New Helmets Defy Convention
It used to be that a road bike was a road bike, but now if you look at the used bicycles for sale listings on Bicycle Blue Book you’ll find a bike for every conceivable category – climbing, gravel, aerodynamics, comfort – you name it. Much like bikes, apparel and wheels, a few seasons ago helmets fractured into different categories – aero helmets, light weight helmets and helmets with all the fit bells and whistles. And like those other categories helmets have begun to morph into single products that do it all. New helmets are light, aero and well ventilated with comprehensive fit systems.
In terms of segmenting its offerings Giro was one of the first. It had the featherweight ProLight, the slippery AirAttack and the all-purpose Aeon. The Synthe essentially replaces them all, it is 16% faster than the Aeon, 13% lighter than the AirAttack and even a touch cooler than the super ventilated Aeon. The Synthe is actually faster than the AirAttack in all but a head down position and only 28grams heavier than the Aeon. With a Roc Lock Air fit system and Giro’s well-loved head form fit doesn’t suffer either.
Designed in CFD and verified in the wind tunnel, like just about everything except chamois cream these days, Giro hit upon Aero Mesh as a way to channel air flow cleanly over the helmet and through the vents increasing cooling and reducing drag. The Aero Mesh also provides a secure doc for your sunglasses. When we said the Synthe was full featured we meant it.
Next Level Thinking: Light helmets that fit well can feel like they disappear on your head, but the Synthe takes it a step further thanks to its aerodynamics. It eliminates so much wind noise your ride is both calmer and safer.
Price: $250 Weight: 250grams (MD) More: giro.com
Smith Optics is not a name we would have nominated to reinvent head protection, but the new Overtake, based on technology debuted in its mountain helmet, the Forefront, has done just that. Another helmet that defies category, the Overtake is only 250grams, features a 360degree fit system, a new concept for ventilation and according to Smith is the second fastest road helmet on the market, only fractionally slower than the Specialized Evade.
Smith combines EPS foam with a tubular structure called Koroyd that allows them to use less material than EPS alone creating a smaller overall helmet, which is where the aero savings and weight savings come from. They call the combination Aerocore and it lives up to all the relevant safety standards, despite the thinner construction. Smith is also offering a MIPS upgrade, a low friction layer that dissipates angled impact, for $60 and an added 30grams.
Next Level Thinking: In addition to its other benefits, Koroyd’s tubular structure and open cells create continuous cooling at any speed without a reliance solely on evaporative cooling like standard EPS helmets, making it very effective on slow, hot climbs.
Price: $250 Weight: 250grams More: smithoptics.com
Bell Star Pro
Beware when asking your sponsored athletes want they want out of product. Bell asked the Belkin Team what they wanted out of a helmet and heard, “As ventilated as traditional helmet, but more aero the best aero helmets”. Yeah, good luck with that. Bell’s answer was the Star Pro and it just happens to be as ventilated as a traditional helmet and as aero as the fastest lids in the peloton. Bell achieved this through adjustable vents called – Active Aero. Of the 15 total vents, 13 can be closed with a lever on the back. When closed Bell claims the helmet is faster than the Specialized Evade and the Giro AirAttack at 25mph across most common wind angles.
The Star Pro also features a removable shield by Zeiss Optics that fixes with magnets as well as a new fit system called Float with more vertical adjustment in the rear cradle. With vents open the Star Pro is no slouch when it comes to cooling, it’s almost equal to its heavily vented cousin, the Gage road helmet.
Next Level Thinking: Maybe this isn’t next level thinking, but we love the moto-inspired silhouette. The name itself calls back to Bell’s long history in motor sports, its top of the line helmets are all called Star.
Price: $240/$280 with Zeiss shield Weight: 280grams More: bellhelmets.com