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