Madison’s Zenith Thermal Jersey is a top designed to keep its wearer warmer as the temperatures drop. While it does exactly what it’s meant to, it’s also pretty comfortable, and I’m a big fan of its look. However, the fabric can hold moisture, and it begins to look tatty pretty quickly.
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Constructed with a brush backed wicking fabric made from 85% polyester and 15% elastane, the Zenith Thermal is a long-sleeved jersey that can be worn throughout colder months. It works on its own for milder days and as an underlayer when coupled with a jacket for chillier ones. Adding a pinch of weather protection is a dropped hem to stop sloppy muck from flinging its way up inside the jersey. The arms are cut to offer easy manoeuvrability on the bike without any excess fabric flapping about.
We’ve got the jersey in a medium for testing, my usual choice, and the fit is really nice. This size is described to fit a 38.5-40” chest, and there’s no tightness on the body, and everything is a good length without being too baggy.
Not only is it comfortable in its fit, but the brushed backed fabric is seriously soft and pleasant against the skin. The warmth it conjures up is pretty impressive too. I’ve been able to ride this down to temperatures where I would usually be reaching for a baselayer or chucking on a jacket.
However, once things heat up and get a little sweaty, I've found that the jersey struggles to wick moisture and instead keeps it inside. While certainly a bit damp under such situations, it's kept reasonably warm, so all is not lost.
Another downside is that during my three month test period with the jersey, the brushed fabric inner has been quick to start showing through the outer. For clarity's sake (don't judge), I didn't even wash it for the first couple of rides in the Zenith Thermal Jersey, and the fluffy interior was showing through. Several washes haven't fixed the problem either, but the problem hasn't gotten much worse since then. Jessica's been wearing the women's version, and she's also experienced a similar effect.
The Zenith Thermal Jersey is very similar to Scott’s Trail Storm L/SL Men’s Shirt that also comes with a brushed backed fabric. Still, there are a couple of 3D mesh panels to help keep it airy, something the Madison jersey doesn’t get. However, that will set you back £73, so Madison’s offering trump Scott’s in all-out value. There’s also Rapha’s new Trail Long Sleeve Technical T-Shirt but that’ll set you back £65.
If you’re looking for a great value, a well-fitting jersey that’ll keep you that bit warmer through the colder months, Madison’s Zenith Men’s Long Sleeve Thermal Jersey will do just that. However, if you get a little sweaty like me, it can struggle to wick that moisture, and it can look tatty pretty quickly.