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Race suits LOL

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I have to laugh at the prices the new suits cost this year...some over $700!!! I think somone has been hitting the wacky-tabacky. Even if they are "silver fiber impregnated" at $700 you can nearly make armor out of sterling silver, which is way cheaper than most people realize. I am in the wrong business.
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by XJguy View Post
I have to laugh at the prices the new suits cost this year...some over $700!!! I think somone has been hitting the wacky-tabacky. Even if they are "silver fiber impregnated" at $700 you can nearly make armor out of sterling silver, which is way cheaper than most people realize. I am in the wrong business.
It is a bit insane but you have to realize these are very expensive fabrics and require very detailed manufacture of which very few companies are capable, Also the sublimation process is very expensive and time consuming.

Many of these suits- especially the high end Spyder suits are hand made in Switzerland in very limited quantities as extentions of their official team suits. The d3o padding is also very expensive.

There are many great suits under $400 that will meet any users needs so there are options- and no one is making money selling race suits! Its essentially a promotional vehicle.
post #3 of 20
D3o padding? It's cool tech, but gates don't hurt that much, come on...............

I had a spyder performance gs suit that i paid about 300 for. I was more than satisfied with it.
post #4 of 20
What gets me is that same Spyder DH suit last year with different graphics was regularly priced $650 at Reliable. Now it's $729 with the Olympic design. That's more than a 10% increase, which far exceeds recent inflation.

I'm not entirely convinced with the highly specialized manufacturing either. I have a Spyder WC suit from Switzerland and a Performance suit(which happens to be for sale) made somewhere in eastern Europe. Both use different Swiss fabrics, but the stitching quality is actually a little better in the latter. I'll also mention the quality of construction and attension to detail in both suits pales in comparison to my custom tailored suit (the shirt and tie kind) that I had made in Shanghai for about $70 USD; but, that's an entirely different topic altogether...

FWIW, I paid $250 for the WC and about $150 for the performance. I don't consider one any better than the other, although they do fit a little differently.
post #5 of 20
I've been completely underwhelmed by the quality of the high end Spyder suits that are sold at retail, and command these high prices, for a number of years. I've found that the real WC suits have significantly different fabric, and as we know the padding is different. The zipper quality is better, and in my family's experience they simply wear a lot better, and last longer. If you can find a good used USST, CAST or Austrian Spyder suit {the real deal}, it's worth it. And I'm not saying beacuse I'm trying to sell a couple! My daughter has a USST A team tech suit, and there is absolutely no camparison between that and the retail "WC" suit. You wouldn't believe that they were built by the same company. And the price was a LOT less!
post #6 of 20
Any ideas on where we might be able to find such deals?
post #7 of 20

There's usually a Spyder sale...

...every year in October sometime, usually at Boulder Ski Deals in Boulder. I've gotten a bunch of honest-to-God USST suits, not even used, at this sale...
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muleski View Post
I've been completely underwhelmed by the quality of the high end Spyder suits that are sold at retail, and command these high prices, for a number of years. I've found that the real WC suits have significantly different fabric, and as we know the padding is different. The zipper quality is better, and in my family's experience they simply wear a lot better, and last longer.
Not to disagree, but I've never noticed those huge differences that you mentioned. A few USST B and C team guys and were selling their suits at Hood this summer. I didn't really notice too many significant differences other than the sponsorship logos. Perhaps you're refering to the lower-level Spyder suits with just WC graphics? The zipper, padding, and fabric are certainly differnt between the different lines. There was, however, a Swiss Team Descente suit for sale that was unlike anything I've seen sold at retail.

As far as getting team suits, there's always ebay if can't get to a race swap. Thomas Vonn had his infamous ebay retirement sale last season where he liquidated virtually all his USST and WC gear.
post #9 of 20
The Spyder WC suits are made by a small company in Switzerland called Wam's they also make the Descente WC Suits. The fabric they use is also Swiss from Eschler. These are made in very limited quantities with very expensive fabrics at very high labor rates thus the price. Yet Spyder has no problem as most suits from this range are made for the national teams and the retail items usually sell out. The rest of the Spyder line are made in Poland but still with Eschler fabrics. The labor rate here is clearly much lower but the production capacity is higher thus a lower cost. There are only about 8-10 firms in all of Europe that make suits and none in China other than some in Japan (Phenix, Asics, Onyone, Mizuno, Goldwin) Another reason Spyder top end suits are expensive is that all the fabric must be tested to meet the FIS porosity standard to make a FIS legal suit. The time this takes is staggering. The lower cost suits may or may not meet this requirement. The equipment is also highly specialized and the sublimation process and the cost of printing papers is expensive. The sewing skill is among the most advanced as well.

Spyder also uses d30 padding made in the UK (pound vs dollar!)

