British company Madison Clothing has been producing high quality cycling apparel since 1977.
Renowned for their functionality, Madison clothing have been at the forefront of sports clothing technology for decades, providing the very best active wear for cyclists. They make road and mountain bike kit, but it's always been the off-road women's gear that's impressed us the most compared to what else is available on the market.
Having spent decades building and strengthening their brand, Madison Clothing have grown their women's specific product range greatly, in line with the growing female audience. They strive to manufacture flattering, functional and stylish women's wear, which looks great both on and off the bike.
Madison Clothing's dedication to women's riding is strengthened by its carefully selected brand ambassadors, such as downhill World Champion, Manon Carpenter.
Madison's design team has listened to the needs and wants of female cyclists for years, helping them produce an extensive range of cycling apparel.
In the last year, Madison have added more female designers to their team - something that they admit becomes very apparent when you look at the new 2016 range vs what was on offer just a few years ago.
One of these designers is Annabelle Lancaster. An endurance Triathlete herself, she's designed the 2016 Madison's road cycling line for women. Having joined the Madison design team in February 2015, Annabelle's mission was clear: "Women like to look good, on the bike, off the bike. If we know we look good, we feel good, therefore perform better. I have designed the range specifically for women, either a casual sunny summer ride, or a down and dirty race day, the graphics and colours reflect whatever the occasion".
"I want to ride hard, and look great, no compromises." - Annabelle Lancaster, Madison Clothing Designer
Having faced the same problems with women's kit herself, Annabelle didn't want to just "pink it n' shrink it" for the women's collection, she wanted to add a unique style which can be appreciated on all levels.
More women on the design team means that the product testing procedure becomes a whole lot easier - the designer can put the kit through it's paces, and no exactly what she wants to change without going through the laborious interview process. Of course, further testing is always required before the kit goes to market and Madison sponsor female pros who can give them the ultimate feedback.
Madison's road range for women encompasses the Sportive and Keirin lines which offers a wide range of tights, bibs, jerseys and accessories. The brand have sponsored British based men's team Madison-Genesis since 2013, but have yet to embark upon a similar relationship with a women's pro team.
It's on the mountain bike side that we really think Madison excels, and that's also where they've made roads into sponsoring female riders. With their Flux, Flo, Leia and Zena line's of MTB apparel, there's a wide selection of jackets, shorts, base-layers and jerseys which are suitable for all weather and trail conditions.
Describing the Flo mountain bike jacket after testing it out recently, TWC Staff Writer Jess Strange wrote: "The soft-shell women’s Flo jacket from Madison offers a great balance for being breathable, waterproof, well fitting and it looks great."
One of the highlights of the jacket is the rubberised shoulders thoughtfully added to prevent backpack slippage, and there are matching shorts, too. Describing the baggies, Jess commented: "These baggy shorts are waterproof and highly durable with double panelling on the knee areas to add further protection to you and the wear of the fabric."
With the growing female cycling industry, Madison don't just cater for the athletes an hardcore hobbyists, their range of cycling apparel branches out to the commuters too. The Stellar, Prima and Protec lines ensure commuters are kept protected from the elements with their water and windproof technology.
One more thing we like about Madison is the way they cater for a wide range of UK sizes, from UK 8 to UK 16. Rather than the majority of brands who stick to three choices of Small, Medium and Large, Madison ensures you can feel confident with the fit you purchase.
In 2011, Madison Clothing teamed up with Saracen bikes to form the Madison Saracen Factory Race Team. One of its first recruits was the then 17-year-old Manon Carpenter. After seeing the youngster her dominate the junior division, Madison saw potential in this rising star.
Still riding for Madison Saracen today, Manon Carpenter has secured numerous podium finishes and won the coveted downhill World Cup title in 2014.
Manon Carpenter is a proud ambassador for Madison Clothing, and her work with promoting the brand has strengthened their position as a top choice for women's mountain bike apparel.
Madison Clothing has done a lot for women's cycling by making stylish and functional clothing accessible for all cyclists. Though we think they excel the most in the women's MTB arena, whatever the discipline, Madison provide a variety of options in an extensive collection that allows you to kit yourself out in a full riding outfit: from base-layer to outer-layers.
Their unwavering support of women in riding and pro athletes such as Manon Carpenter as well as their arguably unrivaled women's MTB range proves their commitment and dedication to providing the very best cycling apparel with the latest technologies.
Words: Jess Strange