We continue our guide to 2015's best tri-suits...
Price: £108 from www.racezone3.com
The Zorro flash gives this suit a superhero feel, and the Lava is certainly a distinctive looking beast. Following on from the successful Lava two-piece suit, this is the all-in-one offering aimed at long-course racers. And the large pad is certainly comfortable for miles in the saddle.
Sadly, like Zoot, that pad was all too conspicuous on the run, a problem we’ve had with Zone3 suits in the past and sadly one that overshadowed the good work done elsewhere here.
For the Lava has many qualities, with a quartet of smartly placed pockets, effective zip guards, and the softest silicone grips we’ve experienced.It’s also fairly quick-drying, resulting in something we’ll use for cycling but not for tri race day.
Verdict: Striking long-course suit, but just too much between the legs for us on the run, 79%
Aqua Sphere Energize
Price: £135 from aquasphereswim.com
Aimed at short-course athletes, the Energize is the sole suit in the Italian’s 2015 tri-suit range. Like the Z3R0D overleaf, it has a back zipper to enhance swim speed and boasts a water-repellent fabric. And like its Med cousin, it’s swift in the pool, with the fabric meeting little hydro resistance.
Onto dry land, and the pad was adequate for short-course racing in the saddle, and barely noticeable on the run. The large zipped back pocket was like nothing on test, opening to reveal a pocket big enough for keys, phone and a pesto focaccia.
Our issues came in the form of the industrial-strength leg grippers, which gave us a case of sausage legs, and the dense fabric consistency that offered little flexibility or breathability.
Verdict: A mixed bag at a high price, but with clear benefits in the pool, 77%
Huub DS Long-Course
Price: £179 from huubdesign.com
The snappily-titled DS Long-Course Triathlon Suit’s credentials come high, with six-time Ironman Hawaii champ Dave Scott having a hand in the design process. Straight-off-the-bat, we love the move to sleeved tri-suits; away from the aero and UV benefits, they look and feel great.
If Huub didn’t start the trend, they’ve taken it to the next level with the Long-Course, with the strategically-placed mesh panels and ultra-light fabric proving hugely effective in managing airflow and temp regulation.
Elsewhere, the elasticated hems were effective and the pad was ample enough for extended rides. Our only problem is the see-through nature, which revealed too much of our bodily hair to our long-suffering family.
Verdict: A high price, but plenty of quality, craftsmanship and race day benefits, 92%
Louis Garneau Course M-2
Price: £179 from www.evanscycles.com
The star presence continues in the Course M-2 Tri Skin from Louis Garneau, with triple Kona champ Craig Alexander on design duties. It mixes style with long-course substance, with internal pockets, sleeves and a dimple mesh construction all adding to the aero factor.
On the practical side, the suit opens fully to maximise ventilation (and reflects heat), with the, erm, rummage pocket allowing us to make mid-race toilet stops. Despite our initial concerns, the sizeable chamois wasn’t detrimental to our run and gave plenty of pad on the bike.
Sadly the finishing quality isn’t worthy of the £180 price tag, with the ineffective zip guard/loose flap the size of a mouse’s eyepatch and the printing showing some wear.
Verdict: Two-piece benefits in a seriously stylish and practical one-piece suit, 86%
Z3ROD Ultimate oSuit
Price: £220 from www.z3rod.co.uk
After Zone3’s Zorro suit, here’s Z3R0D’s red and blue Spiderman equivalent. And true to form, it’s a suit aimed at the superheroes of tri; those capable of racing without resorting to nutrition in their pockets and for whom every second counts.
And with deep pockets.While we’re certainly not in those camps, what we can say is that this is an incredibly light and tight suit; we nearly pulled a muscle getting it on. Once in the pool it laughed in the face of aquatic resistance, with the lack of pockets and rear zipper adding to the first discipline speed.
Although minimal, we found the pad adequate for racking up the short-course kilometres, with the bonded, chafe-free seams adding to the sense of high-class quality.
Verdict: Not likely to have mass appeal, but hard to fault for those seeking marginal gains
Once again, the competition was fierce between some very fine, and very different, tri-suit creations...
This year’s tri-suits grouptest is the most varied we’ve ever had in 220, with sleeved designs, compressive all-in-ones and swim-focussed suits all included. Given tri-suits are against the body for every minute of the race, it’s also the most personal of 220’s grouptests, with body shape and race needs differing for every single tri-suit buyer. Here’s our own verdict on a very good collection...
At the budget end, the Aropec pretty much exists in a category of its own, with the quality and looks of the suit outweighing any false economy claims. Beginner racers and anyone on a budget are unlikely to do better than this for a £50 outlay.
Moving up to the mid-priced bracket, and it’s the Orca that tops the competition ahead of decent contenders from Zone3, Zoot and especially Blueseventy, with the impressive 2XU existing in a compression/price category of its own. Out of the hydrophobic swim specialist suits, the Z3R0D beats the Aqua Sphere for looks, weight and flexibility, even if the Italian suit will have a broader appeal due to its inclusion of a zipped pocket.
The sleeved suits were a refreshing addition to the traditionally zest dominated test, and the two-way competition was fierce. If the Louis Garneau edges the Huub in the practicality stakes, the Huub takes the honours in construction, feel and breathability; it feels like you’re putting something special on and that’s just the feeling you need come race day. Yes, the price is high, but as suits should last multiple seasons (and the high quality stitching here suggests it will), the Huub takes the 2015 tri-suit grouptest honours.
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Main image: Chris Hitchcock; Tri-suit images: Secret Studio