Best cheap cycling clothing 2022: a buyer's guide

Looking for the best cheap cycling clothing that doesn’t cost the earth? We’ve rounded up our reviews of good quality kit that will keep you rolling in comfort

Best cheap cycling clothing

Cycling clothing can be very expensive. But it doesn't have to be. The best cheap cycling clothing can still be of good quality and contain many of the performance enhancing attributes of kit more than double the price.

Cycling-specific clothing is designed to be at its most comfortable when on the bike. In conforming neatly to your body, you won’t find excess material restricting the range of motion as you pedal, meaning your focus can be wholly on the ride.

It also brings aerodynamic benefits which will increase your speed. Don't think that this won't be of advantage to you – it is quite amazing how much faster you are wearing a form-fitting jersey than a baggy kit. Along with a better position, more aerodynamic clothing choices can make as large a difference to your speed as a flashy aero bike.

Naturally there are likely to be compromises when buying cheaper cycling clothing and more technical materials, such as breathable waterproof fabrics, are unlikely to perform as well at the budget level. 

But the 'basics' can punch well above their weight and in this guide we've focussed on the two essentials that form the basis of every cycling-specific wardrobe: a short sleeve jersey and a pair of bib shorts. 

In the warmer months you can pair them up and cycle for hours without need for any other bits of kit beyond a helmet for safety and perhaps a pair of sunglasses and gloves. 

However, when it starts to get cooler you'll need some added protection. Rather than having to invest in an entirely new cycling wardrobe we've included a section in the guide that helps you to keep your summer jerseys and bib shorts working for longer. By adding a few affordable extras, such as arm and leg warmers and a vest, you can breathe additional life into your kit for a fraction of the cost of jerseys and bibs designed solely for colder temperatures.

Best cheap cycling clothing

We have rounded up some of the best cheap cycling clothing for you to invest in. Most of these products also come in a women’s version. Those that do will also have the relevant link.

Looking for more premium options? Check out our buyer's guides to the Best men's shorts, Best women's shorts, Best men's jerseys and Best women's jerseys.

Best cheap cycling shorts

best cheap cycling clothing

Best in class for value

Specifications

Material: 80% Polyamide, 20% Elasthane
Colours: Black, navy blue
Sizes: S-2XL

Reasons to buy

+
High-density foam pad
+
Good level of compression and breathability
+
Competitively priced
+
Available in black and navy blue

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of reflective details

Van Rysel's RCR bib shorts represent great value for money. With an RRP of £59.99 they aren't the cheapest around but they successfully balance performance with price - the result being a pair of bibs that provide plenty of benefits without breaking the bank.

At the heart of any good pair of bib shorts is a quality pad. The RCRs use an Endurance 2.5 HD chamois that has an anatomical fit and high-density foam that's designed to keep you comfortable even on longer rides.

Van Rysel has also sought to make improvements from previous iterations. It's added new mesh on the back for improved moisture management as well as changing the strap design to provide better support. It's also lengthened the legs to offer a more aerodynamic fit - we reviewed the RR 900s (opens in new tab) which are no longer available but share many similar properties, albeit with a shorter leg design.

best cheap cycling clothing

Specifications

Material: 80% Polyamide, 20% Elastane
Colours: Black, navy
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable on long rides
+
Understated design
+
Excellent value

Reasons to avoid

-
Some seams don't look perfect

The dhb Classic bib shorts are so not just in name, but also in nature. In either black or navy they are devoid of any flashy elements. Here you get two discreet logos and that's about it - they're a minimal looking pair of shorts that will suit the traditionalists while also matching well with a range of jersey designs and colours. 

We liked the shorts when we reviewed them a few years ago (opens in new tab). Since then there have been a number of upgrades, which should only enhance the ride and cement their place amongst the best cheap cycling clothing. From a performance perspective the shorts deliver plenty of comfort thanks to material that fits snugly and provides plenty of support. Said material offers 'light' compression while the straps are constructed from a breathable mesh fabric.

