CEP Compression Triathlon Skinsuit

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Manufacturer Description

SWIM! BIKE! RUN! The motto of today’s triathlete. If you’ve got what it takes to compete in a triathlon, keep the edge you need with CEP’s Compression Triathlon Skinsuit. Finally the compression you need for peak athletic performance has been combined with comfort and durability. Seamless legs and extra-flat seams throughout. The breathable net structure creates a cooling effect. The natural quick drying material is like no other for moisture management. The CEP Compression Triathlon Skinsuit is specifically designed to deliver the most efficient compression to help your muscles breathe, giving you more energy, stamina and performance.

Features

  • Graduated medi compression
  • Anatomically fitted performance triathlon pad
  • Secure back pocket
  • Breathable net structure
  • Easy-jump-in zipper
  • Extra-flat seams
  • Soft zone
  • UV 50+
  • Cooling effect
  • Breathable
  • Moisture management
  • Quick-drying
  • Anatomical fit
  • Seamless leg
  • Materials
    • Outer fabric 1 – 71% nylon, 29% spandex
    • Outer fabric 2 – 78% nylon, 22% spandex
  • Measured weight – 229 g (8.1 oz)
  • Inseam length – 25.4 cm (10 in)
  • Retail – $200

YMMV Review

I have now tested several CEP products for the site. CEP is a division of Medi, one of the premier compression manufacturers in the world. Medi has been making compression for the medical world since 1951. They have since taken that technology and knowhow and transferred it to sport specific articles. CEP first focused on socks but has since started to make shorts, sleeve, and suits. With all of these the same principle applies, the faster you can get the blood back to the heart the better your performance. Thanks you to CEP for letting me do a review of their Triathlon Skinsuit.

In Action on the Bike

Testing

I have been testing the Triathlon Skinsuit in my training and races this spring. I did not swim in the pool with it but did wear it for some training rides and runs. I also wore the suit for the Pacific Crest Olympic Distance Race and REV3 Portland Half Rev Race.

Design ★★★½☆

Appearance (20%) ★★★½☆

Construction (35%) ★★★★½

Materials (20%) ★★★½☆

Pockets (15%) ★★★☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ☆☆☆☆☆

The CEP Triathlon Skinsuit takes the tri suit design and incorporates CEP’s compression technology into the legs for increased performance. First, you may be asking yourself what the big deal is with compression. Compression has long been used in the medical field to help patients improve blood circulation and overall leg health. CEP uses medi’s 60+ years of experience to help put compression into clothing that can benefit athletes. For athletes, arterial blood flow is the key to increasing performance. By applying consistent compression, your arteries will relax and the flow of oxygen-rich blood will increase. Some tests say up to 40%. More oxygen means more power during activity and better recovery afterwards. The second part of the blood flow mechanism is the veins. CEP graduates their compression, meaning it is tighter farther from the heart and looser as you get closer to help push de-oxygenated blood back to the heart. This helps with the overall blood flow as the faster it can get back to the heart the quicker it can be pushed back out. Compression also can help reduce muscle vibration limiting the negative effects that are caused. Compression has even been tested to help with injury. For the trisuit, the leg compression helps with pulled hamstrings, injured quads, and IT band issues.

Front View on the Run

The CEP Trisuit is made of two fabrics. Both are a mix of polyester and spandex; they just vary in the thread weights and percentages of each. The material used in the legs is a thicker and more robust material to give the proper amount of compression. The rest of the suit is a lighter material that stretches easily and is focused more on breathability and moisture management. The suit also has a couple mesh panels for increased breathability. The fabric uses Coldback technology, which is a treatment that reduces heat buildup and provides reliable protection from UV rays. The whole suit has been put together with flat lock stitching to increase comfort and reduce the risk of chafing. There is a long front chest zipper for easy on and off and can be used for venting during activity. The suit has an anatomical triathlon pad for comfort in the saddle. This pad is much smaller than a typical cycling chamois so it is also comfortable during the swim and run sections of the race. There is a small pocket in the lower back of the suit for storing nutrition if needed.

One drawback with CEP is I am not able to find any information on the use of sustainable or green materials. I am also not able to find any corporate initiatives to address sustainability. For this reason, I have given the trisuit a zero for sustainability.

Back View on the Run

Fit ★★★½☆

Comfort Next to Skin (25%) ★★★☆☆

Ease of Movement (20%) ★★★★☆

Inseam Length (10%) ★★★½☆

Leg Sizing (20%) ★★★★½

Padding (10%) ★★★☆☆

Torso Sizing (15%) ★★★½☆

The CEP Triathlon Skinsuit is fitted based on the size of your quadriceps. There are instructions on the CEP website on how to measure your quads in order to get the appropriate amount of compression. I ended up being a size three according to the size chart. Putting on the trisuit you can immediately feel the compressive fit in the quads. It is easy to get into the suit as the zipper opening is quite big but getting the legs in the appropriate spot will take a little more work due to the compression. Once on the rest of the suit is snug but not nearly as compressive as the legs. The upper felt tight enough to provide some muscle stabilization but no compression. The legs have a 10-inch inseam which gives them a little more coverage than most trisuits. This extra coverage makes it so more of your quadriceps can reap the benefits of the compression. I actually would have been good if the inseam was even a little longer.

