There is an old saying “If a man says something in a forest and there is no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?” Of course the answer is “Yes”. While a few men have tried out the Fusion gear and recently the Speedsuit the suit is essentially unisex, so the mens opinion really means nothing in the face of a womans view. So Turtle was next in line to take the Speedsuit for a whirl and see if it gets the fussy female tick of approval.
Fusion speedsuit review - aka Goldilocks goes gaga
So what’s so special about me? Why am I reviewing this bit of fancy kit? What will I bring to the table? Well, nothing really special. Just different. I first heard about the Fusion speedsuit through Transitions and saw the positive comments and reviews from folks who had trialled some of the Fusion gear - but I was hesitant to buy off the web as I’ve been through a lot of trial and error in the past. Mostly error. And living out in the sticks chances to try things on are few and far between. So how am I different from other reviewers? Firstly, I’m slower than your average Turtle and spend a lot of time out on course – so my interest is in comfort and sun protection. Secondly, I’m fussy like Goldilocks – more on that later. Lastly, I mostly find the suits I buy just aren’t the right fit for me. I’m quite broad in the shoulders for a girl and still have the usual girly bits that need a bigger fit up top. And that’s the crux of it. I’m a chick (although men I’ve “chicked” are few and far between). I generally have found that men’s suits aren’t built for female “bits” and women’s suits aren’t big enough in the shoulders for me. From what I had seen all the Fusion reviews were favourable, but also all done by men! So I floated the idea to John at Fusion about doing a review of the suit from a female perspective. I told John that although I didn’t have a race coming up I was training for Husky so had plenty of opportunities to get it “wet and sweaty” (and would be able to focus on fine details without the distraction of actually racing). He was all for it and a few weeks later I received the suit that had done the rounds of lostkiwi and roxii (hopefully no-one peed in it!). So the take-home message from this opening is that I am reviewing it for the C’s not the P’s (creature comfort context, not pure performance perspective).
So what is this Goldilocks looking for? I really do find a one piece suit a lot more comfortable than 2 pieces, but there are certain features I haven’t yet been able to find all in one suit. I keep trying and trying, but never find that perfect fit – I think I’ve been through 5 brands of suit and 3 of tri-shorts. Currently, my best incarnation is a Castelli speedsuit (cycling skinsuit), which meets MOST of my needs. Things that make a suit a go-er for me are:
• short sleeves for sun
• decent enough coverage of the tri-pad so that the seams don’t line up with my saddle
• a front zip long enough to be able to get it off easily when nature calls.
• comfort for my bum on the bike yet without feeling like I’m running in a nappy
• light colour on top
• pockets for a gel flask on the run (from past experience, above the bum is best)
• compression, yet stretchy enough for comfort
• long enough inseam (hate those short leg female ones)
• black bottoms – nothing worse than seeing someone with a sweaty crotch (and some colours show this!)…. Sorry for the visual folks – that’s coming later anyway.
So far I’ve never found one that has all the “must haves”, let along the “preferables” as well. But then came the Fusion.
When I first opened the package, I scuttled to the bathroom (at work) to try it on and see if we had the right size (it was Medium, which is the size of all my tri-shorts that fit well). Seemed good! The suit looked like new, even though it has been worn and raced in by a couple of Trannies previously. The upper material felt thicker than your usual fare, but softer – it certainly felt nice on! It felt compressive but not at all constrictive and there was plenty of give in the material to flex into any position you might want (tri-based of course). The zip looked long and the tri-pad looked big…… but scarily thin. The sleeves were, well, sleeves. No surprise there. In order to try it under as many situations as possible in a limited time frame before Christmas, I changed up some of my training to be fair to the suit and give it a good race-real test, whilst getting it back to Fusion sooner rather than later.
