The Madison Sportive men's mitts are a lightweight, comfortable summer mitt offering good specification and performance for the money.
Materials and technical specification are pretty much what I'd expect at this price point and broadly level pegging with the Altura Peloton 2 Progel mitts.
Starting with the backs, we are talking Lycra with mesh ventilation and Velcro cuff closures. Ours are a neutral but classy black and blue with white mesh, but there are several other options to choose from if this doesn't fire your imagination. The thumbs feature a terry 'brow wipe', perfectly angled for stopping sweat reaching the eyes, or taming runny noses.
Flip them over and you'll find a grey synthetic 'Amara' type palm impregnated with ulnar-defending gel blobs. These are quite extensive compared with the Alturas, although of comparable density.
Silicone grippers are designed for optimal purchase in wet weather, and finger tabs assist removal, though I've not found them necessary. Personally, I'd welcome some additional reinforcement between thumb and forefinger.
The double stitching was uniformly good on our test pair, and while the limited lifetime warranty applies to manufacturing defects rather than crash replacement, it's a definite plus just the same.
In the saddle
These ingredients translate into surprisingly competent mitts. Madison has clearly done its homework here and comfort has been consistently good, whether I've popped out for one hour or five. They absorb most low-level vibration, especially washboard tarmac synonymous with country lanes, and the gel padding has never felt obtrusive or, worse still, induced precisely the discomfort it's meant to eliminate.
Marketed as a sportive mitt, they're a more relaxed fit than your typical 'skin' model. I appreciated the additional room, especially on longer outings in hotter weather. Being XL (a size larger than my default) doubtless played a part, but I welcomed the slightly longer fingers, which offered some additional protection. The Sportives are fine for less challenging forest tracks and gravel roads, though there are better options if you're looking toward more challenging rough-stuff on a regular basis.
I've found the palms harmonious with all coverings, though most notably silicone/impregnated and genuine leather bar tapes. A torrential downpour can turn palms and backs decidedly soggy but does nothing to spoil the tenure, even on fresh, glossy wraps. If anything, purchase improves, so you can focus on a decent tempo and changing conditions.
A stiff breeze or milder air sees them drying in around 15-20 minutes – same story when plucking them from the machine following a 30-degree wash. The inner climate doesn't turn uncomfortably clammy either, something I attribute to the perforated mesh panel and more relaxed cut.
On cooler nights, when the temperatures dipped unexpectedly, old school crochet backs lock in a bit more warmth, but the Sportives haven't let me down on some dusk-til-dawn all-nighters.
Impressive mitts with a modest price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison Sportive Men's Mitts
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Madison says: "Whether you are on the hoods for hours on a hundred mile epic, or out on the Sunday morning club ride, the Sportive mitt will ensure maximum comfort and dexterity"
My feelings are that they are surprisingly capable mitts for general road riding.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Madison lists these features:
* The soft palm has carefully placed gel padding to ensure you have sufficient protection without impeding grip or feel
* The Lycra/mesh backing and hook & loop closure on the wrist allows maximum breathability and guarantees a close, flexible and secure fit
* Reflective print to enhance visibility
* Brow wipe on the thumb to wick away the sweat
* Easy off finger tabs for quick and easy removal at the end of the ride
* Limited lifetime warranty
Very well made for a budget model, and limited lifetime warranty also boosts confidence.
Found the XL bang on – I'm large by default, which suggests they come up smaller than other brands. Either go a size larger than normal, or try a couple if you're someone who typically falls between sizes.
Smaller than I was expecting but XL was definitely the right size.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very simple. Pop in the machine on a 30-degree cycle and they'll line dry in around 20 minutes. The white mesh can cultivate a grimy patina given time and a few roadside mechanicals, so you'll need to give these a quick warm soapy water pre-wash every so often.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been very impressed by the Sportive mitts. Relatively thin materials encourage rider-generated heat to disperse and they dry quickly following a sharp shower or more persistent rainfall. Regular off-road jaunts confirm they're pretty tough, and the relatively low-density padding offers excellent defence against low-level vibration and delivers over longer distances too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit, comfort and better performance than I would expect from this end of the market.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, given the design brief and cost.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Very good budget mitt in every sense, although it would be worth trying for size first.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)