What Size Cycling Jersey Do I Need?

What Size Cycling Jersey Do I Need?

Choosing the right size cycling jersey can be tricky.

As a rider myself, I know the importance of having a jersey that fits just right – not too tight but also not too baggy.

A properly fitting cycling jersey makes all the difference in comfort and performance.

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about selecting the perfect size jersey for your body type and riding style.

We’ll look at how to measure yourself, how different brands size their jerseys, whether to size up or down and the differences between men’s and women’s cuts.

Let’s get started!

What Size Cycling Jersey Do I Need?

The most important factor in choosing your jersey size is getting an accurate measurement of your chest and waist.

Most cycling jersey sizes are based on chest measurements rather than the numbered sizes you see in regular shirts.

Here are some tips for measuring yourself:

  • Use a flexible tape measure. Measure in inches if you are buying from a US-based brand or in centimeters for European brands.
  • For your chest, wrap the tape measure horizontally around the widest part of your chest/bust. Keep the tape level and take a normal breath in.
  • For waist, measure at the narrowest point around your natural waistline – about an inch above your belly button.
  • Compare your measurements against the sizing chart of the brand you are looking at. Sizing can vary quite a bit between manufacturers.
  • Consider the type of fit you want. Racier road cycling jerseys tend to be more form-fitting while mountain bike jerseys have a looser recreational fit.

Getting accurate measurements is key.

If possible, try on a brand’s jersey in a store to find your ideal size.

Going slightly up or down a size is easier than returning online orders!

How Do I Know My Bike Jersey Size?

In addition to your chest and waist measurements, consider these factors to choose the best-fitting cycling jersey size:

  • Intended use: Road racing jerseys are cut very snug to be aerodynamic.
    Mountain biking and casual jerseys have more room for maneuverability and comfort.
  • Fabric stretch: Natural fibers like wool or cotton have less give than synthetic blends with spandex and elastic.
    Stretchier fabrics can accommodate a wider range of sizes.
  • Brand sizing: Generally European brands like Castelli and Rapha run smaller than American brands.
    Check size charts carefully.
  • Body type: Tall or short torsos, broad shoulders, or large arms may need to size up or down.
    Test different sizes to get the ideal sleeve length and coverage.
  • Layering: Do you race in just the jersey or layer over a base layer?
    Size up if you need room for layers underneath.
  • Fit preferences: Racers want a second-skin fit. Recreational riders prefer a bit of room for comfort on long rides.
    Find the balance you like.

The best way to dial in your perfect jersey size is to actually try some on.

Test different brands and cuts until you find the size and style that feels just right for your cycling needs and body type.

Should You Size Up or Down Cycling Jersey?

Sometimes even after measuring yourself carefully, the size chart indicates you could go either a size up or down.

Here are some tips on deciding whether to size up or down for cycling jerseys:

Size up if:

  • You plan to layer underneath the jersey
  • You want a looser recreational fit
  • You are between sizes in the brand’s chart
  • The fabrics have minimal stretch
  • You dislike tight-fitting clothing
  • You are self-conscious about bulges or muffin top

Size down if:

  • You want an aerodynamic race fit
  • You will only wear a base layer underneath
  • You want light compression to improve muscle efficiency
  • You have an athletic build with broad shoulders/narrow waist
  • You prefer very form-fitting workout wear
  • The brand runs large compared to others
  • You plan to machine wash/dry the jersey (shrinks fabric)

In most cases for an everyday cycling jersey, you are better going up a size rather than down if between sizes.

Keep in mind jerseys will stretch out over time.

You can always cinch it in at the waist with the hem gripper.

An overly tight jersey will just lead to discomfort on longer rides.

Do Bike Jerseys Run Big or Small?

In general, cycling jerseys tend to run small rather than large.

However, sizing does depend on the specific brand. Here are some sizing tendencies of popular brands:

  • Italian brands (Castelli, Santini, Giordana): Run very small and snug, size up 1-2 sizes
  • Rapha: Slimmer British styling, size up 1 size
  • Pearl Izumi: True to size chart with leaner race fit
  • Louis Garneau: Run large in the body, consider sizing down
  • Primal: Average sizing, match size chart
  • Voler: Snug race fit, size up if prefer looser recreational fit
  • Mountain bike brands (Fox, Troy Lee): Run large for looser off-road fit

Your best bet is to closely examine the size chart of each brand and ignore the general numbered size.

Compare your measurements against their chart rather than going by size Medium, Large etc.

Also, read customer reviews about sizing before purchasing.

Trying the brand on in person is ideal if possible.

