When it comes to windbreaker jackets, we'd ideally like something stylish and technically perfect. That ultimate goal has taken a step closer to reality thanks to Café Du Cycliste and their Madeleine jacket.
Café Du Cycliste are, no bonus points for a guessing, a French brand. They’re based in the Côte d’Azur region in the South of France. There’s plenty of beautiful riding to be had down there, and it’s home to a lot of super serious professional riders, so it’s nice to see that they don’t take themselves too seriously.
“Modern, imaginative, and fun” are the buzz words thrown about on their website, but the phrase we like the most – “tailored-tech” – just about encapsulates the Madeleine windbreaker jacket we’re testing here.
That ‘tailored’ approach is quite evident with the fit of the Madeleine. It’s slim cut, with a nice cinched in waist, which keeps the material close, but also manages to stay flattering. It’s a nice touch that would look out of place on other fluro thrown-on windbreakers, but certainly supports the outfitter styling of the Madeleine.
That colour, which looks straight up grey in some photos, is actually a Prince of Wales check pattern. It’s delightful on close inspection, so it’s a shame it appears as a solid colour to most people as you fly by. It’s all in the details I guess, and those who stop to appreciate them are the greatest rewarded. We’re aware that it won’t suit every person’s ideas of cycling style, but there isn’t another colour option, so it’s like it or lump it I’m afraid.
Wearing a grey jacket on a gloomy British day will leave you struggling to stand out, so if visibility is a concern, the Madeleine might not top the Christmas shopping list. There are a couple of nice reflective panels on the rear, but they aren’t huge, and they’ll only help you at nighttime, and not during daylight hours. The good news is that they’re subtle enough not to spoil the tailored design of the jacket, so it’s swings and roundabouts.
The unique pattern and lack of all-round visibility might be black marks against the Madeleine’s name to some, but detractors will take some convincing when it comes to the performance. It’s designed as a windbreaker jacket, so we were pleased to find its ability to cut out a chilly breeze was among the best around.
The material is light, and it’s best suited to temperatures from 10-20 degrees. It’s a wide spectrum that makes this jacket useful for three out of four of our British cycling seasons. That light material makes it easy to fold away and stash in a rear jersey pocket too.
It can handle a light shower, but wet weather rides aren’t really within its arsenal, so for really soggy days, it’s best left behind. Breathability is a key factor for a windbreaker jacket though, and in that regard the Madeleine is back on top. A vented rear section combined with a mesh underarm made light work of heat build up.
Opinions on style and visibility aside, our only real niggle with the jacket was the sleeve length. The extra-small size we tested was an excellent fit and shape around the body, but the sleeves were a tad short. In general use it wasn’t an issue, but when the temperature dropped we would have appreciated an extra inch on the sleeves to keep wrists completely covered.
More information can be found on the Café Du Cycliste website.
Soft neck and cuff finishes help the jacket to feel plush and luxurious, and a lovely selection of materials give the garment a pricey aura. At £105, we expect a high level of quality, and the Madeleine doesn't disappoint in that regard. We'd go as far as to say that thanks to a unique approach to design, backed up by excellent performance, it punches well above its price bracket in comparison to other jackets around the crowded £100 budget. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend this jacket, but only if you like the design, of course.