BARELY THERE

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - SWIM GEAR -

One of the big­gest chal­lenges for for­mer high­level swim­mers, when they turn to triathlon, is find­ing them­selves a wet­suit that doesn’t make them feel like they’re com­pro­mis­ing their stroke. After spend­ing years do­ing end­less lengths in the pool, they have both a good feel for the wa­ter and have de­vel­oped supremely ef­fi­cient strokes. For them, pulling on a tight rub­ber suit that re­stricts their range of mo­tion, es­pe­cially around the shoul­ders, is of­ten more of an or­deal than a help.

“Why not just get a sleeve­less suit?” you’re ask­ing. When swim­ming in very cold wa­ter, the ex­tra cov­er­age is crit­i­cal. And, at the high­est lev­els, a sleeve­less suit sim­ply isn’t as fast as a sleeved one, so elite com­peti­tors can’t af­ford to give up even a few sec­onds to their com­pe­ti­tion.

To com­bat those is­sues, Dare2Tri uti­lized su­per-thin, ex­tremely flex­i­ble 0.5 mm Du­raflex sleeves in its MachV.5 suit. Alex Bok, the owner of Dare2Tri, who has been in­volved in the triathlon busi­ness for over 20 years now, says his goal was to come up with a suit that was so flex­i­ble around the shoul­ders and arms that it felt like sleeve­less suit. He’s come as close as we’ve ever felt to do­ing just that with the MachV.5.

It’s the first thing you no­tice when pulling on Dare2Tri’s flag­ship suit – the Du­raflex rub­ber around the shoul­ders and arms feels ex­tremely flex­i­ble. It is pa­per-thin, though, so you’ll want to be very care­ful pulling the suit on to avoid rips or holes. You still get enough pro­tec­tion to keep you warm thanks to the flex­i­ble, in­su­lated lin­ing, but that pro­tec­tion won’t com­pro­mise your stroke.

While the com­fort­able arms and shoul­ders are prob­a­bly the most no­tice­able in­no­va­tions in this suit, there are lots of other high-end fea­tures that also help im­prove per­for­mance. There are spe­cially de­signed 5 mm thick Air­float Sta­bil­ity Pan­els that help both put you up high in the wa­ter and en­hance your roll as you reach for­ward dur­ing each stroke – things elite swim­mers do nat­u­rally. The ma­te­rial used in the suit other than the shoul­ders and arms is 44-cell HBF Lime­stone neo­prene, which is con­sid­er­ably denser than oil-based neo­prene. That means the ma­te­rial is lighter, less likely to ab­sorb wa­ter, warmer and more flex­i­ble. That all leads to faster per­for­mance.

Through­out the suit you’ll find a spe­cial hy­dropho­bic lin­ing that’s also ex­tremely stretchy, so you won’t feel like there’s any re­stric­tion to your move­ment, whether you’re swim­ming or run­ning out of the wa­ter to­wards T1. The suit is also coated with Te­flon to keep wa­ter out and help you glide through the wa­ter more eas­ily, and spe­cially de­signed pan­els on the arms and legs pro­vide more re­sis­tance where you want it on the arms and legs to get the most out of your pull.

That’s all the tech­nol­ogy be­hind the suit, but the big ques­tion is: Does all that work? We had an elite swim­mer give the MachV.5 a test run, and he felt it pro­vided much more flex­i­bil­ity around the shoul­ders than he’d ex­pe­ri­enced in other suits. The ex­cel­lent flex­i­bil­ity and range of mo­tion we’ve no­ticed in other Dare2Tri suits was re­ally en­hanced in the new flag­ship MachV.5.

All that per­for­mance doesn’t come cheap – for over a grand one would hope this suit would be a rocket. Rest as­sured, it is. You will have to be very care­ful get­ting it on and off in or­der to avoid rips, but those look­ing for a suit that feels like it’s barely there (and you want it to feel like it’s barely there) will love Dare2Tri’s MachV.5.—KM

Ad­just­ing to long rides after the win­ter can be tough, but by eas­ing into the kilo­me­tres on the road and hours on the bike can pro­vide some slightly less ex­hausted Sun­day af­ter­noons. When I first got out on the road after this past win­ter, it took me a while to get com­fort­able on the bike for three-plus hour rides again. When I am adding dis­tance to my weekly rides, I usu­ally just tack on an ex­tra hour, which trans­lates into roughly 30 ex­tra km. By start­ing with a two-hour ride and then go­ing up to three, then to four hours over a num­ber of days (or weeks), I am able to ease into the longer dis­tances and avoid need­ing a few days off the bike for a re­set. Be­gin with a dis­tance you are com­fort­able with, so you don’t find your­self a half hour from home ex­hausted or cracked.

Build­ing to a goal of 100 or even 200 km (a re­quire­ment for top-level cy­clists and a rea­son­able goal for full-dis­tance prepa­ra­tion) is at­tain­able by any­one, but get­ting to that dis­tance takes time in the sad­dle.

aero­dy­nam­ics, but keep the other needs of long-dis­tance triath­letes in mind – com­fort and hy­dra­tion be­ing high on those lists.

The lack of a down­tube and seat stays makes a huge dif­fer­ence when it comes to cheat­ing the wind. That dif­fer­ence is even more no­tice­able as there is more of a cross­wind, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s wind-tun­nel and real-life test­ing.

In terms of hy­dra­tion, the Ven­tum comes with a 1.4 l wa­ter­bot­tle that’s in­te­grated into the frame. The bike is ac­tu­ally more aero­dy­namic with the bot­tle on than it isn’t, and the easy-to-use straw sys­tem and bite valve al­lows you to get lots of hy­dra­tion with­out ever leav­ing the aero po­si­tion. Throw on an­other bot­tle be­hind the sad­dle and you have the equiv­a­lent of three wa­ter bot­tles avail­able to you that won’t af­fect the aero­dy­nam­ics of the bike at all.

For a bike that seems to be “miss­ing” so many fea­tures we’re used to see­ing on reg­u­lar frames, the Ven­tum One is sur­pris­ingly stiff, of­fer­ing ex­cel­lent power trans­fer as you push down on the ped­als. We’ve heard that some heav­ier ath­letes who have tried to use wider-rimmed wheels have found some wheel rub when stand­ing, but the lighter triath­letes we’ve talked to haven’t found the same is­sues. That said, go­ing with a wheel set like the Enve SES 7.8C that you can or­der through the Ven­tum web­site might be a good plan, as those wheels ap­pear to work ex­tremely well with the Ven­tum frame.

As with so many of the cur­rent crop of su­per-bikes, all this speed doesn’t come cheap. Set up with Dura Ace Di2 with and a Ce­ramic Speed BB, the Ven­tum Carbon In­te­grated aer­o­bars (you don’t have to go with these – the bike will han­dle other styles if you are so in­clined) and train­ing wheels you’ll find you’re look­ing at a US$11,000 price tag. Add in those Enve wheels and a Pioneer power me­ter and you’ll sud­denly hit the US$14,300 mark. You can get the folks from Velofix to build and de­liver the bike, too.

For all that money, you do get a su­per-fast bike that will turn lots of heads both in tran­si­tion and on the road. And lots of sup­port – whether it be with some ques­tions ei­ther be­fore or after your pur­chase or when you ride this speedy ma­chine fast enough to qual­ify for Kona. Don’t for­get to say hi to Diaa Nour on your way into tran­si­tion.—KM

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