While running sans top may be ok at your local sprint race, it’s not going to be allowed if you choose to race with the World Triathlon Corporation. Article VI section 6.01 of the rules states: “(d) Running with a bare torso is prohibited. Athletes must wear a shirt, jersey, or sport-top at all times during the run segment of the Race; (Stop-and-Go Time Penalty, DSQ if not remedied promptly).” So if you are looking to ride with an aero top but want to go minimalist the run, you may find yourself in a bit of a quandary – how do I get both? The answer may lie in the Louis Garneau Course M-2 triathlon skin.
The Louis Garneau Course M-2 Triathlon Skin
The M-2 is a one-piece sleeved tri suit with an attached zipped top that lets your body breath easy on the run. Think of it as a pair of triathlon-specific bib shorts with the jersey permanently attached to the back. You get the comfort factor of a full bib (versus a pair of shorts that can cut circulation at the mid section) and the aero benefit of a form fitting sleeved jersey. When you unzip the top, the jersey hangs open and air easily flows around your torso.
The M-2 is LG’s top-of-the-line kit, and as such, receives their highest end materials. The body is made with LG’s CB Speedtech, which is designed for speed, with a dimpled mesh construction that improves aerodynamics for speeds from 25 to 70 km/h. The ultra-texturized construction of the CB M-2 sleeves allow better laminar airflow, reducing the rider’s drag factor.
Speaking of aero benefits, LG has found that, through their work with Alphamantis Technologies, that using the M-2 fabric on the sleeves of its tri and cycling tops reduces rider’s CdA by 6%. That represents a savings of about 13 watts to an average rider in aero position riding at 40 km/h, or 2 min 30 sec savings on a 90 km flat course at 250w average versus a sleeveless tri suit.
One of the challenges with a full-sleeve suit—even one which opens to let you cool your body—is over-heating. To combat this, the M-2 features coldblack; which helps reflect UV rays to reduce heat build-up, even on dark textiles.
Inside the jersey is storage for nutrition via two gel pockets. Louis Garneau hid them inside the jersey to ensure aerodynamics would not be compromised. The only catch is that the gels themselves are only accessible when you unzip the jersey (most likely on the run).
The anticipation of the M-2 was such that it was barely on our shelf for a week before it was taken out for its first bike-run brick. From that point on, the M-2 saw regular action in the pool, on the bike, and out for runs. We even had a chance to race in it. Now something we always like to point out is that we will only race in equipment that we truly believe will help us get to the finish line faster. So obviously we had quite a bit of confidence in the M-2 right from the start.
The first time you put on the M-2 you notice that it feels a bit different than other sleeved tri suits. While it’s not uncommon for you to feel like your entire upper arm is helping to support a sleeved tri suit, the M-2 feels more like a pair of cycling bibs – only your shoulders are holding up the kit. Everything else is just along for the ride. And this really worked for us, especially in the swim. We never felt like the M-2’s design inhibited or affected our stroke. One thing to note is that the M-2 is a very form-fitting suit. It does nothing to conceal your more “unflattering” curves, most noticeably around your stomach where the “jersey” meets the bibs.
On the bike the M-2 felt more like a bib and jersey than one-piece kit. The only real differences being that the chamois felt less overwhelming than a standard pair of road bibs (that was a plus in our book), as well as the lack of rear pockets. Our one complaint on the bike is that the leg grippers tended to move around a bit, which led to some slight skin irritation after 2-3 hours in the saddle. Although to be fair, this could also an issue with personal fit rather than a problem with the design.
The M-2 really shines on the run. While the zippable jersey may seem like a gimmick, it really works well. Anyone who has worn a full-sleeved suit (or even a sleeveless suit) knows the struggle of wanting tear it off on a hot day. With the M-2, simply unzip and start cooling. The one part of the suit we never really tested were the gel pockets. We always run with some sort of hydration belt, which also typically holds a gel packet or two. With that in mind, we just couldn’t find a reason to make use of those gel pockets.
If we are willing to race in it, we would be willing to buy it ourselves. And that really speaks volumes. Between the aero abilities of the M-2 demonstrated by Alphamantis, and the cooling abilities of the M-2s design, Louis Garneau has created a strong entry in the high-end tri suit market. Unfortunately that is the one big downside of the M-2. At $299.99, it is far more high-end than “value.” But for those looking to get on the podium when mere seconds matter, anything that will make you just that much faster is worth it. And at the end of the day, that’s what value really is.