It’s tough going to back to work after the Christmas break: dark mornings, wet roads, and a few extra pounds to burn off after all those mince pies. Thanks so much then to the guys at Madison, who sent over their Stellar men’s waterproof jacket for us to try out, which made my first commute back to work a very pleasurable one! Meanwhile, Ellie road tested the Madison Leia women’s jacket.
The Stellar is the perfect commuter jacket. I used to be wary of fluorescent coloured bike wear, but after one too many close calls on London’s roads have finally ditched the all black look for getting to work. This jacket in ‘Chilli Red’ seems like a pretty good compromise in this regard: it’s bright enough to be seen in but not overly so. I like the styling and, in terms of a brand, if you’re into that sort of thing, which let’s face it, most of us are, you can do a lot worse than Madison in terms of prestige. Sponsoring the Madison Genesis pro team, which saw quite a bit of success last year, and forming a partnership with Mark Cavendish for 2016, will only see their stock rise further.
After all that rain over the holiday, which put paid to my plans for an active cycling Christmas break, the weather eased up for the return to work: typical! However we did a rain test when Ellie insisted on turning the hose pipe on me when I got home. I can say that the Stellar lived up to its claims of being waterproof as my top half remained very dry despite the artificial showers! Back on the road it was also windproof, keeping out that nagging wind, and felt pretty breathable as I didn’t overheat. A nice feature is the fleecy collar which kept me snug on a pretty cold morning and return home in the evening.
The fit was rather roomy: I normally go for a Large in cycling wear, but even after all those festive indulgences of the Christmas break, a Medium would be a better size for me. Having said that the articulated arms were a really comfortable fit on the bike – I hate it when the sleeves pull up when you lean forward, but the Stellar did a good job there.
Other good features were the large reflective panels around the arms and lower back giving excellent night-time visibility, and a roomy pocket at the back. The front breast pocket was big enough for my phone and keys which survived the back garden drenching. I really liked the extended drop tail which kept my bottom nice and dry from all the puddles I had to whizz through. You can tuck this back up and secure it with hidden magnets if you don’t want to look weird when you step into the office. But the most ingenious aspect of the jacket was the a rear light clip on the spine, enabling you to hook up extra lights for increased visibility!
So, top marks for Madison’s Stellar jacket: stylish, comfortable, wind and rain proof, breathable, pucca brand, visible and not too heavy. My only disappointment is that it’s a little too bulky to fold up in my back jersey for forays into the Kent Alps. But a great commuter jacket. And if you want to stick with black they have it in that too – the reflective panels will keep you visible. You can even go for ‘hi-viz yellow’, but that would be a step too far for me!
While I was zipping my way to work in lycra on my road bike, Ellie opted for a more urban look and a slightly gentler pace on a hybrid in jeans and the rather stylish Leia Madison jacket.
Again, this is a really good technical jacket - waterproof and breathable, but it doesn’t look too bike geeky so you can wear it for walks or just as a normal casual jacket. You could even wear it for warm spring skiing. The arms are long enough for cycling with adjustable cuffs. It’s got some pretty cool features too, like the hood that can fit under a helmet, roomy pockets and a zipped sleeve pocket for a ticket (ski pass?) or key. The interior pink purple lining is understated but feminine.
An alternative to this would be the increasingly popular Proviz jacket which is a little cheaper, but I don’t think Ellie would be happy wearing that down the boozer. The verdict: thumbs up for the Leia jacket in cloud grey!
The Stellar Men’s Waterproof jacket is available from the Madison website at £99.99, although a little birdy just told me that it might be cheaper if you search hard on the internet. And the Leia Women’s jacket is available for £79.99.