Test 1 – swim, open water
The river at the moment is warm enough to swim in without a wetsuit but I am trying to get more wettie time pre-race to see if that helps my back issues swim-bike. So I pulled on the wettie for 2km in the mighty Murray. After fighting houseboats, dragon boats, ski boats, rowers, marauding swans, ducks and pelicans, toe-sucking carp and toe nibbling shrimp (and that was just the first kay), I realised that this is the most comfortable I’ve felt with a trisuit under my wetsuit. It was smooth under my arms and over my shoulders and there were no issues with bunching, rubbing or chafing that I’ve had previously. I then pulled off the wettie and did another 500m in just the suit. The tightness around the cuff of the arms felt secure - there was no drag or water getting caught up. I did feel though that I might have been catching a bit of water with the zip at the neckline, which started me thinking I might be in a size too small and it was pulling away from my neck too much.
Roxii said it was almost like he was wearing nothing at all (sorry roxii). I really do agree. Unfortunately, when wet, it looked like I wasn’t wearing much either. As with most white apparel, it does get a little see-through when wet, so be cautious if you have a choice in crop top or sports bra to wear underneath (and fellas, look out for those third nipples, piercings or embarrassing tattoos!).
Test 2 – bike
My must-have for the bike is a tri-pad that, although it can be thinish, should have enough coverage to not have any seams anywhere near my saddle. While the Fusion pad did seem larger than most, I was still a bit sceptical of the coverage, and also about the thickness – it’s basically just a thin microfleece layer. I use an Adamo Prologue saddle on my tri-bike, which has a moderately wide nose but a fair amount of padding. Due to trying to get a longish ride in before work, I started off with my bike on the trainer, before heading out on the road when it was light enough (I don’t ride in the dark around here).
Straight out of the gate I was pretty darn impressed – and that is a hard job for me. I’ve been through many a set of bike and tri shorts that just weren’t comfortable. These were different. Even though it’s only a thin layer, in the aero position on the nose of my saddle I was extremely comfortable and stayed that way right to the end. One factor in this, ironically, was that the pad was thin so there was no excess material to bunch up and cause discomfort. The main factor for me though was that the seams were in the right place. The tri-pad was wide enough that the seams at the edge were off the sides of the saddle, rather than on top (cue gratuitous [selfie] crotch photos).
Other suit seams are poorly placed for comfort
The Fusion suit seams are out of harms way
For my saddle (Adamo prologue) the width of the rear of the pad was also perfect – the Fusion tri-pad is around 150mm wide at the rear and my saddle is 140 - however if you are a female (or male I suppose) that rides a wider saddle, you might find the seams right under your sit bones on the rear of the saddle which could make for some uncomfortable chafing. However, if I was going to do an event that had a bunch of hills and I would be either spending time sitting or up or even taking my roadie and putting more weight on the rear of my rear, I would still be tempted to use the cycling skinsuit – I’m just not sure I’d be comfortable enough with such a thin pad on my rear end with the saddle on my roadie (Selle SMP glider, which has minimal padding……. yeah, I know, the padding in my butt makes up for it eh?) – that said, I didn’t test it under these conditions so it’s just a thought.
I’m also an avid user of lube in an event or longer bike ride. Given this was a trial suit, I held off on lubing up for any of the tests yet still found everything more than comfortable enough. The thin pad and material all have plenty of stretch allowing the suit to move freely with you rather than creating friction points where the material/seams stop stretching and your skin moves against them.
The top half was also super comfy in the aero position and in the mirror on the wall (no comment) I could see that it looked super slippery, with no seams on the back or shoulders. You often hear people talking about compression to reduce muscle vibration and increase performance in the lower body, namely quads and calves. But I tell you, the slight compression of the sleeves felt great through my shoulders and triceps. Some of the roads around here are pretty rough, from old and tired to new chipseal and I really noticed that my upper arms felt happier than in just a normal loose cycle jersey. Over a long event, this would probably be a nice little benefit and help with upper arm fatigue on the aero bars.
Test 3 – run
Three of the things I find important for this leg are the capacity to carry a gel flask in a pocket, a zip long enough to remove the suit easily for a “nature break” and enough freedom in the upper body for full breathing with female “attributes”. On face value, the suit had all three – but would they follow through or were they “all mouth and trousers”?
This suit has 2 pockets, one on each leg. I usually dislike carrying a gel flask in a leg pocket as they have always been too tight and end up causing a bruise-like pain in my quad. However, the material in the Fusion suit was so forgiving that I put the flask in and it disappeared. I never noticed it was there – it didn’t move and it didn’t dent my leg! Tick.
