PEZ Test: Verge Carrera Skinsuit
One look at the modern day pro peloton shows an abundance of skinsuits being used during standard road stages. What was unthinkable just a few years ago is now commonplace as riders look for the latest edge in aerodynamics and comfort. I recently put Verge’s mid priced Triumph Carrera road/criterium skinsuit, through a long range test with some surprising results.
The Verge Triumph Carrera Skinsuit is touted to, “give you all the aerodynamic benefits of a skinsuit during a long day of racing, while retaining the comfort of a jersey and shorts.” Sounds good but in reality I’ve had a number of skinsuits over the last few years that I simply wouldn’t want to ride for long distances so I was initially sceptical of Verge’s claims. Having never ridden in a Verge skinsuit before though I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get and although I’d had a good read through of their website you never truly know the quality of an item until you get it in your hands and try it yourself.
What You Get
First up let’s look at what came in the mail – one short sleeved Triumph Carrera skinsuit, Size M in black, grey and orange. The color’s not important in this test as Verge can produce your garments in any color combination, pattern, style or print you choose but the quality of the garment is what this test is all about and straight away I was surprised. Any experienced cyclist can tell a high quality piece of cycling equipment from the lower end and if I’d been given the Carrera suit blindfolded I’d have guessed its price at 2 or 3 times the actual retail price just from the fabrics used.
No less than 5 different fabrics have been put together to make the Carrera with obvious care taken in choosing just the right material for each crucial zone of the garment.
First up is to me at least the most crucial part – the legs. In the past I’ve had skinsuits that have been too tight with their legbands on the thighs, others that have been too loose, thus costing me valuable aerodynamic advantage but the Carrera was Goldilocks heaven – yep, it was just right.
On the legband around the end of the thighs they use a material, ‘Clutch +’ which is a super comfortable, stretchable, direct silicon printed elastane that is grippy without being too grippy and digging into your skin no matter if you have sprinter’s thighs or little climber’s ones like me. There’s no bunching and with a seamless edge this is comfy stuff and is used around the ends of the thigh for 85% of the end of the skinsuit.
The other 15% is on the back of your thigh and is a mesh panel that’s been added to allow for additional venting and stretch. The idea behind it is to allow a better fit around the back of the thigh and at the same time helping to keep the leg muscles cooler.
With the legs taken care of let’s have a look at another crucial component – the zipper and chest fit. The Carrera has the typical low collar used in the majority of skinsuits and it dips down into a full length YKK VISLON® zipper that zips free and easy for one handed zipping.
Down the left and right sides of the chest is Mesh-Tech™ – a micro-denier polyester fiber that is stretchable, comfortable and aids in wicking the sweat away, which is placed there for its breathability to help keep you cool during intensive efforts.
Verge is printed – or I should say sublimated into the mesh here but if you were going for a custom skinsuit for your team/club/business etc – anything you want could be placed here. The ‘sublimation’ process for those not familiar with it is basically a process of printing to fabric where the the inks are fused into the fabric as opposed to sitting on top of the fabric like in traditional printing. This means that your original colors and pattern will not fade or discolor as it’s extremely durable and the colors will remain strong even after extensive use and washing.
So far there’s not much that sets the Carrera apart from a top of the line time trial skinsuit but turning the suit over and the most obvious difference is right in front of you – pockets.
Two good size pockets are located in the back and have been designed to take a decent load whilst still remaining aero.
Decent pockets, a full length and smooth as silk zip was a good start for a true road racing skinsuit but it would all come to nothing if the chamois wasn’t up to the task. Verge of course were aware of that and have come through with a SIC™ ‘Road Performance’ chamois.
It’s an ultra-high density chamois made from Elastic Interface Technology ® (E.I.T.) that is designed for 5+ hour sessions in the saddle. It has perineum inserts that have been purposely engineered per gender (The Carrera is also available in a women’s version) and placed in key pressure points for optimum performance when in a riding position.
The perforated base layer is designed to increase breathability and quick-dry functionality and includes a carbon microfiber fabric as the top layer for additional comfort. In my hands it felt a little bit Goldilocks again with it being not too thick, not too thin but just right – but only time would tell on this one.
After trying on the suit in my living room I immediately noticed the snug fit especially around the arms and shoulders which was a place that had often bunched or crinkled on me with previous suits. The Synapse material that makes up the majority of the skinsuit with its 4 way stretch properties was doing its job nicely and I felt fast! It was time to hit the road.
Hit The Road
Photos and studying of the Carrera’s construction over and done with – it was time to use the suit and what better place to put it to the test than a club training camp in the beautiful Pyrenees mountains in the South of France? It was the middle of summer, big and long climbing days were ahead of us each day on typical Pyreneen rough roads – this was going to be a true test to see if the Carrera was as comfortable as Verge claimed it to be.
