Review: Louis Garneau Course Skin + Tri Suit
Apr 16, 2014
article & images by Nick Salazar
There's a funny thing about aero data in the cycling/triathlon world: there is a growing amount of publicly-available information regarding the relative wind tunnel performance of bicycles, bicycle components, and bicycle accessories, but almost NOTHING available about clothing. That's rather unfortunate, because what scarce reports there are suggest that good-fitting apparel has about as much potential to make you fast as a good-fitting bike does. Or at least, it looks to be on the same order of magnitude.
What's even more interesting is that, while there are at least a dozen different brands EACH making high-end frames, high-end wheels, and high-end helmets, available to the public consumer, there are maybe two or three brands supplying Pro-level TT apparel that you can actually buy. A few years ago, one of the big tech news stories from a certain notorious US-based Pro Tour team was its superlative TT apparel. Their Nike Swift Spin suit was touted as an ultra-high-tech garment a generation ahead of the competition. It was never made available to the public. Today, the Pro Tour competition has caught up, and similar suits are worn by virtually everyone in the Peloton. And not just for time trials. More and more, skin suits are being used for road stages as well. But for the most part, you can't buy ANY of that stuff. Wanna bike like your favorite TT hero? You can probably buy the same bike, wheels, helmet, and shoes … but not the skin suit. Unless, of course, he rides for a team sponsored by Louis Garneau.
Louis Garneau is one of the only brands around that will actually sell you a pro-level suit. Their top-shelf apparel bears the "Course" designation, and in this article, I'll be reviewing the Course TT suit, as well as the Course Tri suit. Before we get to the suits themselves, there's one more point I want to make about aero apparel.
Fit is Everything
As in bike position, fit is critical to fast apparel. And it's something people probably don't spend enough time thinking about. People generally think, "Well, I'm usually a size Medium, so I'll just order the Medium." I'll admit that even I'm guilty of this thinking quite often. But just as important as the technology of your suit is finding one that FITS you. Whether it's a tri suit or a TT suit, you want to minimize wrinkles. Virtually every brand publishes detailed fit information about their suits, so that if you can't try them on in person, you can get a decent idea of the actual size of the suit. Take careful measurements of your own body, and follow whatever fit guides the brands publish. With that out of the way, hit the jump, and let's look at these lovely bits of kit. We'll start with the road kit.