Back in the Specialized Win(d) Tunnel again today.
Primary focus was clothing testing. We also did some helmet testing.
Most tests were two runs at 0deg and then two tests at 10deg. For helmets only we did a few tests at 20deg.
- Kiwami Rio Amphibian back-zip ITU tri suit
- Kiwami Spider ITU back-zip tri suit
- Kiwam Spider 2-piece front-zip long distance top & bottom
- Fusion SpeedTop 3/4-length top
- Fusion SpeedSuit short sleeve skinsuit
- Pearl Izumi PRO Octane short sleeve skinsuit (custom tailored in sleeves to fit me)
- Specialized S-Works TT (unreleased) CE edition. There is *ALSO* a CPSC version which tests virtually identical, but I tested the CE version as it VERY slightly faster and - for me - a bit more comfortable.
- Specialized S-Works TT with MEDIUM visor (there is also a small and a large visor; testing doesn't show a measurable aero difference between visors; the size is a reflection of how tall the visor is)
- Specialized McLaren
- Specialized Evade (high yaw)
Happy to share all the data and to answer questions as best as we can. Unlike the post-Ironman AMA threads, I'm still in full training, so my reply may be more delayed than "normal." Mark has free time, but he also works. So bear with us if an answer is not forthcoming as quickly as possible.
-Pearl Izumi speedsuit was substantially faster than the other suits tested (multiple Kiwami suits & Fusion suit). Worked out to about 6w at 45kph. As a reference, that's more than the difference between a rear disc vs rear 808. This was by far the biggest discovery of the day.
- Two piece Kiwami kit with front zip was only very slightly slower than one piece back zip. Both back zip kits were equally fast (or slow... though they were both pretty good, overall, if you look at what my CdA is).
- Fusion long sleeve top was slower when worn over a Kiwami sleeveless suit. We did not test wearing it a bare chest. It was SLIGHTLY faster at 0deg yaw but then slower (by more than it was faster) at 10deg.
- Fusion sleeved kit was faster than sleeved top but slower than either Kiwami suit and even VERY slightly slower than the two-piece Kiwami kit.
-New S-Works TT was very close to the current S-Works + McLaren TT - within 1 watt at 45 kph.
-Was faster with glasses (Smith Pivlock V2 Max) than the face shield on you.
-Was faster at all yaw points than the Evade
- No difference at very high yaw among helmets (20deg). Some athletes saw the Evade become much faster at 20deg, which is relevant for a high crosswind course (e.g. Kona).
I'll try to get the data up in a spreadsheet on drop box along with some pictures.
Thanks again to Chris & Mark! And, of course, to Specialized for creating this awesome resource.
Edit #1 - Also tested DeSoto arm coolers. No penalty. MAYBE slightly faster, but negligible if so. This with sleeveless suit.
Edit #2 - Some subjective thoughts. I wanted to post these because I think it's easy to conflate aerodynamics with "overall." The fastest - aerodynamically-speaking - suit is not necessarily the best. It's also not necessarily not the best. I just want to make sure that folks appreciate that fit, comfort, and even how you feel about the way something looks are all important. I'm going to post the exact data, but the BIGGEST delta we saw was <10w at 45kph. That works out to say 2-3min over an Ironman. That's a lot. But it's also not very much.
I want to emphasize - in part because I have personal relationships with the folks at both companies - that the Fusion and Kiwami outfits are both AWESOME. And the people behind these products are even more awesome. That's not a dig at Pearl. The folks there are great too. But I really just don't want this to be a "the Pearl suit is great and everything else is shit" thread. Because that's absolutely not the case.
The Fusion suit is REALLY easy to pull on, even when wet. I was able to pull it off, go #2, and pull it back on during the run in IMTX losing - at most - 60 seconds. The Pearl suit - and this is certainly PARTLY the tailoring of the sleeves, since I was done aftermarket - is really tight. If I had to #2 in the Pearl suit, I would be going in the suit. It takes me about 15seconds to put on the Fusion suit. The Pearl suit - in part because of the sleeves, but also because the fabric is less elastic and also because the zipper is not as deep - takes a lot longer to put on. And I can't imagine taking it off during a race. As Mat said, they are changing the cut to address this, but it's definitely an issue.
I've also not swam with the Pearl suit. The Fusion suit is great to swim in. No restrictions of any kind. That may be the same with the Pearl suit, but I need to test it. And thinking about that as well is important for anyone making a decision about clothing. It's not just a bike race (despite what we all may wish...).
I've also not run in the Pearl suit. The Fusion suit is great to run in as well. The Pearl may be as well, but again, this is something everyone needs to evaluate for themselves. Honestly.
Would I recommend the Fusion suit? Without question. It doesn't - versus the suits that I tested - offer an aerodynamic advantage. But it's also not really any slower. To the extent that it's "slower" than the Kiwami suits, it's like 1w @ 45kph.
There's also the sun-protection factor of sleeved suits to consider. Not getting sunburned can be a pretty big deal, especially if you are out there for 12, 14, 16 hours...
On the Kiwami side, these suits are very similar to the suits I wore happily for two years as a sponsored athlete ('08 & '09). I won two Ironmans in Kiwami Amphibian suits, and the Zoot suit I raced in the past three years was largely informed by the Kiwami suit. These are also great suits. The fabric is really light, it holds almost no water, it dries super fast, it wicks super well, and it's just very comfortable. It's not very stretchy - which is a factor for some - but I happen to like that, as it also doesn't "bag."
While this thread is all about aerodynamics, it's important that people don't ONLY consider aerodynamics when making a choice about something as important as clothing. You also need to swim and run. You might need to go to the bathroom. And the suit needs to fit well for 5, 6, 8 hours on the bike too.
The Pearl suit is a great suit. And it's very aero. But the Fusion suit is also a great suit; and it's also very aero; just not quite as aero as the Pearl suit. The Kiwami suits are also great.
Everything I tested I would absolutely use in a race. To the extent that aerodynamics are a factor, I'm happy to have more information. But I also recognize there are lots of other factors, and I hope you do as well.
Pearl, Kiwami, or Fusion. You really cannot go wrong with any of them. And there are even more other great options from even more other good companies. That much I'm even more certain of after time in the tunnel.
Lastly, a special thank you to Mads, Chance, and the team at Fusion for making me such great looking kits. They are awesome.
And thanks to Andre and Craig at Kiwami for their great looking kits.
These are ALL companies worth supporting. It's MOST important to me that that message not be lost...
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