Ian Bibby won the team’s debut race at the London IG Nocturne, and the Roger Hammond-managed squad, a mix of youth and experience, hasn’t looked back.
The team’s Reynolds 953 steel race bikes stand out in the peloton (gaining the attention of Garmin-Sharp’s Tyler Farrar among others at Challenge Majorca, RCUK understands) and so does their kit.
We went to Madison’s house show, iceBike, to take a closer look at the collection, one that found early inspiration in the Gulf Oil-liveried Porsche 917 sports cars of the early 1970s.
There are nine pieces in the collection so far, with further garments, including winter gloves and overshoes, “in the pipeline,” according to Madison clothing’s brand manager, Russell Whitaker, who said developing the kit with the team had led to smaller sizes, increased attention to detail and the opportunity to deploy its design features in other areas of Madison’s clothing range, now in its fifth year.
Here’s a close look at some of the key pieces.Short-sleeve jersey
Whitaker was keen to stress that the kit bound for the shops is the kit the team will wear. The phrase ‘replica kit’ does not apply, he says. A piece the team will wear each time they race is the short-sleeve jersey: a lightweight garment with a low collar, full-length zip, and laser cut sleeves injected with silicon: no ugly gripper bands here. Expect it to cost £69.99, and to be available in “early summer” (May or June).Roubaix jersey
Much of the collection is made up of training garments, and the Roubaix-lined, long-sleeve jersey is perhaps chief among them. Expected to sell for £99.99, its most obvious feature is a houndstooth lining to the collar: a very British detail expected to become a signature of the finished collection. RCUK understands a custom chamois with a houndstooth print for the bib short is on the cards. Which brings us to…Bib short
The bib short is still at the prototype stage. Made from four different lycra blends in the leg, and two different meshes in the bib, the final version will have a different lycra binding on the straps. The same silicon-injected, laser cut cuffs that appear on the short-sleeved jersey are used for the bib short hems. The TMF pad, one with three layers of padding and an anti-bacterial carbon finish, also features on the…Bib tight
Pre-curved sections are a feature of many of the garments in the collection, and the legs on the bib tights are an obvious example. The fabric is Roubaix-lined lycra, finished with black reflective detailing and flatlock seams. Madison have used a lighter weight fabric for the panel behind the knee for additional flexibility. Early indications are that the bib tights will sell for £199.99.Softshell jacket
A favourite of the designers, owing to the satisfaction of overcoming the challenge of producing the heavily shaped arms, the softshell jacket came into production just three days before RCUK visited Madison’s Milton Keynes HQ. The price has yet to be confirmed, but expect it to be around the £130 mark. Whitaker admits the garment feels a little uncomfortable off-the-bike, but comes into its own when in the saddle (we had a similar, and positive, experience with Le Col’s Kuro winter jacket).Thermal gilet
Another garment expected to cost is £99.99 is the thermal gilet, one with a windproof front and a stretchable, lycra back equipped with three pockets and intended as a training garment. The reflective detailing seen here, and a feature of the collection, followed a direct request form the team, says Whitaker. The subtle approach taken on early samples for fear of offending the rider’s ‘roadie’ tastes with too much high-vis was abandoned.
There will be two mitts in the finished collection. The aero mitt was the second of the two to be developed, and made at the request of the riders. While it has a simpler design than the traditional mitt, and less padding, the aero mitt is favoured by the team for racing, said Whitaker, and has a more expensive, Pittards-leather palm. Don’t expect to see them on sale this year. Whitaker expects them to be introduced to the range in summer 2014.Accessories
The arm, knee and leg warmers are still at the first and second prototype stage and do not yet have a price. The samples shown were heavily shaped and included some interesting details: the arm warmers, for example, have two, finger-sized “grab hooks” at the top, which the rider can use to pull them into position.Shell gilet