Your cycling helmet offers a great opportunity to improve your aerodynamics because it meets clean air. The way that the air is separated, passes over it, and meets again behind it is entirely down to its shape. By contrast, your rear mech, for instance, is in such turbulent air that gains are almost impossible and most brands ignore it in their aero quests. Switching your standard road helmet for an aero road model will save you around a minute on a 40km bike leg.
There’s no disputing that the coned time-trial (TT) helmet is the fastest option. In our tests the best of them can save a further minute over even the quickest of this group. But TT helmets are typically heavier, hotter and for race day only. A £250 TT helmet is a big investment when it only gets worn a few times per year.
There’s also the increasing number of age-group athletes trying their hand at draft-legal racing, where the rules state your helmet can’t cover your ears like it does on a TT lid.
Aero road helmets can – and should – offer a balance between TT and road helmets. That is, they have to be faster than a road helmet yet free from the compromises of weight and ventilation of a TT helmet. An aero road helmet that’s hot and heavy, yet not as aero as a TT helmet, is pointless; you may as well go for maximum aerodynamics. So while aero speed is really important here, we’re also looking for a helmet that you can train in and use on hot, hilly events.
What you’re looking for in a good aero road helmet is a perfect balance between speed and ventilation. If
the former is too compromised, you might as well go for a light climber’s lid; if it’s too hot, then you’re
better off with a TT helmet. So an aero road option should present a happy medium.
It goes without saying that all of the helmets tested here have passed European safety standards. While we were lucky enough not to have to try out the crash protection for real during this testing period, none of these lids from reputable brands trade safety for aero gains, with some even including the latest MIPS technology for greater impact protection against rotational forces in the event of a crash.
The Vitesse is LG’s new aero solution for cycling and also speed skating, should that interest you! They claim to have reduced drag by 31% using Computational Fluid Dynamics, though they don’t say what against, but our test showed it was fast on the road by clocking 14:12mins for fifth place on our 8km test loop at 250 watts. It has a dimpled pattern on top for further aerodynamic improvements, MIPS and their X-Static padding over the top to provide a reasonable level of comfort. The Vitesse is the heaviest helmet on test at 355g and, while we found it performs similarly to the Scott Cadence, the cradle adjustment isn’t as precise and the vents at the front are too small to provide decent airflow in hotter conditions. But, as a helmet that’s also at home on the ice, perhaps it’s not meant to.
Verdict: fast and comfortable, but weight and venting issues lessen its appeal for tri racing, 78%
Buy from garneau.com
The Evade began its life as a modified version of the S-Works McLaren TT helmet, and promises to save you 46secs over 40km compared to their high-end Prevail road lid. It’s shown to be fast in the wind tunnel and real world, and our timed 8km test agreed, with the Evade placing second with a time of 14:08. The retention system is adjustable inside, and it’s well-padded for all-day comfort. While visibly the Evade appears well-vented, it does feel warm inside so isn’t perfect for the hottest riding days. Impressively light for its size at 271g, the Martian-like shape won’t be for everyone but you can’t go wrong with the Evade if it’s speed you want. It’s also good value compared to pricier options in this test. If you tend to get your hands in a twist at T1, there’s also a tri-specific version with a magnetic buckle, but the standard one works fine for us. specialized.com/gb
Verdict: Not the most airy, but proven to be one of the fastest aero road helmets out there 88%
Buy from www.evanscycles.com
Continue reading our guide to this year's best aero road helmets (2/3)