Back Pocket

The legs do not use a gripper hem to stay situated properly as the compression will prevent the legs from riding up. The bottom of the leg does have a one-inch band that holds them securely in place. I did notice that after the swim it seemed like the legs were slightly looser but once on the bike for a couple of minutes they went back to their original fit. The whole suit was comfortable against the skin and with the flat locked seams, I was comfortable up to 6+ hours of racing. The suit has a good amount of stretch to it helping it move every way that you do. Even the bike chamois is comfortable against the skin and did not cause me any issues. It is not as plush as a regular cycling chamois but better than the thin fleece ones often found in other tri shorts.

Performance ★★★★☆

Adjustability (5%) ★★½☆☆

Breathability (20%) ★★★★☆

Compression (20%) ★★★★½

Cooling (10%) ★★★☆☆

Drying Speed (10%) ★★★☆☆

Durability (15%) ★★★½☆

Moisture Transport (20%) ★★★★☆

The real question is whether the compression helped me have a better race. This is a lot harder to tell as I am not super consistent. I used the trisuit in two races and had better than expected bike legs in both. The first race was a bit shorter, and Icame off the bike well and had a better than expected run as well. I am not sure I can attribute this directly to the trisuit or not, but I can say I felt good and did not have any post-race soreness. In my second race, I once again had a great bike but my nutrition was not what it needed to be so my run suffered. While my run was not what I was hoping for, my legs never once felt like the limiter, cramping in my core was. Even after the race and the days that followed my legs did not experience any post-race soreness, which could have something to do with the compression. It definitely did not hurt my races, that is for sure. In my training up to the races I had been having on and off IT Band issues and can say that I had no such problem during the races. Once again, I cannot fully say it was the compression shorts, but they are supposed to help.

Compression Leg

The fabric on both the upper and the legs moved moisture well. Several times during testing and especially in the Rev3 race it was very warm and suit helped transport sweat away and evaporated it off. In the Rev3, I also dumped lots of water over my head at each aid station, and the suit dried very quickly, often being dry by the time I reached the next aid station. The suit breathes well, especially in the mesh areas; I did not zip open the front more than an inch or so as even with it up, I felt like it was breathing well enough. I also tend to be on the more modest side and therefore, like to wear my jerseys zipped nearly all the way up. Thus far the suit is still looking like new. With all compression wear there is a lifespan that will be determined by how often you wear and wash the suit. As a race suit I imagine you will be able to get years and years of use before the compression begins to weaken. Just follow the care instructions and avoid chlorine, and you will get the most life possible from the suit. Furthermore, avoid crashes as that can ruin a suit quickly as I have come to find out. There is a small pocket on the back that is big enough for gels or even a small bike pump. I even forgot to take my pump out in the 10k run for Pacific Crest, and it stayed put during the whole run. The only tough thing about the pocket is that it is all the way in the back so putting larger items in like a pump proves a little more difficult. Gels and smaller items were much easier. While not a fun topic to discuss, the one issue I have with trisuits in general is having to use the bathroom. I am not one of those athletes who will just go during the race. I will say that using the restroom is still not an ideal situation in the trisuit but the long front sipper makes it easier. You only have to remove the top section if you are going number two.

Upper Fabrics and Flatlock Seams

Overall ★★★★☆

Overall, the CEP trisuit to me did seem to help improve my results. While it is tough to quantify the improvement, my legs did feel surprisingly strong in both races I did in the suit. One thing to remember on the suit is that the mesh areas will allow the sun through. It is important to make sure you put sunscreen in those areas as well as you can burn through them. Sizing is done through the measurement of your quad, and I assume they then determine the torso size off of that measurement. I am fairly proportionate so the suit fit me well. While I am not entirely sure, if you are more unproportionate than the sizing may get a bit tricky. Fortunately, they also make a tri short which will work for just about anyone. One of the things that truly set CEP apart in their top-quality construction and research and experience that back up the design. If you are unsure about compression, I would suggest giving it a try. CEP offers a 30-day guarantee on the wear or fit of their products so you can give it a shot. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The CEP Triathlon Skinsuit retails for $200 so it is on the steep side. However, it may be able to save you more time than much costlier improvements to your bike. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Improved performance
  • Injury prevention and support
  • Comfortable fit against the skin
  • Long front zipper
  • Fast drying and breathable fabric

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Fit on unproportionaite people may be an issue but there is a 30-day guarantee
  • Can sunburn through the mesh

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Adventures

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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