The Tron-esque graphics might say otherwise, but there’s nothing retro about this techy follow-up to the Aeroforce X (reviewed here), which stormed our 2020 wind-tunnel tests at the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub with the Bike Tailor at the 0, 5 and 10° yaw angles.
That landmark suit for the Surrey brand (who’d never before produced a truly top-end performance tri- suit), designed with input from aero specialists Aerocoach and Nopinz, boasted a duo of covered rear pockets and hydrophobic materials for slick swim action, dimpled sleeves and pinstripes for on-bike gains, and decent rear venting for the run leg.
Zone3 Aeroforce X II tri-suit review
Those features remain in 2023, but what’s new this season, apart from those Casio digital watch graphics (which, as a child of the 80s, we really like), is the Speedscalez textured fabric on the legs, which has been designed by Nopinz to disrupt airflow (in a good way) and offer core support to the leg muscles.
Zone3 also touts the Aero Soft-Touch material on the front for speed gains, but it’s in the pool where we felt the most benefits here, evidently beading water throughout our swim sessions.
Visually, it looks stealthy and slick, but there’s also a navy version if you want something a touch lighter.
It’s not all positive, however. We’d prefer the frontal zip to break away fully at the bottom for added comfort and convenience on longer races (admittedly there’s an aero penalty here), while the zip guard is pretty minimal and has a tendency to flip away from the zipper head, making it redundant.
Fit is subjective but we did find it tight around the crotch and the rear of the collar was a little loose and floaty, which may well have disrupted some of the aero gains achieved elsewhere.
The tacky leg and arm grippers keep both leg and arm sleeves secure on the limbs, but we do have durability concerns about how long this stickiness will last.
The big issue is that the Elastic Interface chamois that’s been specced is, for this tester, just too minimal for long- distance triathlon and extended sojourns on the aerobars.
While speedsters will undoubtedly be in the saddle for less time than us, for whom Ironman is about completion over competing, the minimalist pad and no option to select another when ordering feels like a missed opportunity.
Combined with the lack of a full-length zipper, we’d be most likely to recommend this suit for Olympic-distance and no longer than 70.3 racing, ideally with a non-wetsuit swim at the start to maximise the hydrophobic materials, upper-body flexibility and covered pockets.
And, with the fruitful Nopinz collaboration continuing and a wealth of new materials in use, there’s nothing here to suggest that it won’t excel in the wind tunnel the next time we can scoop ourselves a session.
Verdict: Proven aerodynamics and future-focussed materials, but limited pad size.
Pair this with…
Zone3 Everyday Transition Backpack
A dedicated triathlon bag is another useful item to have with you on race day, as it allows you to organise your kit and make setting up in transition a little less stressful.
This option from Zone3 has a waterproof storage area, shoe compartment, external mesh pockets and a dedicated space for laptops, though we’re not sure you’d need that on race day…
There are also multiple attachment points, plus additional zip pockets for things like paperwork.
Zone3 says it also has reflective detailing and breathable, cushioned back panels.