The Fusion Speed Top, a long sleeve triathlon top, is one piece of clothing we get quite a few questions about, perhaps because it’s something different i.e. to the standard triathlon top and bottom combination, or tri suit.
Most people assume the Speed Top was designed solely with aerodynamics in mind, however this is not the case. It was originally designed as part a clothing package for Northern European athletes heading to Kona. For these athletes, coming from cooler parts of the world and not being accustomed to Kona’s sun, heat and humidity the Speed Top was a design solution to provide sun protection, while staying as cool as possible and also being quick. Aerodynamics was just one part.
Finally this is not a new Fusion garment. Actually it’s been around for several years, having being used by athletes in Kona and other races around the world.
Warm / Hot Climate
As touched on above the Speed Top was originally a design solution for racing in warmer, sunnier climates. Benefits including:
- UV protection: longer sleeves and back providing protection. Colour white.
- Cooling in warm conditions when wet: highly breathable fabric including cooling technology.
- Comfort: single piece of fabric with minimal stitching. Design and cut specifically for the TT position. Shorter on front, longer on back.
- Aerodynamic: compression fabric with significant stretch to provide an all round highly fitted, but comfortable, top.
- Can be worn under wetsuit (e.g. pro Darren Jenkins did this at IM Australia 2014)
Mild / Cool Climate
The interesting secondary benefit has been the use of the Speed Top when racing in mild and cooler climates. Providing sun protection but also acting as second layer providing some protection from the wind and the cold while not negatively impacting aerodynamics in the same way a more bulky and less fitted gilet, long sleeve jersey or jacket most probably would.
Warm / Hot Climate
Suggest only wearing a single layer in these conditions to maximise breathability and cooling. So with the Speed Top only a top and bottom combination will work i.e. not a tri suit. Specifically:
- Swim: Two options. 1) no top i.e. swim just with bottoms (on own or under swimskin / wetsuit). 2) Speed Top and bottoms under wetsuit (if a wetsuit swim). Either way no tri top till T2.
- T1: Put Speed Top on, if not already on.
- Ride: at every opportunity e.g. aid stations, wet the Speed Top with water. It helps cooling.
- T2: Remove Speed Top and put Tri Top on.
- Run: use ice pockets and keep wetting top if using Tri Top Ice Pockt.
This is the process which has been followed by athletes in Kona for a number of years.
One tip in regard to getting your tri top on in T2 is as follows. When putting your T2 bag together the day before racing, prep you tri top in the following way.
1. Put top on
2. Start rolling the bottom of the top up towards your armpits i.e. like rolling a sock.
3. Once under your arm pit (looking like a crop top!) take top off. ENSURE you don’t turn it inside out. Put it in bag.
4. When in T2 put head and arms in top and just roll top down.
Believe me it helps! Also suggest a couple of practices pre-race day.
Mild / Cool Climate
Wear over the top of existing Tri Top or Tri Suit e.g. Fusion Tri Top or Multisport Suit. To fit properly your tri top or tri suit underneath will need to be a snug fit so as to be comfortable and ensure no gathering and clumping of your tri top under the Speed Top.
Swim / T1 – Assuming a wetsuit swim you have a choice whether to put it on underneath the wetsuit or put it on in T1. If you choose to wear it under wetsuit don’t be too concerned about it being wet and cold when you get on the bike. The fabric dries quickly.
Bike – Extra layer will help provide protection from the wind and the cold. Particularly having a dual layer i.e. tri top and speed top, around the core of your body.
T2 / Run – Once again a choice whether to take the Speed Top off at this point or if conditions are cooler, and you’re comfortable in it, you might want to keep it on for the run (refer Transitions review below).
Images of Jordan Rapp wearing a Fusion Speed Top over a Fusion Multisport Suit at Oceanside 70.3 2014 in the bike leg, and removing at T2 for the run.
Getting the right fit, for any gear, can be tricky and is often case by case. Body shapes and sizes vary so much. That said the Speed Top is one in particular which warrants some extra thought.
In summary the Speed Top is designed specifically for cycling, and in particular the time trial position. Shorter on the front and longer on the back, and quite a big differential. For example the Medium measures 47cm on the front zip and 64cm on the back. While the Large 49cm on the front and 66cm on the back.
It is the one garment on the website we actively suggest people consider going one size bigger than they would normally go. Why? We find it just gives that little bit more room around the chest, particularly if considering wearing it over the top of a tri top, and the overall length does not change significantly.
Finally when trying it on, given the design and cut discussed above, it might feel a little strange just standing up in it i.e. too short on the front and long on the back. If this is the case we suggest jumping on the bike, getting into position and seeing how it feels before making a decision. You might be surprised how much being hunched over, particularly in the TT position, shortens the length you need on the front. Want to avoid fabric being too long on the front resulting in gathering / rolling / clumping of excess fabric.
Of course if the fit is not right please get in touch with us. We want to make sure it’s right.
In closing, for those who haven't seen it, we provided a set of kit, including a Speed Top, to the Transitions forum to test. Part of this included putting a call out to members who might like to volunteer to be part of the test. One brave member put his hand up to wear it at Ironman Australia, without having personally tried / tested. Here is a link to the review, on what was a mild / cool day in Port Macquarie (click here). Update - Second member volunteered to test at IM Cairns (click here)
Check out the Speed Top in our online shop here. Also if your interested in adding some custom printing, as per some of the images above, please have a chat to us.
Of course any questions please get in touch.
Apologies as this ended up being a little longer than expected, but hopefully it helps answer some of the commonly asked questions re the Speed Top.
Thanks for having a read!
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Note: Updated 13 June 2014