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Madison Sportive Starter Pack – review

One of the issues that people have when they start out in cycling is choosing a decent jersey and shorts without either breaking the bank or settling for a cheap and borderline disposable option. Madison have figured that out and brought out their ‘Sportive Starter Pack’ for men and women (men’s tested here) that aims to fill that void.

The pack contains their Sportive Classic jersey and Sportive bib shorts for £74.99. Given that the jersey and bib shorts for £39.99 and £54.99 individually – for a combined total of £94.98 – there’s immediate value as a package here.

Madison have cleverly made sure that the kit in the combo matches without making you look like a full kit weirdo. Instead of that ‘faux pro’ look you can end up with, the combination of black shorts to a similarly black but clearly branded jersey is a smart look.

Jersey

The Sportive Classic jersey offers a decent level of ventilation thanks to a not-too-dense panel material and mesh sides which creates a good air flow throughout. Helping with this is the three-quarter-length zipper at the front that you can pull down to add even more ventilation when things get a little too hot.

On the rear there are three good-sized pockets that provide plenty of storage space for gels, food and other bits and pieces. On the go they turned out to be positioned well, too, making access nice and easy.

Overall the fit is good, striking a nice balance between being fitted but not too race-oriented, without feeling too baggy either. It’s a fit which reflects the fact that this is kit aimed at the sportive market.

However, there are a couple of things I’d like to see improved – the first being that after a few washes bobbles began to appear on the pockets. It’s not a disaster necessarily – and I rode with a bag a couple of times as well, which may have contributed – but either way it’s certainly not something I’d expect to see after only a few washes.

The other change would be to the hem, as the silicone gripper didn’t prevent the jersey riding up when I rode with only a few light things in the pockets. Ultimately, though, it’s a reliable jersey and you can do an awful lot worse for the price.

Bib shorts

The bib shorts are where the action really happens in kit terms as they’re the main contact point with the bike. And, as you’ve probably guessed, the most important element is the pad.

There’s always a danger with cheaper shorts that the pad won’t be up to scratch as it’s quite difficult to get right and the most expensive thing to develop. Luckily Madison have clearly done their research and come up with a pad that performs admirably in terms of both comfort and ventilation.

The pad provides a solid level of support without sacrificing comfort and thanks to ventilation holes, doesn’t create too much sweat which can cause irritation. It also includes multi-density areas to make sure that the places in need of most support (sit bones and perineum) get it, an area in which even expensive bib shorts can fall down.

In addition to the pad, the shorts have comfortable straps over the shoulders which have a thickened outer edge, helping to stop twisting, which is another potential source of irritation.

Flat lock stitching is employed throughout – as used by many bib shorts on the market, but often avoided in cheaper shorts to keep the cost down – and this ensures that all seams sit well against the skin.

The bottoms of the legs are elasticated and encircled by a silicone gripper, which does it’s job in stopping the shorts moving around while you ride.

Conclusion

Overall, the Madison Sportive Starter Pack is impressive for the price. When you consider that you get both a jersey and shorts for £75, you may expect that to be reflected in the quality, but what you actually get are two pieces that perform well above that price point.

Pros

– Excellent price point
– Strong performance
– Well-ventilated jersey
– Excellent pad for the price

Cons

– Bobbling on the jersey pockets
– Back of the jersey rides up when the pockets aren’t full

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