The editors and contributors of Triathlete magazine tested 151 triathlon-related products for the 2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide. Four items earned the designation of “Best Value.” Learn about the products below, and pick up the Buyer’s Guide on newsstands now (or buy the digital edition) for more of the best swim, bike and run gear of 2013.
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The draw: All-rounder
There’s a reason the Reaction is Blueseventy’s most popular suit—it has the flexibility and buoyant feel of a high-end
suit without the $500-plus price tag. The Reaction suits swimmers with a decent kick, as the 4mm buoyancy in the lower legs (compared with the 5mm in the torso) doesn’t limit power derived from the kicking motion. When they updated this suit, Blueseventy lowered the neckline and decreased the bulk around the zipper, which kept testers chafe-free even after a long ocean swim. Although exit is relatively easy, liquid tape allows you to cut the leg to your desired height.
Zoot Z Force 4.0
The draw: Durable suit that connects to the swimmer
Zoot’s newest iteration of this suit is a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. Credit goes to chest panel design. The center has great flexibility and a more evenly balanced feel. Full extension at the end of a stroke is smooth and uninhibited. Although it is slightly more restrictive than some other suits, it doesn’t feel stiff, but rather connected to the body. A bit of water was able to sneak into the suit through the neck opening. Sturdy seams and neoprene feel ready for the rigors of a quick transition.
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Louis Garneau Tri Lite
The draw: Top-flight performance
Like the Pearl Izumi, this shoe combines all the key features of a race-quality triathlon shoe without an inflated price tag. The closure strap is simple and effective, enabling a quick flying mount without any fumbling while slipping into the shoe. The forefoot is cut broadly, matching wider feet, and the heel grips securely. Finding fault with this shoe is difficult, but a seam on the tongue can press against a foot with a tall arch.
Most discs ride roughly because a solid foam core is less absorbent than a spoked wheel. Although it isn’t the most glamorous construction, Hed bonds thin sheets of carbon around a spoked wheel to create the Jet Disc, making the handling and ride feel outstanding. The covers on the wheel are equally aerodynamic to foam core construction, and this wheel tracks through tight corners instead of jittering and bouncing around like most discs.