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The Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Speedsuit is a good race day option that is generally quite comfortable once you're on the bike. The cut is all about a close fit when in an aero position, but I found that some sizing issues centred around the leg grippers meant the fit wasn't as good as it could be.
Speedsuits, as the name suggests, are all about going fast. They need to be close fitting so that there is no fabric flapping around in the wind, use materials that help you to cheat the wind a little, and have a cut that works when you're hunkered low at the front end.
Le Col has collaborated with McLaren for a new aero range and this, the Project Aero Speedsuit, is the short sleeve road racer's option (as opposed to a TT suit), with rear pockets that are just about big enough for a few gels. (We've also tested both the long and short sleeve Project Aero jerseys.)
Is it fast?
I'd suspect that, if you're looking at such a garment, you're rather interested in speed. Le Col says that McLaren 'independently tested' the suit and found that it 'tests 32s faster than world tour leading speedsuits over 40km at 300w'. There is a claimed 6-watt saving at 35kph vs the leading World Tour skinsuits, and a 10-watt saving at the same speed vs the best-selling aero short sleeve jersey.
Causing this slipperiness is a range of textured fabrics in what are apparently key places. With so many panels, stitching becomes very important, especially when the garment is tight and suitably difficult to get on. But thankfully, the stitching is very good.
Do you want to believe the 'independent' testing? We don't have details about which suits were tested against and the protocols of that testing, so you can probably take the claims with a pinch of salt. I can't verify the claims unless someone wants to buy me a wind tunnel.
The fit, as with pretty much every road race skinsuit, is very close. Come back to racing after a winter of eating mince pies, as I intend to do, and the Le Col speedsuit is going to feel very cosy around the waist. That said, with plenty of stretch in the legs, waist, chest and shoulders, this speedsuit hugs the body rather than turning you into an aerodynamically efficient sausage.
I found the shoulders to be particularly comfortable, with loads of movement available. But it's not all good.
For some reason, Le Col has opted for a leg gripper with barely any stretch. With my 60kg climber's build, I am not blessed with very big quads, but getting the gripper even just above my knee was near impossible with the size small that Le Col initially sent.
A replacement size medium did help a little, but this then caused the rest of the suit to be too roomy. Le Col is trying to keep your legs covered as much as possible, the thinking being that fabric is faster than skin. While this is a good move for aero, it is easy to make a leg gripper stay in place while avoiding the discomfort that the Le Col design causes.
Once I got down to some racing – a 25 in this case – the discomfort of the leg grippers faded into the general pain of a time trial so I wouldn't say that the leg gripper situation should put you off trying this speedsuit, just bear in mind that other brands do this part better, especially if you have big quads.
As with the legs, the arms are quite long, making it easy to get the skin covered right down to the elbow. The front section of the jersey is far shorter than the rear, so this is definitely one that only fits once you're on the bike.
The materials used are at least soft against the skin and very breathable, so you won't cook on a hot day.
The Project Aero Speedsuit features a brilliant pad that has been designed for this range. It is dense, soft on the skin and placed perfectly for the aero riding position that you'll be adopting when using the suit.
The back of the jersey features a few pockets, with two on the small of your back where you'd usually find the standard three on a jersey. These are the ideal size for a few gels and maybe a bar and I'm glad Le Col has kept them on the small side.
There is also a radio pocket located midway up the back on the right. Realistically, this won't be used unless you're a pro.
I'm slightly disappointed to see a lack of number pockets. Le Col provides one on the long sleeve skinsuit version but not here. You could send this off to NoPinz to have pockets installed, or rely on good old safety pins, but you'll be putting holes in a £350 piece of clothing.
And that leads us nicely into the thorny topic of value. Ideally, I'd be able to point at reliable test data and say 'that's the fastest, buy it'. But unfortunately, I can't. What I can say is that the Le Col Project Aero is seriously expensive. If you're a privateer road racer or crit specialist, you can have two of the NoPinz Pro-1 road suits (£149.99) with the number pockets, with cash left over for race entries. It's a much more comfortable option, though it might not be as fast.
dhb's Aeron LAB Raceline LS Speedsuit (£220) is another option. It has a cut that is equally good for a low race position and, again, it's more comfortable than Le Col's Project Aero.
