Searching for that Perfect Tri-Suit

Ah, the all-important tri suit – it needs to look good, be flattering yet comfortable and it needs to perform. It needs to be quality and needs to last – it needs to withstand the blood, sweat and tears that come with tri racing, and the multiple washes! Ideally, a quality suit will allow you to focus on the race rather than spending the bike and run tugging, pulling and readjusting.

Throughout my eight-plus years in the sport I’ve worn a variety of suits; one-piece suits and two-piece; some great ones and some not so, that all but fell apart after one or two races (no thanks!), and suits whose colour faded after one or two wears to the point of revealing a little too much on race day – not great. So when I got the opportunity to road test a couple of new suits in the tri suit market space – a Wyn Republic tri suit and the Fondo tri suit, I was super excited! Here’s what I tested and thought.


The Product: The WYN Republic Ombre Collection Aero+ Sleeved Triathlon Suit in Mint

The Lowdown

The WYN Republic women’s sleeved triathlon suit is said to be equal parts aerodynamic, comfortable, modern and stylish. It’s a suit that will help you perform (and look) at your best. It’s made from the finest Italian textiles, optimising breathability, flexibility, quick-dry technology and aerodynamic properties. The upper is made out of a ventilated race fabric, while the bottom is slick and aerodynamic.

Image: wynrepublic.com.au

The suit incorporates a full zip front panel and a detached two-piece construction (joined in the back) that allows this one-piece to act like a two-piece for optimal bike-run flexibility and easy bathroom breaks. The detached two-piece construction is also said to prevent the suit from pulling up on the crotch when athletes transition from bike to run, which often happens in one-piece designs.

Features:

  • EIT Super-Tri women’s specific chamois all-way stretch fabric platform. High-density foam provides maximum protection with a slim profile that won’t get in the way.
  • WYN signature reflective logo on right shoulder, left leg and back right pocket.
  • YKK zipper with full “freedom-of-movement” front opening.
  • Two slim back pockets for storage.
  • Flattering 15.5cm/6in inseam
  • UPF 35+
  • Please note that due to extremely high-quality fabric, the front panel is slightly sheer. If you prefer full opacity, choose Aero+ sleeved tri top, Sleeveless Tri Suit, or Sleeveless Tri Top.

Sizes: XS-XL

Cost: $329

The Verdict

First up, the fabric. I wore this suit in Busselton at IRONMAN 70.3 WA in December last year. At the time, I was dealing with severe issues with whole-body eczema, so I needed a suit that was not only going to look great, be comfortable and perform, but it also needed to be soft on my skin. I couldn’t bring myself to race in a suit made of harsh fabric that would potentially cause chafe. And I’m happy to report this suit was divine. The Italian fabric was soft and gentle on my inflamed skin, and the material was ventilated and breathable, which is important, notably as the race day temps rose pretty quickly that day.

As stated in the features list, the front panel is sheer – yep, you can see what’s going on underneath when you put it on. Not a huge deal or a deal breaker but I’d recommend wearing a dark coloured sports bra (I wore a black bra) underneath the suit to avoid a ‘wet t-shirt competition’ style look during the race. Also, ladies – if you’re worried about showing your tummy during a race, I’d say opt for a different coloured suit.

The sleeves are a little longer than what I’m used to. Going into the race, I thought this would be a problem with heat – I thought I’d get too hot in the sleeves and thought I’d end up pulling down the upper throughout the race in a bid to aid comfort and to stay cool. But I barely noticed the sleeves throughout the race, that’s how fine and comfortable I found the material to be. In fact, I forgot about what I was racing in and focused on the task at hand – the race.

The YKK zipper worked well. The zipper stayed in place when zipped up (it didn’t zip down at all once done up) and opened seamlessly when required – it didn’t get stuck, and I was able to do it up quickly and easily (normally I’ll unzip a little on the bike and then try to zip back up on the run).

Onto the two slim back pockets. I don’t usually use the rear pockets during a race (I might put an asthma pump in there, and that’s about it). But I would say that the pockets are big enough to store some of your nutrition etc., comfortably.

Next up, the full zip, front panel and a detached two-piece construction. In the past, I’ve preferred one-piece tri suits for comfort and to hide any wobbly bits you don’t want to be seen on race day (think: belly bloat). But I’ve typically gone for the one-piece designs. I have to admit; at first, I was a little sceptical about the detached two-piece design. Would it be that comfortable? Will the upper panel ride up leaving a gap between the top and the bottom? I wasn’t convinced but was willing to try. And I found no issue with this design during the race. The suit stayed in place, there were no unwanted gaps formed, and it was comfortable. Tick!

