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Kit review: Madison cycle clothing

Written by Fiona

July 04 2016

I have been testing Madison cycle clothing. It’s a brand that is new to me although they have been making cycling apparel since 1977. They also sponsor various UK cycling teams.

Their website tells me: “Madison has come a long way since 1977, from its modest beginnings as a small suburban bicycle shop in North West London, to what we now proudly boast as being the UK’s leading distributor of bicycle parts and accessories.”

I have been testing a pair of Madison women’s Sportive Race halter neck bib shorts, Madison Sportive women’s windproof shell gilet, Madison arm warmers and Madison socks.

Madison women’s Sportive Race halter neck bib shorts

Sizes 8 to 16

Price: £69.99

The Sportive Race bib features:

  • Pro level performance at an affordable price
  • Halter neck construction for hassle free comfort breaks
  • For all day training rides and in races
  • Constructed with finest Italian Lycra and pre-curved into the riding position
  • Premium Italian TMF chamois pad
  • Silicone grippers
  • Soft mesh panels on the waist, hips, back panel and chest
  • Hidden stash pocket in the back of the bib for valuables
  • Limited lifetime warranty


The shorts felt like a great fit. I am a UK10 and when I first put on the Madison UK10 shorts I felt like they fitted me really well. The lower part was just the right sort of tightness and while the padding was a little bulkier than I like I thought it would be fine once I was sitting on a saddle. Which it was.

(I confess I put the shorts on back to front at first because the vest top looks similar back but I quickly realised!)

The main problem I had was with the length of the upper section of the shorts. It felt just about long enough when standing up but once on my bike the neck section of the halterneck was annoying and too tight. It felt like it was cutting off my circulation at the back of my neck.

After about an hour had to pull the halterneck over my head and ride with it at the front.

This is a shame because the set up is quite good. It’s not as clever as the back access zip that I like on Gore Bike Wear shorts nor the stretchy halterneck of DHB Aeron bib shorts but it is still a clever idea.


The top half of the shorts a like a vest. The mesh is comfortable and it means you do not need to wear any kind of baselayer. The halterneck loop goes over the head. When you need a toilet stop you remove your bike helmet and pull the halterneck loop over you head to the front. This then allows you to pull down the shorts for a pee. It’s a bit fiddly retrieving the halterneck to pull back over the head but the idea is okay.

For this set up to work for me I’d need to buy a UK12 to give me enough body length. I am a fairly tall UK10 although I do not have a very long body so I think they need to adjust their sizings a bit. Lots of women cyclists are tall UK10s.

The rest of the shorts are really lovely. The fabric is cooling and supportive. The leg hems are fairly wide, although I’d happily see them being even wider. The padding felt great on a longer bike ride and I didn’t notice it being overly bulky once I was cycling.

I like the wee pocket at the back (although I would worry about something important, like a car key, falling out of the open top pocket when shuffling the shorts don and up when going to the loo) and the colours are great. It’s nice to have a fun design in a pair of cycle shorts and Madison have done this with different hem colours.

The length of the legs is good. I like them to be three-quarters of the way down my thigh and that was how the Madison shorts are on me. They stayed put while cycling, too.

The padded insert is meant to offer “rapid sweat absorption” and “breathability”. I can’t be sure if it did or not. I found it comfy and I didn’t get overly sweaty so it seems to do a good job.

There are matching tops, gilets, socks etc so you could go out on your bike looking as co-ordinated as you want, or not at all!

The price seems fair for such a good quality pair of shorts and there is a limited lifetime warranty, whatever this means!

If the length of the top half was better I’d be rating the shorts 9/10. As it is I can’t wear them so I can only recommend to people who are shorter than 5ft 8in tall.

See Madison women’s Sportive Race halter neck bib shorts,

Madison Sportive women’s windproof shell gilet


Sizes: 8 to 16

Price: £44.99

The Madison Sportive shell gilet is a light, windproof barrier designed to keep your core protected on colder rides.


  • Lightweight but robust ripstop nylon
  • Slim race fit to ensure you get no unwanted wind resistance
  • Mesh rear panel vents excess heat away from the body
  • Rear zipper pocket with showerproof panel helps keep your essentials and lower back dry
  • Subtle black reflective detailing on the lower back, upper back and shoulders.
  • Elasticated hem with silicone gripper keeps the gilet firmly in place
  • Limited lifetime warranty

The gilet looks fab and fits well. It’s a bit loose fit but not overly so. I use gilets a lot when starting out on a ride or for cycling downhill. It kept out the wind and some drizzle.

The pockets is fairly easy to access while you have the jacket on and it is roomy.

I am not keen on the front zip. It feels a bit flimsy and it’s not easy to zip together. The gilet is priced at £44.99 so I’d expect a better quality zip.

There is a high neck on the jacket and I found it a bit annoying but it is useful for keeping the cool wind off your neck.

I like to be seen on the road and I think the bright and funky design will be easily spotted.

Sportive women’s windproof shell gilet

Madison Sportive Thermal arm warmers

cla7120Sizes: Unisex S to XL.

Price: £14.99


  • Fleece backed Lycra provides excellent warmth even when wet
  • Lightweight Lycra fabric inside the elbow to prevent overheating
  • Flatlock stitching
  • Reflective details for low light visibility
  • Finger tabs in the upper cuff help pull the warmer up
  • Rubberised arm grippers to ensure a secure fit
  • Limited lifetime warranty

These are unisex sizes from small to extra large. The small fit my arms really well. I like the generous length (I have long arms) and the generously wide hems, top and bottom. They stayed put thanks to the silicon top and they kept out the chill.

I really like the wee finger holes that help you to pull up the arm warmers.

These have become a favourite pair of arm warmers. (Tip: Wear them for running as well as cycling.)

Madison Sportive Thermal arm warmers

Madison cycling socks

Sizes: S to XL

Price: £12.99 for a two pack

Madison state: A “perfect three-season sock, the Sportive mid sock offers superb comfort”.


  • Made in Italy from the finest fabrics, the Sportive sock is both supportive and comfortable
  • An open knit upper gives a nice flow of air
  • The soft touch socks will last the test of time
  • Mid 4.5 inch cuff length
  • Pack of 2 socks with different patterns

The socks feel lovely on and fit well. I like the pattern/design. There is not much more to say, except they are nice socks!

Madison cycling socks

See Madison for their huge range.

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