As you can see – you didn't miss the photo above? – the Madison Stellar II commuter jacket is black. It's also available in red or hi-vis yellow if you think black makes you invisible. I don't think it does. Visibility is about contrast; the worst colour for a cycling jacket would be dull grey, the colour of concrete, old tarmac or a British sky. Black is quite visible in good light. And at night, the Stellar II shines as brightly in headlights as its name suggests by virtue of its copious reflective panels.
What is nice about a black jacket is that you can wear it with normal clothes, without looking too bikey. That's how I prefer to dress for utility cycling, so if I walk into an office or pub, I don't look like an escapee from a cycling club run. I know hi-vis vests have their fans but I'll put my faith in a jacket with reflectives, front and rear lights you could see from space and the odd bike reflector.
Talking of visibility, the Stellar II is about as shiny as what is probably the best-selling UK commuter jacket, Altura's Night Vision. The standard Altura is the same price and has similar features, to the extent that I think you'd be equally happy with either jacket.
The Stellar II is windproof and waterproof, with fully taped seams. I wore it in sleet, heavy rain, and persistent drizzle. I also went mountain biking and sprayed muddy water all over it for a couple of hours. My shoulders got slightly damp in the worst conditions – probably sweat rather than leakage – but I was never less than comfortable.
You do get a bit hot if you ride hard. While the M:Tec 5000 fabric is breathable, this is designed as a commuter jacket so it's bulkier and heavier than the kind of lightweight shell that you could stuff in a jersey pocket. There are pit zips and a vent across the back so it's not boil-in-the-bag hot, but it's better suited to steady or stop-start riding than silly commuter racing.
The collar is fleecy and can be cinched tighter, so it's nice and snug in the cold. The cuffs are elasticated and Velcro-fastened and there's a drawcord for the hem. Draughts do not get in. The cut is suitable for cycling, being long enough in the arms and back, yet is fairly relaxed. You'll easily get this on over ordinary clothes if you choose your normal size, and you may be able to go down a size if you're borderline and want a closer cut – I'm a smallish medium and the small was a good fit without being restrictive.
There are two pockets: a zipped and baffled rear pocket, big enough for an OS map, and a small chest pocket suitable for a phone. Inside the jacket there's a mesh and thin polyester liner. This catches and disperses sweat well enough and enables you to wear it over short sleeves without it feeling clammy. There's a solidly stitched peg loop to hang it up. The jacket is machine washable at 30 degrees.
The reflective panels run over the shoulders, arms, front zips, and down the back. It's hard to miss the jacket from any angle if you shine a light at it.
Is it the ultimate commuter jacket it claims to be? Not quite – I'd pay the extra £30 for the Altura Night Vision Evo. Yet the Stellar II is certainly a good commuter jacket. Where bulk isn't critical, you could use it for other kinds of cycling too.
It's available in red, yellow or black, in sizes S to XXL in both men's and women's versions.
A highly reflective commuter jacket that will cope well with year-round UK weather.
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Make and model: Madison Stellar II Waterproof Jacket
Size tested: Black
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 say: Light, breathable and waterproof, yet stylishly reflective, the Stellar is the ultimate commuter's jacket. With a technical cut for unbeatable fit, and hi-viz reflective panels for added security, this is a cool reflective jacket perfect for low light conditions or night-time rides.
I say: Not particularly light, but it is a good commuter jacket.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It's made from M:Tec 5000 waterproof and breathable fabric. There's a liner.
It's not heavy for a commuter jacket, but it's not exactly light either. You won't stash this in a jersey pocket. You'll need a fairly large saddlebag like a Carradice Barley, small backpack, or pannier.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's an effective commuter jacket. Keeps you warm and dry and not too hot.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Weather resistance. Reflectivity.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If I didn't have about a dozen bike jackets, yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, for commuting
Age: 42 Height: 1.78m Weight: 65kg
I usually ride: Ridgeback Solo World fixed wheel My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track (with front brake)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,