I should start this review off with a preface: I am yet to wear a race suit that I am 100% happy with. Part of this is because I do not fit the typical size specs (highly generalised) of most brands. Part of this is because I think that a lot of suits are designed around marketing hype with needless or ill-thought design, without making the wearers comfort the ultimate focus (yes performance is important but if you are struggling to mange the comfort factor, you lose the importance of performance).
That’s not to say that there are not suits that exist that could make me 100% happy – I haven’t tried every kit out there, but I have worn quite a few. Most of them have been heavily skewed to either end of the performance vs comfort spectrum.
The FUSION Speed Suit is perfectly placed in the middle of that spectrum.
In full transparency, John from FUSION reached out to TriSpecific for some local testing, and at the time I was weighing up new kit options for the (then) up-coming Cairns Ironman. I had a few other brands that I was eying off but I had been given some solid feedback from some of our athletes that FUSION made a very comfortable yet high performing kit. I decide to go with the FUSION Speed suit because it felt comfortable and provided extra sun protection
[images style=”1″ image=”https://www.trispecific.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/FUSION.blog_1.png” width=”662″ align=”center” top_margin=”0″ full_width=”Y”]
Once I tried the kit on, the choice was pretty simple for me. And after a brick session I was sold. This is a great kit. Now I have noticed a few companies releasing kits of similar design with a lot of marketing based on aerodynamic benefits of a suit the shape but that was not my focus. I don’t have the means or the time to test kits in wind tunnels so I shall simply leave that to the likes of Jordan Rapp and Tim Don (Jordan tested this kit and a few others with some interesting results.
As I said above, I like to look for comfort in a race kit. It isn’t the only factor that I look for but it is the first. This is mainly because if I am racing for 9+ hours, I want to be confident that little things will not distract me: chaffing, sliding, rubbing or whatever may pop-up during a race that may cause discomfort or distract my focus.
Comfort really is an individual thing. I personally don’t like the feel of a giant nappy under my rear when I run, but I also do not like to feel as if I am riding on a wooden saddle either; I like a chamois that is thin enough to unnoticeable yet thick enough to be comfortable. The (dual layer fleece) chamois on the SpeedSuit is perfect – I felt no friction, or chaffing yet was comfortable for the entire 180km’s (on a course with a lot of shifting in and out of the saddle this is almost unheard of). The stitching was invisible in that I did not notice it all.
Another area of comfort that I look for is how the kit feels on my body – I don’t like a loose, ‘flappy’ kit but I also want something that has enough manoeuvrability that allows me to ride the way I like to ride and run off the bike without needing to adjust the legs every few km’s. I definitely do not like a compression feel, but found the firmness of the Speed Suit to be enough.
A lot of other companies like to use rubber grippers to stop the hem of the kit from riding up the quads, but I have always found that extremely uncomfortable as it creates a downwards pull away from the hips, resulting in a bunching around the groin. The legs on the Speed Suit were relaxed, yet tight enough to not ‘travel’ – they stayed exactly where they needed to be, all day.
Somewhere else that the FUSION SpeedSuit really stood out for me is the stretch over the shoulders and back area. Initially I was concerned that this would be too tight and restrictive especially in a TT position.
But what I found was that the pull across my back when I was riding was comfortable – almost unnoticeable, yet when I ran off, I felt the garment pull gently across my shoulder blades and help me to maintain posture (or at least remind me when I started to fatigue). I found that the shoulder sleeve length was perfect for my arms, as it provided a great deal of coverage without being at all restrictive. I did not notice the suit at all during the swim.
The front-placed zip on the suit was a good length and gave me no issues at all (as in it did not jam or stick). Had that particular race been a much warmer day, then I feel I would have been able to easily open the front and stuff ice/ sponge inside the suit without too much of an issue (it was NOT that type of day this year in Cairns). I like the idea of a higher collar to protect from the sun but sometimes these become a bit annoying – this one however is cut in a shape that doesn’t feel uncomfortable.
The pockets on this suit are very well designed (as is just about everything). I was able to stash a canister of salt tabs for both the ride and run without any fear of loosing them or having to listen to the bouncing tic tacs’ in the marathon. I think this is largely due to the tension of the fabric in the legs – they are tight around the right areas and loose where they should be loose. The positioning of the pocket means that whatever is in there is placed near the thickest part of the quad; there is a little chance of anything bouncing out this way.
Being a wet and humid race i was worried that the suit would become heavy and hold a lot of water in the fabric but it was just the opposite – water seemed to flow off of the surface of the suit (despite the incessant downpour).
I have not yet raced in a warm/ dry/ hot race to see how this suit would feel but I am assured that the SPF/ UV rating of 50+ as well as the cooling properties of the fabric makes this suit great for racing in warmer races as Keeping the body cool in hot races is absolutely vital to performance.
Aesthetics are not really important to me in a race kit (well ok, they are a little) so I wasn’t concerned about the white-top, black bottom combo (I have worn worse, much worse). Quite clearly fluro is in so the trims on this kit worked, but they don’t scream “look at me I am an Age Group Triathlete” too much. Personally I like the balance in colours and really if you are choosing a kit based on aesthetics over comfort, you should be assessing your racing priorities.
So overall I highly rate this kit. The comfort is absolutely paramount – and is exactly what you would expect from a company that puts as much effort into their work as FUSION do. The quality of the fabric is brilliant – I have yet to see anything better. The suit felt slick – as in it didn’t bunch or move around, yet the firmness was not restrictive at all.
The great thing about FUSION is that the chamois comfort built into the Speed Suit is exactly the same as is built in their two-piece version which mean I can race in either suit and get the same experience.
I really love the workmanship that the company put into each garment design – they are meticulous with the details: seem thickness, zipper function, pocket angles – all little details that combine to make a brilliant race suit.
Word is that these guys are working on some colour options, so stay tuned for that……