Scottish clothing brand Endura has launched the Team Movistar-tested Encapsulator time trial speed suit - said to be the “fastest skinsuit bar none" - to the public, alongside a single piece road suit, and two-piece jersey and bib short set.

The Encapsulator speed suit first saw the light of day on the WorldTour during the 2015 Vuelta a Espana and is the result of a partnership with aerodynamic gurus Drag2Zero, led by former Formula One aerodynamicist Simon Smart.

Previously, Drag2Zero has been involved in aerodynamic hardware development with partnerships with the likes of ENVE and Giant, but this is a first foray into clothing for the company. Now, the fruits of six year’s labour have resulted in the public release of the Encapsulator suit, plus further optimised designs for road use. On top of that, Endura has released a new road/time trial helmet, called the Aeroswitch.

Graeme Obree, Drag2Zero wind tunnel testing, Endura aero clothing

Graeme Obree, Drag2Zero wind tunnel testing, Endura aero clothing

Silicone Surface Topography

In the Encapsulator suit, Silicone Surface Topography (SST) is a central technology that takes the form of 3D silicone chevron patterns across strategic areas of the shoulders, sleeves and down the flanks of the rider. We’ll have a more in-depth look at the science of the aero collection in a forthcoming feature, but the simple idea is to generate a surface texture that keeps airflow ‘attached’ to the rider, instead of allowing it to detach and create low pressure areas behind the rider, effectively slowing them down.

"Silicone Surface Topography has been utilised in those areas where airflow is most likely to detach from a rider’s form, and is the result of extensive wind tunnel testing"

It’s been utilised in those areas where airflow is most likely to detach from a rider’s form, and is the result of extensive wind tunnel testing at the key 46-58km/h range with ex-Movistar rider and former UCI Hour Record holder Alex Dowsett (now with Katusha), with 54 different versions of the suit tested.

“The SST chevrons are attached to the suit, rather than moulded directly on, resulting in a construction process that’s incredibly work intensive," says Ian Young, Endura’s product manager. “It’s also made of three different fabrics – a compressive body fabric, with textured arms and ribbed legs, which also gives a small aero benefit too."

Meanwhile, the Encapsulator suit also features the race number pocket design that gives the suit its name, with an aero-efficient window on the lower back. This Encapsulator pocket is air permeable to meet UCI regulations. The suit also features a 1000-series aero chamois specifically designed for the demands of an aero tuck position, complete with shortened frontal section.

Overall, Endura claims the Encapsulator suit is more efficient than Castelli’s Bodypaint 3 suit, as well as rival models from Nopinz, Bioracer and Assos, with the best competitor - Endura won’t specify what product that is - 9.6 watts slower at 46km/h, and losing 21.8 watts at 50km/h, 12.1 watts at 54km/h and 1.4 watts at 58km/h.

Endura Drag2Zero aero clothing

Endura Drag2Zero aero clothing

Road-specific garments

Alongside the Encapsulator suit is a road-specific one-piece suit and two-piece jersey and bib short combination optimised for rolling speeds between 32 and 50 km/h. These feature a textured fabric on the sleeves, shoulders and flanks, which was found to be the most efficient in a typical road rider position on the drops or hoods.

Silicone Surface Topography still appears in carefully placed panels on the legs, with a spoiler flap over the three rear pockets to smooth airflow and a gel storage pouch on the underside of the leg to save storing it between leg and short.

Endura Drag2Zero aero clothing

Endura Drag2Zero aero clothing

Endura Drag2Zero aero clothing

Endura Drag2Zero aero clothing

Endura Drag2Zero aero clothing

Endura Drag2Zero aero clothing

“You can have the road products in a one-piece or two-piece style, but we know you get a better fit from the one-piece, something that’s becoming more popular these days," says Young. “These products are aimed at sportive and gran fondo riders, so the 1000-series pad has a slightly extended front area for a classic road position."

