Aero Helmet – TriSports University The place to learn about triathlon. Wed, 15 Mar 2017 22:59:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Aero Helmet – TriSports University 32 32 Product Review: Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet Fri, 07 Oct 2016 18:21:45 +0000 Written by Greg Billington, USA Olympic Triathlete Giro has been at the forefront of aerodynamic helmet design since creating the Giro Advantage in 1985. Between snow sports and cycling, they specialize in helmet, glasses, and apparel technology. Over the last three decades, they have been perfecting their trade; based on current wind tunnel testing, the […]]]>

Written by Greg Billington, USA Olympic Triathlete

Greg Billington on the left, testing the Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet

Giro has been at the forefront of aerodynamic helmet design since creating the Giro Advantage in 1985. Between snow sports and cycling, they specialize in helmet, glasses, and apparel technology. Over the last three decades, they have been perfecting their trade; based on current wind tunnel testing, the new Aerohead series represents the pinnacle of their research, shaving 15 watts off their current Advantage series.

As I was preparing for the Rio Olympics and the ITU World Championships, my coach Paulo Sousa and I were looking for ways to save precious time. I invested in ceramic bearings, the nicest tires – when he saw the data on the new Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet, we decided that we needed to try the product to see if it could be beneficial.

I ran it through the paces to see if it could be useful, even during a draft legal triathlon. There aren’t many opportunities for gains from an aero helmet during peloton racing, but when it does play a role, it is critical.

“If you don’t look fast, you aren’t doing it right!” -Greg Billington

The helmet is one of the fastest on the market. I wasn’t going to a wind tunnel, so with that as a given, my primary concerns were with transition time and cooling, although I also took into account comfort, safety, and looks as well. If you don’t look fast, you aren’t doing it right!


This helmet was designed with triathletes in mind. The visor can be stored in a flipped up position, which makes the helmet easier to put on. I practiced my transition a number of times, but had no issues with this stage of transition. The helmet buckle is slightly small, but with practice this is fine for T1. It takes practice to perfect putting the visor on with one hand while cycling; as with many things, the effort is worthwhile. In Cozumel, the race was so hot that I opted to race without the visor and use glasses instead. The vented holes in the Aerohead MIPS Helmet were perfect for inserting my glasses into, so I could put these on during the race and not waste time in T1.

At the Cozumel Elite World Championships, I had the fastest ride and made the swim/bike breakaway with seven other athletes. The helmet was critical during the first three minutes and in maintaining and increasing our advantage to 90 seconds over the 40k course. I was about 12th out of the water and needed to make up about 10 seconds before the breakaway was established. The helmet cannot be discounted as I was the last athlete to make the breakaway, ahead of four athletes who exited the water before me.

Photo: Viviane Sloniewicz
Photo: Viviane Sloniewicz Greg looks fast, so he must be doing it right!

I was impressed with the amount of ventilation this helmet offered. The four vents deliver a powerful flow of air while cycling. Both the Rio Olympics and the Cozumel World Championships were very warm races; Cozumel was 80-90% humidity and 80+ degrees during the bike ride. I opted to remove the visor to maximize cooling, but during training I felt good both with and without the visor. The brow pad is made out of a hydrophilic material, in order to efficiently wick away sweat and enhance cooling. It is, however, 14% warmer than the Giro’s Air Attack Shield, so take that into consideration if you are easily affected by the heat.

There is a significant amount of extra visibility when using visor instead of glasses. When wearing glasses, I have sweat build up on the lens about 45 minutes into most rides, which obscures my vision. Obviously, that was not an issue with the visor. It also provided more shielding so I was not constantly bothered by the usual cycling wind noise.

The visor is also cleverly designed so that it can be stored or placed in transition in the flipped up position. Among other benefits, this helps protect it and save space during travel.

Visor flipped up
Visor flipped up

The Aerohead MIPS Helmet is made with cutting edge technology. MIPS, multi-directional impact protection system, refers to the plastic insert designed to distribute force during side on impacts. This version is constructed with a polycarbonate shell and strong magnets so that the visor is always safely attached.

