I tested 8 fullsuits in the pool against the clock last year. The two fastest that I tested, among last year's suits, were last year's blueseventy Helix and the suit I'm writing about today, the TYR Hurricane 5.
I just swam down the Hurricane 5 against a De Soto Concept 5 two-piece, and I'll provide you the raw numbers. Every week, through April and May, I'll publish at least one swim-off, and altogether my hope is to profile 14 or 16 of these fullsuits. My intent is to test all the suits that "matter" and by that I mean all the suits that I would consider buying if I was in the market are the suits I'll be testing and profiling for you.
None of these suits will be of the sleeveless variety, because sleeveless suits are always slower than fullsuits, as long as it's a well made fullsuit that fits.
Now, for the caveats on all these tests. What works for me may work for you or it may not, because, if you think fit matters in bike selection, it really matters in wetsuit selection. Just because a suit swims fast or slow for me does not translate directly to the market at large. FYI, I'm moderately thin, with a slightly long torso. Suits that fit me are guaranteed not to feel the same to mesomorphs, or those with short torsos.
I'm getting wetsuits to test almost every day. You probably think this is a luxury, but, let me tell you: I'm earning my money. Wetsuit testing is absolutely the thing I like to do the least, for one reason: I hate getting into wet wetsuits, and the only way to fairly test wetsuits is for you, and the wetsuit, to be wet for every test. My protocol for testing is 4 x 100yd, repeating on the 1:30 base, three sets. There is 7 minutes between each set, because that's how much time it takes to get into a wet wetsuit. If I really hustle.
Now that I've complained and whined, let's get to the test.
This TYR Hurricane 5 has pluses and minuses, and usually the pluses cause the minuses. For example, this suit is very quick to exit. But the exit is helped by a panel of 2mm Yamamoto #40 rubber. This is stretchy, floatable rubber that is a key technical feature. But, it is subject to fingernail tears. You've got to be careful when putting this suit on.
The suit also features a stretch limiter, applied via heat, like a silkscreen, to the inside of the suit, onto the fabric. This application is found on the front of the suit, around the sternum and below, and it works like a girdle. This does work. It really keeps you in place, it keeps the suit from bloating, and it helped make my swim, for lack of a more precise term, body-correct.
However, this also made the suit a bit harder to put on. As I was zipping this suit up, I had some trouble and I had to work at it, because the very feature that caused the suit to stay trim while swimming made it hard to zip up. Long story short: If you've got a belly, avoid this suit. This is not a Gumby suit, like so many #40 suits are.
I swam in this suit, juxtaposing it with a De Soto T1 Concept 5. Here are the results:
3 sets of 4 x 100yd repeating on 1:30 base.
Set 1: TYR Hurricane
Set 2: De Soto T1 Concept 5
Set 3: TYR Hurricane
The Concept 5 is my go-to suit most of the time. It's a gentleman's suit. It's easy to get on and off, it won't rip, it fits great, no neck abrasions, it's like driving around town in a Coup de Ville. But it's got one problem in pool swim tests: the fact that it's 2-piece means that, for a split second during a flip turn, before the push off the wall, a bit of water shoots up into the suit, between the two pieces. Obviously this isn't a problem during open water swims, but it does work against this suit during pool testing.
When I started making my first ever tri wetsuits, in 1987, I would get about 7sec/100yd out of a fullsuit. I'm getting about 9sec out of this TYR, and it's slightly more—maybe a half-second, or a second—than I'm getting out of my Concept 5 (though, in open water, maybe the Concept 5 closes that gap, I don't know).
I felt very good in the TYR Hurricane Category 5. The only criticism I have at all with this suit is: The so-called "360-Degree Core Stabilization System" (described above) not only inhibits flex widthwise in the torso area, it probably slightly inhibits flex lengthwise. I say this because it was hard to pull the rubber up into my shoulders.
Still, two things to remember: I'm a bit torso-long; and because I'm putting these suits on wet, they are very hard to pull up as tight as I could pull on a suit when both I and the suit are dry.
The TYR Hurricane 5 is a $625 fullsuit. I'm going to use this suit as a "control" when I swim in TYR's Freak of Nature, to see whether the Freak is really a faster suit than this TYR suit, which is half the price.
TYR's presentation is quite nice. The box the suit came in; the little wetsuit carry bag; the way the suit was packaged, to keep the suit from generating creases in the folds, was all first rate. This is the sort of thing we struggled as we were developing the category of triathlon wetsuits, starting 25 years ago.
One more thing about this particular model. The TYR fullsuits feature pulling panels, as most suits do these days. Sometimes these panels catch and trap air, and therefore slow the suit down. Better to have inserted no pulling panel at all. This suit's panels obviously do not slow down the suit, and may work as advertised. This is a lightning fast suit.
One final note about TYR's wetsuits. They do not have a return policy for used suits. Only exchanges. no refunds. A few other companies offer more liberal policies, and it would not be prudent to assume those policies flow to all wetsuit companies. So, if you think this suit will work for you, make sure it's what you want. If it fits out of the water, it'll fit and work in the water. I can vouch for its effectiveness once you're swimming. Still, if it does not fit, best not jump in the water hoping it'll somehow mold itself around you.