Madison's RoadRace Apex men's softshell is a technically superb jacket with great fit, warmth and styling. At £114.99, it's Madison's top of the range softshell, but you get good value compared with the likes of Castelli and Rapha. The windproofing is excellent and it's slim enough to go under a rain shell when the heavens open.
The RoadRace Apex is designed to keep you warm on "the harshest of British winter days", according to Madison. To test that rather bold claim, off I ventured for four hours in 6°C, with heavy rain forecast an hour in...
With a 40mph gusty headwind, the windproofing was instantly put to the test as I'd stashed my rain shell in my back pocket. It coped perfectly, allowing me to warm up quickly. The windproof panels are also water resistant, although not for more than the odd light shower. They're located on the front, shoulders and sides and they saw off the wind very well, leaving the back to vent some of my body heat.
The RoadRace Apex has, according to Madison, been custom built from the ground up for the demands of pro cyclists. While this can sometimes mean a super skinny fit and panels that have been shaped for the most aggressive riding positions, this isn't the case here. I found it snug but not restricting. The panels have been shaped for riding, but in a normal – stem unslammed – position.
The three standard rear pockets are spacious and secure, with a separate zippered pocket for your phone and other important bits. It's surprisingly waterproof, from inside as much as outside. When the rain fell, I faced three hours with an unbreathable rain shell and intervals to complete. This generated a lot of moisture internally, yet my phone and tenner were bone dry when I returned home.
This was also a great sign of the Apex's warmth. The rain dropped the temperature ever closer to freezing, yet I was always toasty warm. I found that the extended collar helped here. There's also very good length in the sleeves, with the jersey extending under the cuff of my gloves without issue.
The front of the jersey is shorter than the rear, but not massively so. There's good coverage of the lower back but I never felt that I was sitting on the tail of my jacket, an annoying feature of some jackets. The fabric has been cut so that the chest is narrower than the back. This means that when on the bike, there's no annoying excess material bunched up on your chest. Off the bike, it feels a little strange, but it's perfect for riding.
Down at the rear hem of the jacket, there is a silicone gripper and a small amount of reflective detailing. The silicone works well, keeping the jacket in place when climbing out of the saddle.
Durability has been very good. I took this both road and mountain bike riding, with plenty of mud to potentially ruin that nice blue fabric. I chucked it in the wash at 40°C and then tumble dried on a cool setting. I've had no problem with shrinking and it seems to have retained its water resistance. As a mark of how much Madison stands by its jacket, it offers a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
As softshell jackets are commonplace, there's an option in every price bracket. I was really impressed by the performance and fit of the Apex, and I'd say it's good value for money. You can spend less – the dhb Classic Windproof jacket is a great option at £70 – or the Pearl Izumi Pro Escape at £169.99 represents a very good but pricier option.
The RoadRace Apex packs warmth and brilliant windproofing into a well fitted and stylish softshell jacket. At £115, it's right on the money.
Warm, windproof and superb fit – worth every penny
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison RoadRace Apex Men's Softshell Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket 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?
"The heavyweight Apex thermal softshell jacket is designed to keep you warm on the harshest of British winter days".
Well, it's not very heavy. The jacket kept me warm even down to 0.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
"Custom built from the ground up for the demands of pro cyclists
The pre-curved shape gives ultra comfort when in the riding position
Three rear hand pockets offer enough space for spare tubes, tools, food and a race cape, and the secure zipper pocket keeps your phone and keys safe
Windproof and water resistant panels on the front, sides and over the shoulders ensure the bitterest of winds won't keep you from getting some winter miles in
Thermal Roubaix panel on the rear keeps you warm enough without over heating
Reflective detailing on the lower back and forearms make your presence known to passing traffic
Elasticated rear hem with silicone gripper keeps the jacket firmly in place
Limited lifetime warranty"
Excellent quality, and obviously designed for the riding position. Good zipper and well stitched. This should stand up to a few winters.
Windproof and super-warm with great fit.
I got this covered in mud and the blue has come back perfectly.
It does as advertised. It'll fend off a shower but no more.
Even during hard efforts, I felt warm but not overly sweaty.
The chest is a key point here. It's shaped very well for the riding position. Feels weird off the bike but perfect on.
There's good length in the arms and not too much in the body.
It says heavyweight but it's not particularly heavy. About what I'd expect.
Soft fabric and brilliant on-the-bike fit.
It fits and performs so well that it's hard to see the difference between this and a £200+ jacket.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to wash. I even tumble dried it, on cool, with no issue.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Kept me warm when it got super-cold, and resisted a light shower too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The warmth is brilliant. In fact I was good all the way down to freezing. Very impressive for the relative lack of bulk.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Did you enjoy using the jacket? It kept me so warm. I loved it.
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Absolutely
Use this box to explain your score
Perfect fit, super warmth and it does everything it advertises. It washes well and looks great.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.