Then we have something like the Castelli Sanremo Speed Suit 4.1 for £260 (Stu tested the 4.0 a couple of years ago). This isn't as pure speed-focused as the Le Col, so if you're looking for comfort on a long road race, this is a great option.
The Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Speedsuit is a supposedly very fast option for criterium, circuit and shorter road racing. The pad is perfect for this and the small pockets are ideal for gels, though I'd have liked a pocket for my race numbers. There are, however, some potential fit issues caused by the overly tight leg grippers that make recommending this speedsuit quite tricky.
Speedy speed suit that delivers a very close fit, but some will find the leg ends overly tight
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Speedsuit
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says: 'The Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Speedsuit has been co-developed alongside McLaren's Aero experts to reduce drag, testing faster than many world tour skinsuits in a wind tunnel environment. Constructed and technically mapped to match the contours of the rider in aggressive positions, this speedsuit blends Elite Italian Tripping fabrics, textured with dimples and dual densities over the arm to break up airflow at the leading edge and manage it's flow around the body.
Independently tested and approved by McLaren's experts, this speedsuit has been refined down to the detail. Equipped with a low profile race radio pocket and two profiled aero pockets for transporting nutrition and fuelling your flat out efforts. Compressively mapped for an exact fit on the bike, the Le Col x McLaren Speedsuit uses a specific Le Col x McLaren chamois, placed for nose of the saddle efforts. A raw cut hem on the leg is held in place by internal silicone grippers to ensure a secure and metered fit throughout.
N.B: The Le Col x McLaren Speedsuit has been designed to be uncompromising in its fit, developed to sit tight and help hold you in an aerodynamic position. It's important you not only choose the correct size, but assess the correct fit on delivery when in an aero position on your bike. We advise you to take care when putting the garments on, they are precision made for performance, designed to fit perfectly when riding your bike in an aggressive position so will require flexibility when pulling over your shoulders. We advise only wearing the suit while riding and minimise time walking or standing tall as this will put unnecessary stress across the garment. This is a race focussed product and sizing is tight and compressive, if between sizes, we advise you select the larger size."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Le Col lists these Key Features:
Independently Tested and validated by McLaren
Proven advantage over the world's leading aero suits
Low profile race radio pocket
Elite Italian tripping fabrics on leading edge
Mapped use of disruptive, layered fabrics manipulate three dimensional flow topology and reduce surface friction.
Two low profile aero pockets
Front covered zip for reduced drag
Extremely tight and aggressive fit
Lightweight and delicate materials
Sublimated & debossed logos to maintain smooth aero profile
McLaren x Le Col banding at the sleeve cuffs
Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Chamois - cut and located for aggressive positions.
Raw cut edge leg cuff with internal silicone strip for secure fit
Tests 32s faster than world tour leading speedsuits over 40km at 300W.
6 Watts saving at 35KPH vs world tour leading skinsuits
10W savings at 35KPH vs best selling Aero SS Jersey
While the fit around the shoulders is really nice, the leg grippers are overly tight and let the whole suit down.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I washed it at 30 and line dried.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For TTs, it does well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit around the shoulders in particular is really nice.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The leg gripper is what really holds this speed suit back. It is just too tight. Even getting it over your knee is a job.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This is up there at the top end. As well as the options I've listed in the review, you can get the Assos Lehoudini RS S9 Aero Road Suit at £320, the BioRacer Speedwear Concept Road Race Suit for £190, or the Sportful Bomber Suit for £300.
Did you enjoy using the product? Only when I was focusing on the pain of a TT.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, the pad is great and it is probably very fast, but while the fit around the shoulders is good, the overly tight leg grippers won't suit everyone. I'm going with a 'quite good' 6, as it might suit you fine, but it's still expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!