Speed Suits: Comments From the Pros

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Tim Del Rosario using a speed suit during timed qualifying at Maryhill Windwalk.

This post by Max Dubler

As downhill skateboarding’s international freakout over speed suits continues to rage, the International Downhill Federation is polling its members on a proposed ban while professional riders and event organizers are weighing in all over social media. We collected some of the better comments outlining various viewpoints here.

Kevin Reimer, Former IGSA and IDF World Champion

A decade ago (2007 Teutonia), I had firsthand experience to say speedsuits are uncomfortable af and not worth it. That speedsuit sat in my closet, advantageous as it was, because I didn’t want to lead the charge into this arms race. Don’t worry, Max, I did take time off racing to enjoy wearing my bball shorts rather than putting on a body magnum. If you are unmoved by the argument of speedsuits being hazardously hot, I hope you have some time to experience it firsthand on a hot day. You’ll see what I mean. It is rare to see a leather suit entirely soaked through. You will see that when you take a speedsuit off.

Kalil Hammouri

They are only an advantage if you have one and your competitors do not. Once everyone is forced to wear one in order to compete then the field is level again except we are all hotter and less comfortable. Those who are wearing them currently before the rest of the field are getting in on a small window of opportunity to be a little faster than everyone else. They are not an evolution in skill or technology. They should be banned from the IDF.

Calvin Staub

Less bitching about speedsuits, more SENDING IT

Jacko Shapeira

Everyone stop crying and go get a cheap sex suit off eBay… I’m sure as hell going to!!!

Oh, and STOP WHINING THIS IS SKATEBOARDING FOR FUCKS SAKE just be grateful for what you already have… our sport is so niche and small compared to the rest of the world I’m still amazed we get to do what we get to do in the first place!
Either get it or don’t get it, whatever, who cares about the sponsor logos in this day and age it’s not like we get massive paycheques or nothing and if you REALLY need to show them logos how hard would it be to just paint them on?

Tad Drysdale

There is a good reason why they have been banned in our sport by many organizers. And should be that way otherwise everyone will feel they have to wear one to be competitive. Just another $1,000.00 plus item to add to your gear. Keep the playing field even by not allowing them.

Colin Beck, Former IDF Secretary

In general I’m against rules to ban things. There has to be a really good reason.

If somebody developed some wheels or trucks that were faster, you don’t want them banned – you want whatever advantage those wheels and trucks have to filter down into everybody’s equipment, so the whole sport benefits. And manufacturers keep having an incentive to invent new stuff.

But speed suits aren’t something that anybody really wants for the sport as a whole. They’re not “better” in a broad way. They’re part of a pointless arms race that makes the sport more uncomfortable, more dangerous (in hot weather), and worse for riders in terms of them not giving good exposure to their sponsors.

Well, that’s my thinking. It’s up the the IDF Board to decide for 2018.

James “Slimer” Ware

I don’t wanna wear one. First off I wouldn’t be able to buy an Amazon or eBay version as it wouldn’t fit, so I’d have to have one custom made which I’m not into. But straight up, if it’s going there I’ll definitely be investing in one. I’ve seen all the stuff of Capps putting weights on his board and don’t want to get into that, but again, I wanna win so I’ll do what it takes!

Brennan Bast using a speed suit during timed qualifying at Maryhill Windwalk.

Daniel Engel

Either show up to the track with all of the bells and whistles ready to race or don’t. I’ll be on the track and you better believe I’ll have at least 1 speed suit with me.

Martin Siegrist, Former IGSA World Champion

Riders talk about banning speed suits for safety reasons yet wear no back protectors and certified helmets still aren’t required…

Mike Girard, IDF Board Member

I […] think that lack of speed suits would ensure a more level playing field without altering the quality of racing. The arguments that it makes things less safe (due to heat and concealing unsafe leathers), less visually appealing, and less pragmatic have been compelling. Not to mention the significant rider support. The stance does not invalidate or diminish any results earned in a speed suit; it is just that in 2017 the latex suits have come to the forefront and seem to have a demonstrable advantage that not everybody can attain. As the IDF board, it is our job to listen to rider feedback, protests and recommendations – we will be discussing this matter at our next board meeting.

