We put the featherweight Café du Cycliste Madeleine gilet through its paces and find it well up to the job
The humble cycling gilet is one of the true bike-riding must-haves, but still it seems strange that such a tiny bit of fabric as the Café du Cycliste Madeleine gilet is so technical. Yet, when you’re out riding you realise its true worth.
The Café du Cycliste Madeleine gilet’s selling point is its weight: at 99g it’s tiny, easily folding away into a rear pocket. It’s the lightest gilet I’ve tested by a country mile, but it’s the fact it can generate the level of warmth it does despite being a mere sliver of material that impresses me.
It’s labelled as windproof and its tight arm seams keep the wind out and the heat in, plus an additional storm flap behind the zip ramps up the protection, too. A high neck is a nice touch especially as it’s padded with a soft material, eliminating chafing and adding warmth.
Thanks to the breathable back section, the warm gilet doesn’t become a bin bag and it’s never been damp with sweat at the end of rides.
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That same breathable back means the gilet doesn’t need gaping arm holes, so neither does it blow up like a balloon as soon as you set off.
Despite its slim appearance, it does an excellent job of keeping your core warm, whether that’s on particularly cold days or long descents. Don’t underestimate its importance in keeping your fingers and toes warm.
At £92 it’s certainly not cheap, and to many will seem excessively expensive, but there’s no doubting the insulation on offer, its technical prowess or its importance as a layering addition.
As a true wardrobe essential, it accompanied me on everything from big days out to my urban commutes, and it still is so often the final piece of kit I reach for before heading out the door.
At the end of the day, the Café du Cycliste Madeleine gilet isn’t just a spring or autumn item: I’d throw it on whatever the season as a perfect final layer.
A technical, protective piece of clothing that can be stuffed away. It's a testament to its great performance that I haven't ridden without it in weeks.