The Nuts and Bolts of It: Exploring construction on the Buell RB2 4/3 Fullsuit
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 November, 2017 - Wetsuits have gotten to the point where most companies out there can make a good suit. Small companies without millions in the research and marketing tank can produce suits often-times superior to those of the big brands. The reason for this is that the many of the innovative high-tech features once reserved for top-shelf brands, are now available to each maker.
Just a few years ago the fluffy interior lining (which provides superior warmth) and liquid outer seam sealing used to be accessible only to the deep-pocket brands. But now both those technologies are available to the smaller wettie makers out there.
Currently we’re now cruising through a wetsuit landscape where any creative entrepreneur with the moxie to build a brand can take their best ideas and create the kind of suit they believe in. Ryan Buell is one of these creatives.
“We are pretty serious about making high performance wetsuits for intermediate to experienced surfers,” Buell said in an interview with Santa Cruz Waves. “We are also all about having fun. The surf industry has gotten too stuffy, the lines are too straight and the logos are too corporate. Our colour ways and designs are fun and we are not afraid to put eyeballs on our booties.”
While Buell is taking aim at the stuffy side of the surf industry with innovative designs like skeleton screened patterns, the forward-thinking company is also using tried and proven wetsuit construction and materials.
Editor’s Note: For this review we take a look at the features of the Buell RB2 4/3. A full wetsuit test and performance evaluation will follow in a few weeks.
So let’s take a look at the features of this suit. First off, the neoprene…
In the most basic of constructs, neoprene is just synthetic rubber with little gas bubbles blown into it. By blowing more or fewer bubbles into the neoprene one can control how flexible the neoprene is and also how much flex it has. More gas injected into the suit means a lighter, stretchier but ultimately less insulative and sometimes weaker neoprene. Less gas and fewer bubbles in the neoprene means it's heavier and more insulative and stronger.
Each brand uses their own secret recipe for what they value in performance. Buell uses what they call stretchy Ninja Neoprene and line the outer shell using Ultraspan flex-fabric. The interior lining is a soft & fuzzy “Recycler” fabric.
Standard wetsuit seams tend to be triple glued and blind stitched. After this preliminary seam construction suits can apply tape to the interior or the exterior or both. Each taping method has it's advantages. Interior tape (if done right) allows more flexibility typically because wetsuit makers can use a thinner, stretchier material. Outer seam tape creates a better water barrier but requires a stronger material, and therefore is not as pliable as the inner tape. Interior tape often has difficulty sitting flush against the fluffy lining of a suit. Any gap between tape and seam allows water to enter the seam. On the RB2 design Buell went with quadruple glued and blind stitched seam construction followed with power-lite "Sizzle" outer seam seal - a liquid rubber applied to all the outer seams.
The entry design of the Buell RB1 4/3 uses a Slant Zip that provides a one-sided water seal, pretty standard as far as zip design. Extras on the suit include what you’d expect to find on a suit in today’s market: key pocket, Suprtex tuff kneepads and wrist seals.
In checking out the Buell RB2 4/3 we liked how it’s a solidly built suit using top-shelf seams, interior lining and neoprene. The stretch and pull of the suit shows a great deal of flexibility. The suit retails for $365. Check back here next month for a full review of the RB2.