Choose the best non-jersey cycling tops - group test

Three non-jersey cycling tops were reviewed, left to right: Findra, Howies and Rapha
Caroline Grogan's picture

Choose the best non-jersey cycling tops - group test

Not everyone likes cycling in a jersey, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose out on the technical benefits

The chance to review three cycling tops, which can be worn just as easily when not cycling, definitely suited me as I don't always wear cycling jerseys, nor am I always fully kitted out when on my bike. Why choose a top like this in the first place? The main benefits are that you're given added options to suit various activities off of the bike, whilst retaining the technical qualities of a cycling jersey. These tops help to change the perception of what people who cycle look like and how multi-purpose cycling clothing can be.

1. Rapha Women's Explore Technical T-shirt, M


This is the most technical of all the t-shirts and uses light micro-mesh fabric, knitted in a gradient structure to wick away sweat. The loose, women’s specific fit also helps to keep sweat away from your body and has a more relaxed feel than other cycling tops. 

The top is made from 100% polyester, offering a balance in terms of natural and non-natural fibres in these reviews.

The Rapha Women's Explore Technical T-shirt looks the most stylish of all three for commuting on a bike and due to this I would be comfortable also wearing it in a social setting. The shirt also wicks away sweat very well due to its technical features and dries well and has a handy neck hanging loop, if your drying facilities are limited. 

Verdict: The Rapha Women’s Explore Technical T-shirt was the best at wicking away sweat due to its micro-mesh and gradient knit structure. My favourite is the Rapha top in terms of looks, wicking away sweat and how quickly it dries.

2. Howies Active Merino Sorona Zip Top, M


The athletic fit was nice to wear, as the M was equivalent to a size 12, which is a size bigger than what I would normally wear and I prefer a looser fit. I also liked the zip option, which allows more breathability. This top is made with an interesting mixture of 72% sorona, which is plant glucose starch and 24% Merino wool. So, if you’re like many others who’ve switched to a plant-based or vegan diet, this top is mostly made from sustainable fibres, which is a consideration to bear in mind if you cycle to help reduce your carbon footprint or just enjoy the extra benefit of reducing carbon emissions.

There’s a fair bit of give in this t-shirt, so it also feels nice and stretchy. I also like the small, reflective strip on the back of the t-shirt, adding increased visibility in addition to your lights when cycling in the evening.

I'm not sure about it's antibacterial claim, as it still smelt of sweat after cycling, even though it seemed to wick away sweat quite well. I don’t think I’d wear the Howies Active Merino Sorona Zip Top in a social setting due to the fit and zip, which make it feel more like a sports top.

Verdict: The Howies Active Merino Sorona Zip Top athletic fit was the nicest, with the added zip feature to increase comfort. The fact that the majority of materials used to produce this top are plant-based, also means it wins points with me.

3. Findra Orla Print Tee, M


The first thing that stood out for me with this top was just how soft it is, as it's made from a specially fine form of Merino wool from Australia. 

Merino wool is renowned for its exceptional qualities amongst softness, such as breathability and its microscopically fine diameter means it’s more versatile than common wool types. 

Originating in Spain, most Merino wool is now produced in Australia and to illustrate just how precious and valuable a commodity the wool is, up until 1986 Australians banned all exports.

When I’d finished cycling, the Merino wool did feel warm, and this is the unique selling point of this t-shirt as the temperature regulating feature is good. Although I feel like the top did a good job of wicking away sweat, I’m not convinced by how quickly it dried. The Orla Print Tee is nicely fitted and would perform well as a hybrid casual or sports t-shirt. 

Verdict: The Findra Orla Print Tee is definitely the softest and warmest of the three and a top which looks like it would be most at home worn whilst cycling or doing other activities.  




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