Patterns- How fit and comfort happen

Doing a triathlon is hard. Doing it while your skin is being cut up by your tri suit- that’s brutal. That should not happen and we at Epix work hard to make sure it doesn’t. One of the ways to achieve this is innovative and comfort-focused pattern design. A pattern is the way the pieces of fabric that make up your tri suit are cut prior to assembly. Every brand has their own patterns which affect every aspect of how the garment fits and feels. We follow 3 general rules when making our patterns:

  1. Reduce seams, reduce chafing

If you have ever had a bad case of chafing, chances areit happened along a stitching line. This is because the thread itself is much more abrasive than the fabric. Using a stretchable, low-profile flat-lock stitching method does a lot to reduce this, but the choice of where to put that stitching line also matters. Our policy is therefore to reduce the amount of stitching lines on the garment. Some brands seem to put stitching lines down just for the sake of putting them down….who needs 4 side panels? Why do you need a waistline stich on a 1-piece tri suit? Our answer to questions like this is- you don’t. A waistline stitch is normally just an indication that the brand was lazy and literally decided to stitch a top and bottom together to make a single piece!

Minimizing stitching lines simply reduces those areas prone to causing chafing.The argument for more panels and stitching lines is you can better tailor the fit and vary the materials more. While these are valid points, an excellent fit and material balance can still be achieved with the minimalist approach to stitching. Also, more stitching lines lead to a heavier item and depending on the stitching method used, a less functional, less stretchable piece.

 

  1.  Move seams away from high-friction areas

Having a tight fit to reduce drag in the water and on the bike is a good thing. Paying for the tight fit with chafing scars is a bad thing. But you can have all the benefits with none of the drawbacks. We move our stitching lines away from those high-friction areas which greatly improves overall comfort. The under-arm area of our GoFierce tri suit is a perfect example- the side panel curves around towards the back, so that the area under the arm (which moves a lot while swimming freestyle) is clear of stitching lines.

 

 

  1.  Follow anatomical lines

 

We can learn much about how best to design a tri suit by learning about human anatomy. You can see on this image how our tri suit stitching lines bear a resemblance to the human form. Following these natural lines and curves improves both fit and comfort. Creating tri apparel that does all the right things and none of the wrong ones is a tricky balancing act. We adjust and improve our patterns every season based on new methods of doing things as well as athlete’s feedback and our own experience. If you’ve owned any of the Epix tri suits from many years ago and compare them to our current offering, you’ll be able to see and feel this evolution very clearly. A lot of thought goes into making you comfortable and fast on race day and our apparel should never enter your mind while racing; except maybe to recognize supporters cheering about how cool you look!

Chamois

What makes a good tri chamois?

We’ve all been there- halfway into a long ride and that’s when the discomfort starts. Whether it’s saddle sores, chaffing, or pressure, the results are always the same; your ride is ruined and you hate life all the way back. While the vast majority of saddle sore issues can be resolved simply with lower saddle positions (3-5 mm lower is generally all it takes), a appropriately-fitted saddle, and/or light use of anti-friction creams, the problem will persist if the root cause is a poor-quality chamois. This is especially true for triathletes because oftentimes brands attribute “triathlon” to mean shorts with thinner, less advanced padding.  Tri-specific chamois have come a long way in the past 10 years. But some brands remain in the past.

But apart from flipping a pair of shorts inside out and squeezing the pad, do you know what to look for in a good tri pad? 

Here’s 3 points:

 

No seams on the pad itself, and minimal seams on the edges   

This image shows an example of a pad which is sure to cut you up. Thick seams along the edges can act like razor blades to the skin and additional seams on the interior of the pad that do not channel sweat results in a case of a constantly wet butt . By contrast, the Epix chamois below shows how it should look- a minimal stitching on the outer edges. Tapered edges do soften any ridgeline, no stitching lines whatsoever on the internal parts of the pad, and defined and well guttered moisture lines that also function as pivot points on the pad when rotating to and from aero position.