There's also, vitally, a decent pad that dhb says is designed for medium distances. It deems this as up to three hours, so if you're after shorts for an all-day epic then you may have to look elsewhere. However, the anatomic pad does have a central relief channel and a top sheet to help remove moisture, which indicates it should be plenty comfortable over these 'middle' distances.

Naturally the price of the shorts has risen since our review. That said the current RRP of £60 is still at least half the price of many 'high-end' bibs.

best cheap cycling clothing

Pearl Izumi Escape Quest Bib Shorts

Specifications

Material: 88% nylon, 12% elastane
Colours: Black
Sizes: S-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Breathable uppers
+
Plenty of reflective detail

Reasons to avoid

-
Pad is on the thin side

These classic-looking shorts features the brand's SELECT Escape 1:1™ chamois. It's not the thickest you'll find but still offers plenty of padding. Elsewhere there's a mesh upper that's plenty breathable and a turned-hem gripper that uses a silicone print to keep the shorts in place.

Another sensible feature of these bibs is the 'BioViz' reflective accents that offer improved visibility in low-light conditions; making these shorts a smart choice for commuting or fall or autumn rides. 

best cheap cycling clothing

Boardman Bib Shorts

Specifications

Material: 83% Polyamide, 17% Elastane
Colours: Black
Sizes: S-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
High density seat pad
+
Wide leg grippers 
+
Strapless women's version available

Reasons to avoid

-
Pad not best suited to rides of 3 hours+
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No reflective elements

The construction of these shorts is very impressive for the price - with an RRP of £35 they are among the cheapest we've found. A high-density chamois pad and quick-wicking fabric will keep you cool and comfortable on rides of up to three hours in length. The wide silicone grippers keep the legs in place without feeling like a constraining band.

The women’s version opts for a waistband instead of bib straps, which does make a toilet stop a much less involved affair. The cross-over design stops the waistband cutting in uncomfortably when bent over the handlebars. 

Best cheap cycling jerseys

best cheap cycling clothing

Boardman Short Sleeve cycling jersey

Specifications

Material: N/A
Colours: Navy
Sizes: S-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Good level of reflectives for visibility
+
Fourth zipped pocket

Reasons to avoid

-
Rather bright colouring (although you can get it in plain navy blue)

A straightforward jersey that offers everything you need without any unnecessary extras inflating the price, just what you'd hope from the best cheap cycling clothing. You get three decently sized rear pockets, as well as an extra zippered one.

The silicone gripper in the hem keeps it from riding up, while the fabric is breathable and quick-drying. A full-length zipper and reflective highlights add to its practicality.

It is nice that Boardman have not gone with plain, boring black, opting instead for an eyecatching blue striped design. If it is a little too loud for you, a plain navy version is sold as well.

Best Cheap Cycling Clothing: dhb Women's short sleeve jersey

(Image credit: dhb)

dhb Women's Short Sleeve Jersey

Specifications

Material: 100% polyester
Colours: Dark red, navy, teal
Sizes: UK8-UK16

Reasons to buy

+
Quality wicking fabric
+
Reflective logos
+
Two large rear pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Colours may not suit all tastes

While dhb's Women's Short Sleeve Jersey may have a 'entry level' price tag, it has plenty of detail to help you enjoy your cycling in comfort.

Updated in 2021, it's now made from a soft-to-the-touch fabric that contains moisture wicking properties to keep you cool during warm weather and hard efforts. 

There's also a full-length zip (replacing the previous quarter-length zip) and two large rear pockets that should provide plenty of space for snacks and other ride essentials. 

Other benefits include reflective logos and inserts to improve your visibility in low light and a silicone gripper on the hem to help keep the jersey in place throughout your ride. Finally it's offered in three subtle colours.

