By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.
Equipment that keeps you cool, improves aerodynamics and hydrodynamics, enhances recovery and gives you an advantage during training and racing. Clothing as equipment. Louis Garneau’s Lazer Tek triathlon apparel is a new approach in improving performance with design and fabric technology. And it works.
LG’s new apparel line works the same as an aero helmet, a Zipp Sub 9 disc wheel, a De Soto wetsuit or a new Cervelo P5. The clothing provides an advantage over other apparel.
Unlike upgrades that work best for faster, advanced athletes LG’sLazer Tek apparel likely offers the most substantial comfort and performance benefits for athletes that are on the course longer since it controls tissue vibration, regulates temperature, protects from the sun and prevents chafing. For the 12-17 hour Ironman competitor LG’s Lazer Tek apparel makes sense.
The comfort and performance advantages can be measured in the pool, the wind tunnel and even with metabolic testing for body temperature and heart rate. Garneau has done all of this testing and engineered performance advantages into some of the most basic equipment a triathlete can use; their clothes.
LG Elite Lazer Tek Tri Shorts 2.
If you could design the perfect triathlon racing short it would:
Have excellent hydrodynamics for non-wetsuit legal swims: It would make you faster in the water.
Use fabric that performs equally wet or dry (this is a challenge for the saddle pad).
Fit, feel and function like a high end bike short on the bike, including a comfortable saddle pad and longer leg coverage.
Allow for a wider range of body motion through better fabric paneling and design. It runs as well as it rides.
Provide the support, proprioception and recovery benefits of the best compression garments.
Manage heat to keep the athlete cool.
Be durable enough for both training and racing over several seasons.
LG started with this performance mandate when designing the Elite Lazer Tek 2 shorts. The Elite Lazer Tek 2 achieves each of these goals.
The short features a higher, non-binding waist band that fits above the small of the back. It’s more comfortable since it is non-binding and provides better hydrodynamics during the swim. On the bike, bent over in the aero position, the 2.5″ high waistband does not dig into your skin, especially in front. This is not just a comfort advantage but a performance one also. The forward facing upper part of the waistband rides under the triathlon top, improving aerodynamics on the bike. In the water during a non-wetsuit swim the waistband rides in the lower back, less exposed to water for lower drag.
“[The pad] completely disappears on the run but provides pro level bike short comfort on long rides.”
The pad fabric and design on the Elite Lazer Tek 2 trishort is industry best. It is an open, porous fabric laminate that looks like a heavy bike short pad but uses completely different fabric that is more flexible, permeable and quicker drying. It seems to completely disappear on the run but provides the same comfort as pro level bike shorts on long rides.
“How good is the LG Elite Lazer Tek 2? Industry best. Try to find a better tri short. It doesn’t exist yet.”
LG used a longer leg that we measured at 11″ from the center of the crotch to the leg opening when worn and 8″ from the pad inseam. Their website specifies a 10.5″ inseam. This is longer than most tri shorts you’ve seen but still shorter than a pro bike short like De Soto’s 400 Mile Short or Assos shorts. The advantages to this length include no saddle chafing, especially on athletes with larger thighs that tend to rub the saddle nose and rub together on the run, and better muscular support on the run, especially with tired legs.
The leg opening is a 2.25″ band of hot-cut, seamless compression fabric. This design is superior to conventional rolled-over and stitched seams and leg openings with gripper elastic. These are comfortable and stay in place even if you don’t shave your legs. They never bind even on larger thighs and they don’t restrict circulation. Having ran and rode in this short it is more comfortable for both than any tri short I’ve worn and can be worn during both long training rides with bike short level comfort then used on a long training run without chafing or interference from the pad.
