At 90 grams, the Sahara is among the lightest jerseys you’ll find on the market. What we liked most was the airiness of the woven ceramic material used for the fabric. That makes it feel more like a lightweight base layer and less like an aero jersey, which has a tendency to stick to the skin. The mesh detailing strategically placed on arms, shoulders and back of the neck works well to release heat and provides a layer of UV protection. The Sahara is a suitable option if you’re looking for a jersey that you’ll be able to ride and race in when the temperatures approach triple digits.
While the word “lightweight” is usually synonymous with fragile, Rapha disproves this notion with the durable yet highly breathable Super Lightweight jersey. The stitching and synthetic fabric are built to withstand many rounds through the wash while still managing to maintain a soft, supple feel that won’t irritate your skin after a few hours on the bike. It’s neither the lightest nor most aero jersey of the bunch (it weighs 125 grams), but the slightly loose fit was welcomed on those really hot days when tighter-fitting jerseys can sometimes feel suffocating.
Designed for the Movistar professional team for those really hot race days, the FS260-Pro SL Lite from Endura offers a lot of value for the price. Its simplistic design and super-thin mesh panels used throughout the chest and sides of the jersey keep the weight low at 85 grams and dry it out fast. The UPF 25+ treatment to the back of the jersey helps to reduce sunburns while releasing heat from your body.
In really hot regions (think Phoenix in July), riding during daylight hours in the middle of summer may not be a reasonable option. When the weather does force you to ride in darkness, the Craft PB Glow jersey will have you covered. The 360° reflective print glows in headlights from every angle, making you just about as visible to traffic as you are going to get. Craft utilizes mesh inserts throughout to prevent heat buildup and provide adequate ventilation. The semi form-fitting style also makes it a good option for training, and the large rear pockets make it easy to store your gear for longer rides.
What stands out about the Climber’s 2.0 jersey is how well it breathes, particularly across the chest. Even on the hottest days, you won’t feel the need to unzip on those really long, steep climbs — which can be a problem if you’ve got your pockets loaded with supplies. The overall weight (100 grams) and race fit make it a perfect option for a race-day jersey when you’ll need to tackle tough terrain.
If you want a little modesty in a jersey, the Superleggera 2 isn’t it. The fit is tight and the Kite Mesh fabric generously applied on the torso and arms is close to transparent. The good news is it makes for an incredibly breathable jersey. Like the Giordana Sahara, the Superleggera is meant to be worn without a base layer because of its moisture-wicking properties and the perforations it creates against the skin, which are intended to increase airflow. The stretchy CB Mondo along the shoulders and chest improves aerodynamics and acts as a compression material to support your muscles — ideal if you’re looking for a summer racing jersey.
Aimed at the cycling enthusiast gearing up for the big race, the POC Fondo is a comfortable, colorful and well-fitting jersey. While it isn’t made with the technical fabrics of some of the others on this list, it still breathes well enough to race in when temperatures soar into the 90s. We also found the Fondo to be one of the most durable of the bunch — which is a testament to POC’s reputation for supreme craftsmanship.
Though the fit is a tight race cut, the P.R.O. Leader is a seriously cool jersey. Utilizing Pearl Izumi’s Transfer In-R-Cool material to pull moisture away from the skin and dry quickly, it’s ideal for those really humid days in the saddle. The coldblack technology found in much of Pearl Izumi’s road cycling line also works well to deflect the sun’s rays (it has UPF 50) and keep you as cool as possible in extreme conditions.
Marc Lindsay is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.