Madison's Isoler Thermal Roubaix gloves are a thin-pile two-in-one designed to slip beneath traditional winter gloves for additional warmth, or on their own when it's still a bit nippy for mitts but too warm for gloves proper. Credit where it's due, they play both roles pretty convincingly, but there are a few minor niggles...
Available in two colours – time-honoured murk-busting fluoro yellow or stealth black and Scotchlite – these are fashioned from a thin-pile but very rugged seamless polyester that sits tactile against the skin.
The elasticated thermal cuffs are of a sensible length, forming a decent seal between jackets and training jerseys without creating too much bulk.
Flipping them over, the palms feature that familiar, grippy silicone detailing; this offers excellent all-weather purchase when engaging brakes and gears and works with most handlebar coverings. (Retro fans should note Benotto tape still proved infamously slippery in heavy rain, though no such problems with Bike Ribbon or genuine leather coverings.)
The gloves also afford excellent dexterity – perfect for quick tune-ups, taking photographs or remounting very stubborn tyres.
However, the fingers did not communicate reliably with my smartphones and similar touchscreen tech, which is something we've all come to expect, and this could be a deal-breaker for some.
The lack of padding translated to discomfort past the 25-mile mark and, somewhat predictably, the thin-pile fabric began absorbing moisture after 20 minutes in moderate rain and was truly sodden within 45.
Thankfully, they wick dry in a similar timescale when aided by a gentle breeze, and have remained fairly temperate. Talking of which, during a particularly mild December, I'm pleased to report they also remained ambient when temperatures crept into the teens.
Though there are only splashes of Scotchlite, some is better than none, communicating signals better along pitch black lanes than built-up areas.
As a liner, performance is very much dependent on their hosts. On the few occasions during testing when temperatures slid down to 2°C, they proved surprisingly compatible with snug-fitting high-tech road gloves, adding an additional layer of protection against bitter crosswinds without impairing dexterity or bunching.
Funnily enough their qualities were best appreciated when paired with cheap but cheerful commuter/mountain bike versions, blocking chill while still allowing sweat to escape. These liner type designs are also useful for running, walking, photography and other outdoor pursuits.
Ultimately, there's a lot to like in terms of fit and comfort. The unreliable communication with touchscreen devices could be a deal breaker for many, though, and needs revising.
Generally likeable gloves/liners that lend themselves to other outdoor pursuits, but most riders will expect tech-friendly digits
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison Isoler Thermal Roubaix Gloves
Size tested: Large, Black
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: "Worn by itself or under another glove, the Isoler roubaix glove keeps the chill away."
Does exactly that and represents good value for money, although the fingers proved hit 'n' miss when communicating with touchscreen technology.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Seamless palm construction prevents any unwanted bulk
Knitted cuff gives a snug fit
Reflective print for enhanced visibility in low light conditions
All over silicone print on the palm gives good feel and purchase on the grips, shifters and brake levers
Limited lifetime warranty
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Responds very well to 30/40°C machine washes and line drying.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, these are a competent set of liner-cum-fair weather gloves that offer decent protection from chills when paired with winter riding gloves or when it's still a bit cold for fingerless mitts. The silicone palms provide decent purchase on most handlebar coverings too. However, in keeping with competitor designs, the lack of padding can encroach on longer rides and so-so communication with smartphones and similar tech could prove an outright deal-breaker.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Brilliant fit, pack small and performed both roles reasonably well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fingers didn't communicate reliably with touchscreen tech.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, with minor revision.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, with minor revision.
Use this box to explain your score
Overall, competent contenders with great fit, relatively quick drying times and good grip in their favour. However, most riders expect tech-compatible digits these days.
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)