Well, the home page says it: I got myself two new skinsuits! One is from the Republic of Anaerobia, a small outfit up in the North Bay; the other one is an eBay find. Both of them will reach me in the next few days – thank goodness eCommerce works!
Why skinsuits? Well, for one, they make you look even more ridiculous than the conservative duo of black shorts and jersey (which is really a lot to say!). Then their colors are usually much brighter than anyone else’s, so that you can be sure that everybody is going to look at you in bewilderment (decreasing chances of being overlooked or run over).
Stop kidding: skinsuits have incredible advantages. For one, the combination of shorts and jersey doubles the layers in the mid section, where a lot of the action occurs. This results in added sweat just where I don’t need it (it’s the crotch section, thanks for not asking). The tightness of it is a second advantage. You don’t hear at all any flapping sounds, which decreases resistance in the wind. Not that it would make that much of a difference, of course, but biking is loud enough as it is.
Then there is the thermal conductivity. Here in California the heat is the real killer, since it is combined with a fair amount of humidity from the ocean. As a result, the skinsuit and its constant flow from the body to the surrounding air is much more effective at cooling and drying down than anything else. (Proof the fact that I freeze to death every time I ride down King’s Mountain, even in the heat of the afternoon on a hot summer day!).
Disadvantages? Well, it’s really hard to get into them, for sure. I wear them on my commute to work, and I swear there are guys in the locker room that look forward every day to seeing Marco the Contortionist getting out of his suit. Getting in is easier, but that’s a meager advantage.
Cost is another issue. A skinsuit costs about as much as a good pair of shorts and a jersey combined. Seems odd, considering that it’s much less fabric, but there is probably the fashion factor going in. To make matters worse, after a fall the skinsuit is ready for the dump – while people seem to think it very fashionable to wear pairs of pairs of shorts one on top of each other.
Finally, you cannot wear a skinsuit at all if your body is not proportioned accordingly. It’s the same story as with stock bikes: if the proportions don’t work for you, you might end up with a suit that fits well on the lower portion but is too short or too long on top. You’d need a custom frame on a bike and a custom suit… And that gets really expensive.