The road suit posts equally-impressive wattage savings over its nearest competitors, although we can’t verify Endura’s claims. From a pool of Specialized’s Aeroroad Suit, Rapha’s AeroRoad Suit and Castelli’s San Remo 4 and Aero jersey and bib combo, Endura’s design achieves a 1.7 watt saving at 32km/h, 7.4 watts at 38km/h, 6.9 watts at 44km/h and 8.4 watts at 50km/h.

Aeroswitch helmet

Accompanying the apparel is a new helmet, the AeroSwitch, which is able to literally switch between being a full scale trial helmet and an aero road race lid via a detachable tail section.

Graeme Obree, Drag2Zero wind tunnel testing, Endura aero clothing

Graeme Obree, Drag2Zero wind tunnel testing, Endura aero clothing

When in place, the wide tail is designed to work efficiently at the varying yaw angles inherent to the natural movements of a rider’s head during a time trial effort. When removed, the remaining lightweight body of the helmet is optimised for more upright positions, according to Endura, as well as exposing rear vents to help with airflow.

Additionally, the Aeroswitch features a high-cut brow for good vision when tipped forwards, and an integrated clip-on lens – the best solution for field of vision and aero performance, according to Young.

“We’ve also used a Koroid internal construction, instead of EPS foam," adds Young. “As a honeycomb structure it’s naturally energy-absorbing and can be made smaller than EPS. That reduces the frontal area and therefore increases efficiency through the air, and it allows great cooling on climbs too."

Graeme Obree, Drag2Zero wind tunnel testing, Endura aero clothing

Graeme Obree, Drag2Zero wind tunnel testing, Endura aero clothing

Unsurprisingly, Endura has also got figures from the wind tunnel for the Aeroswitch helmet too. In the time trial position with the tail fitted, it achieved an 3.6 watt saving at 40km/h, seven watts at 50km/h and 12.1 watts at 60km/h over its nearest competitor from a group including the Kask Bambino, Giro Aerohead, Bell Javelin, Laser Wasp, Specialized S-Works TT, Met Drone, Bontrager Aeolus TT and Louis Garneau P-09.

First impressions

At the launch of the new aero product range, we were given the opportunity to ride some of the new kit on the boards of Derby Arena’s velodrome.

We chose to ride the one-piece road suit and the Aeroswitch helmet in road mode - a combination likely to appeal to the greatest number of potential customers, in our opinion. While it’s impossible to make any conclusions with regards to speed, it’s clear Endura and Drag2Zero have created a road suit that fits extremely well. Not just on me, but on other gathered journalists, too.

Endura Drag2Zero clothing, velodrome, track cycling, Ashley Quinlan (Pic: Endura)

Endura Drag2Zero clothing, velodrome, track cycling, Ashley Quinlan (Pic: Endura)

What occurs immediately in our short time spent with the garment is just how little spare fabric there is, born out through ‘quiet’ performance. Where you might sometimes hear audible whistling of air impacting against your clothes at high speed, the ensemble we wore was eerily silent as we rounded the velodrome. It’s comfortable, too - genuinely a suit that you’d be good to ride in for all-day escapades.

"What occurs immediately in our short time spent with the garment is just how little spare fabric there is. It’s comfortable, too - genuinely a suit that you’d be good to ride in for all-day escapades"

Additionally, the road helmet seems perfectly capable of providing a good field of vision when your head is dipped, while it’s adequately adjustable to ensure it’s also comfortable, and appears to be reasonably well ventilated despite the scarcity of vents. More time with both products will reveal more, we’re sure, particularly when it comes to cooling on the road.

Pricing and availability

All of the new Endura Drag2Zero aero products are available from today from stores, with the following price tags:

Endura Drag2Zero Encapsulator speed suit - £429.99

Endura Drag2Zero road suit - £329.99

Endura Drag2Zero jersey - £149.99

Endura Drag2Zero bib short - £179.99

Endura Drag2Zero Aeroswitch helmet - £349.99