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The Madison Roam Men's Cargo Bib Shorts have a load of pockets for carrying stuff and, most notably, an excellent chamois that is perfect for big adventures. Everything is well designed, which makes them really stand out in this sub-£100 price bracket.
The Roam range is Madison's take on gravel and adventure clothing. That's not to say it can't be used on the road, but the fit is a little more relaxed for the upper body, you get lots of storage (seven pockets on these shorts in total), and also a slightly thicker pad.
The pad is the heart and soul of any bib shorts, so we'll start there. Madison has specced an Italian-made TMF chamois and it's a good 'un. It's slightly thicker than I would normally ride on the road, but once you are out on the gravel tracks and trails, its plushness really highlights how good it is.
The padding is relatively firm, so you don't get any of that squishiness leading to hot spots and it doesn't remove feedback telling you what the bike is up to beneath you.
Many brands are moving away from multi-channelled designs for their pads, and it is no different here. There are differing densities of padding used, but no deep cutouts surrounding them. This hasn't led to any pressure points for me, the pad just feels really natural and doesn't restrict movement at all.
Most of my gravel rides are around the three hour mark, with some going longer, and I never felt that the shorts became any less comfortable as the miles racked up.
The rest of the Roam's construction is comfortable too. With a multi-panel setup there are quite a few seams running around inside the shorts, which I thought could become an issue, but it wasn't at all. Madison has done well to route them away from any places where they might rub.
The material is soft to the touch and the legs are held in place by silicone hem grippers. They provide good levels of purchase without too much pressure.
The bib section is a mixture of mesh fabrics, with a thicker knit on the front panels and a finer one for the shoulders and back panel to aid airflow. The straps are of a decent width so as not to cause pressure points on the tops of the shoulders.
The standout feature of the Roam's design, though, is their ability to carry stuff.
On each thigh you'll find a mesh pocket. Before you put the shorts on these look a little baggy but once stretched around your thighs they are snug enough to hold pretty much anything securely.
Each will easily hold a smartphone, although I mostly used one for quick-to-grab food and nutrition, with the other carrying a few map printouts should I be heading out into the unknown.
The rear bib section houses another five pockets, with the central one being able to hold a small drinks bladder; Madison has even put a loop on each bib strap to guide the hose through.
The other pockets vary in size, and you can pack a multitude of tools and other things if you aren't using bike bags or a rucksack.
The quality is good throughout. There are a few stray threads here and there but nothing that I'd say is really out of the ordinary.
If you'd be happy with just one pocket then Decathlon's Triban RC500 Cycling Shorts Pocket with their single thigh pocket are a snip at £39.99.
Madison has developed a very good pair of bib shorts here for long distance or gravel/adventure riding. They still deliver a performance fit and fabric that wouldn't be out of place on the road, but with a slightly thicker pad and the ability to carry some provisions.
Very comfortable gravel/adventure shorts with the ability to carry plenty of stuff
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison Roam Men's Cargo Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Madison says, "If your ride is an hour or a month, the Roam is all you need
"If you want to wear a baggy jersey and Lycra shorts or a Lycra jersey and a baggy short, the Roam works by itself or under a baggy no problem."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Madison lists these features:
Quick access deep cargo pockets on the thighs combined with a whopping five drop in rear pockets offer the ultimate in storage
Hose straps over both shoulders allow you the option to put a hydration bladder into the central rear pocket, allowing backpack free riding
Constructed from luxury Lycra and pre-curved into the riding position giving a great fit
Premium Italian TMF chamois pad designed to keep you comfortable in the saddle on the biggest of adventures
Silicone hem grippers avoid irritation and keep the shorts in place
Soft mesh panels on the waist, hips, back panel and over the shoulders give extra comfort and prevent overheating
Limited lifetime warranty
Sizing is realistic to the UK market and in line with Madison's size guide.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues with washing or drying.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A great pad and fit for use on the gravel trails, but they'll also work well on the road too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are competitively priced against offerings from the likes of Lusso and Rapha.
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
On the whole these are very comfortable bib shorts that'll see you tick off hundreds of trail or rough road miles without noticing them.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!