Triathlete’s Men’s 2020 Summer Cycling Clothing Roundup

We rate this season’s top cycling bibs and kits, based on a variety of categories, and take a close look at what you should be wearing this summer—and even accessorize into the fall.


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The perfect bike kit can make all the difference on long training days. The best summer cycling clothing in 2020 is more than just a padded pair of shorts and tight fitting t-shirt—a well-designed cycling kit can help reduce recovery time between workouts via temperature control, prevention of saddles sores and skin rash, and reduction in riding fatigue through proper padding and compression.

A comfortable set of bib shorts can make long miles more pleasant by preventing saddle sores, reducing chafing, and wicking moisture away from your… nether region. We’ve paired five pairs of bib shorts with summer jerseys to find the ultimate cycling kits that perform well in the heat, and with the right accessories can be turned into a three-season staple for all but the most extreme conditions. Our reviews assume you’ll be wearing these bibs year-round, and we’ve included some of our favorite accessories from sun-shielding arm coolers to heat-regulating base layers at the bottom. Note: All kits tested below are men’s—we’ll be posting a women’s cycling kit rundown in the next week.

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – Bib Shorts

Bib shorts, or “bibs” for short, are cycling shorts with suspenders. Cyclists tend to favor bibs over other cycling shorts because they stay put and don’t need a drawstring. Bib shorts can come with a bunch of different features, but a great pair of bib shorts are comfortable to wear all day, have a pad (a.k.a. chamois) that prevents saddle sores and bruising, are breathable and moisture wicking, and are durable enough to withstand frequent washing and friction.

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – The Chamois

That thick pad in cycling shorts is more than just a vibration absorber. The perfect chamois will not only provide padding to your sit bones, but it will keep your groin dry and chafe free while reducing pressure on sensitive soft tissue and your pudendal nerve. Combined, that pad can be the difference between diaper rash and bruised sit bones or feeling eager to get up and ride the next day.

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – What To Look For

Each of the kits below scored high in our ratings. The choice of which bib short and jersey to choose will come down to price and the details. Look for a jersey that fits and looks good on you, and choose bib shorts that fit well and offer the features you’re looking for. When making the purchase, choose a retailer that lets you try on items, and if you’re ordering at home make sure you can return items that don’t fit. 

We’ve included a rating system that evaluates different characteristics of cycling clothing to help you find your perfect kit at a glance. (More on our rating criteria below.) Along with the comparison roundup below, each kit also has a longer review that goes into more depth. This year, all men’s clothing was tested and reviewed by one single reviewer, and while the clothing was provided by the brands represented, all clothing was selected independently without promotional consideration.

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – The Ratings, Explained

Fit – “Fits small” to “as expected” to “fits large”

Comfort

  1. Poor – Materials feel cheap and reduce ride comfort. This may be due to poorly designed suspenders or materials that are scratchy or that move around during a ride.
  2. Okay – Material doesn’t cause any problems, but doesn’t have any advanced tech like moisture wicking or compression to increase ride comfort.
  3. Good – Bibs are comfortable and dry and sit flat against the skin without need for readjustment
  4. Great – Like “good” only with one or two features that set them apart, like compression or moisture wicking
  5. Excellent – These are bibs you don’t mind keeping on for the post-ride BBQ. They feel like a second skin, and stay dry and comfortable all day long.

Moisture Control

  1. Poor – Chamois acts like a sponge and retains sweat
  2. Okay – Long rides and hot days may lead to rashes and irritated skin
  3. Good – In cooler, dry weather, chamois will perform well on rides up to 2 hours
  4. Great – Wicks moisture away and stays dry in warm weather
  5. Superb – These pads go above and beyond in keeping you dry and preventing skin irritation. Examples are chamois’ that promote air flow through the pad or were shown to dry out quickly during a ride even if they were fresh out of the washing machine.