Best Cheap Cycling Clothing: Van Rysel Racer Jersey

(Image credit: Van Rysel)

Van Rysel Neo Racer Road Cycling Jersey

Specifications

Material: 69% Polyester, 31% Elasthane
Colours: Fluro yellow, black, red, electric blue
Sizes: S-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Close 'pro' fit
+
Lightweight - just 117g claimed (medium)
+
Breathable fabrics for summer use
+
Three rear pockets
+
Full zip

Reasons to avoid

-
Pro fit might not suit everyone

Van Rysel, Decathlon's in-house clothing brand, presents incredible value. This race-fit jersey has an RRP of £29.99 but packs in plenty of detail.

The jersey contains breathable mesh inserts on the side, making it well-suited to the warmer months. The rest of the fabric also has moisture-wicking attributes as well as  'diagonal elastic' for support. Impressively it weighs in a just 117 grams for a size medium - making it a smart choice for mid to high intensity rides.

Elsewhere there is a full-length zip, three rear pockets and some reflective detailing on the rear. In short, It's a great example of how some of the best cheap cycling clothing balances value for money with plenty of quality and detail.

Best Cheap Cycling Clothing: Specialized RBX Sport Jersey

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized RBX Sport Logo Women's Jersey

Specifications

Material: Elastic SL 130 R.C.color resistant fabric
Colours: Black, Ruby Wine, Military Green
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Classic styling
+
Three good-sized rear pockets
+
Reflective details

Reasons to avoid

-
Muted colours might not appeal to all

This is a no-nonsense jersey ideally suited to those who prefer a clean and classic look. It features a full front zipper, three standard rear pockets and the fabric contains what Specialized describes as a "Hydrofit finish" for evaporation of moisture and quick drying.

Specialized list this as a comfortable fit'. That means it's close-fitting without looking like a skin suit. It comes in a three colors all of which are pretty understated, just like the jersey itself. 

Best cheap arm and leg warmers

Best cheap cycling clothing: dhb thermal arm warmers

(Image credit: dhb )

dhb Regulate Thermal arm warmers

Specifications

Material: 16% Elastane(Spandex), 84% Polyamide(Nylon)
Colours: Black
Sizes: XS-L

Reasons to buy

+
Fleece backed for comfort and warmth
+
Reflective logo
+
Available in a complete range of sizes

Reasons to avoid

-
Only offered in one colour

With an RRP of £18.00 / $24.00 dhb's Regulate Thermal arm warmers offer great value for money. They stick to the tried and tested formula for arm warmers: a Roubaix-fleece backed fabric that's stretchy and feels pleasant against the skin while providing plenty of warmth too.

To help secure the warmers in place dhb have used dual-faced silicone grippers. Elsewhere's there's a reflective logo, which helps to add visibility if you're cycling in low light conditions or commuting in the dark.

Best cheap cycling clothing: Boardman arm warmers

(Image credit: Boardman)

Boardman Arm Warmers

Specifications

Material: 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane
Colours: Black/Grey
Sizes: S/M, L/XL

Reasons to buy

+
Large reflective logos
+
Fleece backed fabric adds warmth

Reasons to avoid

-
Not water repellant 

Like the dhbs, the Boardman arm warmers don't really deviate from the classic design that's worn by millions of cyclists around the world. This means a stretchy fleece backed fabric that's designed to provide warmth while fitting to the contours of your arms for on-the-bike comfort.

There are silicone grippers at the top of the warmers to hold them in place. At the other end the Boardmans feature a cuff design, which should help to create a decent seal against cold winds. 

They also feature significant reflective detailing in the shape of a logo and reflective seams.

Best Cheap Cycling Clothing: Van Rysel leg warmers

(Image credit: Van Rysel)

Van Rysel Cold Weather leg warmers

Specifications

Material: 85% Polyamide, 15% Elasthane
Colour: Black
Sizes: XS/S, M/L, XL/2XL

Reasons to buy

+
Good reflective detailing on rear
+
Water-repellant 
+
Super Roubaix fabric offers plenty of warmth

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing!

