This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
If you want to go as fast as possible, aero is everything. These days nearly everyone, certainly most racers, appreciates the value of aerodynamic bikes, wheels and, increasingly, road helmets, too.
But did you know that one of the biggest savings can come from your clothing? The rider is 80% of the total drag, so the clothing wrapped around you is critical. Specialized claims its new one-piece Evade GC skinsuit can save 96 seconds in 40km (25 miles) compared with its own figure-hugging SL Pro jersey and bibshort pairing, itself 91s faster than 'club fit' gear. That's over three minutes saved for no extra effort.
- Highs: Seriously comfy, convincing aero credentials, great fit (so long as you get sizing right), well-thought out pockets
- Lows: Expensive, not much good if you don't like wearing all-black
- Buy if: You want a supremely comfortable way of maximising your speed
Specialized says the savings come from careful seam placement and fabric selection, both arrived at following tireless CAD design, prototyping and testing in the brand's own so-called ‘Win Tunnel', the latter offering a huge R&D advantage. The shoulders are completely smooth and seam-free because that's the part that meets the wind.
The Dimplex fabric is dimpled (like a golf ball or Zipp wheels) to create a boundary layer of air that improves the airflow both at that point and further back by reducing turbulence. The suit has a full-length front zip for practicality and three rear pockets that are designed to sit completely flat when empty.
The suit is very light and the full zip makes it easy to get in and out of it. The sizing seems slightly big – I'm in a Small at 185cm/6'1” and 71kg/156lbs – but it's spot on to the size guide so check that before ordering. Fit is personal, of course, but having carefully selected the size this is perfect on me.
Initially Specialized UK is only bringing in three sizes (S, M, L) but there are eight sizes for the US, with XS and XL, plus Small Short, and Tall versions of S, M and L. There are just two colours, this and a Team version in red/black/white. There's no custom service but you could get your team name and sponsors printed on a black version.
I've found the suit exceptionally comfortable during two 100km road races. It fits so well that you can barely feel it, the pad is excellent and the fabric wicks sweat very effectively. It looks fast, feels fast and helped me to some pleasing results, too. The pockets are slightly shallower than normal so you can't stuff quite so much in them for long rides but they do sit really flat when less full which is obviously more aero than being open and acting like air scoops.
One unexpected downside in racing that we hadn't anticipated was that an all-black suit is the very opposite of stealthy when everyone else is in team kit! I stood out like a sore thumb and was marked accordingly. On balance, though, I'd rather that than give up the aero advantage that I'm convinced this suit offers.
Even if you don't race, the Evade GC is still worth a look because it's so incredibly comfortable and, you know, who doesn't want to go faster? At £300/$500 it's an expensive way to cut your sportive finishing time but it's comparable to the cost of a high-end jersey and bib short pairing.
Its main rival, the Castelli Sanremo 3.2, is significantly though (in the UK it's a 'mere' £210), and it matches the Evade GC for comfort. Both claim to be super-fast and have proven to be so in our testing. Which is faster? We couldn't say based on field testing, but we hope to get more scientific soon.