Roka Sim Pro II Review
This is a somewhat unusual review of the Roka Sim Pro II buoyancy shorts as I’m going to moan about all the parts that have worn out over the last 4 years and then try to say why I’ve just bought the slighter newer model as a replacement! Actually, 4 years of usage is probably pretty good but they had to go.
4 Years of Wear-and-Tear
The Roka Sim Pro II wore out in three main places: where the drawstrings enter the shorts; on the bum where your fingers push in and pull the shorts as you put them on; and on the thinner side panel.
These three images show that wear, with the images comprising the brand new pair on top to the old pair underneath.
This kind of product is always going to wear over time but it was only really where the drawstrings entered the shorts that caused me problems. The issue with the ORIGINAL MODEL was that this wear pattern meant that it became hard to properly and fully tighten the drawstring. That doesn’t sound too serious but it means that there can be a gap on the rear of the shorts at your spine, meaning they act like a little parachute to slow you down. Actually, the Roka is generally not as bad as the Zone 3 shorts in that respect, it’s almost impossible to remove the ‘parachute hole’ with the Zone 3 but the Roka is cut lower to the rear to naturally remove that effect.
Roka Sim Pro II Review – the new design
I wasn’t particularly expecting the new shorts to have been any different to my existing ones but they HAVE been notably re-designed. I’d say that’s a change for the good. Here are the main changes
- Subtle panelling changes eg the crotch area and butt-crack area seems to have a higher buoyancy panel. (sorry, I couldn’t think of a better way of describing those body parts #brevity!)
- New aesthetics but a similar look-and-feel to the casual observer
- Subtly different cut – essentially similar though
- Drawstring re-design – this is a MAJOR improvement. The belt area of the shorts is a totally different material (non-wetsuit neoprene with no buoyancy) that will hopefully wear better with the drawstring. It also forms a better water seal to the body. So I’m hoping that this is a change for the better.
Here is the re-designed drawstring area in more detail.
Roka Swim Pro II – My Experience
I like them and use them reasonably regularly. They look good and work well IF you get a REALLY tight fitting pair. For sure they help with body position but perhaps can make your core and natural swimming position a little lazy if used too often.
Further below is a comparative review to some other pairs available a few years ago. My Zone3 pair wore out quite quickly and I bought a replacement pair at the end of last season but seem to have lost them somewhere.
WARNING: They make poorer swimmers faster BUT bouyancy shorts spoil your leg kick if used too frequenctly. They are really just an alternative to a pool buoy that allow kicking and easier turns but which you can’t use in races. Your call.
Of course triathletes love them and rationalise that they will only ever race in wetsuits…until that fateful day of a non-wetsuit swim arrives.
Price & Availability
At the time of writing ROKA have put these on sale so I got my pair for just under £80/$100 (normally £110/$120). Do NOT buy the ELITE pair, they don’t have a drawstring nor the same quality of neoprene nor the RS2 rotation panels.
Here is more comparative info against similar products as well as sizing info