By Tom Demerly.
On the heels of product introductions for World Championship season De Soto Sports unveils a new Forza Trisuit in white Shield Del Sol opaque fabric specifically built for ultra distance racing in hot weather.
This new version of the proven ultra-distance Forza trisuit features white Shield Del Sol fabric for sun protection, evaporative cooling, heat reflection and a dashing race day appearance. A key feature of the fabric is a totally opaque look even when soaked with water- the white doesn’t get see-through. The huge cargo carrying, swim- friendly pocket configuration also makes the De Soto Forza ideal for ultra distance.
“…the fabric is totally opaque even when soaked.”
We tested the Forza Trisuit in Shield Del Sol to see if it was opaque when wet. Eric, one of our retail managers and a talented triathlete, Ironman and distance runner, donned the suit for a dip in our Endless Pool while I set my camera up for a paparazzi style strobe setting to purposely try to “blow through” the white fabric to see if it was transparent. After a prolonged soaking the white main panels of the Shield Del Sol fabric remained opaque. The fabric does become more form-fitting when soaked, but it does not become see-through.
The De Soto Forza Trisuit in Shield Del Sol uses a panel of black fabric in the saddle area. The black fabric won’t pick up color from your saddle when wet, a concern on a light colored fabric. Since the fabric is opaque when wet, modesty wasn’t a problem, it is a matter of trading color with the saddle if the saddle isn’t white.
Athletes agonize over what to wear at Ironman distance. A two piece race outfit makes natural breaks easier since you only have to pull down your shorts but it doesn’t fit and feel as nice as a one piece suit and it isn’t as aerodynamic on the bike. The De Soto Forza uses a 15” zipper with a De Soto embossed pull tab so the suit can be pulled down quickly to use a Porta John and the top re-donned on the run.
Side vents built onto the De Soto Forza use De Soto’s Skin Cooler fabric. This provides great ventilation at the sides of the torso and still provides sun protection. The Skin Cooler fabric is also delightfully stretchy which makes the suit the most comfortable our tester, Eric, has ever worn. The shoulders are 3.75” wide (9.5 cm.) wide at their narrowest for good sun protection on the upper back and comfort over the shoulders. The torso felt as though it were cut perfectly for the riding posture which makes it very forgiving in the upright run posture.
A key feature on the Forza trisuit is the five pockets. At ultra distance you’ll be leaving the transition area after the swim carrying gels and energy bars. The three rear pockets on the Forza can swallow a multitude of energy gels and food bars, plenty to get you to the 56 mile mark and your special needs bag for replenishment. Pockets on the sides of the legs swallow empty gel wrappers outside the aid stations where race rules prohibit you to discard trash on the course.
“The five pockets replace bento boxes and fuel belts for easier, more aero carriage of nutrition on the bike and run.”
We wanted to learn if the De Soto Forza’s pockets added drag in the swim when worn without a wetsuit, as athletes will in Kona. In our TriSports.com Endless Pool Eric swam for a few minutes to see if the pockets trapped water when empty. Our photos show the pockets remained in place and didn’t open while swimming, even with the Endless Pool turned up to a brisk swim pace. Since Kona is a no-wetsuit swim this is a concern. In almost every other Ironman where you are wearing a wetsuit this isn’t a factor.
De Soto built the bottom half of the Forza Trisuit for a very long bike ride and run. The suspended Invisipad tri pad wraps high in the front for sitting at advanced seat tube angles on a tri bike where more of your weight is on the nose of the saddle. The pad is microfleece and only sewn around the edges to help reduce friction between your body and the saddle. If you need more padding on the bike using a De Soto neoprene saddle pad adds several levels of comfort. The pad is flexible, light and dries very quickly, making it chafe resistant during the run even when wet.
Inseam on the Forza Trisuit is advertised as 10” on a size small and measured exactly that from the bottom of the leg band to the center of the pad. The bottoms 2” of the legs are trimmed in Forza Compressor compression fabric to hold the legs in place without using rubber grippers. The suit feels and fits great whether you shave your legs or not, on the bike and running upright.
We wanted to learn how the suit felt when running upright with the pockets loaded- something you really never need to do at Ironman since aid stations on the run are only a mile apart. The most you would need to carry on the run is a gel pack. That said, if you put pockets on a garment, people will probably use them- so, we loaded them up to see what would happen.
Running with five gel packs in the pockets of the De Soto Forza was fine- no bounce, packets didn’t move. It’s easy to pull the packets out while running but the pocket design holds them in well. If you carry a pill container for salt tabs, aspirin or pain pills on the run at Ironman it will ride in these pockets perfectly. The side pockets make a perfect “trash container” for empty gel wrappers between aid stations. It’s easy to stuff an empty gel wrapper in the leg pockets even when running.
The placement of the pockets on the De Soto Forza tri suit is perfect. The significance of this may be lost on your until you do your first long triathlon. These pockets eliminate the need for mounting a Bento Box on your bike or taping gel packets to your top tube. A Bento box or gel packets taped to your top tube alters the aerodynamics of the frame that took engineers a lot of work to perfect. No matter where you locate these items on your bike they will detract from your bike aerodynamics to a small degree. Carrying your nutrition in the back pockets of your race uniform is infinitely better. Ever wonder why bento boxes and handlebar hydration haven’t been seen in the Tour de France since the 1950’s? The pockets on the De Soto Forza trisuit also eliminate the need for wearing a fuel belt- so no binding belts around your waist. More comfortable, lighter, less to carry and pack- in every way wearing your nutrition on the bike and run at ultra distance as an integrated part of your race uniform is a more elegant approach.
Any shortcomings? Sizing is generous, at the opposite side of the scale from apparel brands like 2XU. I am 165 pounds and 5’9” and had a little room in a Medium. Eric, the lad in our photo shoot, is 5’10’ and 135 pounds. He had some room left over in a Small. When you buy this suit, don’t size up. They are either true to U.S. sizing or a little generous. For bigger athletes this suit is a great choice. For beanpole athletes- you might have some room leftover. If you need a lot of padding for long rides the De Soto neoprene saddle cover will be important since the fleece pad in this suit works very well for light riders with good saddle acclimation, but may be minimal for riders who have a lot of saddle issues.
De Soto is an athlete driven company. Emilio De Soto is an elite level athlete himself and has been in the sport from the earliest days. They aren’t a huge apparel brand farming out production to Asia. The apparel is handmade here in the U.S. in the same place it is designed. That attention to detail comes through in this suit. It is no wonder Emilio’s designs are authentic and functional. If you are going long this year the De Soto Forza Trisuit may be one of the handiest pieces of equipment you can use on race day.
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