Everything you need to know about triathlon suits. From how to choose a trisuit to what to wear with a trisuit and how tight should a trisuit be. Be confident you are buying the right one for you. Choosing the right trisuit is important – it is a critical piece of your race kit.
Triathlon is a kit heavy sport but your trisuit – along with your INCUS | NOVA - is the only piece of kit that you will have on through all three disciplines. Whether you are looking ahead to your first ever race, or planning to upgrade your performance, we take you through the different things to consider when choosing a trisuit.
What is a triathlon suit?
A trisuit is a one or two piece garment designed to be worn in all three triathlon disciplines. It may be worn on its own or under a wetsuit in the swim. A trisuit is designed to provide comfort, coverage and hydro/aerodynamic advantages when you swim, bike and run.
How do you wear a trisuit?
A trisuit is designed to be worn next to skin, that means nothing else underneath it. Most female specific suits have in-built support though some athletes prefer to use a sports bra.
You need to have your trisuit on at the start of the swim and you will leave it on through both transitions.
What to wear with a triathlon suit?
Wear nothing! The only things that should be under your trisuit is a sports bra if you need extra support.
How tight should a trisuit be?
A trisuit needs to have a tight smooth fit and offer some compression, but not be so tight it restricts your movement. If you are used to relaxed fit exercise clothes the skin-tight fit can feel odd at first but stick with it as sizing up will be detrimental to the performance. A loose, baggy suit could slow you down!
How to choose a trisuit?
When choosing a trisuit fit comes first. Once you have set your budget look for a few triathlon suits at your price point that you are able to try on. Forget the technical properties of the fabric for a while, if a suit sags, bags or stretches then it won’t allow you to perform to your sleek and fast best when in the water.
Fit includes comfort too, something that rubs, chafes, rides up or restricts your movement will be distracting and even painful over a long event. When you try on a tri-suit practice some arm movements, jog a little and bend over in your cycling position. Yes, you will feel like an absolute wally but it’s the only way to check it will move with you through all three disciplines. Particularly check the position of the cycling pad so you know it will sit in the right place to offer you protection.
A triathlon suit has to work really hard and perform to its best during your swim, bike and run – just like you do. Fabric plays an important part in how your suit works in water and in air.
Rough, rather than smooth fabrics are preferable in the water. Textured fabrics create a controlled turbulent flow across the surface which allows the bulk of water to move smoothly over it in a laminar flow reducing drag. If you want to understand this better check out this science of drag video. Aero-wheels and golf balls have dimpled surfaces for similar reasons. High-end suits use highly technical fabrics which can feel slightly rough to the touch, they may use hydrophobic (water-repellent) coatings which reduces the ability of the fabric to absorb water and can help air bubbles attach improving buoyancy.
Trisuit – on the bike
Once out the water you need your trisuit to dry fast so it doesn’t cling uncomfortably or restrict your movement on the bike. Water repellent coatings help with this but so does having a good fit. A good suit also needs to help wick sweat and moisture away from your skin. The amount of protection in the protective cycling pad has to be balanced against how quickly you need the pad to dry, lighter pads absorb less water but offer less protection, there is always going to be a compromise. In anything less than Olympic distance you can afford for the pad to be fairly minimal but on longer events a thicker pad with more coverage is worth it for the increase in comfort.
Trisuit – on the run
When it comes to the run your ideal trisuit will offer compression and support for your hardworking muscles, especially in your thighs and core. If you are racing in hot conditions then some ventilation to help you cool down is a must, look for a zip or mesh area. It also needs to effectively wick sweat away from your skin to evaporate on the surface, this will help to keep you cool and dry.
As you can see, it might only be one light-weight garment but your triathlon suit has to fulfil many different technical demands.
Men’s trisuit v women’s trisuit
Not everything in sport needs to be male and female specific but when it comes to trisuits it probably helps. While unisex suits do exist and are fine if they fit you, there are very good reasons to go gender specific.
Fit really does matter with a triathlon suit so the most important thing is that the cut fits your body shape to provide a tight, streamlined fit. However, a female or male specific pad in your tri-suit can make a big difference to your comfort on your bike. Where men and women need protection is different, with women often wanting more padding at the front than men do.
One piece or two-piece tri-suits?
Triathlon suits can be bought as separate top and bottom or a one piece. Which option you prefer comes down to personal choice and what you feel most comfortable in as they both have advantages and disadvantages.
A one-piece trisuit has some aero and hydro-dynamic advantages, which can help you out in the pool and on the bike. Being a single garment there are less seams and edges to rub or chafe and the whole suits is held more firmly in place. Your shorts won’t fall down or your top ride up.
A two-piece triathlon suit offers more flexibility in sizing, useful if you have a different body shape top and bottom, or if you are particularly tall. You can choose to wear one or the other in training, giving you a bit more versatility. But perhaps the biggest advantage is in long distance events as they allow you take toilet breaks more quickly and easily.
INCUS FIIN Vest
Our INCUS enabled clothing is designed to help you improve your performance and make using the NOVA during training and racing feel invisible. The FIIN vest has been through an extensive testing and validation process to ensure that it offers no resistance in the pool and it is comfortable enough to race in, even for our perfectionist elite athletes.
The FIIN vest was designed by Sally Cowan who has created garments for numerous Great British Teams including British Cycling and British Bobsleigh, and who manufactured suits for the Olympics. You can read more in our blog about the design and testing process of the FIIN Vest.
INCUS is rated 75/100 by 220 Triathlon and we are currently selling the complete triathlon bundles for £500. If you have any questions then use the chat button on this page or contact support and we can help you decide.