With pockets loaded for a full day’s riding and 2500m+ of climbing ahead of me I set off with my teammates joking that I’d really taken our interteam KOM rivalry to the next level by turning up in a skinsuit.
It may be so that perhaps a skinsuit wasn’t necessary for the embarassingly slow speeds I would be climbing these mythical mountains but I didn’t care as I was very comfortable. Even with full pockets I felt immediately at ease in the Carrera, the fit was just right, and the Clutch+ was perfect around my arms and legs. Two pockets were down from my normal three on my standard team jersey but they were surprisingly deep and held all that I needed for the day ahead with just minor overflow.
The fit of my Carrera as a whole was tight but not restrictive and the Road Performance chamois went unnoticed with no pressure points on the saddle – which was just as well as I was in for some very, very long days.
On the first climb of the day I immediately appreciated the long zip which not only unzips completely but is also very easy to be reizipped, I’m talking ‘no hands over the top of the climb’ style as the descent started. A big tick for Verge there for not skimping on zipper quality.
I rode much of the day with the zipper completely unzipped as there’s no doubt that the tight fitting of a skinsuit makes you feel warmer and I was afterall climbing the Pyrenees at 15kph under hot summer skies. Still apart from the extra heat buildup over my standard loose fitting jersey and the slightly smaller pockets I wasn’t finding any negatives with the Carrera. It was comfortable, felt quick and didn’t ride up at all on either the legs nor the arms with the silicon printed elastane keeping it perfectly in place. Verge deserve full marks for the chamois quality, comfort levels, and the fit and choice of materials being superior to some suits double and triple the price.
In fact I rechecked Verge’s website to confirm that the Triumph Carrera was indeed their mid priced suit and not their top line model because everything about the suit screamed ‘expensive’ to me. Pleasantly, yes the Triumph Carrera is their mid priced effort at less than $150 US.
The Verge clothing range is split into three categories the Primo, Triumph (which the Carrera was a part of) and the Elite. Each of these categories has a wide range of jerseys, bibshorts and skinsuits which are designed for various price points and riding styles. The Carrera fits in the midrange Triumph range and after returning from the Pyrenees I talked to Verge CEO, Ben Buckley about the ranges and the differences between them:
“The Primo is our top of the line collection with every bell and whistle you could think of. For example we use technology called Coldblack which is a special proprietary and patented treatment of fabric that reduces heat buildup and reflects the sun rays even on dark or black colors which would normally hold that heat…..do you absolutely need this? Maybe, maybe not but the point is that the Primo collection has absolutely everything and is the top of the top.
The Triumph line is a racer’s line with all European fabrics – and in fact all our products are with European fabrics (Ed: Verge have their own manufacturing facility in Poland) with a true pro feel and a pro fit. And then our final line is the Elite line which is designed for the average cyclist, recreational cyclists, clubs and shops who want custom clothing at a lower price point.”
What Do You Get – How Much?
After my training camp and with various rides since, the Carrera has continued to prove its comfort and would be a great choice for my upcoming races – if I had a Carrera in my club colors of course. I see the Carrera as a perfect criterium and roadrace suit that could easily be used in time trials also. Sure it has pockets that wouldn’t be necessary in a time trial but to save you buying a different suit for various events the Carrera seems to cover a number of possibilities very well.
It’s comfortable, aero despite the pockets (Verge have even wind tunnel tested the Carrera for optimizing seam placement to maximise aerodynamics and ergonomics – a step almost unheard of on a mid priced suit) and well priced making it an excellent choice for a ‘hybrid’ suit.
To get one in your own custom colors the process is very easy to do through Verge’s website and the turnaround for your totally custom suit is an impressive three weeks. Thanks to Verge doing everything in house from artwork to customer relations to their own manufacturing facilities they have halved the typical 6 week or more period that many custom clothing companies take to complete their orders.
Prices vary according to how many you order but they start at $149.95 per suit and go down from there if you buy more. Your best bet is to check out Verge’s website and contact their customer service to talk about how many you would need, artwork etc to get the ball rolling. The Triumph Carrera is just one small part of their lineup that includes an impressive range of cyclocross specific skinsuits, standard jerseys, bibshorts and more.
In a market where the choice of custom clothing is seemingly growing all the time the folks at Verge have certainly put their best foot forward with the Carrera. If the rest of their range is as well thought out and put together as this one then I’d be putting Verge at the top of my list for my team’s next clothing order. Check ’em out today at vergesport.com