2013: Zone3 Aspire Wetsuit Review

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Zone3 Aspire Wetsuit Review

Acid Test: Would I Buy Another If Stolen?
Answer: Yes! It’s a great triathlon wetsuit.

220triathlon rated it as 10/10. Would I say it is that perfect?
Answer: No. But it is very good.

Who is it aimed at?
In my opinion this wetsuit will suit someone who intends to take triathlon seriously. It is aimed at the swimmer who needs some buoyancy but also at someone who wants to whip it off quickly in T1. It has several features, some of them innovative, that set it apart from the <£150 entry level suits. So if you can afford the £250 or so price tag this could be just what you are looking for.

This is a link to the Zone3 product information page.

What do you get for the money? Out of the nice box I got a wetsuit and a string bag and some instructions. I’m not sure what else I was expecting! The instructions were engaging in the sense that they told me not to be too excited about the wetsuit and to carefully note how to put it on and care for it. Fair point. The last thing you would want is a ripped/torn wetsuit after forking out £250.

Buying a wetsuit is a tricky thing. If you think about it the FIT of the suit to YOU is VERY important. Probably MORE important to any of the features on the suit itself. With that in mind the suit fits me well. Possibly a little tight round the shoulders; but we’ll come back to that. Trying on a wetsuit is all well and good but over time the fit will change and loosen up a little. So if you can it’s probably good to do some sort of hire-and-try-before-you-buy type thing – the reason being is that the suits will be used and stretched.

Anyway. It fits nice. So that’s the basis for a good review.

I’ve used it 5 or 6 times now both in a pool and in a lake. So I’ve got the feel for it. Edit: 2x seasons and going strong!!

It’s a bit of a pain to get on over my chunky bike-thighs but we do that before the race starts so no probs there. The bottom of the legs are well above my ankles so it’ll take a lot of stretching though wear to get anywhere near my feet! Be sure to look at the Zone3 sizing guide as there may well be 2 suits that you could theoretically fit into. Edit: Some chunky bike-thigh wear in those nether regions…apply some GLIDE (to the outside).

I have pretty puny arms and shoulders but the fit is snug. Out of the water it only feels a little tight over the shoulders and I made a good note of the helpful guide in the instructions about where and where not bits should be saggy when you move your arms/shoulders around. The thighs fell a little tight and the crutch not quite all the way up. [Actually I was wearing baggy undergarments when I first wrote this. With swimming trunks on the crutch fit becomes perfect. Having said that I won’t be racing with swimming trunks on. Note to self: look into this a bit more!]

Anyway, overall the out-of-the-water fit is GREAT overall. I would say near perfect FOR ME.

Buoyancy: This suit has bottom loaded 5mm Neoprene which the manufacturer says is the max allowed under ITU rules. To me the suit does NOT feel quite as buoyant as my old SPEEDO. Whether it ACTUALLY IS or is NOT as buoyant, I wouldn’t know. To me it feels similar to a higher priced Blueseventy Helix (£470) rather than the competing Blueseventy Fusion (£229) or Blueseventy Reaction (£299). Anyway in my ‘natural’  position I feel that the Speedo TriComp (FS – RRP £210) has me slightly flatter in the water.

I like the Speedo TriComp and The Blueseventy Helix…I like the Zone3 Aspire as well.

Apparently it’s made in the UK as well, or at least Zone3 are British. That’s not a bad thing, right?

So how does it fare in the water? Well luckily I’d just done some testing in my old Speedo so I can pretty much eliminate changes it fitness when I put this baby (the Aspire) on. The result? Pretty much the same times! Actually 3 seconds slower – one single test vs. another single test so not that scientific but It’ll do. ie they’re the same! 3 seconds is not a material difference.

However this suit does tire my shoulders quite a bit and it feels like I am fighting a bit. Hmmm. Edit: This is reduced with GLIDE over the shoulders but this is still a slight issue a few years on – but it doesn’t worry me.

Well the suit apparently has a ‘spring loaded’ shoulder design. So this might be putting a different strain in the shoulders that I have not yet adapted to. It could be analogous to the eliptical chain rings you get on bikes…they slightly change the muscle dynamics but over the medium term the result, other things being equal, is supposed to be an increase in power.

We’ll see.

Anyway you don’t need your shoulders much after the swim. And as I only do Sprint or Olympic races then I’m not too bothered. If I were training for an Ironman I might look more closely at this. Edit: Later did a 3.8k swim…no probs

Oh, and another thing, it feels more like I am swimming with the Aspire whereas the Speedo and, to a lesser extent, the Blueseventy it felt more like floating!

Still, swimming’s good right?

The coating of the suit is meant to be good. It has some nano coating. Not all suits have this. What difference it makes, I don’t know.

Another feature is the rough forearm panels. Supposedly a power generator. I can see the logic, just as I can see the logic of the water catch panels of the £500 Speedo suits but again I just don’t know if they make any real difference (I guess they do). The forearm panels are starting to wear after 2x seasons of use.

However what DOES make a difference is the very flexible ankle and wrist sections. The suit comes off VERY easily. There’s a video on the Zone3 website of someone doing it in less than 5 seconds (I’ve inserted it after this paragraph). With a bit of practice you really could do that. I’m probably at 10 seconds with very little practice. So that’s already saved at least 10 secs in T1 over the Speedo and the Blueseventy I always found a struggle to get off. Those 10 seconds with the possibility of another 5 more seconds to save MORE THAN OUTWEIGH ANY POSSIBLE MARGINAL PERFORMANCE LOSS in the water.

The zip goes down and the velcro at the top tends to naturally come undone so that’s one easy movement there. Again the higher prices Speedo has zip innovations where the zip goes UP and the bottom comes naturally undone and naturally widens. That’s all irrelevant if you can’t get it over your ankles or your wrists get stuck. So the Zone3 zip is fine.

Rubbing?: Well no. None at all yet. I’ve not spent more than an hour in it so I don’t know what else to expect really. The suit construction is supposed to reduce neck rubbing. If it does then it seems to work for me!!

Problems: Only One. I get some water in through the rear neck (never in the ankles or wrists). This could be the more flexible neck design or me not quite getting it on and sealed right. Edit: It’s the latter, the flap of material underneath the zip must be flat and the Velcro must be fixed ‘properly’…then no leaks.

Over rating: 9/10. It it fits you, buy it.

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