Kicking off from a small bike shop in London in 1977, Madison has become the largest distributor of bike goods in the UK today. With 28,000 items in stock and 1,100 business-to-business orders processed per day, if you shop for bike parts in the EU there is a good chance they come from Madison.
The Madison team is focused on more than moving products around. They make some quality gear with the Madison Clothing line and an impressive range of frames from Saracen bikes. Madison-Saracen caught my attention several years ago with their pro downhill team, which is the current race home of legendary UK downhill racer Dany Hart.
I got a chance to check out a couple of their kits over the winter, and I was impressed with their fit and performance.
The Alpine long sleeve is a summer descender’s delight. The main jersey is made of 100% polyester, while the air-venting fabric stretching from the underarm down the length of the torso is 94% polyester and 6% elastane. The long vents keep you cool, while the long sleeves provide a nice layer to take the brunt of tree scrapes and crash-rash. Another patch of vented material sits at the nape of the neck, which is a perfect spot to release the heat and moisture from a back protector.
I wore a size small in the Alpine jersey and was happy to find that it fit tighter than some other gravity gear I have tested. The dropped tail was plenty long to overlap my shorts, or stay tucked in when wearing a hip pack.
With a similarly-fitted cut, the Roam short sleeve jersey’s vents are only under arm, which is likely all you will need in this light shirt. In the size small I had plenty of room to fit a back protector between me and the jersey, though the overall cut is tight enough to keep it from snagging on things.
Both the Roam and Alpine jerseys have broadly-cut collars, leaving ample space for your neck to expand as you gasp over sharp climbs.
These shorts mean business. Warm, dry business. If I imagine a solid pair of shorts for wet winter riding, they look like the DTE Soft Shell Shorts.
The exterior layer of the shorts is made of a DWR 3-layer fabric, keeping mud and water on the outside. Under all of that is a fleece-like layer of warmth that is like riding with Linus’s blanket keeping you cozy.
The tank-like outer shell (left), is a stark contrast to the fuzzy lining (right).
Two water-resistant hip pockets and one right-handed rear pocket stay dry to keep your phone or other gear the same. The articulated knees are covered in a stretchy ripstop fabric to help them outlast your kneepads, and they are super long. You could almost call them 3/4 shorts. Thoughtful tech touches continue in the waist adjustment system, with two hip straps for easy sizing, and a silicone stripe across the lumbar to keep them in place.
I rode in the DTE shorts in some deep and disgusting conditions, and I can attest to their cold weather claims. On damp rides below 7°C (45°F) these shorts will keep you downright cozy.
You may have read our recent review of Madison’s DTE Waterproof Trousers. The Men’s Trail Shorts are styled with a similar “trekking” aesthetic. They win the storage award, with five zippered pockets and a small “drop pocket” near the waistline. With enough space for 2k+ calories, these shorts are ready for some long days in the saddle.
Waistline adjustment is handled with a built-in belt that clasps at the front, and an elastic band at the back to allow the shorts to stretch and move with you. Though slightly shorter than the kneepad-covering DTE Soft Shell Shorts, these are plenty long to overlap your pads and keep your skin covered.
In the above photos, you can see some of the pocket library (left), and the cozy, integrated Coolmax chamois (right).
Madison’s Trail Shorts fit perfectly in the size small cut I typically order. They are just the right length to sufficiently cover your upper legs when riding without pads, and the overall fit was clearly designed by someone who likes to be comfortable throughout daylong epic rides. The triple stitched ripstop polyester fabric feels sturdy enough to last through several seasons of riding, which is what I expect from good gear.
Madison sent along a pair of their padded Zenith Gloves for review, and they have been with me on every ride since. They are just warm enough for fairly cold rides, down to 7°C (45°F) if you keep moving. I wore them in a 24hr race in Finale Ligure this past summer, and they worked just fine in the heat as well. In fact, for racing between night and day, these mountain bike gloves might be the perfect weight to deal with the full range of summer temperatures — at least in the Mediterranean climate. The palms have a silicone layer to help maintain traction on your grips and shifters when they become wet.
Having recently managed a “boxer’s fracture” in my left hand, I am stoked on the bit of padding these gloves provide. It won’t save you from breaking your hand, but it is enough to make swats from tree branches and errant sticks less painful. This made my tender outer hand happy. The Zenith mitts are secured on your wrist with a hook-and-loop closure that stays put on my dainty wrists. In conclusion, these are fantastic gloves.
Some companies design clothing to look good in the brewery, post-ride, and some focus solely on race day performance. Others want to make something riders will love to wear while pedaling their favorite trails all day long. Madison has done a great job of combining those elements in the above products, making it clear that the company employees folks who understand how to make good riding apparel.
US customers can order Madison products through one of many online retailers located abroad, while EU riders can find these kits at their local bike shop, or on Freewheel.co.uk.
Check out our mountain bike shorts buyers guide and our picks for the best mountain bike shorts.