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.

Champion system tested a new skinsuit design at this year's tour of california that the company claims greatly reduces drag as compared to conventional skinsuits: champion system tested a new skinsuit design at this year's tour of california that the company claims greatly reduces drag as compared to conventional skinsuits
Champion system tested a new skinsuit design at this year's tour of california that the company claims greatly reduces drag as compared to conventional skinsuits: champion system tested a new skinsuit design at this year's tour of california that the company claims greatly reduces drag as compared to conventional skinsuits

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA
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