A leap of faith

What happens when two guys, who have been best mates since they met racing bikes at the age of 17, decide to take a leap of faith after 15 years of shooting business ideas around? Entrix happens. We know what you’re thinking – who or what is Entrix? That’s what we asked when they first spoke to us about their business. It turns out they are an exciting new company from Black Rock, Victoria, who are making quality triathlon and cycling apparel as well as triathlon wetsuits. Now, we love an Aussie company who has a crack and we have reviewed a lot of quality products, from Ventum bikes through Xtreme Carbon wheels, which have all showcased impressive Aussie ingenuity, and it looks like Entrix is no different.

Entrix owners Anthony and Michael knew 15 years ago that they wanted to do something in the cycling industry. With both having raced at a high level and Anthony having spent three years racing Division 3 cycling in Europe, it just seemed a natural progression to begin a business together. Whether it was clothing, a bike shop, coaching or something else, multiple ideas were thrown up and after 15 years it finally happened. But it wasn’t cycling that was the spark, rather triathlon and more specifically Ironman. While watching Ironman Melbourne from the Giant spectator zone, and getting immersed in the atmosphere, Anthony realised that it wasn’t just about the pro’s racing but the entire field of athletes. Not only that but the spectators stayed right to the end and cheered the last athlete with as much gusto as the winners. This feeling of encompassing everyone was a huge part of why Anthony took up triathlon and why Entrix went from an idea to reality – when you meet them you can see how passionate they are about producing a great product that triathletes will love.

When the boys decided to start a triathlon brand they wanted it to be a one-stop shop. It would need to have tri clothing, cycling kit, and run apparel and, of course, wetsuits – this is where we come in. While Entrix has a triathlon apparel range already it’s their wetsuits that we are going to review here. Entrix knew this was their weakness area so why not jump in headfirst? What’s impressive is that instead of going to China and becoming a customer of a manufacturer, they instead partnered with the manufacturer. This enabled control over the product and incredible turn around times with the development of prototypes. They were able to get invaluable feedback from a large group of athletes as they developed their own, patented rubbers and were in total control of design, cutting and printing because of the aforementioned partnership.

The idea behind the Entrix Spirit wetsuit was the performance without the loss of comfort. With three more wetsuits on the horizon, the Spirit will eventually fit in as the second top of the range. However, it will likely be the most popular. The idea is that it works for a large majority. It’s not only a fast wetsuit but also so comfortable that it will appeal to both the novice and seasoned triathlete who panics from the ‘traditional’ restrictiveness of a wetsuit. It’s the patented rubber, called ‘Dimple Drag Reduction’ (DDR) rubber that shines here because of its extreme flexibility.

 

This really is a different wetsuit than anything you are likely to have tried before. It fits similar through the legs – you need to position the wetsuit the same way as any other, but the upper body is something very different. The combination of the DDR rubber and SCS [Super Composite Skin] coating make this an extremely durable wetsuit. This is really important because fitting it you need to manhandle it into place. Don’t be afraid to grab the rubber and really pull it up and into place. Because the DDR rubber is so flexible you really need to make sure it is properly pulled up and sitting in the right places. One of the reasons for having this highly flexible and durable rubber is T1. The guys at Entrix realised that if you are going to spend $900 on a wetsuit that you want, not only, a fast wetsuit but also one that won’t tear as you try to quickly peel it off in transition. It’s something that they have absolutely nailed here. A nice little addition to the Spirit wetsuit that we haven’t seen in other top end wetsuits is the ‘Quick Cuff ‘(QC) – a section of super stretch rubber that allows really quick and easy removal of the wetsuit even if you are wearing a watch. This brings us to our review.

While understanding the technique to fit any wetsuit is critical to maximising its comfort and performance, the technique to get your Spirit on is even more vital. As we mentioned earlier, don’t be concerned that you need to be super cautious with the rubber-like you do with many high-end suits; it’s quite the opposite. When we were chatting with Michael prior to putting the suit on for the first time, he was insistent that you really can manhandle the upper half to get it into the correct position. And it really is exceptionally hard to put a knick or cut in the suit. Now, as we say with all wetsuit fittings, if you don’t get the right size your performance will be compromised, so if you can get a fitting at the local shop that is ideal. The Entrix team are in the process of having a ‘how to put on your wetsuit’ video added to their website, to help those athletes buying online or those who outside of the main city hubs where Entrix is being sold.