There are so many other suits out there from companies like Apogee (Canada- the only North American manufacturer), POC, VIST, Besson, Garneau, Beyond X, Halti, Dainese. Many as good as or better than Spyder.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinevt View Post
The Spyder WC suits are made by a small company in Switzerland called Wam's they also make the Descente WC Suits. The fabric they use is also Swiss from Eschler. These are made in very limited quantities with very expensive fabrics at very high labor rates thus the price. Yet Spyder has no problem as most suits from this range are made for the national teams and the retail items usually sell out. The rest of the Spyder line are made in Poland but still with Eschler fabrics. The labor rate here is clearly much lower but the production capacity is higher thus a lower cost. There are only about 8-10 firms in all of Europe that make suits and none in China other than some in Japan (Phenix, Asics, Onyone, Mizuno, Goldwin) Another reason Spyder top end suits are expensive is that all the fabric must be tested to meet the FIS porosity standard to make a FIS legal suit. The time this takes is staggering. The lower cost suits may or may not meet this requirement. The equipment is also highly specialized and the sublimation process and the cost of printing papers is expensive. The sewing skill is among the most advanced as well.
That was pretty much my impression except for the FIS porosity part. The Swiss suit I saw used fabric very similar to Spyder's. The main difference was that the zipper was on the back. Anyhow, according to Spyder, all their suits, including the cheapest, meet the FIS requirements. Still, have you seen the testing process? We're not talking FDA approval here! And as far as sewing is concerned, there's nothing special about the stiching on a race suit; my mom's sewing machine makes the same stiches. As I said, I've seen better quailty come out of similar products (not race suits) in China.

My thoughts are that limited production numbers and high labour costs are the primary drivers in some of these crazy expensive prices. And neither of these factors add any direct benefits for consumers that chose to throw down $700 for a spandex unitard.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voltron View Post
That was pretty much my impression except for the FIS porosity part. According to Spyder, all their suits, including the cheapest, meet the FIS requirements. Still, have you seen the testing process? We're not talking FDA approval here! And as far as sewing is concerned, there's nothing special about stiching a race suit; my mom's sewing machine makes the same stiches. As I said, I've seen better quailty come out of similar products (not race suits) in China.

My thoughts are that limited production numbers and high labour costs are the primary drivers in some of these crazy expensive prices. And both these factors don't add any direct benefits for the consumers that chose to throw down $700 for a spandex unitard.
The FIS process is quite complex- there must be multiple air porosity tests done on certain areas of the bulk fabric. The fabric that tests closest to the limit is marked and pulled for use in the top skiers suits, but most every bit of the material must be sampled in order to gain FIS certification and get the FIS tag attached. The machine that does this is expensive and I believe there are just 2 in the USA ( one in Park City at USSA and I think Spyder must own one ) Every suit that is used in FIS competition must be certified. Not FDA but a very complex and time consuming process.

When other companies claim their suits are FIS legal it is often that the fabric has passed the test but since these are knit and not woven materials the range is all over the place. the heat, pressure and amount of ink used in making the suits changes the rating as well as how much the suit has been "Stretched"

One would think it is not hard to make a race suit but yet there has yet to be a company in China that has proven the ability to make any. That is why they are all made in specialty factories. And since the demand is so low who can justify Chinese production anyway?

Those who choose to spend $700+ for a race suit do it for many reasons- but again these suits are generally made for the national teams and some excess production is targeted at consumers (masters, juniors, nastar, collegiate etc.) Yea $700+ is hard to imagine, but readily explainable.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voltron View Post
What gets me is that same Spyder DH suit last year with different graphics was regularly priced $650 at Reliable. Now it's $729 with the Olympic design. That's more than a 10% increase, which far exceeds recent inflation.

I'm not entirely convinced with the highly specialized manufacturing either. I have a Spyder WC suit from Switzerland and a Performance suit(which happens to be for sale) made somewhere in eastern Europe. Both use different Swiss fabrics, but the stitching quality is actually a little better in the latter. I'll also mention the quality of construction and attension to detail in both suits pales in comparison to my custom tailored suit (the shirt and tie kind) that I had made in Shanghai for about $70 USD; but, that's an entirely different topic altogether...

FWIW, I paid $250 for the WC and about $150 for the performance. I don't consider one any better than the other, although they do fit a little differently.
Ding ding ding ding. I just bought a hand made Gianfranco Ferre business suit from Italy for about $700 , finest quality wool (regularly about $1500 still a bargain all things considered)...there is no way on this earth that the Spyder suit has more expensive materials or takes more labor to produce than my suit (or any good business suit), it as well as most suits are true works of art, really mind boggling the way they get so many layers and materials to fit together so precisley and come out looking so good.

I have a NASTAR Descent race suit paid about $200, relatively cheap compared to other race suits but still expensive for "spandex underwear" IMHO. They are charging an ultra super premium...because they can and we will pay.
post #13 of 20
AlpineVT,

You and JamesK and Vail99 have a lot in common. A little too much in common.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinevt View Post

One would think it is not hard to make a race suit but yet there has yet to be a company in China that has proven the ability to make any. That is why they are all made in specialty factories. And since the demand is so low who can justify Chinese production anyway?
Oh they certainly have the ability to make a race suit in China. There's no doubt about that. You just mentioned the reason why they don't.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinevt View Post
There are so many other suits out there from companies like Apogee (Canada- the only North American manufacturer), POC, VIST, Besson, Garneau, Beyond X, Halti, Dainese and the new company at * that all make suits at a variety of prices all with a variety of features. Many as good as or better than Spyder.
I'm pretty sure that Garneau is a Canadian company, but I didn't know their suits weren't made in North America? According to what your saying, this is the case.

