Champion System tests new 'speed suit' at Tour of California

Zipper goes up the mesh-covered back

Cycling clothing company Champion System used its factory team to test out a new 'speed suit' during this year's Amgen Tour of California time trial. It's rather unusual looking but, according to VP of sales and marketing Charlie Issendorf, its unconventional construction is also the key to its claimed aero advantage.

The main difference on Champion System's novel skinsuit design is the back-mounted zipper. According to Issendorf, this leaves a smoother surface on the front of the garment for cleaner airflow – something that isn't likely to matter much for most enthusiast riders but potentially huge for top-level competitors.

The zipper comes partway down the back

Other features include mesh panels across the entire back and the back of the thighs to boost breathability, silicone-injected grippers around the leg openings, and carbon-infused fabrics around the arms with articulated elbows for increased compression and a sleeker fit.

Issendorf acknowledges that the rear-mounted zipper does come with trade-offs, such as the inability to increase ventilation on the fly during a climb, for example. In fact, team riders can't even zip up the garment themselves.

Champion System may still put the new skinsuit design into production depending on team rider feedback. After all, speed is speed and there's always someone willing to pay more to get it. Final pricing is to be determined but if it makes it into the marketplace, don't expect it until the 2014 model year.

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