Summary : Hands down the best piece of cycling kit we have ever worn.
By the time we met with Louis Garneau last fall to discuss our 2014 custom kit selection we were well aware of their impressive Course helmet, which has now been duplicated by other equipment manufacturers (more on the LG Course helmet here). However, we were stunned to get our first glimpse of a new road skin suit in the LG Course Cycling Skin Suit, LG’s first edition of a skin suit made for more than short time trials and crits. We jumped at the opportunity to design and race the suit. After riding and racing in the Course skin suit all season, putting thousands of collective miles into the kit as a team, Team Sixcycle RK&O’s Charlie Bird, Corey Morenz, and Tom Hendry have decided to share their thoughts on performance, looks, and anything else that came to mind.
Louis Garneau Course Skin Suit Review by Charlie Bird
When I first started racing several years ago a skin suit order was sent around to the team. We were told “skin suits are the ultimate in over the top ridiculousness of amateur racing, so obviously you should buy one.” I obligingly bought one, and, of course, the skin suit was completely over the top and ridiculous. Why was this case? Well for one, skin suits aren’t cheap. Further, I was slow and any aerodynamic advantage gained at the time could be replicated ten-fold by simply riding my bike. Also, 5 years ago skin suits were completely impractical. They were designed for time trials. There were no pockets to store food and the form fitting fabric was very hot and offered little ventilation. These factors combined meant the skin suit was only used for short TTs and crits (if it wasn’t too hot). Honestly, I probably wore it 10 times in 4 years. Fast forward 5 years and enter the Course Cycling Skin Suit. The two things that pop out first about the Course skin suit are 3 mesh rear pockets and mesh side panels which are on par with the highest-end (and less aerodynamic) racing jerseys. The pockets are easily accessible and can hold anything you would usually stuff into your jersey. The mesh side panels allow for incredible ventilation. After cresting a climb and descending on a hot day, I can actually feel the air running over my skin.
Due to these features, the road skin is my go to in all races (and I’ll admit to wearing it on more than a few training rides).
The suit ventilates and performs like any other jersey or even better. While this summer has been relatively mild, I did reach for it over the bibs/jersey combo on particularly hot training days. Some more subtle features of the Course skin suit are the full zip front and the laser cut shorts. Typically, skin suits will open up into a highly fashionable “Deep V”. However, when it’s hot I want a little more ventilation. With the Course skin suit, I can fully open the front and get extra ventilation and still retain prerequesite aesthetics in the process. The laser cut shorts eliminate seams typically found on high-end bib shorts, increasing aerodynamics by providing a smoother surface for air to pass. The cut of the shorts also form fits to your leg and gives a very smooth custom fitting look and eliminates the potential for hot spots caused by seams. I mentioned above that skin suits are expensive, and the Course is no exception. However, the increased functionality cannot be over looked. It can be worn just like any other racing bib/jersey combo, so when you do the math the Course is equal to, or cheaper than in some cases (read: Rapha) the cost of a quality bib and jersey combination.
Louis Garneau Course Skin Suit Review by Corey Morenz
Who hasn’t experienced suffering inside an unventilated, constrictive, conventional skin suit during a hot summer time trial or criterium? Picture this: the mercury is creeping past 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun and you are standing on the start line with sweat pouring off your brow from the intense warm-up your coach insisted on before such a short, hard effort like a criterium. Ten minutes into the race you are desperate for a drink from the water bottle you also shed from your bike to be ever more aero. After the race, the dehydration you suffered has you performing at suboptimal levels for a week and has you second guessing the benefits all that aerodynamic gear really brings. In a situation like this, do the aerodynamic benefits really outweigh the heat induced fatigue and dehydration? Yet the fact remains – aero is king and it is here to stay. Study after study has shown that improved aerodynamics can have a huge impact on real world riding and race situations. What a conundrum. How aero is a conventional skin suit that you avoid wearing due to the associated discomfort, poor ventilation, lack of pockets/storage or other drawbacks? Should you just leave it hanging in your closet and invest in a set of aerodynamic wheels instead? Louis Garneau has developed a solution that has become all the rage this summer. In fact, the new LG skin suits have become so ubiquitous on team rides and races it spawned #skinsuitsundays.
You name a reason for not wanting to wear a skin suit and LG has solved it.
Mesh panels along the sides provide serious ventilation – I’m cooler wearing this than a conventional bib/jersey combo. Mesh pockets on the rear of the suit provide enough room to carry the ride and race essentials. The suit fully unzips in the front, which is a boon for broad shouldered individuals who have gotten trapped in skin suits before when teammates or significant others are not there to help them (just saying…) And if you think these design elements are detrimental to your drag coefficient for all that wind tunnel tasting you do, well – read the first paragraph again. There have been plenty of races in the past where I have opted against wearing a skin suit, despite the good looks and aerodynamic benefits, but no longer. Long live #skinsuitsundays.
Louis Garneau Course Skin Suit Review by Tom Hendry
I love myself a good skin suit. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the closest thing to a superman outfit that one will ever get a chance to wear, excluding Halloween. So when our new skins finally arrived I was pretty pumped to give them a go. Firstly, one problem with skin suits of the past was the lack of versatility – not breathable and no pockets. So they were never a great option in longer/hotter races. Aero is always a good thing, so why not make a skin suit that takes the best things of your standard jersey/bib shorts? Hell every super hero I can think of has continually improved their outfit, except for maybe barnacle boy and mermaid man.
This skin suit is unquestionably designed for racing. But, thankfully, it’s built to dutifully serve in a multitude of different race demands.
What I like most about this skin suit is that it is very versatile. It has long meshy vents that go down along the side, making it great for those super-hot days. It also allows one to keep it all zipped up, thus keeping in that aero is good theme. The cuffs at both the arms and legs aren’t really cuffs at all. The fabric just comes to an end, making for a very clean and yet fast skin suit. The skin suit also bears plenty of packing space in its back three pockets. It actually offers more space than any jersey that I own. If you are entering a 90 mile road race and you’re worried about finding room for that extra bidon or snickers bar (thanks Chris Horner for the nutrition advice), this skin suit will meet that demand. Basically, this skin suit is an all around incredible piece of clothing to have in your arsenal. Something that is probably more aero than anything out in the peloton and yet can comfortably hold anything you may need.