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Sprint versus long-distance tri-suits

Sponsored: when should you go vested or short sleeved for your racing tri-suit? We look at the new dhb range to explain all…

Sponsored: The rise of short-sleeved tri-suits has been the biggest change in tri-suit design since their inception. Scan any long-distance race in 2017 and sleeved suits will be everywhere, from the pros leading the pack to age-groupers at every level. They’ll also offer more UV protection than their vested counterparts and, let’s face it, they look cooler as well.

But there’s still much to recommend vested tri-suits, for short-course racing especially, as the fields at the ITU World Triathlon Series show. For pool and non-wetsuit swims, vested suits will offer more freedom of movement than their short-sleeve siblings. Your arms will dry far quicker than sleeves as well, even ones loaded with quick-drying tech.

For short-course sprint and Olympic-distance triathlon events this summer, you’ll want a suit that delivers the optimum amount of ventilation, quick-drying abilities and supreme comfort. You should also demand a chamois that’ll provide ample padding for the 20km or 40km bike leg, and will remain lean and lithe for the duration of the 5km or 10km run. The vested Classic (£66) and Blok (£72) Tri Suits from dhb tick these boxes and more, delivering stylish, comfortable and considered suits for short-course racing. 

dhb launch new tri-suits


What’s impressed us most is the attention to detail; these are suits seemingly designed and road-tested by triathletes for triathletes. There’s a full-length zip guard to stop any rubbing on the chest between the zipper and skin, something strangely neglected by many brands. The thin silicon grippers are something we’d expect on suits twice this price, keeping the legs securely in place but not restrictively so. There’s no chance of the dreaded sausage legs here, with just the right level of elasticity to suit a range of legs sizes. 

The 13cm-wide perforated pad made by industry leader Elastic Interface, meanwhile, is quick-to-dry after the swim leg and achieves the balance of bike comfort while remaining invisible on the run leg. Ventilation is provided by the strategically-placed venting panel that runs the length of the spine.

We see plenty of unsuccessful experimentation with pocket shapes and positions here at 220. But the Classic and Blok keeps things simple and reliable, going for the ‘if it ain’t broke’ formula with two well-positioned lower back pockets on the left and right that are perfectly sized for energy gels, chews and bars, and are easy to access on the bike and run.

And there’s plenty of forward-thinking on show as well, including the moderate compressive properties in the thighs, the striking aesthetics and the Xtra Life Lycra that’s resistant to suncream and chlorine damage.


If you’re going longer and aiming for middle/Ironman 70.3 or long-distance/Ironman triathlon this season, aerodynamics and additional comfort will be higher on your list of priorities. Here tri-bars, TT helmets, and a triathlon bike complete with wind-cheating hydration and storage systems will all come into the aerodynamic reckoning. As will your choice of tri-suit.

Wind tunnel data has revealed that a short-sleeved tri-suit, as opposed to a vested suit, can save around a minute for a 90km bike leg, two minutes for a full 180km Ironman bike that, compared to a tri-bike or set of carbon tri-bars, is some of the cheapest speed you can buy.

For racing anything up to 8:30hrs at 70.3, or 17hrs at Ironman, suit irritations and poor design choices will also be heightened. And dhb’s visually-striking Blok (£76) and Classic (£70) Short Sleeve Tri Suit releases share many of the winning characteristics of their vested siblings (the top-end leg grippers, well-placed and sized pockets), while the YKK zip has a lockable slider for added mid-race ventilation.

For more information on the dhb range visit


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