Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gear Review: Orca 226 Trisuit

Long before I became an accomplished triathlete I did my best to look like one.  For my first race, not only did Mom & Dad surprise me by showing up in Miami but they also bought me a tri suit.  I may not have been able to swim, but hell at least I'd look good.  My main reason for racing in a tri suit was to avoid having to put on a half-zip bike jersey (which was the only type I owned) after coming out of the water; anyone who's tried will tell you how hard it is to get the jersey down your wet and salty back.  I had so many other things I was worried about for my first race (like not drowning) that at least I didn't have to worry about making a wardrobe change.

Focus on the trisuit, not the sheer awesomeness of this photo (taken by my Dad)
While shopping for my suit I probably tried on at least 5-6 styles by a variety of manufacturers.    Triathlon clothing basically comes down to one thing: proper fit.  What works for one body type won't necessarily be a good match for another.  In fact, after trying on different brands (of suits, shorts and tops) it seems that certain brands seem to be geared towards certain body shapes.   In the end I was deciding between a Pearl Izumi and the Orca I finally settled on.  The Orca seemed to fit me a little better in the thighs but I also really preferred its bike.  While many tri shorts and suits have a fleece-like chamois the Orca 226 has more of a thin foam version.  The pad is segmented in just the right spots to be comfortable on the bike and feels like it's not even there during the run.  The suit as a whole also dries incredibly fast.  I've been really happy with my choice and would recommend the suit to anyone (who finds it to be a good fit).  If I had to say one thing I don't like about the 226 it's that it lacks pockets.  For the short races this wasn't an issue but for long course events it would definitely have been a nice feature.  Note: while writing this post I checked Orca's site and it appears that the new version of the 226 does indeed have pockets.

I had generally reserved my suit for almost exclusively race day appearances but these days I also wear it for occasional brick workouts to help speed my transitions.  I find it to be more comfortable than the two pairs of tri shorts I own (I'm eagerly awaiting my new Tri Loco team shorts) and wearing my suit is just plain fun.  Because my suit has been used mostly for racing, I can't help avoid an adrenaline rush when I put it on; even looking at it in the closet makes me feel faster. 

All the praise for my suit withstanding, I won't be getting another one anytime soon.  I am glad I have the 226 and I'll certainly wear it for my shorter races and more training but I prefer the versatility that shorts and tops provide.  One other thing I can't ignore about trisuits is how difficult it is to go to the bathroom in them (relax, I am not one of those triathletes, I'm talking about removing it to go).  For most of my race distances this hasn't been a problem but it is one of the main reasons I will wear shorts and a top in Arizona.

As I mentioned on Monday, I'll be posting more reviews over the next few weeks.  I hope this review is at least mildly helpful but I'm open to suggestions about upcoming reviews. 


  1. Your story is similar to mine, however I haven't accomplished much yet. Thanks for the review!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I wouldn't say that you haven't accomplished much, it seems to me like you've been on a tear. I've never seen them before but I love the idea of the Strava challenges, which I saw on your blog (dig your writing). Maybe they can help me with some winter motivation!