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Madison's Roam Men's Merino Short Sleeve Jersey really is a top-quality piece of kit. A balance of merino wool and polyester means it's highly breathable and very fast drying. The relaxed fit makes it ideal for gravel or adventure riding, or for those times when you aren't in race mode, whether that be on or off the road.
Gravel clothing is a thing, and it's kind of the definition of the Roam jersey. More relaxed than a standard race jersey, it allows just a little bit more freedom of movement and you get a gap between it and your body to get some air flowing through.
Now, if you are living in the UK then you'll know that the weather has been all over the place. Pretty crap for riding, but the ideal testing ground for something as versatile as the Roam. We've had frosty mornings, chilly days and then May was pretty much a washout, while at the time of writing, the first few days of June we're basking in the mid-20s! I can't say that I've found any condition that the Roam hasn't really dealt with.
At temperatures just scraping double figures I found it plenty warm enough with just a summer baselayer underneath, and if needs be a lightweight jacket thrown over the top.
Now, with the thermometer reading 24°C, I've found its breathability and ability to keep me cool absolutely top notch. The 150g, 65% merino and 35% polyester fabric allows the breeze to flow through, which is lovely on fast, flat sections or when descending, and while you can still get a bit sweaty on long stubborn climbs, once your speed picks up the Roam dries impressively quickly.
You can always help that by dropping some or all of the full-length zip.
As I've said, the fit isn't as close as a Lycra road jersey, but Madison has still kept a tailored cut. It touches where it should, like the arms and the chest, so that you don't get a huge amount of flapping material, but it's a bit more forgiving around the lower half of the torso.
You get a dropped tail for coverage when on the bike and a collar that is tall enough to keep nippy draughts from darting in while allowing warm air to escape.
Even with the relaxed cut I'd say stick with your standard sizing and everything should fit absolutely fine.
At the rear you'll find four pockets, three in a traditional layout with a fourth zipped offering for keeping your cards and keys safe.
The middle pocket is a good size, easily swallowing something bulky like a rainproof jacket, although the two either side are much narrower. They're ideal for something like a phone or energy stuff, as the narrower size stops things from moving about, but it can be a bit tricky to get your hand in them while riding.
The pockets are deep, too, which adds to the security that nothing will jettison out on rough terrain.
Colour-wise, the Roam is available in two options, this Navy Haze and a lighter Shale Blue. They look classy and understated, which is good, but it'd be great to see some brighter colours further down the line.
Madison also offers a women's version, in the same colours.
Overall quality is impressive. The Roam is neatly stitched throughout, and the full zip runs smoothly from top to bottom.
The material itself is very soft on the skin so you could easily forgo a baselayer should you want to.
If you like the Roam, and think 'I'll have a bit of that', you'll be pleased with the £59.99 rrp. That's good value against something like the 7mesh Desperado Merino Henley, which lacks the pockets of the Roam, and has a lower merino content at 47%. Steve found the material scratchy too, not what you want for your 70 quid.
Its Ashlu Merino Jersey is a better option. According to Pat over on our sister site off.road.cc it is brilliantly comfortable and superb for long-distance adventures. It'll cost you £130, though.
Simon was impressed with Vulpine's Alpine Merino SS Jersey when he tested it last year. It comes with a slightly higher merino ratio of 80% to 20% polyester, but again it's far more expensive at £100.
Overall, I really rate the Madison Roam. Not just because of the price, but also because the performance is so very good, as is the fit.
No matter what I asked of it, regardless of weather or ride type, it delivered, and while there are a couple of little niggles, I wouldn't say that they really compromise the garment on the whole.
High-performing jersey for those who want a more relaxed fit, brilliantly comfortable for days off the beaten track
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison Roam Men's Merino Short Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Madison says, "If you are headed off on an epic adventure or simply out on a post work blast, the Roam merino jersey will quickly become your favourite piece of kit"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
150g fabric is made from a blend of 65% merino wool and 35% polyester
Three deep rear pockets allow for plenty of storage, and a hidden zip pocket keeps your keeps, bank card or cash safe
Reflective details add a subtle touch of night time visibility when you're out in low light conditions
Lightly elasticated hem keeps the jersey firmly in place
It has a more relaxed fit than a Lycra race jersey, but the sizing is pretty standard.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Merino wool can be a tricky thing to wash, but I had no issues here with shrinkage.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great in the cooler weather and works well when things heat up too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The very breathable material.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly narrow pocket width.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Compared to two of the merino cycling jerseys I've mentioned in the review the Roam offers a lot of quality, comfort and performance for about half the price.
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
Apart from a little whinge about the slightly narrow pockets I can't really fault the Roam. It works in a range of conditions and the material offers a very comfortable feel.
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!