Blue Seventy Reaction Wetsuit Review
With the World Championships looming and my old TYR Hurricane wetsuit looking a little worse for wear I thought it was time to spend yet more money on this trip to Auckland and get a new wetsuit.
I’d been looking around for a new one for a while and then noticed that Chain Reaction Cycles had one of the ‘Price Drop Sales’ on a whole range of 2011 wetsuits. Best of all the TYR Hurricane 5, the top of the range TYR wetsuit was in the sale and they had one in my size. Most of the other suits in the sale were either Extra Small or XXL, but this one looked perfect. I knew the sizing should be correct as it was from the same manufacturer as my current suit so I waited for the price to drop. On the last day of the sale it was on offer at £192, a massive reduction on the usual price of £499. I ordered it and was pleased with the bargain I’d got and the fact that I’d be getting a top of the range suit.
However, a week later it hadn’t arrived and the order was still show as ‘processing’. I contacted Chain Reaction Cycles and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing they admitted that they’d made a mistake and despite having already taken my money could no longer fulfil the order. They said they’d refund me and gave me a £5 voucher for my troubles but I was still pretty disappointed. I phoned them back to tell them that I was still a little annoyed by the mix up and asked what else they could offer me in terms of a reduced price wetsuit. I was told to look at suits that they had listed for around £250 in the sale or elsewhere and that they’d let me have one of those for the £192 I was going to pay for the TYR. I looked through what they had and decided that there was nothing in their sale that would fit or be suitable, but they did have a 2012 model Blue Seventy Reaction suit. RRP was £299 but they had it on offer at £269. After a bit of bargaining they agreed to send it to me next day delivery for £192 – Not quite as a good a suit as I’d originally ordered but still a good deal and it would have to do.
Next day a small parcel arrived from Chain Reaction Cycles. As the postie dropped it off I thought there’s no way a wetsuit could fit into that and I opened it to discover 2 inner tubes (worth £2.99 each) and a little saddle pack – Not quite what I’d ordered. So, it was back on the phone to moan at Chain Reaction Cycles again. They’d obviously sent out the wrong thing and said they’d send the wetsuit again that day. Sure enough a wetsuit did arrive the next day and they didn’t ask for the inner tubes back so I guess those are just freebies.
The suit itself is really nice. It’s well built from 100% Yamamoto Neoprene with a SCS (SUPER COMPOSITE SKIN) coating which provides a low drag external surface. It also has an ‘A- FLEX jersey lining’ which helps with flexibility. The thickness of the neoprene varies across the suit and the info on the suit from Blue Seventy states that it has the following types of neoprene (albeit it in not very good English!):
- Buoyancy: The Reaction tiers buoyancy 4-5-4, centralizing Core buoyancy to raise the position of the hips in relation to the rest of the swimmer.
- Chest: Rating 4mm – Two side panels of 4mm Yamamoto 38cell Neoprene accentuate natural lung buoyancy to optimize your upper body position relative to the legs.
- Torso: Rating 5mm – 5mm Yamamoto Neoprene supports the hips and lower torso, lifting the body in the water reducing drag and improving speed. The 5mm panels in the back of the hips, are lateral orientated in order to facilitate raised body position when you roll to the side during breathing.
- Lower Leg: Rating 4mm – Research with top swimmers has shown that our 4mm Yamamoto neoprene legs deliver the perfect blend of buoyancy without limiting drive from the kick.
The suit itself is also supposed to have the following features:
- Flexibility: Our A-FLEX Orange Jersey highlights the Reactions highly flexible 4 way stretch 1.5mm arms and over sized underarm gussets.
- VO2 Chest Panel: A central panel of 3mm material laminated with our A-FLEX material maximizes stretch during respiration and improves comfort.
- Lowered Collar: Our curved closure flap reduced rear collar height improving comfort and reducing chaffing
- Single Seam Tube Legs: Our tube construction in the lower leg, combines A FLEX material with a single seam to maximize the flexibility and promote a quick release from your suit in the transition. Liquid taping on the internal seam reinforces and allows you to cut the leg to your desired height.
- Knee Flex Panels: Our 2 mm KNEE FLEX panels assist with knee flexion by reducing bunching behind the knee and improve functionality when you need to run to T1.
- Grip Panels: A textured forearm print onto our high stretch jersey allows the swimmer extra feel for the water and additional grip in the propulsion phase of the stroke.
I’ve now worn the suit a few times and have the usual neck chaffing to prove it. This isn’t an issue with the suit as I’m particularly susceptible to this and always get it with a new wetsuit even though I smother my neck with hyperglide before donning the suit.. Hopefully after wearing it a few more times it’ll be less of an issue. The suit fits well if you take the time to put it on properly, although once again the sizing chart doesn’t really seem to make much sense. I’m 5’7″ and 64kg. I went with the Small Tall which is suitable for someone 5’6″ to 6’0″ but is supposed to be OK for someone who weighs 68-78kg. Even at 64kg it’s a pretty snug fit and I do find it just a little tight on my upper arms and shoulders – Maybe I’m just particularly muscular here!
The suit is well made though and will hopefully be fairly durable – Although saying that these smoothskin, top of the range neoprene suits never last very long. I don’t really notice the VO2 Chest panel, but the suit doesn’t restrict breathing at all so they must be working. I don’t really notice the Grip panels on the sleeves or the knee flex panels either, but they don’t hinder me in any way and who knows, they may be helping without me realising it.
The legs are a little too long for my liking though so I’m going to have to be brave and take a pair of scissors to them in order to shorten them. They don’t reach my ankles but I’d rather it if they finished halfway down my shin rather than 2/3 of the way. Shorter legs mean that the suit won’t get caught up with timing chips when trying to take it off, and also mean that the opening is wider so the suit should slip off over my foot easier in transition.
One other little niggle is that there isn’t a bit of velcro at the bottom of the zip. On my TYR Hurricane there was a small patch of velcro on the outside at the base of the zip and a corresponding piece on the end of the zip cord. This meant I knew exactly where the end of the zip cord would be in T1 making finding it and unzipping it a doddle. The Blue Seventy Reaction has some velcro on the end of the cord, but this is supposed to attach to the velcro closure at the neck making a loop out of the cord. This is not only more difficult to find and grab in T1 but also provides a nice loop of webbing for people to get caught on or ‘accidentally’ pull at the start of a swim.
In comparison to my TYR I don’t think it is quite so bouyant and I’m not 100% sure that the extra features actually make me any faster – I can’t say for sure though so maybe they do. I think the build quality is better and it feels like a nicer suit so I’m pleased with my purchase. I’ve used it a few times now and even raced in it on Sunday putting in a time of 10:42 for a 750m lake swim, thats about right for me and once I’ve practised transitions in it a little more, cut down the legs and added a velcro tab to the bottom of the zip it should be perfect.