Bikes have undergone several transformations as technology has improved–a side-by-side comparison of a bike used on the Tour today versus 20 years ago would look rather different. Same holds true with a cyclist’s clothing. Take a jersey from years ago and compare it to today’s styles, and you’d see a lot of changes. I’ve explained some of those fashion changes as they relate to jerseys in this article at Versus. Check it out.
Over the last ten years, the style and performance of cycling jerseys have come a very, very, very long way. The fit, technical nature of the material, possibilities of graphics and design and overall look have turned the “cycling kit” into one of the greatest technical advances in the pro peloton.
The days of the thick, itchy, baggy wool jerseys are over (unless you are an old-school collector and then you will wear nothing else!). The jerseys of old used to get ringing wet with sweat and drag like a sail, the original design even had pockets on the chest which would also get wet and stretch to the point that nothing stayed inside–thankfully those are a thing of the past here at the Tour!
Let’s start with weight. The weight of cycling jerseys has been cut drastically over the last five years. They are constantly being made thinner and cooler. A blend of cutting edge materials including spandex, polyester, wicking material and mesh creates a very light, very tight jersey that also manages to keep the rider as cool and aerodynamic as possible.
Jersey companies are always trying to make their products both tight and breathable. All the teams have a few different weights at their disposal. This includes a climbing jersey that is so much lighter than the regular jersey it’s actually quite fragile and so thin the riders have complained of getting sunburn through the jersey.
The new style of jersey zips all the way down to allow for maximum airflow to the body as well as easier bathroom breaks. Modern jerseys also have very accessible pockets and at the Tour they even include a sweat-proof radio pocket that sits inside the jersey on the rider’s back–out of the way and quite aerodynamic. The back pockets are also positioned so it’s easier to get food in and out.
The last and most important advancement in cycling clothing has to do with reproduction and style. They can create virtually any color and the design options are seemingly endless. They even put the rider’s name or nickname on the back, frequently even incorporating different designs for different events.
The one downside to this new, thin, super cool material is that when you hit the deck–and you know crashes will happen–the jerseys disintegrate, often causing a bit more road rash. A small price to pay for weight and style!
*Note: italicized text reprinted from versus.com