William Edward Myrvold

The only arguments I’m hearing against speed suits is that they look “bad” whatever that means, that they don’t carry the sponsor logos on them, and that they could be adverse in hot weather conditions.

1. Get over how it looks. Faster is better in downhill gravity sports racing. Fact.

2. Screen print logos on speed suits if it’s that important.

3. Training and conditioning to overcome the adverse effects of hot body temperature. Ultramarathoners and other athletes can do the same thing. TRAIN FOR IT. Limit exposure and play safe. If you’re the kind of wingnut that wants to jump through all those hurdles to make it happen, good on you. Go fucking fast, set new records, win more races. If you ain’t that kind of wingnut, get the fuck out of the way.

Max Capps

If this is about being fair to other competitors, then this conversation needs to include how many wheels you can use, weight classes and custom suits. All I hear is a lot of complaining about how hard speed suits are to wear and that they cost money. WHAT A JOKE. The ones who don’t want it are speaking up because they don’t want to have to work harder to beat the top guys, they don’t want to be uncomfortable. If you care more about your sponsors than winning, find a new line of work, because racing is about winning.

Zak Maytum

My opinion is that they basically add nothing. They add cost to a sport that is already struggling for participation due to budgets and do not improve the quality of the racing nor (in my opinion) the quality of the look and saleabilty of the sport. Furthermore, I believe they pose a potential safety concern. If someone has leathers in poor condition, they can just stretch a 25$ piece of plastic over them and we can’t tell. In fact, this year I have already heard multiple reports of racers taking runs at IDF events without leathers on at all under a speed suit. Furthermore, at many events there may be a significant risk of heat exhaustion from wearing something like a black speed suit. I would like to see the requirement be that the outer skin of your suit be Kevlar or leather. Proven to be safe, fast, and made in a wide variety of recognizable color schemes.

Mikel Echegaray Diez, former IDF Street Luge World Champion

For Streetluge (In my opinion) Doesn’t make a difference at <100kph. For higher speeds, will do. I don’t wanna be inside the speed suit during a sunny day riding/racing……it’s hot as fuck.

Riley Irvine

The current situation is that there are riders looking to be faster then their opponents, so they are wearing plastic suits. The riders wearing the suits are only benefiting from the stretch suits because other riders are not wearing stretch suits. If we all wear stretch suits then there is no benefit to wearing them.There are numerous problems that come from wearing them. Cost – adding stretch suits to your budget. We already have a sport that’s very difficult to participate in at a high level because of the necessary equipment. Safety – concerns of increased heat, and the concern of what riders wear underneath the suit. Look – harder to differentiate riders, and like it or not, people think it looks goofy and will make fun of the sport for it. That last one is my smallest concern but like it or not it’s the truth. With all this under consideration, why would someone be pushing for plastic stretch suits to be allowed? It seems to me the only people pushing for the suits to be allowed are the people wearing them, or someone who is friends with someone who wears one. As if these people are defending themselves for already wearing them. Everyone in discussion about this needs to remember that this is about what is best for everyone in this sport we participate in. Glad to have seen that a few people that are part of the IDF – International Downhill Federation board understand this and will have a thoughtful discussion and decision.

Tim Del Rosario

Pro class: go fast as fuck and don’t fall.

Carlos Paixão, Two Time IDF World Champion

I use one in Killington… and not been on my 100% but to be honest it’s a huge advantage… leathers against speed suits or sexsuits in not a fair fight… at list 3km/h faster… They should prohibit!

Danny Connor

This is so fucking stupid. That is my only comment.

Bricin “STRIKER” Lyons

BRING YOUR LATEX SUITS TO DANGER BAY 17!!!!!! FOR EVERY LATEX SUIT ENTERED RACES WILL GET A GREAT BIG RED APPLE!!!!! DO WHAT YOU WANT!!! BOMB HILLS!!

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