Durability

  1. Fragile – Require hand washing, have thin materials that wear easily and may be destroyed by a slight abrasion
  2. Use care – Need to be washed in their own cycle from other clothing, material can tear easily and may not survive a dryer
  3. Average – Can wash in a normal cycle without shrinking or signs of wear; won’t rip if you lean against a rough surface
  4. Strong – Throw them in the wash with your sheets, wear gravel riding without worry and should withstand minor scraps with a tree or the ground
  5. Protective – Machine washable, outer layer designed to protect you from abrasions

Saddle Relief

  1. Poor – Pad may have seems or material that chafes
  2. Okay – Prevents chafing but minimal vibration reduction and nerve relief; typical of minimalist pads found in triathlon race shorts
  3. Good – Reduces chafing with adequate vibration and nerve relief for rides up to two hours
  4. Great – Feels great against the skin while riding and prevents saddle fatigue on the longest rides
  5. Superb – A bib that you can wear day after day, this rating is reserved for the best chamois that can make a crummy saddle feel good and have you finishing a century with a fresh-feeling tushy

 

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – Rapha

Men’s Pro Team Flyweight Jersey

$180, rapha.cc
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 5/5
Moisture Control: 4/5
Durability: 3/5

Men’s Pro Team II Bib Short

$270, rapha.cc
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 4/5
Moisture Control: 4/5
Durability: 4/5
Saddle Relief: 5/5

Rapha kits have become commonplace in the cycling world for good reason. Rapha Pro Team II Bib Short showcases Rapha’s attention to detail, like size specific pads and multiple length options that can be found throughout their clothing line. Rapha is also known for their durability, and even offer a free crash repair program to make a fall a little less painful. These are an all around great bib short and jersey combo that will stay at the top of your drawer for years to come.

Full Reviews Here

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – Castelli

Aero Race 6.0 Jersey

$180, backcountry.com
Fit: Small to size
Comfort: 3/5
Moisture Control: 4/5
Durability: 5/5

Super Leggera Bib Short

$230, competitivecyclist.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 3/5
Moisture Control: 4/5
Durability: 4/5
Saddle Relief: 4/5

We tested their Super Leggera Bib Shorts and Aero Race 6.0 Jersey, and found that both lived up to Castelli’s reputation for high-quality cycling apparel. The Bib Shorts perform great on all metrics. The lightweight materials are light weight and moisture wicking, but feel fragile. The Aero Race 6.0 Jersey is designed for aerodynamic speed. It scored well on moisture control, but the aero fit was a little snug on this swimmer’s shoulders. The bib shorts are an excellent choice for hot weather comfort. Together, the bibs and jersey make a great-looking kit. This is an excellent choice for triathletes with narrower chests looking for a form fitting jersey.

Full Reviews Here

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – Giro

Chrono Expert Jersey

$110, competitivecyclist.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 5/5
Moisture Control: 4/5
Durability: 4/5

Chrono Expert Bib Short

$165, competitivecyclist.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 5/5
Moisture Control: 5/5
Durability: 2/5
Saddle Relief: 5/5

The Chrono Expert is the best combination of quality and performance at the price. Even better, the kit looks great, with choice colors and patterns and a jersey that feels loose and airy without looking baggy. Giro’s Expert Chamois uses a 3D design that sits flat against your skin to prevent chafing, while providing the right amount of padding and airflow to prevent saddle sores and butt bruising. The compressive materials feel great against the skin and dry quickly.

Full Reviews Here

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – Pearl Izumi

Attack Bib Short

$100, rei.com
Fit: Looser than expected
Comfort: 2/5
Moisture Control: 2/5
Durability: 3/5
Saddle Relief: 1/5

Attack Short Sleeve Jersey

$85, backcountry.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 3/5
Moisture Control: 3/5
Durability: 4/5

Interval Cargo Bib Short

$165, rei.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 4/5
Moisture Control: 4/5
Durability: 4/5
Saddle Relief: 5/5

The Pearl Izumi Attack Bib Shorts and Jersey are an entry-level cycling kit that lack the technology of products at high price points. For $100 you get bib shorts that are comfortable for shorter rides and hold up to repeated washing, but become uncomfortable in warmer weather and with extended time in the saddle. The Attack jersey is sufficient for most riding, but it isn’t likely to be the jersey you dig for in your spandex drawer.