With an RRP of £19.99 Van Rysel's Cold Weather leg warmers are a cost effective way to extend the usage of your bib shorts well into autumn. 

They're made using a Super Roubaix fabric, which like the previous arm warmers, means a brushed fleece backing that should provide plenty of warmth when the temperatures drop. Van Rysel has also added a water-repellant treatment to the warmers, which again should make them effective in drizzle and light rain as well as providing a barrier against road spray.

Elsewhere's there are reflective details on the back of the calf, further enhancing their autumnal riding credentials.

Best Cheap Cycling Clothing: dhb termal leg warmers

(Image credit: dhb)

dhb Regulate Thermal leg warmers

Specifications

Material: 84% Polyamide(Nylon), 16% Elastane(Spandex)
Colour: Black
Sizes: XS-L

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable fleece-backed fabric 
+
Thermal properties 
+
Reflective logos increase rider visibility

Reasons to avoid

-
Not water resistant

Like its Regulate arm warmers, dhb's leg warmers provide added insulation against the cold - effectively turning a pair of summer bib shorts into kit that can be worn in both spring and autumn too.

 

Best cheap cycling vests and gilets

Best Cheap Cycling Clothing: Northwave Vortex Gilet

(Image credit: Northwave)

Northwave Vortex Vest

Specifications

Material: 100% polyester
Colours: Fluro yellow, black
Sizes: S-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Fluro yellow adds visibility
+
DWR treatment for protection against showers
+
Reflective details on front and rear of vest

Reasons to avoid

-
Relaxed fit might not suit all

Northwave's Vortex Gilet is a straightforward affair. It's made from a lightweight polyester material that should mean it packs away with ease. It's been treated with a DWR, which while not waterproof helps out during showers - combine this with the gilet's windproof properties and you have a vest that will pair well with the best cheap cycling jerseys.

As well as the additional protection it provides the fluro yellow colourway will help you to be seen in low light conditions that often accompany autumn rides. Finally there's also reflective details on both the front and the rear of the vest making this a good choice for commuting.

Best Cheap Cycling Clothing Buyers Guide: How to choose and what to look for

How to keep your kit working year round

If you’re compiling your cycling wardrobe on a budget then it’s probably not feasible to have a number of jerseys for varying weather conditions. Likewise, it’s not exactly cost-effective to have to buy a pair of the best bib tights (opens in new tab) for the cooler months either.

Fortunately there are a few items of kit that are far less expensive but will still help you to ride in comfort during the colder months.

Arm and leg warmers
Arm and leg warmers are hugely practical items. Designed to turn ‘short into long’, they can transform your summer jersey and bib shorts into items that can be worn throughout spring and autumn - and even during some milder winter days too - essentially extending their usage by several months.

The beauty of warmers is two-fold. Not only do they add warmth they can also be removed easily too. Given the changing nature of the weather in spring and autumn, it means that you can adapt your wardrobe mid-ride. And unlike a long-sleeve jersey they can be easily stored when not in use - either in a pocket or a bar bag.

Despite their low-bulk, good arm and leg warmers are surprisingly warm. I’ve often worn leg warmers when many would swear it was bib tights weather, preferring the ease of movement they provide over the more restrictive nature of bibs. By starting your ride with an easy gear and a high cadence you’ll soon have warmed the legs up sufficiently and be glad of the freedom that the warmers offer.

Of course there’s a limit to their capabilities. When temperatures drop sufficiently they lose their effectiveness and appeal - but for many several months of the year they’re a solid - and affordable - option.

We also have a dedicated guide to the best arm warmers (opens in new tab) and the best leg warmers (opens in new tab), which provides more detail on both the fit and the functionality.

Gilets or vests
Like arm warmers the best gilet or vest (opens in new tab) is an affordable item that can help to extend a short sleeve cycling jerseys usage. It’s an ideal garment for a chilly spring morning or a cool autumnal afternoon. Typically made from an lightweight fabric, they help to block the wind while the additional layer also adds some warmth. Paired with some arm warmers and your summer jersey is transformed and ready for some cool weather duty.