Should I Get a Jersey a Size Bigger?

For most recreational cyclists, going a size bigger in your jersey than the size chart indicates will likely give you the best comfort and performance.

Here’s why a roomier jersey may be preferable:

  • Accommodates more airflow to keep you cooler
  • Allows layers underneath if weather gets cold
  • Won’t restrict movement during aggressive riding
  • Reduces pressure on shoulders and arms
  • Prevents the dreaded mid-ride muffin top bulge
  • Offers better sun protection with looser sleeves
  • Compresses less to give stable muscle support
  • Won’t constrict breathing or oxygen intake
  • Allows a more relaxed upright body position
  • Reduces rubbing and chafing around arms and waist

The main advantages of a tighter jersey are aerodynamics and compression.

But for most cyclists doing rides under 50 miles, comfort trumps aero.

Of course, you can still get a jersey a size bigger that is flattering – it just may take some trial and error to find the perfect brand and cut.

Should I Get a Jersey a Size Up?

Going up a size is definitely recommended if:

  • You fall between sizes on the chart
  • The brand’s sizing seems to run small
  • You plan on wearing insulating layers in colder weather
  • You have a muscular build with broad shoulders or long arms
  • You prefer a more relaxed casual fit
  • You dislike restrictive clothing that clings
  • You experience chafing from snug-fitting apparel

There are a few scenarios where you may want to stick with your exact size:

  • You already have experience with the brand’s fit
  • You only plan to wear it for warm competitive events
  • You have a very slim, non-muscular build
  • You like a tight aero fit to enhance speed
  • You live in a hot climate and won’t need extra layers

For most people though, sizing up offers more versatility.

The extra room still allows for a close fit but with better freedom of movement and breathability.

Sizes often shrink slightly over time as well.

You can always tighten up the fit with the waist hem grippers if needed.

How do you measure your waist for a cycling jersey?

Getting an accurate waist measurement is key for getting a proper jersey fit.

Here are some tips:

  • Use a soft measuring tape for flexibility.
  • Measure directly on your bare skin, not over clothing.
  • Stand straight with arms relaxed at your sides.
  • Wrap the tape horizontally around your natural waistline, about an inch above your belly button.
  • Keep the tape flat and snug but not cinched tight.
  • Measure at the end of a normal exhale when your abdomen is relaxed.
  • For women, measure just under the bust line rather than over the bust.
  • Take measurements at the end of the day vs first thing in the morning when your waist is smaller.
  • Repeat measurements a few times to ensure accuracy.
  • Compare your waist size to the brand’s size chart, ignoring generic size names like medium or large.

Measure waist and chest circumference since cycling jerseys are cut trim to contour your natural shape.

Avoid sizing up or down more than one size from your measurements for best fit.

What is the difference between men’s and women’s cycling jerseys?

Cycling jerseys come in both men’s and women’s specific cuts to accommodate average gender differences:

Men’s jerseys tend to have:

  • Longer sleeves and torsos
  • Wider shoulders and boxier fit
  • Lower waist hem in front
  • 1-3 rear pockets
  • Brighter colors and bolder graphics

Women’s jerseys usually have:

  • Shorter sleeves and lower waist
  • Contoured shape for narrower shoulders/wider hips
  • Scooped neckline
  • Angled waist hem higher in front /lower in back
  • Extra inner waist gripper to prevent riding up
  • 2-3 rear pockets moved higher for accessibility
  • More feminine color/print options like florals

However, some female riders with athletic builds prefer men’s styles for the longer sleeves and extra pocket storage.

Tall women also often size up into men’s jerseys for better sleeve length.

Try on both to see what works best for your body type and riding style.

Final Thoughts

Finding your perfect cycling jersey fit requires trying on some different sizes and cuts.

While size charts are a useful starting point, your preferences for compression vs comfort will dictate your ideal size.

Size up for room to layer and more relaxed recreational riding.

Size down for a snug aerodynamic fit.

Getting accurate chest and waist measurements is key – ignore generic size names between brands.

Prioritize comfort on longer rides.

Seek jerseys with some spandex/elastic stretch to accommodate your range of motion.

Don’t hesitate to return or exchange sizes that feel restrictive.

A properly fitted cycling jersey makes for happier riding and easier miles.

Avatar photo
Joey B. Ramsey
Passionate cyclist, father, and blogger.
I've been riding bikes since childhood and enjoy sharing my knowledge with fellow cycling enthusiasts.
My diverse bike collection allows me to write reviews and advice based on personal experience with various bikes and accessories.
join me email cta
Join me
Join me for more cycling related content and deals.

Related Articles