To suit us both, we opted for the MT size [medium-tall]. Upon initial fitting it did seem like the suit might be a little short through the torso, but true to their word the suit is super flexible through the trunk and could be pulled right up to get that extra mobility around the shoulders. The neckline sits at a good level, not too high to restrict breathing or too low to allow water to enter. The closure system is very similar to other brands with a standard zipper and Velcro mechanism. One of the cool features of the Spirit is the ability to keep the zipper cord attached to the suit so it makes it less likely to get pulled during the hustle and bustle of a race. At the bottom of the zip there’s a small opening to pass the zipper cord through, then it’s held in place by a Velcro tab. Once again, that very neat QC really is exceptional; it not only makes getting the suit off and over a watch easy but it makes getting the suit on that little bit easier too.

All suited up we were ready to swim at our usual open water spot on the bay. We always like to get a few minutes in the water to adjust the suit to sit perfectly before starting a session or more importantly a race. The Spirit lets just enough water in to help move the suit around the upper body and warm up the insides. Manhandling the suit into position is even easier once wet and you really do notice how much more mobile the rubber is than a standard suit. Once adjusted, we tested the suit for diving in and porpoising, and after several runs, we gave the suit a tick for both. The suit feels like it has similar buoyancy to others too, with most floating coming from the torso and upper legs. This still allows for the lower legs to help kick and allows the knees to move freely. We don’t think this is the most buoyant suit on the market, compared to something like the Orca 3.8, which is designed for swimmers with a weak kick, but we think the Spirit will appeal to athletes with a moderate kick and up.

After an easy warm-up, the most notable thing we felt (or didn’t feel) was any restriction or tightness around the shoulders. It almost felt like we had a sleeveless suit on. Starting our harder sets, we felt the suit doesn’t keep you locked into a rigid position like some suits can, almost like you’re paddling a surfboard. Instead, the suit allows for any movement you need, as if you weren’t wearing rubber. While we felt as fast in this suit as any suit we’ve tried, open water can’t give us specifics, so that would have to wait. Exiting and running from the water to transition is also a breeze, given the flexibility of the suit. Our favourite test to see if a suit is worth its metal is the T1 time test, or how quickly we can take it off from the water to the bike. Finding of the zipper cord upon exiting the water is easy as it’s held in place, where you attached it earlier, and the zipper comes away very easily. The arms come off very quickly too, as you would expect with the quick release cuff design. Precious time can be lost when at the bike if you can’t get the suit off the legs, but again the Spirit is very fast. Adding to this, we experienced no post swim chaffing that could potentially ruin your day.

For our first open water session, the Spirit ticked all boxes, easy to get on, very flexible and comfortable in the water and a breeze to take off. For the performance specifics, we had to go to the pool to test it against other suits. The protocol is always the same to keep things fair and consistent, and this suit doesn’t disappoint. Testing the Spirit against some other more recently reviewed suits like the 2XU Propel, Orca Predator, Aquaman ART and Blue Seventy Helix, we found the Entrix to be right up amongst the best, with times either better than, or within one or two seconds per 100 metres of these top-tier suits. We weren’t surprised to see this result given how easy the suit feels to swim in, but if anyone had told us that it would rival the other big brands before we knew anything about the company, we probably would have laughed.

Now, we’ve tried many wetsuits in our time but we think this suit provides an unrivalled amount of flexibility through the upper body compared to other high-end choices. It’s really quite unique to have a suit that feels like you’re completely unrestricted throughout your stroke. With the added benefits of fast removal, QC and super durable material, we rate this amongst the best suits we’ve worn. With more to come from the Entrix crew in the near future, we’ll start to see even more options for your triathlon swim needs. Just because this company is seemingly fairly new on the triathlon scene, there’s no doubting the quality of the products and the company’s expertise.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TheTestLab

Craig McKenzie and Patrick Legge are The Test Lab. Two guys with an obsession for trialling all things related to swimming, riding and running and telling anyone who will listen what they think. Having 20 years each in the sport, they’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly, but always loved the innovation triathlon brings to the world stage. Craig raced as a professional triathlete, winning 4 National Duathlon titles, and has worked as an exercise physiologist, osteopath and coach, while Pat has built a career running a personal training, massage and coaching business, working with State, Australian and World Champions, including Australian Olympic and Commonwealth squads whilst competing himself.

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