The Pearl Izumi Interval Cargo Bib Shorts, on the other hand, are an impressive performance product for the price range, and they have become one of our go-to bibs for longer weekend rides because of superior chamois design, anti-slip material that prevents saddle sliding, and mesh pockets that free up your jersey for more bars. The Interval Cargo Bib Shorts are a top pick from this roundup.

Full Reviews Here

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – Giordana

FR-C Pro Short Sleeve Jersey Lyte

$225, competitivecyclist.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 5/5
Moisture Control: 5/5
Durability: 1/5

FR-C Pro Bib Short

$250, competitivecyclist.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 5/5
Moisture Control: 5/5
Durability: 3/5
Saddle Relief: 4/5

Out of the box, the Giordana kit was our favorite summer kit tested. The jersey was comfortable and stayed bone dry on an uphill time trial where sweat was dripping down our sunglasses. The chamois design is protective, yet you can actually feel the airflow through the groin to prevent skin irritation. All this excitement faded, however, after the first wash cycle. While the other kits tested came back looking new, the featherlight Giordana FR-C Pro Short Sleeve Jersey Lyte’s mesh was pilling and looked as though there would be holes after several more washes. The bibs did better, but hand washing is probably the safe bet. If you want the kit that performs the best in heat and humidity, Giordana might be worth the extra care.

Full Reviews Here

2020 Summer Cycling Clothing – POC

Essential Road Jersey

$125, competitivecyclist.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 3/5
Moisture Control: 3/5
Durability: 4/5

Resistance Ultra Zip Tee

$160, pocsports.com
Fit: True to size
Comfort: 4/5
Moisture Control: 4/5
Durability: 5/5

Essential Road VPDS Bib

$150, competitivecyclist.com
Fit: Slightly larger than expected
Comfort: 3/5
Moisture Control: 3/5
Durability: 4/5
Saddle Relief: 4/5

POC is probably best known for their bubbly helmets that look unique and have grown a massive fan base among roadies. The Swedish company starts from a perspective of making cycling safer, and that can be seen in the durability of their apparel. The mid-range Essential Road Bibs and Jersey performed well for their price, but it is on durability where POC’s lineup stood out. We also tested a dirt- and gravel-focused jersey, the Resistance Ultra Zip Tee, which performed exceptionally well for its weight, keeping us cool while also protecting from abrasions. The Resistance Ultra was our jersey of choice for a three-day gravel bikepacking trip. If you want a kit that will last, consider POC’s lineup.

Full Reviews Here

Accessorize And Extend Your Season

It seems counterintuitive to add a baselayer in the heat, but a good baselayer moves moisture away from your skin and allows you to stay cooler. The Giro Chrono LS Baselayer ($60, competitivecyclist.com) is our pick for a 3-season, temperature regulating baselayer that performs as well as Merino without the need for a special wash cycle.

For a more classic baselayer that doubles as a nice t-shirt, the Rapha Merino Short Sleeve Baselayer ($80, rapha.cc) uses natural Merino wool to wick away sweat and help you regulate temperature. We’ve found that Merino works well in cold or wet conditions, but we prefer the synthetics in the heat.

Arm Warmers add a layer of protection from the cold that can be quickly shed while you continue pedaling. They’re a much more versatile option to long sleeves, and when paired with a thermal shell and leg warmers they can turn a warm weather kit into a winter outfit. We like the Craft Arm Warmers ($35, competitivecyclist.com) because they’re designed to be used while running, and they stay put on your arms. This also makes for fast transitions from bike to run, as you can keep them on while you swap the bibs and jersey for running shorts and a tee (or just keep on that base layer)

Leg warmers are another accessory that extends the season of your favorite bib shorts. Look for leg warmers with a strong grip around the thigh and lots of flex in the knee, like the Gore C3 Leg Warmers ($70, competitivecyclist.com).

In the summer months, arm sleeves can keep the sun off your arms and some, like the Columbia Freezer Zero Arm Sleeves ($30, rei.com) will actually help cool you as they wick sweat off your arms. As triathletes our hands get a lot of sun exposure in the aero bars, the Buff Coastal Arm Sleeves ($27, amazon.com) offer thumb loops to keep your hands sheltered and your arms cool on longer runs, and you’ll conserve your sunscreen too.