You don’t have to do many triathlons to learn that fast transitions can enable you to move up several places on the finisher list. In addition to practice and preparation, equipment can make a difference in how quickly you transition. One of the least-expensive ways to cut down on your transition time is by using speed laces, aka, stretchy or stretch laces or the brand names Yankz, Speedlaces, or Locklaces. For the sake of using a generic term in this article, I will refer to them as speed laces in the lower case.
How they Work:
Speed laces replace your shoes’ shoelaces. Instead of being a lace that you tighten and tie each time you put the shoe on, the speed laces keep the shoe snug on your foot while enabling you to set them at the exact tightness you are looking for, every single time. Perhaps the most important benefit, though, is that the typical speed lace has just enough give in it so you can pull your shoe off in about a second without having to untie it. Think of it as using a bungee cord for a lace instead of a rope.
The process of putting speed laces on your shoes takes about 15 minutes, and then some additional time and testing to be sure you have the tightness just right for you. Once they are on, they stay on. If you are like most triathletes, you will quickly not tolerate shoes that have anything but speed laces on them. They make transitions that much faster, and are just plain convenient when you are doing something as simple as going for a quick training run. We hear of many people who get so used to speed laces that they begin to use them on all footwear for the ease of getting them on and off.
Our Favorite Brands:
While there are several makers of speed laces, three major manufacturers dominate the market and have captured triathletes’ loyalties.
Complete Tri Locking Laces, $9 per pair. After using these laces for a season, we decided that we liked them so much that we put our own branding on them. We like these laces the best not only because they provide the right amount of elasticity and flex, but the locking mechanism is simple and has no parts that will wear out. The plastic is strong, and there is enough lace to use in shoes of all sizes — even on hiking boots. They come in black and white for now. While the CT laces are made specifically for triathlon, we have found them to be functional and useful in a variety of active events including race running and hiking. To see customized instructions on how to put these laces on your shoes, check this out.
Lock Laces, $9 to $10 per pair. Lock laces are simple but work very well. They are a typical elastic / stretchy lace that locks into place with a plastic piece that goes on the center of the shoe front. Reviews on Lock Laces are always excellent, and they come in over a dozen colors. If coordinating colors with your ensemble is important to you, you will like these laces. Overall, they get five stars from us and we are big fans.
Speedlaces, $8 to $10 per pair. Speedlaces iBungee laces use the same concept as the Lock Laces, with a high-stretch material and a plastic lock that keeps the laces set to the level of tightness you want. One trait of Speedlaces are that they tend to be reflective, so can add an element of safety to those of you who are early-morning or evening runners. Speedlaces have been named the top in class by Triathlete magazine and have a strong triathlon following.
Yankz, $8 to 10 per pair. Yankz have been around for a long time and are a solid product, as are the others listed here. One unique feature of Yankz is the double lock system. A plastic lock at both the bottom and top of the shoe front helps keep the tightness adjusted precisely, and better spreads the pressure across the entire foot front. We have used Yankz and have been very happy with their performance.
There are other stretch laces on the market, but we find that the three listed above are the “can’t-miss” brands in terms of quality for triathletes. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Considering that they all retail for less than $10, it will be one of the best bargains you will find to increase your race times and make your training more enjoyable.