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Buyer’s Guide 2010: Aero Helmets

Whether you think they look cool or geeky, wearing an aero helmet will make you go faster.

Whether you think they look cool or geeky, there’s no doubt that wearing an aero helmet will make you go faster. The most aerodynamic helmets have few (if any) vents, which isn’t preferable for any but the shortest of sprint triathlon races. Many Ironman competitors will opt to use a regular training helmet rather than risk overheating in an aero helmet – Chrissie Wellington has dominated the bike leg in virtually all of her Ironman wins without an aero helmet.

We checked out three aero helmets for our review this year and loved what we saw. All provided a surprising amount of venting, making them suitable for triathlon races of virtually any distance. The other common feature? They’ll all improve your bike split this season.

TT2 – $409

While we’ve always been a fan of Specialized’s training and road-racing helmets, for years we’ve had to look longingly on at the Specialized sponsored racers who got to use the company’s incredibly fast aero-helmets that were reserved for  sponsored riders. In 2010 the rest of us get to enjoy the benefits of the aerodynamic helmets that we’ve seen on the heads of athletes like Terenzo Bozzone and pro riders at the Tour de France.  It is definitely the heaviest and longest of the three aero helmets we reviewed this year, but Specialized is quite confident that you’ll find it the fastest. While the 495 g TT2 uses a 4th Dimension Cooling System that effectively channels air (there’s a huge front vent over the forehead and four rear vents to move air past your head, the ear coverings and long tail on this helmet provide lots of aerodynamic speed, but make this a more logical choice for sprint and Olympic distance events or cooler Ironman races. Adjustments are easy thanks to the U-Turn locking system and the unique Pro Fit retention system features a hydrophobic 4X Drylite webbing that won’t stretch, provides a precision fit and can be adjusted with just one hand. Our suggestion: The perfect helmet for those who want to be noticed. You better ride fast if you pull into transition with one of these. Ideal for sprint and Olympic distance events.

Rudy Project – $375

Long a favorite helmet for many Ironman and Olympic distance pros, Rudy Project has come up with an incredibly innovative helmet that is sure to be a hit this season. This multi-purpose helmet weighs in at just 280 g and has a number of adjustable features that will make it work regardless of the type of race you’re doing. Using a short-tail design (which Rudy Project says is about six seconds faster over a 40 km time trial than a long-tailed helmet), the Wingspan has a number of configurations. The closed configuration blocks the vents, making it a perfect choice for short events. The net configuration provides a compromise between ventilation and aerodynamics by allowing some air to get through to the head, but providing protection against bugs and remaining quite aerodynamic. The open configuration is the best option for long distance races or hot weather conditions. The helmet comes with the aerodymic kit that allows you to clip in or take out the various vent covers to customize the helmet to your liking. The helmet is designed to work best with a Rudy Project Technical Sunglass, which are designed to enhance the aerodynamics thanks to the wrap-around styling. Our suggestion: For those looking for an all-around, lightweight helmet, especially those competing in long-distance races.

Super Legera – $200
Louis Garneau

At 345 g the Super Legera sits halfway between the super-long-tailed Specialized and short-tailed Wingspan. The unique textured front area is dimpled like a golf ball to provide better laminar flow, which means you’ll slip through the air even faster. Louis Garneau uses a special manufacturing process to bond the micro shell to the protective EPS, which provides a super-smooth surface area. The two front vents and three strategically placed rear vents provide lots of airflow without compromising aerodynamics. The Spiderlock Elite Retention System can be adjusted with just one hand. The deep ear coverings make this a more suitable helmet for Olympic and 70.3 distance races – you might find it a bit too “aero” for an Ironman. There are stickers included so you can customize the look of the helmet. Our suggestion: A happy compromise for those looking for a helmet that will work for short or 70.3 distance races.