Best aero road helmets review 2015
Funny-looking helmets have long been part of triathlon. From the sport’s earliest days, carefully shaped lids have been worn on the bike in the hope of eking out performance advantages on the bike leg, as well as protecting the riders’ heads should they crash.
>>> Four of 2015's best aero helmets
But although elongated tails and built-in visors are effective against the clock, they aren’t always the easiest to wear. Their increased weight and reduced ventilation compared to more conventional helmets simply made them too uncomfortable for many people to use, especially in hot conditions.
Which is why so many athletes taking on the most challenging events, such as Ironman Hawaii or Lanzarote, would forego the performance advantage such helmets offered. They’d take the performance penalty, knowing that they’d at least finish the bike leg without boiling their brains or being unable to hold their heads up.
It’s for reasons of comfort and convenience that normal road helmets still have a place in triathlons of every distance (along with the fact that you get fewer funny looks when you’re just out on a training ride). But recently manufacturers have begun to bring the distinct advantages of road helmets and aero helmets together, in an effort to create protective headwear that enjoys both aero and comfort advantages.
Aero road helmets are a relatively new category but one that’s being very heavily promoted. This grouptest aims to find out if they are as good as the marketing would have us believe...
Price: £199 from www.madison.co.uk
Lazer has taken the simple approach to constructing an aero lid by making a shell to fit over the top of its 280g Z1 helmet. On hot days, or days when you’re not watching the clock, you just pop the shell off and you have a normal road helmet.
Without the shell, it’s a lightly padded but well fitting and secure lid; with the shell, all that changes is the air passes easier and your head gets a little warmer. It’s a simple solution but it seems to work – the 52km test route was completed in 1:48:00 while wearing the Z1 (the fastest time of the test).
But it’s not without niggles. The first is that it needs more padding. The second is that when it’s upturned after a ride, all your sweat pools in the shell and then drips out down your leg when you next pick it up.
Verdict: A well-fitting, secure lid for fast days that can be easily adapted for hot days, 89%
Price: £160 from www.specialized.com
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Evade was actually a prop that came from the set of one of the Alien movies, but its shape says ‘aero’ more overtly than any of the other lids here.
It’s a big helmet, though – the large size weighs in at 316g and extends so far forward and backward that it feels as if you’re wearing a canoe on your head.
All that size makes for a fit that feels less secure than others here. Even with the retaining system dialled down as tight as it’ll go, more of the Evade creeps into your field of vision than any other lid on test.
Still, that elongated shape means it’s fast, right? Well, not as fast as you might think. It managed a 1:49:28 performance on the 52km test route. By no means the slowest but didn’t perform as you’d expect. It’s pretty damn hot, too.
Verdict: Big, wobbly, hot, and big with slightly suspect sci-fi styling, 69%
Price: £199 from www.zyro.co.uk
Although expensive, the Synthe has a lot going for it. At 223g it’s the lightest on test; it has a ludicrously adjustable chinstrap; and Giro’s Roc Loc Air retaining system that holds your head with enough security to make the chinstrap almost redundant.
There’s barely any padding but since the retaining system suspends the helmet just above your head, there doesn’t need to be. The 19 big vents keep your head cool – cooler than any of the others here – and it also has ports for holding your glasses when you’re not wearing them.
But perhaps the best thing the Synthe has going for it is that it looks about a hundred times better than Giro’s other aero road lid, the Air Attack. For the test, it was just off the pace of its aero rivals with a 1:49:55.
Verdict: A fantastically well-fitting, comfortable and cool aero helmet, but pricey, 78%
Continue reading our guide to ten of 2015's best aero road helmets (3/3)