You can't ride topless so you need a jersey.
Here’s out MTB jersey buyers guide, looking in to what to consider when choosing your next mountain bike jersey. We list our pick of the best too.
What to look for in a MTB jersey
What to wear on your upper body when riding can be a tricky dilemma. Not only do you need to consider your main riding discipline but also weather conditions and personal comfort levels.
Correct fit on a mountain bike jersey
Fit can be quite a difficult and personal factor. But the main point is the right sized jersey should not restrict your movement when on the bike.
Correspondingly a jersey that is either too tight for comfort or too big can have the same consequences.
Fortunately, unlike our tarmac going brethren in their road cycling jerseys, aerodynamics and a skin tight fits is not a consideration (unless racing XC) and most MTB specific jerseys are (colour withstanding) considered appropriate for the pub.
What type of riding do you do?
DH, all-mountain/trail riding and XC racing all demand different things from your mountain bike jersey.
Typically DH specific jerseys are lightweight, airy and very loose in order to fit body armour underneath. The evolution of the DH jersey owes a lot to motocross clothing in both style and fit. A DH jersey might also incorporated reinforced patches in areas that might suffer in the event of a crash.
Other features might include a goggle/glasses wipe inside and a neck shape that avoids interference when wearing a neckbrace.
Enduro or trail riding jerseys encompass the widest variety of styles and technical features. Brands combine features taken from anything from road riding to motocross.
Normally made of thicker fabrics than a DH jersey but normally still incorporating vented or lighter weight panels for moisture management and temperature control.
Cuts can be as simple as basic t-shirt style jerseys to ones that incorporate multi-panelling, multi-pockets and zips for added ventilation.
XC Race jerseys are usually very similar to road cycling jerseys, being very closely fitting to eliminate flapping of material and as to not hinder the rider. Rear pockets are a must to carry spares and nutrition.
Varied weather means different mountain bike jerseys
As with any type of clothing, demands change dependent on weather and seasonal changes.
During colder or wetter rides a jersey becomes a vital mid or under-layer in conjunction with a more protective outer jacket. Then a thermal or windproof jersey is an ideal choice to retain body heat and also stay comfortable next to the skin.
Most thermal jerseys feature full or half zips and a much thicker textile. Hot weather obviously requires thinner and more ventilated fabrics with most riders opting for short sleeves.
Mountain bike jerseys and temperature regulation
Every one of us have specific ‘optimum operating conditions’, what we mean by that is we all feel temperatures differently and most of us know if we feel the cold or overheat given a certain scenario.
It’s the reason why you might see one rider wearing a single layer when riding in the snow, compared to another wrapped up in four layers on a sunny day.
If you wear a pack then a jersey with a mesh back panel and without pockets is the most comfortable style to go for. If you like keeping it minimal then you might want a jersey with one or two pockets for the essentials.
The best mountain bike jerseys in 2020
Now you understand what to look for in a mountain bike jersey, here are some of the best on the market…
Specialized Enduro Drirelease Merino 3/4 jersey
We’ve worn it at least twice as often as any other jersey over the last year, and it not only fits and looks great, and is super soft against the skin, it’s also kept its shape and looks good after tens of wash cycles too.
Mavic Crossmax Pro jersey
The Crossmax Pro jersey is one that can be worn for all sorts of riding, not just racing. The fit isn’t too baggy and even though the material is relatively durable it still retains an airiness that’s well received on hot weather rides.
Leatt DBX 4.0 UltraWeld MTB jersey
Leatt DBX 4.0 UltraWeld MTB jersey
This is the summer version of Leatt’s downhill oriented jersey. Robust but airy, it combines some downhill specific features in a jersey that can be worn for normal trail riding.
Madison Alpine MTB jersey
Another downhill rated jersey that works equally well on the trails. The Alpine is the jersey worn by the Madison Saracen downhill team. Ultra stretchy and a great cut make it a breeze to wear all day.
7Mesh Compound MTB jersey
One of the best jerseys around for British trail riding, made by the Canadian company 7Mesh. The Compound uses a dual fabric construction to provide riding comfort and protection from both crashes and the weather.
Specialized Therminal Mountain MTB jersey
The Therminal Mountain jersey is an incredibly versatile piece of kit, suitable for riding from autumn through to spring. The hooded design adds a casual look that lends the jersey a great apres ride feel without losing the performance of a ‘normal’ jersey.
Fox Explore MTB jersey
Thin, stretchy and breathable. All important feature for a riding jersey and all present and correct in the Explore.