Sufficient padding

How thick the actual padding is varies greatly between brands. Pictured above is Epix’s men’s cycling chamois, note the distinct differences in sweat channeling, shape and width than our Tri pad. This is because there are unique demands on a cycling specific pad than a more dynamic tri pad. Namely – a much less aggressive seating position, the lack of being previously soaked from a swim, and even considerations towards the seat styles of road bikes to tt bikes. Bike seats have tended to get harder and harder, the amount of padding provided on tri-specific chamois hasn’t changed much over the years. Tri pad options tend to hinge on individual athlete preferences rather than an industry-wide trend.  While some triathletes like the minimal fleece or polyester soft chamois (which is just an extra layer of fabric), others feel the foam micro-polyester style pads offer more comfort (and much more padding).

 

Most molded tri chamois range between 2 and 6mm of padding.

Epix tri chamois offers the highest amount of foam padding in the industry, which a variable thickness up to 8mm on the sit bone and forward regions. This is because we felt in large part competitor pads never felt comfortable enough during long rides or full-distance events. A benefit of molded pads, and why you see them increasingly in triathlon, is because we can control the mold density in key areas of the pad. Much like you see some cycling pads have firmer area’s near the sit bones, for triathlon, we can tailor the density to best suit triathlon-specific applications- ensuring a pad that provides support while also being crucially flexible during the run. The key is maintaining sufficient padding to relieve saddle pressure and keeping your feet from falling asleep. A chamois is not, by design, to be a soft Cadillac to an otherwise uncomfortable seat or seating position. Your apparel works in tandem with a well fitted and comfortable bike.

 

Moisture- wicking, quick-dry In general, keeping moisture away from your skin is the best way to keep it from breaking, which creates chaffing and sores. A good tri chamois will have the same functionality as most high-end cycling chamois have- a construction which allows moisture and humidity to escape. This is especially important for triathletes as you’re wet when emerging from the swim, hence the skin is immediately softer and more susceptible to chaffing. You can tell if your chamois has moisture-wicking function by checking if there are clearly-defined channels within the pad for moisture to escape, as well as a dimpled texture underneath the top layer. Some pads are pierced with small holes- this can also be effective. The Epix molded chamois is a good example of a quick-dry construction. If you race in very hot/humid conditions, this is especially important for you.

 

 

Generation 2 GoFierce Aero Trisuit

At Epix Gear we are triathlon first. That focus means that each of our triathlon products is constantly being reviewed and considered for improvements. As triathletes we are racing in our gear and asking ourselves - can this be better?

2016 was our initial release of our short sleeve products. Our custom clients, brand ambassadors, and sponsored pro's have all been racing in our first generation product for months now and we were able to put together comprehensive feedback on the pattern, its performance, and note improvements. Coming into our product development season the goals for updating our suit was make it lighter weight, and shed more heat for our athletes racing in the hottest races.

Lighter, even more breathable = faster. 

The result is our new 2nd generation GoFierce Aero Trisuit. 

We've updated the sleeve to our dimpled Aero Wick fabric, already used in GoFierce product lineup as the side panel material.  The result is improved moisture management along with a more personalized " painted on" fit on the arms. Aero Wick has a larger stretch than our previous Askin material - which gave us some pattern challeneges during prototyping but with the appropriate tweaks we now have an even better sleeve that can curve and contour to more athlete's bicep shapes. Aero Wick is significantly lighter, even when wet, while retaining the same SPF protection as our original Askin sleeve - a winning combination.

To improve our hot weather heat mitigation -we looked at the most important panel of a tri suit - the back. Our first generation GoFierce Aero Trisuit used our Air Mesh fabric - lightweight and breathable, a great option that provided a great amount of stretch to fit snugly on the body in aero position. But during extreme humid and hot scenarios the Air Mesh would get wet and stick to your back a bit too much.  Our goal was to update the material and further improve to make this area with the goal of having it feel like there was no material on your back at all. 

We're pretty happy with the results! We sourced an entirely new material, Kite, which is significantly lighter weight, quicker moisture absorption, and faster drying than the Air Mesh it replaces. It is thinner, but still retains SPF protection and strikes the balance we were hoping for and the fit/feel we wanted.

Generation 2 is being made available now in our retail items and is being implemented on all our orders for Individual Custom and Team Custom.

Our best, most advanced triathlon suit is now even better.