For Star Wars aficionados, this helmet is a dream come true. While I was leading the Cozumel World championships during the ride, my coach’s tweet gained in popularity:

Follow Paulo Sousa on Twitter @pstriathlon
Multi-purpose helmet, can be used on the bike and on the job

Even still, compared to other helmets of similar aerodynamic quality, I prefer this design. It eschews an extended tail or excessively rounded shape. If this design had initiated its category of aerodynamic advancement, perhaps we triathletes would not be ridiculed for this aspect of our obsession with speed, however, the shaven legs would probably still be an issue.

This is the best helmet I have used, maybe in a class of its own. In aerodynamic testing, it significantly improves over almost all aero helmets. In transition it is fast and, with a bit of practice, has the potential to be very fast. The venting, while minimal, is effective and well designed; I felt good competing in the sweat box that was the Cozumel World Championships. The $250 price tag is competitive and if you are trying to save watts while staying cool, there is every reason to invest in the Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet.

38872-medium_gregbillington1About the Author: Greg Billington is a 2016 triathlon Olympian. Billington began swimming, at age 8. He discovered track and cross country in high school, where he ran at Wake Forest University. Billington’s first international triathlon competition was in 2006 racing for the U.S. in the ITU Elite Junior Worlds. He is part of the USA Triathlon Project 2016 Squad and coached by the one and only, the USA Triathlon Certified Coach, Paulo Sousa.

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Preparing for Rio: Q&A with Allysa Seely Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:06:49 +0000 Written by Stefanie Peterson The 2016 Paralympic Games are drawing near, soon to debut the Games’ first Paratriathlon at Rio. Allysa Seely, Paratriathlete, is a two-time world champion for 2016 and 2015. Seely competed in her first tri in 2008 as an able-bodied competitor. However, shortly after her first competition, she began to develop what […]]]>

Written by Stefanie Peterson


The 2016 Paralympic Games are drawing near, soon to debut the Games’ first Paratriathlon at Rio. Allysa Seely, Paratriathlete, is a two-time world champion for 2016 and 2015. Seely competed in her first tri in 2008 as an able-bodied competitor. However, shortly after her first competition, she began to develop what would later be discovered as neurological symptoms, which started a long, two-year journey to finally get a correct diagnosis. Seely faced the tough decision to have her leg amputated below the knee as her neurological injuries became more problematic. But not long after after her amputation, a mere seven weeks, she was back and competing again.

What has been the biggest positive influence and motivator for you despite all the challenges and curve balls you’ve faced?
My motivation has been completely internal. I loved running, triathlon and being active before my diagnoses and from day one I wanted to get right back out there. Sport is my peace, my calm, my meditation—you may say—everyday I do it for the love of sport and for myself.

In 2010, doctors gave you not one but three diagnoses, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Chiari II malformation, and basilar invagination; did you struggle at all to find the strength to prove to yourself (or the professionals) you were capable of anything you set your mind to?  
Once I finally had a diagnosis—I waited over a year and a half for a correct diagnosis and treatment—I was ready to take my life back. I never doubted I would be participating in or competing in the sport I loved again. I did not get back on the bike, back in the pool or put my running shoes back on to prove anything to anyone, to motivate or inspire anyone. I got up and got out the door to take my own life back… To find my happiness again. To live a life I loved once again.

What are the biggest hurdles you face and how do you overcome or work around it?
I think the biggest hurdle I face, currently, is my neurological condition. It is constantly changing and I am constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the chronic pain, the muscle impairments and the multitude of other symptoms that rear their ugly heads. I have always been a person whom strives for my very best in everything I do. I have always chased my dreams and known that life doesn’t come without bumps in the road. I have adapted to the obstacles put in my path. None of that has changed, except for the size of the obstacles.


How do you feel about representing the US in the debut of Paratriathlon in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio?
I am honored to be one of the first athletes to race triathlon in the Paralympic Games. It is going to be a historical day and to be apart of that is unbelievable. To race under the United States flag is a dream come true.

What are you doing to prepare for the Paralympics mentally and physically?
I am training everyday under two amazing coaches. Over the past two years I have worked to improve my weaknesses. I have also been working with a sport psychologist to make sure I am as prepared mentally as I am physically.

What has been the best piece of training advice?
Listen to your body it knows more than your brain.