Lastly, the shorts – they felt slick and were comfortable from the moment I put on the suit. The shorts offered some movement and a little bit of give, and the material did not become sheer when I bent over – so important for when you’re on the bike because, let’s face it, no one needs to see a full moon during the bike leg of a triathlon. Right? The shorts felt great around my legs – there was no digging in or chaffing. The only issue I had with the shorts was that I found them to be a little too short. They did ride up a bit in my wetsuit, so I had to do some pulling and readjusting when on the bike and also at the start of the run. Not ideal but not a major issue, and no reason not to buy the suit.

Overall, I loved the suit. It was slick, looked great and was really comfortable. And other then the length of the shorts I can’t really fault this suit – I’d definitely wear it again.


The Product: The Fondo Triathlon Suit – Ibiza

The Lowdown

Fondo (well-known for their female cycling kits and apparel) branched out into the tri space earlier this year with the debut of their tri suit – the Triathlon Suit – Ibiza. Made especially for female triathletes, just like in their cycling apparel, the focus of the tri suit is said to be quality and comfort.

Features:

  • Superior quality Italia lycra with quick dry technology, a water repellent treatment and high UV-protection
  • Racerback and low-cut under arms to give you room to move and avoid chaffing
  • Front zipper and mesh side panels for superior ventilation
  • Laser-cut leg bands that don’t cut in
  • Flattering panels
  • Zip-up back pocket
  • Lightweight, fast drying, female-specific chamois
  • Made in Italy

Sizes: XS-L

Cost: RRP$275

The Verdict

I love this suit – of all the suits I’ve worn throughout my time in triathlon; this one comes very close to being my favourite. As soon as I put the suit on, when it first arrived, it was love at first wear – you can instantly feel that the material is superior quality; the suit feels light, it’s really comfortable and silky-smooth to touch (maybe because of the water repellent treatment?).

The colour scheme pops – great if you want to stand out in your race photos, and the design is very flattering. The racer back and the flattering panels make the fit and look spot on.

I’m a big fan of the low-cut underarms – zero chaffing under the armpits. However, because the underarms are quite low, I’d definitely recommend wearing a sports bra underneath the suit. There’s also no inbuilt bra/support, so a sports bra is a must.

I had no issue with the front zipper during the races in which I wore the suit. It stayed in place once done up – no unwanted unzipping. I also found the zip is easy to do back up – it didn’t get stuck and did up quickly, easily and efficiently.

This suit is a one-piece suit (it doesn’t feature the detached two-piece construction that’s become popular in many suits these days), and while some one-piece suits have issues with the crotch creeping up on the transition from bike to run, I didn’t find this to be an issue here. The suit was almost perfect fit, and it stayed in place – I quickly forgot I was wearing it during the races in which I wore it. Making a quick bathroom stop is really no issue in this suit either. It unzips and comes off quickly and easily – I was very grateful for this at Ironman 70.3 Cairns when I had to take a pee break in T2.

One of my favourite features of the suit is the zipped back pocket. Brilliant idea! Not only is the pocket a reasonable size for storage, a zip means that you can bet that the contents won’t bounce out mid-race. However, I’ll admit I didn’t test how easily the pocket unzipped during the race as I didn’t need the asthma pump I had in there, so time will tell if this presents an issue. I hope not.

The shorts are great – they feel good and the panelling makes them look flattering. They’re a little longer than other tri suits I’ve worn, without making you look like a man (they still make you look and feel feminine while providing length for comfort). This is a big tick for me! The only issue I had here was the ‘laser-cut leg bands’. While it’s said that the bands won’t cut in, I actually found this to be the opposite. The leg bands didn’t cut in as such, but during both races in which I’ve worn the suit, both times I’ve walked away with some significant chaffing – to the point of some minimal scarring. However, this isn’t a massive issue, and I didn’t notice this happening during the races. It’s not until I had finished both races that I noticed what had happened.

Lastly, I’ve worn this suit twice – at Challenge Melbourne and Ironman 70.3 Cairns. And so far the suit has withstood the test of time and multiple washes – it has retained its ‘as new’ look and feel.

Overall, other then the issue with the leg bands, I think this suit is great and is very hard to fault. I’d recommend trying it, and I’ll definitely be wearing it again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margaret Mielczarek

Margaret Mielczarek is the deputy editor at Australian Triathlete Magazine and writes the web series 'Shenanigans of a Deputy 2.0'. She is a passionate age-group triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher - currently in training for Ironman number five!

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