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In 1935, Takeo Ishimoto opened his first retail store in Osaka, Japan. In a matter of years, that little store began manufacturing its own line of sports apparel and, most importantly, his ingenious stretch-style ski pants. The technically advanced and performance-friendly line became a local favorite among athletes who sought ski apparel that did more than just keeping them warm. Forming to the contours of the body, they allowed flexibility that, until then, had been ignored by other manufacturers. That commitment to athletes continues today.

Having worked with some of the World’s finest in sports ranging from speed skating, volleyball, swimming, cycling, skiing, and now triathlon, their goal have always been to provide athletes, both professional and recreational, with apparel that provides subtle comfort, and one that is so effective that its presence goes almost unnoticed.

Descente which is still based in Japan, also has offices in both Canada and North America, and has a worldwide consumer base.

First Impressions

The Elevation Tri Top might looked small, but its stretchable material allowed it to fit someone of a bigger size. It is sleeveless, and has a round neck collar, with a zip going down nearly the full length of the tri top. The zipper is a little hard to pull down when it is at the top, but is otherwise alright once you have gotten past the initial bit. The surface texture feels silky smooth as if it was built to be more hydrodynamic and aerodynamic. The rear sides have two panels of nylon mesh for added air exchange and breathability. At the base of the nylon panels are 2 mini pockets large enough for a couple of energy gels in each. Tested tri top was “bronze-orangy” in colour, Descente termed it flame.

The Aero-XT tri shorts have a pretty standard sizing as compared to other cycling tights that I have tried. But as with most triathlon suits, or shorts, the internal chamois is rather thin to enable ease of movement when running. The tri shorts are 4 paneled and does not feel totally smooth to the touch unlike other tri suits. The tri shorts also came equipped with a small internal pocket for stowing of small items like keys. The tested tri shorts came in all black.

Materials Used

The internal literature in the Elevation tri top says its made of 82% nylon and 18% spandex. The tri shorts is made of a similar composition but has an additional inner pad made of 100% polyester. Both have to be machine wash cold and are made in Canada.

Field Testing

Initial sizes provided were L for the tri short, and M for the tri top. For a 28”-29” waist like mine, the L size shorts fitted ok. However, the M size top was a real stretch for me. I typically wear Asian M and L sizes for my t-shirts, and getting into this tri top was really tough. In the end, I had to exchange it for an L size to try out. A confession, for a triathlete, I am also of a slightly larger build, but with the L size tri top, I was good to go.

Biking

I wore my tri top and shorts to my weekly thursday night rides in the west. The top felt cool enough and was body hugging so it feels slick and aerodynamic. The tri short felt stretchable, airy, and comfortable. The chamois felt rather thin, but for a 35km ride, it was more than sufficient and did not really bother me much. In fact, I thought it was rather comfortable on the bike, but I just had this rather different feel that the bike short was a little less grippy than normal and it was easier to move about on the saddle itself. No big problem. Both passed the test for the night ride. Time to move on to the proving grounds…

Come weekend, and the usual long rides in Desaru, where both mileage and the sweltering heat are both going to be a factor. I have to say, the Elevation tri top actually feels a little warmer compared to the usual bike jerseys. However, moisture management is good in the sense that perspiration is brought to the surface and dries relatively fast keeping the athlete as cool and comfortable as possible.

The Aero-XT tri short fared relatively well despite my misgivings about wearing a tri short on such a long ride (170km) considering its thinner layer of chamois. However, despite its thin layer, it felt relatively comfortable. I only started feeling less comfortable in excess of 120km approximately, but that already is a relatively long distance.

The Aero-XT tri short fared relatively well despite my misgivings about wearing a tri short on such a long ride (170km) considering its thinner layer of chamois. However, despite its thin layer, it felt relatively comfortable. I only started feeling less comfortable in excess of 120km approximately, but that already is a relatively long distance.

Swimming

The Elevation tri top and Aero-XT short felt pretty ok both in the pool and at a couple of open water swims. It doesn’t feel water slippery, but it doesn’t exactly give the sense of excess drag either. However, having the 2 pockets on the back of the tri top does make one wonder if it impedes water flow even if just a little.

Running

Nothing much to say in this department other than that the tri top and short faired pretty good for the two 10K runs I took them out on. No blisters or abrasions at any of the usual places.

Conclusion

The Descente Elevation Tri Top and Aero-XT Tri Short are definitely pretty good products where triathlon sports wear are concerned. They are not the best I have ever tried, but they are definitely considered better than just above average in terms of both comfort and features. I was especially impressed with the amount of comfort of the tri short provided me on the bike.

In terms of price, Descente products are a little on the high side, and their triathlon range is no different. But more importantly, you are paying for a product that works and not just for a brand name.