Next is zipper length. Zipper length is sooooo much more important in a sleeved suit as you need to be more like Gumby to get them off. As BOPer I am out there a while and chances are I will need to strip down at some point – wrangling with your suit looking like an epileptic octopus for 10 minutes isn’t a very good use of your run split time! Although it might have been nice to have been maybe an inch longer (possibly due to my inflexible t-rex arms) it was perfectly adequate and better than any other sleeved suit I’ve had. Tick number 2.
The last of the qualifiers was breathing space. This is where I decided I definitely needed the larger size. Although the suit felt comfortable going on, after around 20min I felt like I just didn’t have enough breathing room. When I unzipped it a bit to allow more space in that zone, everything was fine – comfortable on the shoulders and everywhere else. Bottom half felt great, with comfortable compression but heaps of flexibility. So this is a pass on the suit, but a fail on the size for me. If/when I order one of these, I will opt for the larger size. This might be a factor for other females out there that are a little more average (or more) than an elite female triathlete – breathing room is more obvious on the run as it’s “shoulders-back-chest-out” time!
I had also thought that the seams under the armpits might have caused some irritation. However, they are a nice flat seam and I didn’t even notice them. In fact, I didn’t notice any of the seams. Sometimes the most constrictive part of a suit isn’t the material, but the seams. Not this time baby! Everything was a nice even feel and there were no irritation points.
1. As a female in a male suit, the sizing over your upper body will be vital. Pick it too small (or size for your lower body like I did) and you may end up a bit tight on top.
2. It can get see-through when wet – so be cautious with your under-garments! Or anything else you don’t want folks to see
3. Although thin, the microfleece tri-pad has sufficient coverage to have no chafing issues and from my female perspective, was extremely comfortable. Importantly, the seams were in the right place!
4. The zipper was long enough for the suit to be easily stripped off for whatever reason without the need for outside assistance
5. The pockets in the legs were really comfortable – I didn’t even feel the 5 serve hammer gel flasks I use.
6. The material was compressive but not at all constrictive. It was very forgiving with lots of stretch and no restriction.
7. Although I didn’t get a chance to test it under really hot conditions, from what I felt it was cool and breathable. Pouring a little (body temp) water down my back running was quite chilling, and a breeze on the bike was very cooling.
8. Whites stay white! Most white gear I have used in the river here never comes back white no matter how you wash it. The Murray just seems to stain things. After my first swim, I crapped myself that the suit had gone pretty brown and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get it clean to return it. I needn’t have worried – a quick basic wash and it was sparkly again. That bodes well for those “whoops, missed” moments with the red Gatorade on course.
What don’t I like about it?
• Pockets on the legs. I much prefer having pockets on the rear/hip area, as I find access far easier on the move. Although the pockets on this suit are higher up than others I’ve tried, they are still on the leg so if you are walking/running, they are trickier to access than if they are on your bum. I guess they are there for hydro/aero dynamics in the swim/bike?
• Price. The suit is expensive. However, considering all the $$ I’ve lost buying suits that I tried once and retired as uncomfortable, dropping these sorts of $$ on a suit that is great will not be an issue. The fact you can have custom printing included is also a bonus and worth some of that value if you want to go that route.
So would I buy one? Most definitely. By the time you read this, I’ll have sent this one back to John at Fusion and ordered one of my very own (but in a Large) with a bit of custom printing. So look out guys and gals (or look away if you’re easily offended, as there is nowhere to hide in elbow to knee lycra, especially when it’s white and wet!). I’ll be having a go-round at Husky so say g’day as you fly past – I’ll be easy to spot. Oh, and if you’re a female thinking of trying this suit, I’m happy to shoot you my measurements so you can judge your own sizing. Just PM me.
As Goldilocks says…… this one is juuuuust right
Thanks to John at Fusion for supplying the test suit and answering all my pesky questions. Also to roxii for sending me the suit after he and lostkiwi peed in it…. I mean raced in it.
[ED] For those interested in a custom option Fusion are still offering free printing pre-Christmas.
Contact: Fusion Multipsort
Text and pictures: Turtle and Transitions