Whether it's a mild day or temperatures have plummeted to below freezing, the Madison Road Race Gilet provides a useful extra layer, on its own or between mid and outer garments. It's light, well cut and well made, but I'd prefer a couple more pockets.
On milder days, kind of mid to high single digits, you can just chuck it on over a long-sleeved jersey and a thin baselayer and it adds just that little bit of extra warmth without being overkill. Plus the fact it's so thin and lightweight means, should you start to warm up, it can easily be stashed in a rear pocket without adding much in the way of bulk.
But as the sun goes down and temperatures start to drop, the Madison really comes into its own. No matter how cold the outside temp or how chilling the wind, the Road Race will really keep your core warm. In fact, one night ride when my arms were cold under a winter jersey at -6°C, my vital organs were toasty. You could feel the defining lines of the gilet over your body in terms of body temperature.
A high neck, full zip and close fitting arms certainly work to keep the chill out. Thankfully, the rear panel is mesh which allows any built-up heat to escape, as long as your layers beneath are bringing it up to the surface, that is.
The rest of the gilet is made from Ripstop, which acts as a windbreak while also being very resilient to general wear and tear. Although not touted as waterproof, it'll keep a light shower out and fog or drizzle will be kept at bay for a long time.
At the rear you get a slightly dropped tail, which highlights the theme of a race cut. It's a close fit and definitely designed for the low-slung position of the performance rider, with an elasticated hem keeping the gilet in place. That's not to say the Road Race comes up small, though – this medium fitted me exactly as it should.
You'll find a four-way stretch waterproof pocket for your essentials, and the good thing is you can get some decent weight in there without it starting to sag. Personally I'd prefer to see three separate pockets like a jersey so I haven't got to go foraging underneath, but it's a minor quibble.
Overall I really like the Madison Road Race Gilet. It's certainly the one to grab for dry rides especially if you are out early morning or late evening when the temperatures during your ride are changeable.
Its £44.99 price tag reflects the gilet's quality and durability. It looks and feels well put together, and other Ripstop clothing I've used has stood up well to daily riding.
Impressively warm, breathable and hard-wearing gilet for year-round use
road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison Road Race Men's Windproof Shell Gilet
Size tested: 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?
Madison says: "The Road Race shell gilet is an ultra-light windproof barrier designed to keep your core protected on colder rides.
Made from a lightweight but robust ripstop Nylon, the slim race fit ensures you get no unwanted wind resistance
Mesh rear panel easily vents excess heat away from the body
Developed with our own Madison Genesis pro race team to meet the requirements of a pro athlete
Waterproof 4 way stretch rear pocket ensures that your essentials and lower back stay dry
Subtle black reflective detailing on the lower back, upper back and shoulders make your presence known to passing traffic
Elasticated hem with silicone gripper keeps the gilet firmly in place
Limited lifetime warranty"
It certainly does its job, even keeping out icy windchill.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Front: Ripstop Nylon
Rear: Mesh panel
Storage: Waterproof four way stretch rear pocket
Reflectives: Detailing on lower back, upper back and shoulders
Hem: Elastic with silicone gripper
Slim race cut without being overly tight.
A usable, year-round piece of clothing.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Nothing out of the ordinary for cycling kit, cold wash and it came up fine every time.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a wind blocker it's hard to fault.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I would prefer two or three pockets on the rear.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A properly useful bit of kit for stopping cold winds entering without stopping body heat from leaving. Well made too and hard wearing.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.