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Never Stop Improving
Epix-sponsored pro triathlete Adam Feigh testing a suit with bonded seams

Never Stop Improving

The things we do for comfort....

If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. This is as much true in racing as it is in business. And it’s why we are constantly looking for ways to improve our product. Epix releases updates to our apparel every year, and sometimes more than once per year. Whether small tweaks to existing styles, or totally new items- we never stop developing. And the key to successful product development is extensive and rigorous testing. We take a scientific approach to our product testing and separate tests into 3 categories:

- Durability Machine tests
- Fit tests
- Wear tests

It all starts in our testing lab, which consists of a few workstations of machines that never stop trying to destroy stuff. We test for material durability in several ways; chlorine baths to simulate the effects that swimming in chlorinated pools has on fabrics over time. Abrasion tests, which simulate the effects of the apparel coming in contact with abrasive surfaces, such as race belts, velcro, saddles, and even rubbing against itself. UV tests check for the UV protection offered by various fabrics. Stretch tests determine how well the material returns to form after thousands of stretches. Finally, color fastness tests are done
on fabrics to determine how well they respond to sublimation printing under various conditions. We also ensure all of our fabrics are free from toxic chemicals by using only certified non-toxic materials.

“How does moving a stitching line 1 inch affect the fit of your tri suit? Does increasing the size or firmness of the tri chamois improve comfort?”

Material tensile strength test
Wear test feedback resulting in a pattern change
Fitting test showing wrinkle issues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fit tests

These are a quick fitting test of a garment which we are working on improving (or a totally new prototype). The fit test is normally done at the factory by testers who’s measurements match our fitting chart. We look for problem areas of discomfort, over-tightness, loose or bunching fabrics, overall sleekness and basic function. At this stage, we normally only test at one size. Full size range/extreme size testing is done on the wear test stage.

Wear Tests
Sometimes you don’t know if your tri suit has a pressure point until you’ve been wearing it while riding for many hours. This problem is solved with wear testing. Once we are confident that we have a product that is ready to be put through the paces, we work with a team of athlete testers who swim, bike, and run in our prototypes. This includes our sponsored pro athletes who compare the comfort and fit across various iterations of the prototypes as well as other brands. We also ask reputable product review outlets such as Tririg to give their opinion on our finished product. The wear testing process normally takes several months and involves tweaking the product as potential problems are revealed. How does the apparel perform in saltwater vs freshwater? How does moving a stitching line 1 inch affect the fit of your tri suit? Does increasing the size or firmness of the tri chamois improve comfort? How to best accommodate the widest range of body types? These are just a few of the typical questions we answer via the testing process.

Analyzing customer feedback
Despite a rigorous testing program, once in awhile we still miss something. This is why we take feedback from our customers very seriously. Our customers are also our best source of knowledge when it comes to what to develop next. This is demonstrated in our latest round of GoFierce Pro-Edition apparel set to launch for 2019 season. We took the feedback from our customers and athletes as the basis for the product improvements that have been incorporated into the apparel.

 

 

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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!

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