Would you spend £800 on a tri-suit?

You can buy a lot of kit for £800, but would you blow it all on a tri-suit? Here’s why you might want to consider it…

Surpas Insane suit worn by Kristian Blummenfelt

Norwegian brand Trimtex shot into the limelight with the help of one of triathlon’s hottest properties – Kristian Blummenfelt

Advertisement MPU article

That may have had something to do with the now infamous see-through tri-suit he wore to victory at the Tokyo Olympics, but transparency aside, his gold medal proved it’s clearly a suit that’s worked well for him.

Now, you can get your hands on the latest iteration of the same suit. That’s because Trimtex has launched a new high-performance brand called Surpas, which is home to the Insane tri-suit and the brand’s other top-end kit. 

It doesn’t come cheap, though. For those racing over middle or long distances, the Insane Speedsuit range includes the top-end customisable suits (€1,000) and non-customisable options (€800) with turbulators, plus customisable (€800) and non-customisable (€600) options without turbulators. 

There’s also the Insane Skinsuit (€450), which is a sleeveless option designed for sprint or Olympic distances, plus calf sleeves (€100 without turbulators, €150 with them), which have achieved savings of 4-6 watts in testing.

Surpas has also developed a lower-price ranged called the Pursue, which you can read about below, while all options are available in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Why should you spend so much?

Kristian Blummenfelt riding in the Insane tri-suit
Credit: Surpas/Daniel Vazquez

Now, that’s obviously a lot of money, and much more than you may be used to shelling out on a tri-suit. But why should you spend so much? And who should be buying one?

“We’ve called it Insane, because everything about it is insane,” Surpas explains. “The technology, the science, the materials as well as the results – both in testing and racing.”

Talking about science, a lot has gone into the research and development (R&D) of this suit.

Developed with help from Blummenfelt’s coach Olav Alexander Bu and temperature monitoring pioneers Core, the suit aims to balance aerodynamics, hydrophobics, heat dissipation, flexibility and fit perfectly.

Kristian Blummenfelt swimming in the Insane suit
Credit: Surpas/Daniel Vazquez

It was first developed for the Tokyo Olympics in association with the Norwegian Triathlon Federation (NFT), so it not only had to be fast, but it also had to deal with hot and humid conditions.

No stone was left unturned as the brand worked through different prototypes and years of testing.

Using multiple Core Body Temperature heat sensors on test subjects, the team was able to identify when athletes were overheating and tweak the design to deliver improved thermo regulation and cooling performance.

Even the colour of the suit was considered, with the see-through nature of the material deemed less important than the impact it had on performance.

The result, the brand explains, is that the suit gives ‘the lowest skin temperature and highest heat flux values recorded’ in the buildup to Tokyo.

An Olympic gold medal followed for Blummenfelt, but that wasn’t the end of the line for the Insane suit, as Trimtex continued its development in order to help the Norwegian reach his other goals.

A substantial amount of wind tunnel and velodrome testing had already gone into the development of the suit, but the brand still found aerodynamic improvements to make and those turbulators (see box out below) have played their part.

Gustav Iden in the Surpas Insane suit
Credit: Surpas

“From intensive testing we have done in the field, velodrome and wind tunnel, we have seen improvements of 3.5% on average and above 8% peak under specific conditions for Kristian in the Insane Speedsuit,” explains Olav Alexander Bu. 

This is based on conditions very similar to Kona with speeds of 40-44km/h and a range of different wind directions (yaw angles). 

And that’s not the last bold claim the brand makes, as it also believes the suit uses ‘the lightest fabric ever used in a triathlon suit’ thanks to the woven elastane polyester blend.

Despite its lightweight nature, Surpas says it still offers maximum recovery and stability thanks to its extremely tight fit and compressive nature. 

Given how Blummenfelt’s career has gone since he donned that iconic white suit, it looks as though all of this R&D has paid off, too.

The Norwegian has won a lot of races while wearing it, including:

The Insane Series is available direct from Surpas, with prices starting from €450 for the short-distance suit and €600 for the middle and long-distance suits.

What are turbulators?


Data has shown that the turbulators used on the Insane suit can save you a lot of time. But what are they? 


Essentially, they’re the white dots you see on the shoulders of the suit, which are designed to enhance aerodynamic performance.


Surpas says: “A turbulator is a device that turns a laminar boundary layer into a turbulent boundary layer.” 


What does this mean exactly? Here’s Hilde Pisani, Head of Development, to explain: “What the turbulator does is that they create turbulence where the air/wind meets the surface and allows the air to flow more easily round the body. And with this making you faster.”

For a little less… try the Pursue series

Surpas Pursue tri-suit in action
Credit: James Mitchell/Surpas

While the Insane series is designed for elite-level triathletes looking for the finest of marginal gains to help them win big events, the Pursue collection is made to offer a little more comfort, durability and versatility for anyone chasing PBs and podiums.

That’s not to say performance isn’t at its core, though, and the Pursue suits and calf sleeves have leant heavily on all the R&D that went into designing the Insane suit. 

Seams and lines are carefully placed to deliver optimum aerodynamics and comfort, while the Italian performance fabric used in the range’s construction is developed to reduce drag both on land and in the water.

Athlete wearing the Surpas Pursue tri-suit
Credit: Clash Miami

A mix of polyester and 20% elastane is used to offer unimpeded range of motion, and the resistance to pilling and abrasions also receives a boost over the Insane series.

Like the Insane series, the Pursue range includes suits tailored to long and middle-distance triathlons (€450), plus vested options that are designed for Olympic distances or less (€300).

Calf sleeves are also available (€75), though these ones forgo the turbulators you’ll find on the Insane versions.

Advertisement MPU article

The Pursue is available direct from Surpas, with prices starting at €300.