Nopinz's Speedsuit incorporates the company's Speedpocket and a mixture of fabrics to allow club cyclists to get the best out of their TT efforts. All stitched together at the company's HQ in Barnstaple. It's easy to get on and off, fits well and feels durable throughout.
Number enclosed and out of airflow
No need for use of safety pins
Durable and well constructed
Won't break the bank
Material behind zip can get snagged
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The Nopinz brand was born of a simple yet quite brilliant idea. Rather than continuing the decades-old tradition of riders pinning on a number and having it flap about on their back, the company's founder, Blake Pond decided to conceal it in a pocket behind a see-through plastic section, known as the Speedpocket.
It’s the kind of idea that makes you think; why hasn’t someone thought of that before?
Even at pro level it wasn’t uncommon to see a rider's number flapping about on their backs after one corner had come unstuck. It doesn’t take an expert to realise that’s probably going to cost more watts than a set of aero socks.
Everyone who has signed on in a village hall will know how hard it is to pin a number to a stretchy fabric then put it on and get it perfectly flush against your back. And no doubt we’ve all awkwardly asked a clubmate or fellow competitor to pin a number on before bending over in front of them.
Thankfully, you no longer need to. And the Nopinz Pro-1 speedsuit (£139.99) comes with a few more aero advantages to boot.
The suit we tested was created in conjunction with Xavier Disley of Aerocoach and uses a mix of fabrics to create a suit aimed at riders travelling at speeds between 40 and 50kph. That’s quite a broad range of speeds for materials to work at if you want to delve into the minutiae of aerodynamics, but this is a suit available to everyone rather than a tailor-made product
Nopinz Pro-1 Speedsuit: construction
Like all aero kit the Pro-1 suit uses a mixture of fabrics, each placed where you’ll gain the most benefit. They all come from Sitip in Italy, one of the main manufacturer of fabrics used for sports kit. You’ll no doubt recognise the Aerostripe fabric on the body and lower section of the sleeves as it’s commonly used. The stripes run straight up the forearm, straight down the back while on the front of the torso they run on a diagonal. This was found to help airflow a little more than stripes running in a straight line.
Nopinz and Aerocoach’s data showed this fabric doesn’t work so well on a vertical surface (the biceps) until you reach much higher speeds, so here instead you’ll find the Pista fabric with lots of little indented squares. Think golf balls. The airflow here is being treated in a similar way.
The legs are where you’ll find Nopinz proprietary Speedscalez fabric with lots of little triangle shapes. Lots of skinsuits will opt for a plain fabric here as the airflow is very messy with the movement of the legs, making it near impossible to get reliable data. So this is as much about differentiating the suit from the competition as anything else.
One thing I noticed is just how well the suit is made. The seams inside are stitched superbly, (mine was made by Celia; each garment is made by one seamstress and comes with a tag with their name on it) and are made to be durable. No matter how much tugging there was to get this on and in place I never heard a ripping noise indicating a stitch giving way somewhere.
Nopinz wanted the speedsuit to be durable. They know there are faster suits on the market, but some of them can be 10 times the price and only last for a couple of races. The fact that the see-through pocket does away with the need for safety pins is another tick on the durability front.
Neither do you need help to put it on correctly like some tailor-made suits. British track cyclists need to be helped into their skinsuits at major championships to both avoid tearing the fabric and, for very special occasions, getting seams in the right place. This isn’t practical for your local evening 10. So there’s no risk of tearing and no seams that you need to get in just the right place.
Seams acting as aerodynamic trips (a line or bump on a surface that reattaches the airflow as it passes over it) are well used in tailor-made items and other bits of tech, but put these in the wrong place and they can be detrimental to airflow, so there’s none of those here.
Nopinz Pro-1 Speedsuit: the ride
To ride in the suit is no less comfortable than riding in a set of tight fitting aero kit. There’s little pull-down on the top of the zip at the front when stood up, but equally no gathering of excess material elsewhere.
The Teosport Armadillo chamois insert was okay. It has a thicker section in a Y shape running from back to front but I prefer a flat, consistent depth to my insert as I tend to move about in the saddle. It wasn’t my preference, but I didn’t experience any soreness or discomfort.
The Speedpocket measures approximately 20cm across and 21cm top to bottom when the garment is lying flat, and has a bit of stretch in it. So far it has accommodated all race numbers we’ve used. The pocket is accessed from the inside, so easiest to put the number in before putting the suit on. If, like me, you ride out to an event in it you’ll have to take the top half down and contort yourself slightly to get the number in. Help might be needed to ensure it’s nice and flat in there with no corners turned over.
The leg cuffs have the standard silicone gripper, 1.8cm wide all the way round the inside of the leg, which kept them nicely in place at all times.
The top of the zip had a small, and rather crude flap to protect your neck from being pinched, but this can easily get tangled in the zip, especially if you adjust it on the fly. A slightly longer strip of material would help this.
Value and comparison
At £139.99 the Nopinz Pro-1 Speedsuit looks like very good value. The recently launched Le Col x McLaren Project Aero speedsuit costs £350. The Rapha Pro Team Aerosuit comes in over £100 cheaper at £230 while the dhb Aeron Lab Raceline speedsuit (long sleeved) also breaks the £200 mark at £220 (currently on sale at £175).
Velotec, popular with British time triallists, prices its Pro Aero Speed-Suit slightly lower than Nopinz at £100.
For a technical garment that's well fitting, well performing and made in the UK, the Nopinz Pro-1 Speesuit represents excellent value for money.
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Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. He fell in love with cycling 1989 when watching the Tour de France on Channel 4, started racing in 1995 and in 2000 he spent one season racing in Belgium. During his time at CW (and Cycle Sport magazine) he has written product reviews, fitness features, pro interviews, race coverage and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. He became the 130-year-old magazine's 13th editor in 2015.
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