To start, there's disagreement on the spelling of Trisuit. Some spell it with a hyphen. On the other hand, many go for a split as in "tri suit." A minority like one word (as in the heading above). We're going with the latter for this article.
The triathlon is a crossover sport involving swimming, cycling, and running. As it turns out, participants in the sport spend most of their time in the last two-mentioned legs during the race and, logically, in training. Beginner triathletes, without peer guidance, kick off their journey by wearing a swimsuit for warm water events and don clothing over it as they mount the bike (or start running). However, they experience discomfort before long and realize they're also losing time. Inevitably, numerous co-competitors advise using the Trisuit as a better way to compete.
What is a Trisuit, and the overall benefit?
Simply put, it's a piece of race clothing perfect for meeting the demands of all three events. As a beginner, you'll note that most athletes prefer one-piece Trisuits, with a few opting for vests and tri-shorts, especially where hot-climate races are in the mix. The recommendations for two-piece options offered by pros are:
- Covering the chest
- Leaving zero gaps between the shorts' top and the vest's bottom.
Wearing a Trisuit cuts seconds off your aggregate time by accelerating the transition speed between the different disciplines. Indeed, changing equipment between legs in a triathlon is a skill in itself, one that seasoned competitors refer to as the "fourth event." Why? Because it boils down to free time that doesn't call on stamina reserves, a boost to the efforts of every beginner and veteran alike. For specific benefits, see “Choosing your Trisuit” below.
How the swim event influences your choice
For pool triathlons, the Trisuit is a one-stop equipment piece. However, remember that women participants will likely also wear a sports bra that should dry off quickly to avoid dampness and discomfort. The latter can come integrated with the suit (see below).
The manufacturers' task in designing clothing for a three-in-one event is nothing less than daunting. The primary requisites of a high-quality suit are:
- Quick-drying material. Thus, quality Trisuits will dry on the bike leg before you notice it.
- Breathability by wicking away from your skin seamlessly and without chafing. A promising sign of this capability is mesh panels on the upper back and under the arms.
- A suitable chamois pad that's significantly thinner than those found in cycling bib shorts, thus reducing chafing irritation on the run. Also, take note of the following:
- Again, quick-drying fabric is crucial here, and comfort on the ride is the #1 consideration.
- Speak to the distributor selling you the Trisuit and get feedback on all these issues.
- Also, air your thoughts with your co-participants to obtain reasonable and unbiased opinions.
- If your riding style favors the time trial position (i.e., over the front of the saddle), then consider using a saddle such as an ISM or Specialized Power option. Both integrate with the Trisuit for maximum flexibility.
- Sleeveless arms giving way to short sleeves in recent years - much like those seen on cycling skinsuits - because the pundits believe it's more aerodynamic for good-fitting suits. Moreover, in open-time trials, sleeveless items are out of the question.
- Seamless fastening systems that can range from a zip at the front to one in the rear, or amounting to nothing but stretch material. The latter allows the wearer to funnel in zipless. Look for the methodology that suits your style the best, remembering that some women’s Trisuit have:
- Built-in sports bras with zips on the top to unfasten without unwanted exposure, and if desired:
- A more resilient sports bra for the run.
- Compression fabrics are a critical consideration to limit fatigue and accelerate after-event recovery:
- You'll find these sewn into some designs, with the added benefit of offering more support and comfort. Still, it's not immediately apparent unless you look for it.
- Also, ensure there are leg grippers that stay put without pinching - requiring some practice in gentle compression.
- Aerodynamic fit and fabric play into the Trisuit for Ironman to provide an extra edge in the cycling leg. The idea builds around drafting as disqualifiable or penalized if detected. Therefore, the best Trisuits align with low wind resistance/drag patterns that:
- Fit tightly (but breathable) close to the skin (i.e.., no flapping fabric) to cut your time down dramatically.
- Sometimes include dimpled fabric focused on saving watts - a marginal advantage (but every bit counts).
- Storage of nutritional supplements is something to take into account. So, scan the options for gel and energy product holding spaces. You may notice pockets at the rear, made for athletes to attach a long plastic pipe affixed to a tube opening as a method of consistent nourishment. This works fantastically while competing or training. Also, most suits allow you to attach your race number to a race belt that clips around the stomach or hips.