The holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family, look back on the year's accomplishments, and give thanks for everything we have. But they're also an excellent excuse to stock up on triathlon gear for next season! Obviously, we're partial to our own Switch Aero System, but in this 12-part series we'll highlight and recommend some of the best triathlon gear that will get you to the finish line faster in your next race.
Aero helmets have been around for a while and there is no questions that they can have a big impact on speed. While they won't save you nearly as much time as a proper aero body position, they will help about as much as using an aero front wheel - potentially as much as 30-40 seconds over a 40 km distance!
All that being said, they do have a few drawbacks - well, I guess just one really big drawback: what makes an aero helmet great during a race will also make you very memorable during your Sunday group ride (i.e. they look funny if you wear one outside of a race). Oh yeah, and they also don't have much ventilation. Enter Aero Road Helmets, combining great aerodynamics with cooling in a much more traditional road helmet look.
Characteristics of Aero Road Helmets:
Aerodynamic shape - the new breed of aero road helmets are designed with speed in mind and every contour has been specifically designed to cut down on wind resistance.
Temperature regulation - the great thing about aero road helmets is that they combine great aerodynamics with great cooling. One of the biggest drawbacks of a traditional aero helmet is its lack of vents - not a problem with aero road helmets that combine vents and internal channeling to keep you cool.
Road look - an aero road helmet is much closer in look to a road helmet than an aero helmet so you won't have to be self conscious wherever you wear it.
Specialized S-Works Evade (price $250):
Substantial aero performance and lots of ventilation make the Evade a nice option. Its a little heavier than a normal road helmet and the cooling performance is much better at high speed but this is to be expected when aero is a critical part of the design.
New for 2014, the Synthe is Giro's latest entry into the aero road helmet game. It combines light weight, good aerodynamic performance, and decent cooling in a nice looking package. It even includes slots on the side of the helmet for sunglass docking.
POC appears to have gone a bit more for the aero than the road in their aero road helmet offering. On their website they talk a lot about using Olympic medalist Gustav Larsson and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) during development which is cool but likely an approach similar to other manufacturers. The Octal does have ventilation and sort of looks like a road helmet making it another nice option.
The Kask Infinity is a good aero road helmet (like the others we have included) its just a lot more expensive. Is the extra expense worth it - I will leave that one up to you. It does have one cool trick up its sleeve, the shield on top of the helmet can slide back exposing additional ventilation. This allows you to dial your level of aero, open the shield up all the way and you get the most cooling but the least aerodynamic performance, close it all the way and you get the more aero and less cooling.
Lazer has taken a different approach with their Z1 aero road helmet. It is a classic light weight road helmet with plenty of ventilation and internal air channeling but when you want increased aero performance just attached the optional aeroshell and its a completely different helmet. Of course you will be sacrificing a good amount of the ventilation with the aeroshell in place but not a bad trade off for a multi-purpose design.