The Carbon Flex XV is one of Arena’s flagship Carbon series. At the time of writing the current suits in the series are Flex XV, Air2, and the Ultra. While not still in production if you look around you can still find older suits from the series such as the Flex, Air, and Pro.
Comparing the suit to the Pro and Flex suits you can see how it has evolved. All three use the same carbon cage throughout the suit, which was originally used for the Pro. You can see this in the image I took showing the Pro and Flex XV side by side. This makes sense as the Pro is still a decent suit. All three therefore have the same composition; 52% polyamide, 47% elastane, and 1% carbon fiber. While other suits would have similar compositions in terms of polyamide and elastane, the Carbon series are unique as the carbon fiber throughout helps keep the suit tight and “locked in”. It might use the same materials as the other two suits, but the Flex VX differs in its use of tape, the Pro doesn’t have any and the tape and panels are positioned differently in the Flex.
I’ll be honest, I was a little uncertain before buying this suit as I didn’t think there would be much difference between this version of the carbon flex and the older version. How wrong I was. It turns out that the re-positioning of the tape and panels have made a big difference. When I put them on they feel tighter than the older version with compression that feels comparable to the pro. However they have a lot more flexibility which I really noticed and felt on the blocks. I also found that despite the compression, they are quite comfortable to wear on deckside while waiting for my race. They seem to have a little more “give” than the pro.
The benefits of the tape and panel differences didn’t stop there. When swimming the tape does feel like it is creating a connection up along my hamstrings. My hips felt high and my kick felt a lot better than normal. As with the older Flex they were very easy to turn in allowing me to execute a tight fast tumble. As with other carbon suits, it helped compress and raise my hips and legs resulting in a good body position with little effort.
It also is extremely water resistant so you feel like you are cutting through the water.
I have to point out that so far I’ve only had a chance to wear it in freestyle events, specifically my main event, the 200m Freestyle. I will update this when I get a chance to wear it for others. I’ve also had conversations with some other swimmers and even though they are tricky getting on, I’ve been told I could try going down a size.
I have to admit this is my favourite racing suit so far, I can see why so many of the professional swimmers wear them. I definitely plan on getting another.