James has been reviewing the Blu Smooth MK1 Racer wetsuit. A sleeveless open water wetsuit you may well not have heard of. With the weather having been utterly rubbish this year in the UK testing an open water wetsuit without sleeves has been a challenge. Hats off to you James.

Summary of Review

Trivelo Score – 4/5

The Blu_Smooth MK1 is a solid, dependable sleeveless wetsuit option that does exactly as it says on the tin with minimal fuss and fanfare. It is a strong choice for those who have a warm open water venue to train in and prefer to have freedom of movement in their stroke. Maybe not one for the racers but based on the MK1’s performance the rest of the Blu_Smooth range is worth considering if you are in the market for a ‘full’ wetsuit.

blu smooth mk1 racer wetsuit review

Pros

  • Well designed & durable,
  • Doesn’t chafe
  • Rrgonomic leg cut for easy removal

Cons

  • Not a fan of the standard zip and ‘loose’ pull cord

Introduction to Blu Smooth Wetsuits

Blu Smooth is a South African wetsuit company that has tested their products in Nelson Mandela Bay. The aforementioned location plays host to Ironman and 70.3 races and is a notoriously challenging and changing environment to swim in so expectations of the MK1 Racer wetsuit were high.

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First impressions

The MK1 Racer is a unisex sleeveless wetsuit made from uniformly thick 3mm coated Jako MSL 25 Smoothskin neoprene, which Blu Smooth advertise as being more water repellent and warmer than traditional neoprene. The wetsuit comes in a nice mesh bag with the Blu Smooth lettering and logo on whilst the wetsuit has a uniform black design with a chest, left leg and rear zipper logo being the only deviation from this. There is no internal logo (the one shown when running into transition with the wetsuit pulled down to the waist) but given Blu Smooth do not advertise the MK1 as a competition suit, despite the ‘Racer’ moniker, this makes sense. It is refreshing to see a ‘back to basics’ design in an increasingly jazzy wetsuit market but for some this might be a slight turnoff.

blu smooth mk1 racer wetsuit

However, the main aspects of a good wetsuit is their fit, comfort and performance that we shall cover shortly. The MK1 is touted as fitness or training wetsuit for use in warmer temperatures (advertised range of 15-22 degrees Celsius) and I have had the pleasure of putting the suit through its paces the past month in a mixture of pool and open water settings.


Fit of the wetsuit

I received a ML suit, which has an advertised size guide of 72-82Kg and 172-182cm. This is the same size as the four other wetsuits I have owned despite being 184cm tall (I usually find myself being below the ‘weight range’ of large suits and therefore they are not being snug enough and leak water around the neck in particular). A point to note, however, is that I found the leg length to be quite long. The back of the legs are cut away to aid with removal but in general, I would presume that athletes at the shorter end of the size guide would need to cut the legs to achieve a better fit. Blu_Smooth may have anticipated this somewhat as there is taping on the inside of the legs so they can be shortened without the seams unravelling.

Despite being a brand new suit, the MK1 was easy to get in to and has a nice, comfortable liner that does not chafe against bare skin. The neck has a good cut that is not too high and restrictive but keeps water ingress out well. The same can be said of the ‘arms’, or in this case, the lack of them. Having previously only used traditional sleeved wetsuits, this was initially an unusual sensation to have a seal around my chest and back along the arm cut out but again this never felt restrictive nor did the suit chafe. In fact, having my arms ‘free’ felt refreshing and made me realise how limiting even high-end wetsuits can be around the shoulders.

blu smooth mk1 wetsuit Testing the blu smooth mk1 racer wetsuit


Who is the wetsuit designed for?

There is a standard rear zipper that has ran smoothly throughout testing and has the benefit of meaning you can zip yourself into the suit in contrast to reverse zippers that often need assistance. The racer in me prefers reverse zips for their security during mass starts but as mentioned previously, Blu_Smooth do not intend for the MK1 to be raced in, which could explain this design choice. To add to this, the zip lanyard does not stick in the Velcro zip cover at the back of the neck and floats around in the water behind you whilst swimming. This is screaming ‘pull me’ (intentionally or otherwise) to any other swimmers in close proximity during a race – I know, I know, the suit is not meant to be raced in…. but I feel that it is still worth pointing out.

If triathlon transitions fill you with dread I recommend a dedicated triathlon bag. I find having my kit organised in my bag as I head to the event helps me stay chilled and get ready with less stress. Read my list of the best triathlon bags to consider

Durability of the wetsuit

Overall, the MK1 has a feeling of sturdiness and good quality with internal and external seams being flat and well bonded. The same can be said of the stitching around the armholes and even during extended sea swims with a touch of wetsuit lubricant zero chafing occurred. As an advertised training suit I can see the MK1 being able to handle many seasons of use so you can keep your ‘best’ wetsuit for pre-race tune-ups and the big events. Furthermore, the MK1 comes with a one-year warranty covering manufacturing or workmanship defects and material and zipper defects…

Blu Smooth Wetsuit Performance Vs the Competition

Compared to a traditional sleeved suit the MK1 obviously lacks in the buoyancy and warmth departments. However, the former is something that stronger swimmers may prefer, as it will allow them to maintain a more natural swimming position in the water as well as having unrestricted arm movement. I also found the MK1 surprisingly buoyant for only having 3mm thick neoprene in the legs and hips and could utilise a minimal kick to keep my legs high in the water.

The added buoyancy and hydrodynamic properties of the MK1 make cutting through the water quicker than being in traditional jammers or trisuit. If you use the MK1 for racing, the shaped ankles are well designed and make for easy ‘kicking out’ of the suit – something I personally have difficulty with in a range of wetsuits and usually requires me to cut the legs short to improve. The previously mentioned standard zipper that does not attach to the Velcro can make the start of T1 slower as you try to locate the pull cord but this is minor and again not what the MK1 is designed for. As a result, if you train in a mild and consistent body of water where a full wetsuit is not required this could be the suit for you. This is enhanced by the £149 price tag that is very reasonably priced, even against lower tiered wetsuits by other brands.



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