There's also JIRI RR which is a Canadian company (provided the suits for the Czech republic at Salt Lake Olympics), however I believe their market is many in Europe. Here again, their stuff is made in Europe.

http://www.jiri-rr.com/products/racing/index.shtml
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
I'm pretty sure that Garneau is a Canadian company, but I didn't know their suits weren't made in North America? According to what your saying, this is the case.

There's also JIRI RR which is a Canadian company (provided the suits for the Czech republic at Salt Lake Olympics), however I believe their market is many in Europe. Here again, their stuff is made in Europe.

http://www.jiri-rr.com/products/racing/index.shtml
True, Louis Garneau is Canadian- I am not sure where they make their suits though? Could be in Canada. They are big in bike wear which uses similar technology.

Never heard of JIRI - they seem to be made in Czech. I also found some other companies like NES, Pietro Vitalini, Sportful, Don Quiet, Jonathan Fletcher and TheLimit- all European made. No doubt China can make these suits as they have proven thay can make almost anything- even K2 skis--- but the market is just too small.
post #17 of 20
I like the feel of my DH suit when I'm park skiing--I can easily boost an extra foot out of the pipe, and have no trouble clearing even the longest tables and gaps. And by the way the kids' jaws hang open, not to mention the pointing and appreciative hooting, I can tell I'm damn impressive. I'll bet you see some of the X-Games kids following my lead this year.
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinevt View Post
True, Louis Garneau is Canadian- I am not sure where they make their suits though? Could be in Canada. They are big in bike wear which uses similar technology.

Never heard of JIRI - they seem to be made in Czech. I also found some other companies like NES, Pietro Vitalini, Sportful, Don Quiet, Jonathan Fletcher and TheLimit- all European made. No doubt China can make these suits as they have proven thay can make almost anything- even K2 skis--- but the market is just too small.
Pehaps its too small, but if you were to offer a product that is just as good as the leading brands at several hundred dollars less and do the right kind of marketing...something tells me that you would pretty much own the market, thus making it worthwhile.

Here is something from skiracing on the porosity test: "The FIS tests for air permeability using a heavy, square box called a plombing machine. Tom Winters, chairman of the U.S. technical delegates working group, jokingly has dubbed the machine "Monica." Says Winters, "It's nothing but a big sucking machine. We set it up before the races, and racers can submit their new suits for testing." All suits require proof of porosity, and when the suits are cleared, a "plomb" (a metal, numbered disc) is affixed to the suit behind the ankle. Some new suits, right out of the box, will not pass the plomb test. In those cases, Winters says, racers put them on and "stretch the s—- out of them." Winters also notes that "others are as porous as flannel nightgowns." "

http://www.skiracing.com/features/ne.../newsArticles/

Without knowing exactly how the test is conducted I am guessing a section of fabric is blocked off, set up on a jig air is sucked through where by the vacuum chamber has a pressure meter that they can measure the Hg displacement to then corrolate to the porosity. Not a hard thing to do, in fact you can do it at home with a vacuum cleaner and maybe $50 worth of supplies.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinevt View Post
True, Louis Garneau is Canadian- I am not sure where they make their suits though? Could be in Canada. They are big in bike wear which uses similar technology.

Never heard of JIRI - they seem to be made in Czech. I also found some other companies like NES, Pietro Vitalini, Sportful, Don Quiet, Jonathan Fletcher and TheLimit- all European made. No doubt China can make these suits as they have proven thay can make almost anything- even K2 skis--- but the market is just too small.
I might be mistaken, Louis Garneau was an previous Olympic cyclist from Quebec, after he started his own company gear on cycling stuff and move into Ski and Skating gear (helmet, suits, etc).

The president, Jiri Rychetsky was my old ski coach at university. The first year on the team, he had just fleed Czechslovakia that summer. A few years later (1990?) he started his own ski wear company, JIRI RR. I gave him a call a few years ago after hearing from a ski shop that he was still in the ski wear business, I bought two ski jackets from him. Last year I also got a racing suit and I recall him saying that the material was $$$ and assembly was done in Switzerland (?).

I loved my ski jackets, I prefer giving money to someone I know and getting original designs instead of the big guys. He was saying that the market is pretty stiff and local shops aren't necessarily interested in getting another ski wear company on their sleeves. He has more success in the former Czechslovakia, mind you I would think that he would have good contacts being from the place and having skied and coach at a high level prior to fleeing for Canada.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by XJguy View Post
Without knowing exactly how the test is conducted I am guessing a section of fabric is blocked off, set up on a jig air is sucked through where by the vacuum chamber has a pressure meter that they can measure the Hg displacement to then corrolate to the porosity. Not a hard thing to do, in fact you can do it at home with a vacuum cleaner and maybe $50 worth of supplies.
I beleive this is the machine in that you speak of.

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