Home > Gear

Trek Ballista: Super light, very ventilated and extremely fast

Trek’s fastest helmet will be a popular option for triathletes looking for the ultimate combination of ventilation and speed

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

It’s a piece of equipment you can’t do without, but also can serve as one of the quickest ways to improve your performance. After your position on the bike and your wheels, the next best bang for your speed-craving buck is your helmet.

There was a time when all that speed came at a huge price in terms of comfort. The fastest aero helmets were designed for pro cyclists, who wore them in short prologues and time trials that seldom last much more than an hour, so they were willing to deal with a lack of ventilation in order to eke out a bit more speed.

For true gear geeks wondering if I’ve been lax figuring out the proper name for the helmet, the Ballista is also being branded under the Trek banner, as opposed to the Bontrager line that the company’s helmets, wheels and components have typically fallen under.

Once you start putting the Ballista through its paces, it’s hard to figure out what strikes you more – the impressively light weight or the surprising amount of air flow that makes this one of the most comfortable aero helmets we’ve ever tried. (It’s fast, too, but it’s hard to measure that during a ride – but there’s absolutely nothing that would lead you to believe that this is anything other than a rocket when it comes to speedy performances.)

Will we see any of these crazy aero helmets in transition this year?

Super light

The first thing you’ll notice when you pull on the Ballista is just how light this helmet is. We’re not going to bank on the complete accuracy of the coffee scale we used to measure the weight, but it registered about 5 g lighter than the 275 g Trek lists.

In addition to the lightweight materials in the shell, Trek has utilized an extremely light BOA, single-lace fit-system that offers lots of adjustment (two lace height positions and three yoke positions) so you can completely customize your fit. That’s coupled with lightweight, but extremely effective padding that helps absorb sweat and adds to the comfort.

Even the new MIPS system allows for some weight savings. The MIPS airflow system used in the helmet means the design doesn’t require a liner, which helps with both weight savings and more ventilation.


While the Ballista isn’t as ventilated as, say, the Velocis, the other lightweight helmet the company recently released under the Trek banner, there’s still lots of air flow thanks to the strategically placed vents. There are three strategically placed vents on the front, one on the top, and a series of channels and ports in the tail to allow air to flow through. There’s also some strategically placed venting around the brow, which provides some much-appreciated airflow exactly where you want it. The result is a helmet that remains remarkably cool, even if you’re not adding 45 km/h of air flow to the mix.

As an added bonus, the two side vents at the front of the helmet are rubberized to help keep your sunglasses in place should you choose to store them up there.


Trek designed the Ballista in conjunction with the members of the Trek-Segafredo team to prioritize aerodynamics. The new helmet features a unique shape that was the result of extensive CFD and wind tunnel testing. Add to that the vent design that helps move air through the helmet, and the aero properties are maximized, with the benefit of some added cooling.

According to Trek, the new version of the Ballista provides 5.4 watts of power saving over the previous version of the helmet (at 45 km/h) and upwards of 10.1 watts of power savings over the more ventilated Velocis.

You’ll often see triathletes forgo the visor on their aero helmet at hot events to get a bit more air flow. The Ballista manages to achieve its impressive aero qualities without a visor, which will make this even more popular with speed-hungry triathletes.

Trek even designed the Ballista with a beveled edge about the brow to improve visibility, especially while riding on aero bars.


The Ballista is certainly a premium helmet that utilizes all the latest technology, so it’s hardly a surprise that it comes with a price tag of CA$400/ US$300. For those looking for the ultimate combination of speed and ventilation, though, the Ballista will be well worth a look.