Kiwami pt 1 - Amphibian

 Aug 1, 2010 article & images by Nick Salazar

The Amphibian is the best sprint-specific suit we've ever seen, but not versatile enough for longer distances.

The Amphibian

The Amphibian is Kiwami's purpose-built sprint suit. Kiwami makes bold claims about the fabric in this particular suit, saying that it is lighter and sheds water better than anything else out there. And they're not kidding. This stuff is incredible. It's insanely light, yet feels quite durable. And the way it repels water is magic. As soon as we put the suit on, we proceeded to dump an entire water bottle onto one spot on the leg of the suit. It all bounced off as if the suit were made of glass. Actually, that's not quite right; glass would probably still have some beads of water left over. The Amphibian had nothing. The water just slid right off.

Sprint-Specific Construction

Despite its next-generation fabric, this suit isn't for everyone. It's built for sprint tris, and nothing much longer than that. It has no pockets, no padding, and it's a rear-zip design.

The rear zipper takes a bit of flexibility to operate.
Rear zips are uncommon in the world of tri (usually only seen in ITU athletes, who are required to wear them). There's a reason they aren't more popular, which is that they're more difficult to get in and out of, often requiring a second person to zip the suit up. But it can be done alone with a little flexibility and practice. What's more, you end up with a ripcord in the back that has a tendency to flop around, especially on the run. I suppose you could cut the thing off, or tuck it inside the back of the suit. But either way, with the zipper in the back, you lose the ability to unzip the chest if you get hot. Fortunately, this amazing fabric is more breathable than regular fabric, so overheating isn't going to be a huge problem.

The good part about the rear-zip construction means that there's nothing in the front squishing into your skin while you're in aero. The suit sits flush and comfortable. It grips your body differently than a front-zip suit. Not necessarily in a bad way or a good way, just a little different. Normally, a rear-zip suit is a compromise, because it means you can't unzip the suit at all during a race to modulate your temperature. But that's not a problem here, because the Amphibian's fabric is more breathable than standard lycra.

This brings us to the other two details Kiwami chose to leave out of the Amphibian: padding and pockets. That's right, the suit has zero pockets, and no chamois. There's just a small strip of fabric to provide a little support, but that's it. This is good news for the run - without a chamois, the suit feels much more natural for running. The bad news is that you'll notice the lack of padding on the bike. Unless your saddle is just perfect for you, you'll probably get sick of it in an hour or so. Just fine for sprint tris, but it could be an issue for anything longer.

But why leave out the pockets? Pockets on trisuits are as easy as an extra strip of fabric, and we can't see why Kiwami wouldn't just throw one or two flaps onto the suit to make it more usable. Well, the answer is that the lack of pockets makes the suit faster in the water, and the athletes for whom this suit was designed are looking for every last second. Creature comforts aren't on the agenda. If you're doing a race long enough to require nutrition in the middle, you'll have to find other storage solutions, or look at a different suit.

Overall, this is a suit that excels at its intended purpose, but may not be ideal for other uses.

  • Incredible fabric sheds water and weighs less than anything else out there
  • Excellent fit, very breathable, and very comfortable overall
  • Zero padding feels great on the run
  • Rear zip makes it difficult to put on or take off in a hurry
  • Zero padding can feel bad on the bike
  • Zipper ripcord bounces around, mildly annoying

Best suit on the market for sprints, not ideal for anything longer
Rating: 4.0

Tags » apparel,  kiwami,  trisuits
  • A rear-zip makes for a clean front, but tricky entry.  You almost have to do yoga to put it on.
  • You've probably seen this suit worn on plenty of ITU athletes.
  • No zip in the front makes for very clean lines.
  • The back is light and airy, and also comes in an open-back x-pattern.
  • The suit has fast written all over it.

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