It’s not often that European fashion is practical in Australia; however race gear designed to stop the Euro athletes getting roasted on Kona’s lava fields could be the answer to an Aussie summer dilemma.
I must admit when contacted by John at Fusion Multisport that I had never heard of the brand. That very fact is part of the reason that John is doing what he does today. After living in the UK for a few years and buying and using the Fusion gear, John was planning to head back home to Oz, then while doing his research he realised there was no distributor for his beloved Fusion gear in Australia. So he decided there was an opening for quality European gear in Australia and put his faith and money where his heart was and took the leap.
Fusion has a full range of multisport gear for men and women, but it was their race gear that John was especially keen for us to look at. The clothing has been designed and made in Europe with real life problems in mind. European athletes that had qualified for Kona were getting to the Lava fields and being fried and unable to perform at their peak in the heat. Fusion though, was not satisfied with simply making a garment to keep the sun at bay. There has been a trend of late for athletes to look for every marginal gain, and one of the latest places they are looking is aero clothing. I explained to John that this was timely given recent times had seen threads on Transitions discussing both aero clothing and sun protection.
John liased with me to get my sizing right, he did note that sizing was a bit “snug”. Then a few days later I took delivery of a set that included the Speed Top the Ice Pocket Top and the Tri Power Tight Pocket shorts. When I say “set” it is worth noting that this kit is designed to work really well together. My first impression when putting the shorts on was that they seemed a little low at the back, not a great place to get sunburnt but it does mean the waist band sits lower and doesn’t press on the stomach However the Ice Pocket tri top is cut longer to cover the shorts easily so it works well as a set.
The Tri Power Tight Pocket shorts are just that, tight pocket shorts. The side pockets fit gels easily and are equally easily accessible; the pockets are also made from a perforated material to allow for water to flow through in the event of a non-wetsuit swim. They have a minimal “chamois” which is comfortable but not too bulky for running. All the pieces are made from an Italian, compression certified, material. I’m not an expert on compression gear ,as I have never had the need to use it to ratify its claims, I’ll would say that’s because I haven’t had an injury in years, other may say it’s because I haven’t trained hard enough in years. Either way, my lack of need for the claims of compression garments doesn’t mean I don’t like racing in “firm” garments and the Fusion gear is extremely flexible but still gives a snug fit, a bit like a hug from Grandma.
The main feature of Tri Top is a mesh layer inside the front and rear of the neck. This is a place to place ice in warmer races without needing to hold it. The top also has two generous pockets in the rear for your race needs. Again the quality of the material and workmanship is obvious. Often with the tighter fitting race gear the first time you try it on the sound of stitches popping is not uncommon. With the Fusion gear there was no such issue which also made me feel like I hadn’t let myself go too much over Easter.
The crowning glory of this set is the Speed Top. The speed top is a snug fitting ling sleeved top that can be worn for any part of the race, or all of it of you choose. The white fabric is intended to keep you cool in the harsh sun, however if the weather turns nasty or you are out there longer than intended it can also keep you warm. When I unpacked it, my wife sniggered, and thought there was no chance I was fitting into it. It does look small. (See pic of Large Speed Top overlayed on my large size Race Cut cycle jersey). However when zipped up it stretches nicely and fits like a glove. The speed top is made, rather ingeniously, from a single piece of material, a fact that took me a few minutes of turning the garment over and round to verify. There is no pulling or tight spots when dropping into the aero position, and its lack of seams means it can also be worn under a wetsuit both for convenience and also to stop wetsuit rash.
I put the call out on Transitions for another test rider, to give an independent opinion, hoping someone may be willing to break it in before Cairns and then race in it. To my surprise “Bored@work” offered to get it off me on the Friday before Ironman Port Mac and wear it on race day. Brave man!!
Anyway I got the gear to “Bored” pre-race and he tried it on, it fit, and he committed to giving it a red hot go. As it turned out Ironman was probably the idea day for testing all the claims of the Fusion gear. Race day was sunny, yet windy and got cool in the afternoon, a day when sun protection warmth and aero were all going to be at a premium. Here is “Bored@work’s” feedback.
I thought the best way to try out the Fusion tri clothing would be to wear it for Ironman Port Macquarie.
This was the first time I had worn the clothing (straight out the bag no washing). Initially I was a bit worried about wearing the gear in the swim and how long it would take to dry out in the cool conditions. After 5 minutes on the bike my concerns were all for nothing. It dried quickly, kept me warm and protected from the sun. All the gear had a tight "compression" feel to it & was very stretchy which was a good thing considering I was carrying an extra 6kg in to this race.
It wasn't until the last 25km of the run when the weather started getting cold that I noticed my hands were cold but my upper body was still warm and well protected from the cold wind.
With the tops being all white it left plenty of room to have sponsors logos, club logos etc printed on it. It was also very easy for family and friends to spot on the course.
I really liked the kit and would highly recommend it. My only concerns would be the lack of a zip on the Speed top (to access the pockets in the try top) and how well the Gatorade, coke, etc will wash out of the garment. Also being white it showed the extra 6kg I was carrying but the tightness of the garment helped to hide a couple of fat rolls.
Felt great on the bike even stretched in the aero position, especially across the upper shoulders and with plenty of length my lower back was covered. With no pocket or zip in the Speed Top it was a little difficult to get gels from the rear pockets of my Tri top.
Tri Top Ice pocket
I wore the top all day under the Speed Top with no problems at all. It had plenty of pockets for gels etc and the tightness of the fabric ensured nothing would bounce out on the run. It wasn't till after the race I notice the pockets for the ice packs (was never going to need them in Port Macquarie any way).
Tri power tight pocket shorts
The shorts were so comfy it was like wearing a pair of my favourite riding knicks. 180km in a brand new pair of knicks would normally result in some discomfort or chaffing but not with these shorts.
They seemed a little low cut around the waist but the length of the top more than made up for this.
Fusion’s gear is not the cheapest around, nor does it aim to compete on price alone, but it does feel like quality gear and should last longer than cheaper alternatives. The three pieces featured could become an all-weather race kit to carry and use in almost any circumstance.
Tri Power Tight Pocket Shorts RRP $129.00
Ice Pocket Top RRP $139.00
Speed Top RRP $159.00
The gear will be going around again in Cairns so we will update with the new findings when they come in, in the meantime keep an eye on the forum for a special Transitions “limited time, introductory” discount code coming soon.