These shoulder seasons often deliver fluctuating temperatures. A vest, as with the warmers, is ideally suited as it can be removed easily and stuffed into a jersey pocket. And when the sun starts to go down it’s just as easy to slip it back on. 

Finally, a vest can also provide additional visibility in low light. It’s commonplace to find them offered in hi-vis yellow or bright orange - audax riders or randonneurs would never set off without one. In short, it's a versatile garment that no cyclist should be without.

Do cycling jerseys have pockets?

Cycling jerseys, by tradition, have at least three rear pockets. These are useful for keeping keys, phones, or any tools such as pumps and spares you might need on a ride. It's therefore desirable for the pockets to be made from quite an elastic material to prevent the pockets from sagging.

Some jerseys also include a zippered pocket which can be very useful for keeping values, providing peace of mind that there’s no chance they’ll bounce out.

What is the best material for a cycling jersey?

There are few things worse than the boil-in-a-bag feeling of clothing that doesn’t breathe well. To help regulate your temperature and to help mitigate the horrible feelings of sweat fabric clinging onto your skin, highly breathable fabric is desirable for cycling clothing.

Most cycling-specific jerseys will feature a breathable fabric - even at the budget level. Naturally some will be more effective than others but as a rule at this lower price point you'll be looking at a polyester and elastane blend that combines a degree of stretch with the ability to wick moisture away from the skin.

Merino wool is another fabric that aids moisture management and therefore makes for a sensible material choice for cycling jerseys. It's also resistant to odours and keeps you warm even when it's wet. It's not typically seen in cheap cycling jerseys  but it's worth looking during the sales when a bargain could be had.

Why are cycling jerseys full zip?

The best cheap cycling jerseys will usually come with a full zip. These give you full flexibility when it comes to ventilation. You may think you can get by with just a quarter zip, but when you’re struggling up a climb with the sun shining relentlessly on you, sometimes you really need just a little more.

A full-length zipper also lets you take your jersey on and off without having to first empty your pockets. A quarter length zip forces you to take the jersey off over your head, inverting your rear pockets and spilling their contents.

How should a cycling jersey fit?

A jersey that hugs your body like a second skin isn’t a necessity, but it still should be form-fitting. A baggy jersey can cause uncomfortable bunching of the excess material and will flap in the wind, which is annoying as well as inefficient.

All good cycling jerseys come with some form of gripper to to prevent them from riding up. Some also have grippers on the sleeves for the same reason. Watch out for jerseys with grippers that dig in so strongly as to be uncomfortable.

Why do cycling bibs have straps?

Most men's cycling shorts use bib straps rather than a waistband, as this can cut into your midriff when hunched over the handlebars. Bib straps avoid this while also keeping the shorts in exactly the right position; there’ll be no slipping about as the ride goes on.

Women's cycling shorts may have straps but often do have a waistband instead, as this makes comfort breaks much easier. There are various ingenious solutions that provide shoulder straps but still mean that you don't have to remove your jersey on rest stops.

Wider bib straps are often more comfortable as narrower ones can cut into your shoulders.

What is a cycling chamois?

In the past the pads of cycling shorts were made from the leather of the chamois mountain goat, hence its name. The pad, or chamois, was thin and unpadded. It was replaced by synthetic materials, which offer significant improvements - not least extra padding. 

The pads are made to offer support where it’s needed and reduce bulk where it’s not. They are wicking and quick drying meaning that you won’t have the horrible feeling of wet material against your skin and you're much less likely to get saddle sores. Chamois cream can help here too.

Should cycling bib shorts have leg grippers?

Yes. After all nobody wants shorts that ride up as soon as they start to pedal. To prevent this, all good cycling shorts will have some kind of gripper at the bottom of the legs, normally silicone based.

Beware of very narrow gripper bands as these can dig into your thighs. Wider leg grippers are better because they spread the pressure evenly.