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Chrome's Madrona 5 Pocket Pants are smartish, stylish and comfortable trousers with enough cycling-specific design details to make them equally at home on or off the bike.
Chrome's Madrona pants – or trousers, as I am more comfortable in calling them – come in either black or navy blue and follow a chino-esque design. Which means they're a welcome smarter alternative to the prevalence of cycling denim that seems to be inundating the urban cycling market.
I have to say, from first wearing, I was quite smitten with these even though I've never been a chino kinda guy. The cut is very nice with smart straight legs – none of that tapering at the bottom nonsense. And while the aftereffects of Christmas still linger round the old waistband, fit was pretty flattering, too.
Although it's loudly proclaimed as a '5 Pocket Pant', the Madrona actually has six pockets – one on each hip, one on each buttock, a hidden zipped 'passport' pocket at the right rear, and, of course, a small right hip watch pocket. The zipped passport pocket is particularly useful for safely stashing keys and a welcome improvement on most open-pocketed cycling trousers.
Reflectivity isn't bad, either. There is reflective inseaming on the outer side of both legs, perfect for a high-vis stripe on your turn-ups. And the large Chrome patch on the rear waistband will also help to make your presence known... as long as you don't wear a belt. Unfortunately the patch is sewn down on all four sides, so a belt can't pass underneath. A button and zip fly round out practicalities.
The best feature of the Madrona trousers, however, is their performance off and especially on the bike. Comfort is superb, thanks in large part to the four-way stretch cotton/nylon blend fabric, which offers just enough give while still providing shape and support. This is augmented with a reinforced waistband and diamond of extra material at the gusset. Chrome says this gusset is reinforced, but to my eye and delicate hand, it feels very much like the same weight fabric as used throughout the rest of the Madrona.
In the saddle, the Madrona offers a perfectly natural riding experience. Pedalling action is unencumbered thanks to the give of the stretch fabric, while that extra material at the crotch means you don't find yourself sitting on any awkward seams. Perhaps the one concern I have is leg length – if you have longer than average legs, you may find use of those reflective turn-ups will leave you with chilly ankles.
That consideration aside, there are a couple of surprising and important benefits. The Madrona's cotton/nylon fabric doesn't just stretch but has also been treated with a durable wind and water repellent... treatment. Considering the fabric's quite soft and lightweight nature, I was surprised to see light drizzle beading on the surface, at least initially. Constant exposure to rain confirms they are not waterproof pants, but they'll put up a fight for a little while.
Even better is the windproofing. I've used these trousers on very gusty and chilly days with only padded shorts beneath and felt no ill effects. In terms of non-rain weatherproofing, I can't recommend them highly enough and their unassuming texture belies their active performance.
There are plenty of commuting trousers on the market, and even more urban pants if you take jeans into consideration. However, for those not wanting the denim look, Velocity's Men's Climber Trousers are a great option and cost only £85, and Rapha does a nice pair of cotton trousers that come in at £95.
However, perhaps most like the Madronas are Gore's Element Urban Windstopper Soft Shell Pants for £149.99, which feature almost total resistance to the elements, including rain. In this company, the Chrome's much more limited rainproofing makes them look just a little pricey.
Chrome sets much store by its 15-year history making technical trousers and says the Madrona is 'the ultimate commuting pant'. Of the trousers I've personally tested, they're certainly up among the best. They're smart, comfortable, sturdy and offer fantastic in-saddle performance with slightly more than a token nod to weatherproofing. For everything other than rainy days, you'd be mad not to consider these Madronas.
Very comfortable, stylish and surprisingly windproof trousers that look great and work well, both on and off the bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chrome Madrona 5 Pocket Pant
Size tested: 38
Tell us what the product is for
The Madrona are cycle commuting trousers for men.
Chrome says: "Our new Madrona pant for men looks and feels like your everyday 5-pocket pant, but you know us, with over 15 years of technical pant experience, we can't make a pant without adding something extra. The Madrona's [sic] have a reinforced waist and gusset, a zippered passport pocket and a reflective hit on the outside inseam of the pant for extra visibility when rolled. These pants are made of a cotton/nylon blend with water/wind resistant DWR, everything you need to make the Madrona 5-Pocket Pant the ultimate commuting pant. Ride hard, look dope while you do it."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Six pockets (don't believe the name)
Quick dry 4-way stretch fabric
Zipped passport pocket
Cotton/nylon blend with water and wind resistant DWR
Very well made, although I'm not sure the gusset is 'reinforced' as Chrome states – rather, an extra diamond of material has been added for comfort.
Very good performance both on and off bike – surprisingly good at blocking out wind and handling very light rain.
Early days, but the Madronas have proved durable so far.
Very good, although I wonder if leg length could be just a smidge longer to better accommodate turn-ups.
Fairly lightweight – deceptively so, considering their abilities in poorer weather.
I really liked them – soft fabric and extra section in gusset mean comfort levels shine bright.
Perhaps just a bit on the pricey side compared with similar offerings, though they are very good (and cheaper than Gore's).
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problem – machine wash at 30 degrees then hang to dry. Quick-drying fabric works well, so it doesn't take long.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really good on the bike – in fact, better than I'd imagined from initial impressions. The Madrona's ability to cope with inclement weather – particularly wind – was impressive.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quite a few things. I like the cut and fit, and the helpful weather resistance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Probably the price, although I don't think it's actually that steep because these are very good trousers.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Compared with some, the Chromes look just a little pricey, even with all their talents. Velocity's Men's Climber Trousers are a great option and cost only £85, and Rapha does a nice pair of cotton trousers that come in at £95. However, perhaps most like the Madronas are Gore's Element Urban Windstopper Soft Shell Pants, which feature almost total resistance to the elements, and cost £149.99.
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 overall score
Scoring the Madrona is a bit of a heart versus head affair, because if it was left purely to my instincts and personal preferences, I'd be giving them a good 9 out of 10. However, when you factor in the price of other equally adept or even technically superior rival products, the Chromes have to be knocked down to an 8. That said, if you buy a pair of these, and they fit you well, I very much doubt you'll find anything to be disappointed by.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure