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I understand wearing base layers in the colder months, but I see cycling clothing companies (Castelli, Assos, Rapha, etc) also making undershirts specifically for hot summer riding. Given how lightweight and breathable some of the summer jerseys are (like Castelli's Climber's Jersey), why would riders want to add another layer during the summer?

What are the advantages to wearing an undershirt during the summer?

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Many of these claim to make you cooler (temperature, not social standing :-)) but whether they actually do or not is another matter. Some fabrics can certainly feel cooler to the touch, and thus may make you feel cooler when riding - which could give you a psychological performance advantage - but whether they physically help cool you down is another matter. Finding information on the actual technology and any sort of scientific testing is difficult.

I ride in Florida and the temperature range can sometimes go from cool in the morning to very hot by afternoon. I've worn UnderAmour Heatgear base layers to keep warm at the start of a ride and found them to be fine when it warms up and they help to wick away sweat if you're not wearing a tight fitting jersey. However that's only up to a certain temperature. Once it gets beyond that I found it just makes you hotter.

Another reason may be for sun protection. Many cycling jerseys are so thin they don't offer much.

Some base layers offer a compression fit, too. Again, companies market this as performance enhancing. Whether that's true is entirely subjective, IMHO.

Lastly, (and if you choose to wear a base layer because of this then you may want to practice riding more) they offer some physical protection. I hit the deck at 25 mph once. My jersey was torn to bits and my skin underneath would have been too if it were not for that fact that I was wearing a base layer that came away relatively unscathed. (The weather was warm enough that I didn't need the base layer, btw).

  • See rule #81 – andy256 Sep 5 '15 at 7:44
  • Ah, "The rules". I only go by two rules. 1. Ignore the rules. 2. Don't quote the rules. ;-) – Stainy Sep 5 '15 at 19:17
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It's a matter of personal choice. I personally really dislike the feeling of a jersey clinging to my skin. A mesh base layer stops that. Some cyclists I know just wear a jersey in summer.

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I think that you need to buy clothes for cycling based on your own body sensations. I wear a tank top with one layer in the summer, it dries quickly and feels comfortable for me.

  • Welcome to the site. I don't really see how this answers the question. It seems obvious that anybody should wear whatever is comfortable for them but the question is specifically asking what advantages an undershirt would have in the summer. Somebody who felt that the disadvantages overcome those advantages would presumably not want to wear one. – David Richerby Apr 27 '18 at 16:57

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