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Madison Road Race Super Light Men’s Waterproof Softshell Jacket 179g Medium (as tested) £79.99

The Madison Road Race Super Light Men’s Waterproof Softshell Jacket is a packable model with performance much closer to that of a more traditional technical jacket. The four-way stretch fabric will entertain winter weight jerseys and offers excellent defence against rain and even winter chill. Being picky, I would’ve preferred a bigger zipper tag, and bolder retro-reflectives but these are very minor niggles.

Pros: Excellent protection from rain and wind, very breathable, lightweight but strong, very packable, competitively priced.

Cons:  Bigger zipper tag and bolder retro reflectives would be welcomed.

Spec 4.25/5

The P4DRY is a softshell fabric made from a 4-way Polyester/Polyamide (79%/29%) mix, with sealed construction. This translates into some very impressive statistics for waterproofing and breathability- 20,000mm and 30,000gms, respectively. Talking of which, P4DRY promises not to feel tacky against the skin, which is a problem with some laminates in my experience. Laser cut holes beneath pits continue this airy narrative. A thin pile fleece collar is designed to supply some added warmth, while stopping cold, wet stuff from creeping inside.

A waterproof zipper with “garage” and elasticated cuffs continues this, and the easily packable theme and a tag team of elastic and silicone helms promise to stop gathering at the back.

Ours was the blue but black and burgundy are the similarly tasteful alternatives. Talking of colours, retro-reflective logos ae also flanked by subtle black strips, which are also retro-reflective. Personally, I would’ve preferred bolder, others disagree. Either way, hardly a deal-breaker.

jacket softshell madison road cycling race
cycling jersey jacket collar inner bicycle clothing
cycle gear clothing jacket hem inner

Sizing/Fit 3.75/5

Madison describes fit as “pro” tailored to fit close, thus avoiding annoying flutter, while still having sufficient stretch to comfortably entertain a middleweight winter jersey and base layer beneath. Sizing is equally bang on, making online purchases reliable providing you’ve followed the site’s sizing guide. Medium is a lazy default for me these days and Madison made this choice easier still by featuring a model standing 1m83 and wearing a medium. I’m broad across the shoulders, short in the torso, relatively long-limbed and am pleased to report medium has almost felt tailor-made. This might be a consideration if you’re disproportionately long in the torso, or a heavier build though, so do take a proper look at the chart before adding to cart. 

cycling gear clothing jacket bbicycle race road

Performance 4/5

Let me start by saying I was stunned, especially given the price point. December to February have been very wintry, with more than their fair share of rain, sleet, bracing winds. However, there has also been milder days too. 

I’ve regularly been out in heavy rain for 2-3 hours and remained completely dry. Driving rain and bracing headwinds couldn’t intrude at the fleece collar or sneak past the elasticated sleeves. Rain just sat atop the surface, beading up and then rolling away, as it should. 

Breathability was similarly seamless and though I haven’t felt soggy with mid weight base and fleece-lined winter jerseys, there’s been no familiar misting around the chest, pits and lower back until the jacket’s fibres wake up to wicking. I’m fond of laminate jackets but one downside is their tendency to sweat and feel clammy against the skin. 

Admittedly, this is most acute during the milder months but a moot point with the Road Race Super Light. Light years ahead of the infamous condom jackets (although these were useful if you wanted to shed a few pounds before a big race). 

I wasn’t expecting to remain temperate at –3 either but the DWR (durable water repelling layer) has blocked icy chill with similar finesse. Something I was particularly grateful for, following an irreparably snapped chain 7 miles from home. The snug cut rules out annoying flutter and drag, which was refreshingly obvious on speedy descents with biting crosswinds.

Alternating between hoods and drops, there has been some minor lift at the back, but nothing likely to result in chill and though there’s no drop tail, I've never had any issue with a damp lower back, or buttocks. I don’t tend to park bottles in jersey pockets as a rule-unless I’m testing a garment.

However, the stretchy fabric makes retrieving 600ml trade types, snacks and other goodies from jersey pockets a bit more forgiving than some and arguably makes up for the jacket’s lack of a poacher, or breast pocket.

Talking of which, and true to claims, it will pack down to the size of a 500ml water bottle and I’ve had no issues parking it in a typical terrace type pocket, should need arise. Obviously, it could also be strapped under a cargo net, such as this integral design belonging to the Axiom Ocean wave City+ Seat Bag.

Value 4/5 

The Madison Road Race Men's Waterproof Softshell Jacket originally retailed at £99.99 but has since been discounted to £79.99, which makes it remarkable value for money. £99.99 buys the Oxford Venture. This is another packable model, although geared toward gravel and commuting/training.

It’s a 2.5-layer laminate, which features a removable hood, pocket, a decent helping of bold reflectives too. However, waterproofing and breathability are a lower, price point typical 10,000 apiece. It’s also a little more prone to that “sweating” I was talking about earlier and at 249g for a medium, it’s also a little heavier. Galiber Tourmalet3 is another packable model that also offers a lot of bangs for modest buck (£68.99). 

However, waterproof and breathability ratings of 15,000 and 13500 can’t compete with the Madison. At the other extreme, we have the 7Mesh Cypress Hybrid Jacket  is made from Gore Tex Windstopper and offers performance to match. Three rear pockets are another bonus but it’s a good deal dearer than the Madison and I found the silicone hem less tenacious than some. 

Summary

I’ve been wowed by The Madison Men’s Road Race Men’s Waterproof Softshell Jacket. It does exactly what it says in the blurb and has only been noticed in the most positive senses and with none of the compromises I’ve come to expect from packable models. 

I certainly wasn’t expecting it to block out the elements in sub-zero temperatures. Minor grumbles about the zipper tag and reflectives pale into insignificance when specification, performance and price are considered. 

Verdict: 4/5 Packable lightweight jacket with few compromises and at a great price. 

 

Michael Stenning

 

Madison.co.uk – The UK’s largest cycle parts & accessories distributor

 

PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2023

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