see you through into the autumn if you add some arm warmers. Most of our picks have the three pockets long favoured by road riders (enough space for a spare inner tube, phone, maybe a mini-pump or a banana), but others have features such as zippered security sections. 

There are tight-fitting race tops to help you cut through the air and others that offer the more relaxed club fit that’s a bit more forgiving if you are carrying a few extra pounds. So whether you're in it for the long distance or prefer a Sunday saunter to your local café, you’ll find something here.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Le Col hors categorie hex: £150, Le Col

Hors catégorie are the toughest climbs in the Tour de France – the very best if you’re a fan of the mountains – and this gorgeous jersey is at the pinnacle of British brand Le Col's range. It has features to match the premium price tag. You get thicker than usual polyamide/elastane fabric to see you through from spring to autumn, embroidered badges that won’t crack and peel like iron-on versions, plus a quality full-length zip. The longer arms with their hexagon detailing have laser-cut, grippy panels that mould to your biceps, and there are four pockets at the back including one with a zip. We loved the soft feel of the Italian-made fabric, especially at the neck with its zip garage.

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Rapha EF pro team aero: £145, Rapha

The coolest team in the peloton have the best-looking jersey to boot, and it’s packed with go-faster features. Run your hand up the back and you’ll notice it’s slightly grabby; run it the other way and it’s smooth as silk. It’s a neat trick which Rapha say helps with the figure-hugging fit while minimising drag. The arms come virtually to your elbows with a “golf ball” fabric at the back of them and across the shoulders, again to reduce aerodynamic drag. Two bonded tapes stop the back panel sagging when the pockets are loaded with food, energy bars or rainwear. If you’re tempted by this stunning pink and blue number just be aware it’s actual pro-issue kit, so unless you’re blessed with EF rider Hugh Carthy’s super-skinny physique it might be a good idea to sneak up a size. (We won’t tell anyone.)

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Lusso fade: £65, Lusso

We love the way this bargain buy shifts subtly from green to dark navy. Look closely at the TX2 fabric and you’ll spot the thousands of tiny holes that make it extra breathable, helping you to keep comfortable on long summer rides. It’s a race-fit, although not as super-skinny as some in our selection, so it won’t flap in the wind while you’re pushing hard in the saddle. We liked the higher neck with its zip garage to prevent rubbing, and the elastic cuffs on the sleeves do a fine job of keeping them in place without being uncomfortable. It’s all stitched together beautifully by Lusso’s team in Manchester and really punches above its price. Anyone who doesn’t like green should take a look at the other colours in the range.

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Mona rouge carmin: £141, Café du Cycliste

Here’s something different, a jersey designed for long distance “audax” riders – those valiant souls who think nothing of covering 200km in a single ride. French firm Café du Cycliste’s design looks fairly traditional at first glance but it’s got features that will come into their own on longer rides. Along with the standard three pockets, there’s an extra, mesh “cargo” section at the rear where you can stow kit such as the gilet and gloves you were wearing when you kicked off your epic ride at dawn. The fabric is fast-wicking and very lightweight, making it perfect on hot afternoons in the hills. In a nice touch, it comes with a plastic pouch containing a route card for the Brevet des Zinzins de Turini – a crazy climbing challenge in the south of France – to whet your appetite for adventure.

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Velobici modernist: £190, Velobici

If you love the finer things in life you’ll adore this quality jersey. It’s a collaboration with cycling photographer Scott Mitchell who has created some of the best images to come out of the peloton in recent years. As well as being an ace lensman, Mitchell is steeped in Mod culture – hence the name of his collection and the roundel on the sleeve. Velobici kit is designed and made in Leicestershire, using material created in Nottinghamshire.

We love the way different fabrics have been used in its construction, with softer ones used in key areas such as under the arms for extra comfort. The rear pockets with their striking red piping slant down from the left, making them easier to access while riding, and the zips are finished off with a nice, chunky puller you won’t have to fiddle around to find. It’s a jersey that evokes the very best continental cycle clothing, yet it’s made right here in Blighty. 

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Kalf flux print: £70, Evans Cycles

Two-tone fade jerseys are going to be big this summer. This one’s a beauty, transitioning seamlessly from a rich plum to jet black. The polyester/elastane fabric has a lovely soft satin feel but isn’t as stretchy as some in our line-up so you might find you have to go up a size from your usual fit. We loved the grippy fabric that stops the back riding up when you’re pedalling, and the iridescent reflective detailing around the little zipped pocket at the rear is a nice touch.

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Morvelo cols superlight: £100, Morvelo

Morvelo don’t do boring. The Brighton-based firm have some gorgeous new designs for the summer and this powder blue number with its mountain peaks print is one of our favourites. This super-light top isn’t just about looks, though. It’s got mesh panels at the back and underarms to keep you cool when pushing hard, plus a full zip for extra ventilation. The Italian fabric is wonderfully soft and boasts SPF50 sun protection to keep you safe. 

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Maap strada pro: £125, Sigma Sports

This Aussie-designed and Italian-made top will brighten up the dullest days. It’s race-cut and super stretchy – a jersey that will make you want to suck everything in to really show it off. The five-colour combination shouldn’t really work, but it does. And beautifully so. We adored the low-cut neck and longer sleeves, while the full-length zip will come into its own as the mercury rises. There’s no zipped security pocket – just the standard three – probably because Maap don’t want you to ruin the lines of their design with your keys and small change. Buy it if you really want to stand out on the roads this summer.

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Gore C7 Race: £159, Wiggle

Black never goes out of fashion. This aero-fit jersey was developed with help from cycling legend Fabian Cancellara and features some nice little details, as you would expect at this price. It’s got the fashionable longer arms and a dropped tail with a gripper to hold it in place. There are reflective details including a couple of grey stripes down the back that help it to retain its form-hugging, sleek shape when the three main rear pockets are loaded up. You also get a zipped section for your valuables. It’s lovely and light to wear, and is designed to be at its best when riding down on the drops giving it the beans like a pro. 

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Dhb aeron short sleeve: £50, Wiggle

Orange could be the new black this summer. It’s always a smart idea to wear something eye-catching on our busy roads and you could do a lot worse than this bargain top. Okay, it’s mostly made from plain old polyester and the cut is on the comfortable side rather than figure-hugging, but it’s got some great details you don’t often see in a jersey at this price. There’s a full-length zip, breathable sections down the spine and under the arms, and four pockets – one with a zip. You also get stylish longer arms with laser-cut grippers, and there’s a gummy strip at the waist to stop it riding up. If orange isn’t your thing there are five other colours to choose from.

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The verdict: Men’s summer cycling jerseys

Our best buy from Le Col is three times the price of our cheapest top, but it’s superb quality and should last you a few seasons without looking dated. We adored the thicker than usual fabric and the cut of the arms, and when you pull it on, it feels just as good as it looks. Biking bargain hunters will be blown away by the budget Dhb offering too.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.