The quintessential indoor cycling kit solution for the serious e-racer
- Unrivalled ventilation and fit
- Removeable and freezable cooling packs
- Lightweight fabrics with exceptional wicking capability
- Indoor-specific chamois/pad
- Custom designs available
- Will be considered a pricey proposition by some
Indoor cycling and the burgeoning e-racing phenomenon has brought many enthusiastic cyclists to the world of Zwift in a bid to keep fit and active during the stringent COVID-19 lockdown protocols. This growth has led to a much improved indoor race calendar, which includes the recently launched Zwift Racing League, the WTRL TTT Series and UCI Esports World Championships, highlighting the significance of this new discipline.
As with all cycling disciplines, riders are constantly on the lookout for ways to one-up their rivals and one easy gain is by simply ensuring your core temperature stays as cool as possible. Of course, the introduction of multiple fans and air conditioners can help with this, but the latter is an appreciably expensive option. The British-based company, Nopinz, has found a simpler solution to the overheating conundrum faced by all e-racers - it's called the SubZero race suit and I've spent the past six weeks rigorously testing it in a number of indoor settings to gauge whether or not it's a worthy investment.
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Design and aesthetics
The SubZero race suit takes on an appearance not too unlike that of a traditional cycling skinsuit - the differences being the sleeveless design and mesh-like fabric for added cooling and ventilation. The perforated material is not only lightweight and tight-fitting it's also been chosen due to its wicking properties and resistance to holding moisture. The kit is available in size options for both men and women (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL). Finding the right size is always a tricky exercise but Nopinz has an accurate size chart on its website that should help you find the perfect fit.
At 61kg, the XS men's race suit proved ideal for me in terms of fit - it should fit like a second skin which allows for better movement and articulation when performing intervals or big efforts on the bike. The lightweight fabric feels far better suited to the indoor environment than regular cycling shorts and does not retain any of the sweat that can make using an outdoor kit such a sweaty and uncomfortable exercise. Another benefit of the race suit is the two-in-one design style (shirt and bib) which has become a prerequisite for those who livestream their Zwift workouts and races.
The Subzero race suit benefits from two strategically positioned 'FreezePockets' designed to house gel-based cooling packs - one just below the neck and the other on the lower back. The race suit can be supplemented by two sweatbands on the wrist/lower forearm which also make use of pockets for smaller gel packs or even energy gels. They double up to mop away sweat that collects or runs down your arms, keeping your hands dry and handlebars sweat-free.
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Riding experience and performance
The most important aspect of any cycling short, apart from the fit, is the chamois and Nopinz has incorporated a pad that makes the indoor experience more comfortable. Those who've spent many an hour riding on the turbo trainer or smart bike will know that, while regular outdoor bib shorts are fine for indoor use, they can easily become drenched in sweat, which can cause saddle sores and other nasty rashes.
To counteract this, Nopinz has used an indoor-specific chamois, compliments of Dolomiti Pads, for greater comfort and support, given the demanding nature of e-racing and the efforts required to put in top results. Over 20 pad variations were tested but the Gallio option performed best across both men's and women's test protocols. After spending just over 30 hours in the saddle on Zwift I can vouch for the pad's impressive comfort.
In terms of performance, the SubZero race suit's effect on my riding has been markedly evident - especially during the Zwift Racing League and Thursday WTRL TTTs. Not only does it take me longer to build up a sweat, but my heart rate is also noticeably lower than without it, building up progressively rather than spiking immediately and staying high throughout. The built-in airconditioner-like effect of the perforated fabric also helps nullify overheating even when using it sans the gel packs; Nopinz has also punted it for use outside in hot-weather climates.
Unfortunately, the gel packs won't last an entire race and you'll need to plan your race or workout accordingly as they can take anywhere between 20-30 minutes to melt. That said, it's worth getting an extra set gel packs so you can swap them out quickly during race.
I'll admit I was somewhat sceptical over the performance claims of the Nopinz SubZero race suit - I mean, is there really a need for indoor-specific gear? Perhaps not on a recreational level but when it comes to high-intensity racing where cooling is of the utmost importance I do think something like the Nopinz SubZero race suit will appeal to the cyclist chasing every last gain. It's won me over, that's for sure.
The downside? At £159.99 (£189.99 with gel packs and cooler bag), it's not the cheapest cycling kit on the market but there's also nothing quite like it available. For those looking for something less dear, there is a cheaper SubZero shorts option available which also benefits from the Freezepockets - yours for £109.99. You can also look at getting one of the various bundle deals available on the Nopinz website.
The Nopinz SubZero race suit is a worthy investment for the serious Zwifter or e-racer and is an ideal investment for anybody looking to make their indoor experience easier to bear or, dare I say, more enjoyable.
- Rides: 18
- Zwift races: 8
- Time: 32 hours
Tech specs: Nopinz SubZero indoor cycling kit
- Sizes: 6 (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL)
- Colours: 1
- Price: SubZero race suit (£159.99), gel packs and cooler bag (£30)
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