The Elite Lazer Tek 2 tri short uses 8 separate fabric panels, a staple design among high end bike shorts but not common in triathlon shorts that tend to use fewer panels and don’t fit as well. Good fabric panel arrangement on tri shorts is actually more important than bike shorts since the shorts must fit perfectly on the bike and then in the upright posture on the run. LG did a nice job with the shape and arrangement of the panels. Different fabric is used in the different panels and even the bias, or arrangement of the fabric plys to control stretch, is specific to how each panel will move. The level of attention to detail with design and construction is what you’d expect on a $10,000 triathlon bike, but in a $129 triathlon short.
LG Elite Lazer Tek Sleeveless 2 Tri Top.
LG continues the Elite Lazer Tek line with their Elite Lazer Tek 2 sleeveless triathlon top. The top uses DWR water resistant/hydrophobic coating. DWR or “Durable Water Resistant” is a high tech chemical vapor deposition (CVD) coating that seals fibers from absorbing water. This prevents the garment from getting heavier when wet and maintains its precise fit even in a 15 hour ultra-distance race. Since it doesn’t hold water it improves hydrodynamics. Other manufacturers using DWR coatings to prevent fabric soaking include Patagonia.
Pocket design on the Elite Lazer Tek top is, as you’d expect from the level of attention to detail with the rest of the line, industry best. Tri tops and suits with back pockets are often a concern in non-wetsuit swims since they act as little parachutes, trapping water and slowing you down. The pockets on the Elite Lazer Tek top use a fairing that improves hydrodynamics and aerodynamics and prevent gel packs, pill containers and other items from falling out. The pocket is easy to get into even with the cover fairing although one of our two testers thought pocket placement was a little too high on the tri top to easily reach. With sore arms after a long swim that may be a valid observation, but the placement of the pockets on the back of the top are also optimized for aerodynamics.
The Elite Lazer Tek tri top is cut long enough to cover the top of tri shorts. Non-absorbent mesh panels under the arms maintain temperature control along with a 15″ front zipper. The zipper has a full length draft flap to prevent pinching when quickly zipping the top up. The zipper opens easily with one hand but took two hands to zip up when running as with most stretch fabric tri tops.
LG built environmental protection features into the Elite Lazer Tech 2 tri top, shorts and suit using the new Coldblack fabric finish. Coldblack is a Schoeller fabric development that resists heat absorption in all fabrics, especially dark colors. Schoeller’s EMPA tests of Coldblack fabric from 2008 show a 9 degree Fahrenheit decrease in skin temperature under Coldblack fabric. Coldblack also provides SPF 50 sun protection levels. During a one hour photo shoot in the Arizona afternoon sun our model, elite athlete Antonio Soto, did not get a sunburn through any part of the fabric.
Durability and fit during a long event when soaked with sports drinks, gels, water and urine is insured by using higher Spandex content knit fabric called “Lazer Rev”. Lazer Rev stretch fabric is only 6.5 ounces per square yard compared to up to 8 ounces per square yard on some conventional Lycra fabrics. The weight difference over the entire garment is noticeable. This high stretch/memory fabric also provides the compression feeling to the top and the shorts. Especially for athletes with a little extra weight this supportive fit feels good when running.
Unlike aome other elite level high end triathlon apparel Garneau recognized the benefits of Elite Lazer Tek apparel would be most substantial for heavier, slower athletes with a less lean build who are on the race course longer and need better tissue support and environmental protection. The LG Elite Lazer Tek line comes in eight sizes up to XXXL. Fit is snug, at 5’9″ and 175 pounds I took a size Large top. Antonio Soto, our photo model is 6’0″ and 164 lbs. Here wore size Medium in the tri top, shorts and trisuit as you see in our photo shoot.
Louis Garneau used wind tunnel testing, test mannequins to measure heat loss and moisture transfer and a host of other technologies to develop the Elite Lazer Tek 2 line. Elite Lazer Tech 2 takes its place alongside TYR’s Carbon line but with a nicer hand and more technical appearance and function. No one has brought this level of technology to triathlon apparel. When you wear Elite Lazer Tek 2 you will feel the benefits- they aren’t subtle.