The Road Race Apex Jacket from Madison is a solidly waterproof jacket that completely prevents water penetration, all while managing to be impressively breathable. The fit and attention to detail is good, and the price reasonable for the level of performance it offers. The black colour won't to be everyone's taste though, but there are lots of reflective details.
Madison is the distributor that looks after brands like Shimano, GoPro, Park Tool and many more. In recent years they've really upped their game with their own line of mountain bike and road cycling clothing, and following the launch of the Madison Genesis professional race team a couple of years ago, they've added a line of racier fit garments. Like this Apex jacket.
If you like jackets to be snug and aero, you'll like the Apex. It's not tight though, as the photo shows the medium does still have a bit of bagginess to it. Some waterproof jackets can feel like you're wearing a bin bag, baffling and flapping when you're riding. The good fit of the Apex ensures it doesn't do that, quite the opposite in fact. It's all very quiet.
There are some nice details on this jacket, and it shows they've really put some time into getting it just right, which is evident on the bike. It just feels good. There's a part elasticated waist band and slightly dropped tail. The cuffs are semi-elasticated, ensuring a snug fit around the wrist, but does mean you have to remove bulky gloves first before you pull it on over the top. It's not a jacket you'll be wanting to remove on the go.
Other nice details that matter when you're riding include the tall collar, lined with a soft fleece material. There's one single vertically aligned rear zipped pocket, a blessing when you need to wear the jacket for the duration of the ride, but don't want to have to stop to grab a gel or bar. I can see that being useful for the Madison Genesis racers, as much for us mere mortals out riding and training.
Let's get down to the core of the jacket, it's waterproofness. It's made from a 2.5 layer fabric, and Madison claim a waterproof rating of 15,000mm and breathability of 15,000g/m^2 for both. That's up there with the best modern fabrics.
I can put that waterproof and breathability rating into real-world numbers if you like. Last weekend I rode a 200km Audax, with an average temperature of 6°C, and horrendous torrential rain for much of the 7.5 hours I was on the bike. With the Road Race Apex jacket over a short sleeve merino base layer and two long sleeve tops, and riding at a brisk pace, I was completely dry throughout the ride. In fact, my under layers were bone dry when I finished. As for breathability, I didn't overheat one bit.
I used the surprisingly effective arm vents when the heat started building up in my arms a bit, and was fine for the rest of the ride. The rest of me, well I was completely saturated, couldn't feel my fingers from the freezing rain, to the point I couldn't even unlock the car, and my feet were numb. I really hadn't expected the jacket to cope as well as it did.
If you do run a bit hotter than me, Madison have wisely added four zipped vents, two on the forearms and two on the chest.
It's available in two colours, the black pictured, and a white version. Both have a good number of reflective details, but I feel a few more wouldn't go amiss on a jacket that is going to be worn a lot in poor light or the dark.
Here is a waterproof jacket that doesn't cost a fortune, is properly waterproof and manages heat buildup supremely well, and looks great too backed up with a good fit and nice attention to detail.
Fully waterproof jacket with great fit and really quite impressive breathability, and packed with nice details.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison Mens Road Race Apex Jacket
Size tested: Black, Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Built to cope with the worst of the British winters, the Apex jacket is a fully waterproof, breathable and windproof.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The 2.5 layer construction has a small amount of stretch for ultimate comfort in the saddle.
With 15K breathable and 15K waterproof ratings, the Apex is well equipped to deal with torrential downpours without letting you overheat
The tailored fit is designed with professional cyclists to ensure a streamlined finish
The zippered front facing chest vents and 2 way centre front zipper allow you to carefully modulate your core temperature
Invisible zippers on the inside wrists open as vents to quickly reduce the bodies temperature
Laser cut holes underneath storm flaps on the side panels complete the jackets comprehensive venting options
Elasticated gripper hem and cuffs hold the jacket firmly in place preventing unwanted drafts or rain getting in
The subtle grey reflective prints offer just as much night-time visibility as traditional silver, but with a much cleaner look
A single zippered rear pocket is easy to access and fully waterproof
Limited lifetime warranty
First class, taped seams inside and solidly built.
Exceptional waterproofing, keeping me dry for over 7 hours in torrential rain. Plus there is the excellent fit as well.
Yup no problems there, the fabric is resilient to hard use and it goes through the washing machine just fine.
It's light when you're wearing it, and rolls up small enough to fit in a jersey or jacket pocket
The fit makes it very comfortable for long stints.
You can pay a lot more but with the Apex such a strong performing jacket and working so well for performance minded cyclists, I'm not sure you need to spend any more.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I no longer fear the rain.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit and fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The main zipper can be a little stiff and tricky to use sometimes.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A top quality waterproof jacket at a reasonable price
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.