Madison produces some great winter kit and, on paper at least, the Zenith Thermal jersey should be just the ticket to keep mountain bikers warm on those chilly autumn/spring rides.
Better yet, Madison says that worn as a mid-layer, the Zenith is ideal for those properly cold mid-winter rides, too. Not bad for £50.
With years of experience behind it, has this British brand created the perfect jersey to see us through the winter season?
Madison Zenith Thermal jersey details
The Zenith Thermal jersey is constructed from a brushed back fabric that’s designed to wick sweat away from the body.
Madison hasn’t included any mesh panels to try to boost the Zenith’s ability to ditch heat when the rider is working hard.
While all that fleece-like fabric might sound stifling, the Zenith Thermal jersey has been sized generously, so the fit is a touch baggier than many of its rivals. There’s a little bit of a drop to the rear hem to help keep your lower back covered when you’re sat down and pedalling, and plenty of length in the sleeves too.
There’s not a huge host of extra features, as you’d expect at this price, but it’s nice to see the neck label printed rather than stitched in.
Madison offers a 30-day money back guarantee and a limited lifetime warranty on the Zenith Thermal, which is very useful.
Madison Zenith Thermal jersey performance
How we tested
In a bid to eke out all the relevant details, I tested the Zenith Thermal jersey back-to-back with five other winter jerseys.
I wore the same sleeveless baselayer throughout testing (or no baselayer at all on milder days) and never wore a pack.
To keep things as consistent as possible, I wore each jersey on the same test loops in a variety of different weather conditions. These ranged from changeable autumnal days that were damp one minute then sunny and warm the next, through to colder days with freezing winds, and changed the order I wore them in on each day.
Also on test
- Altura Esker Trail
- Endura Singletrack Fleece
- Rapha Trail Windblock
- Scott Trail Storm
- Troy Lee Designs Skyline Chill
Thanks to the soft-touch, almost fleece-like brushed fabric that makes up the entire Zenith Thermal jersey, it’s incredibly comfy straight away.
When it comes to coverage, I never felt as though my arms or lower back were exposed when seated or when shifting about out of the saddle.
Get working hard on the climbs and things do warm up quickly, though thanks to the relatively loose fit it never feels overwhelmingly hot or clammy, which is good, especially on milder days.
Despite the warmth on offer, pedal into a chilly headwind and the Zenith Thermal can come unstuck. That’s down to the wide neck, which isn’t as close-fitting as we’d like.
That means it lets air down into the body of the jersey. It’s not such a big deal if you’re already pretty warm, but when soaked in sweat I found myself getting colder than expected.
On calmer days with no substantial wind, this is less of an issue, though.
Overall, the Zenith Thermal is a comfy, warm jersey at a very reasonable price, and it works well enough on milder and cold days. When faced with a cold wind, though, the loose-fitting neck lets in a chill, which isn’t ideal.
Madison Zenith Thermal jersey bottom line
I like the Madison Zenith Thermal jersey for the most part. That’s down to how comfy and warm it feels on colder days. It doesn’t breathe amazingly well, but its baggy fit means it never really feels too clammy on warmer days.
I’d love it to have a closer-fitting neck, though, because when riding into a cold headwind, you soon get a cold burst of air entering the body of the jersey. Still, it’s decent for the price.