Do you have any favorite training gear or tools that you like to use?
My favorite swim training gear is the Finis Tempo Trainer. With guidance from my swim coach it has helped me to reach a new level of fitness in the swim.

What is the hardest training session that you have logged to date?
That is a hard one, I have had one in all disciplines that I can think of, but if I had to choose one it would be 8×800 starting at race pace and descending each interval pace by 20 seconds.


How does nutrition influence your success?
Nutrition is as important as having a good training plan. I learned that early on if I wasn’t eating enough or eating properly, my training and especially my recovery suffered.

How do you get motivated on those days you don’t want to get out of bed?
I always tell myself that I have to get up and get through my warm up and at that point if I am still tired, not feeling well or whatever it is, then I can be done, but by that point I usually feel great and am so glad I got up and got started.

After the Paralympics, what are your next goals?
I will be taking a few weeks off and enjoying some vacation with family. Then I will be running my first half marathon in January and I am looking forward to planning my 2017 season.

Do you have any secret talents?
Yes, but they wouldn’t be a secret if I told you… now would they?!? Okay if you really want to know I can put my feet behind my head.



Speedfil Hydration: The Evolution of Hydration Systems Tue, 11 Sep 2012 23:27:17 +0000 Speedfil proves their responsiveness to new wind tunnel results by developing their A2 aerodynamic drink system and updating previous models. They've also married elegant design, simplicity and economy on the new A2. See it here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for

Speedfil's A2 is a practical and effective hydration system for improving bike and rider aerodynamics and making hydration on the bike easier.

During previous seasons Inviscid Design has expanded their line of hydration systems from their original, frame mounted Speedfil now called the “standard”  to their frame mounted, conventional bottle cage carried Speedfil F2. The Speedfil A2, a handlebar mount unit, is one of the simplest, least expensive and most efficient hydration systems in the industry.

The Speedfil A2 is more than a well engineered bike bottle top threaded to screw onto a standard bike water bottle. The new top integrates a patent-pending fill port that is likely the envy of every other hydration system manufacturer. The simplicity and elegance of the refill-on-the-fly closure continues with the easy to drink from straw design and the high degree of flexibility for mounting the system.

The fill cap on the Speedfil A2 is simple, elegant and foolproof. You simply rotate it open, fill from another water bottle, then rotate it closed. It is the industry best design and 100% slosh-proof.

Speedfil begins the design of the A2 with a standard threaded water bottle cap as its basis. This is the threading standard found on Specialized brand water bottles and virtually every other plastic bike bottle in the industry. There are a few bottles that do not work with the Speedfil F2 top including Polarbottles insulated water bottles. Incompatible bottles are in the absolute minority though, making the Speedfil A2 cap as close to “universal” as anything in the bike industry. The Speedfil cap works on 21 and 24 ounce size bottle and is supplied on a larger 24 ounce bottle.

This cap houses the unique, patent-pending “fill ball” opening. This ingenious design is effectively a rotating ball with a hole in it. Rotate the ball smoothly with one hand to open it, rotate it the opposite way to close it again. There is absolutely no sloshing or leaking and actuating the opening to quickly refill the system after passing through an aid station is easy. Once you learn to use the system you simply rotate the filler ball opening to the “open” position as you approach an aid station, grab a full bottle from the aid station volunteers on the fly, squirt the contents into the Speedfil A2 through the open cap, quickly discard the bottle back into the approved/race legal bottle dumping area at the end of the aid station and then easily close the cap. With this system you could do an entire Ironman distance race using only a Speedfil A2 and one standard bottle cage on your bike.

With the Speedfil A2 you do not lose time by leaving the aero position to reach your drink system as these athletes do using removable handlebar bottles and behind the saddle systems.

The Speedfil A2 bottle mounts horizontally between the aero extensions on your cockpit. Wind tunnel tests conducted by, among others, Cervelo found this orientation to be the optimal way to carry hydration from an aerodynamic perspective. Some wind tunnel findings suggest carrying a bottle horizontally between the arms is actually more aerodynamic that carrying nothing at all in the same space. In addition to being the most aerodynamic orientation for the bike itself, it also keeps the rider in the aero posture. While it is difficult to test how much aerodynamic benefit this may provide at a given distance, it is easy to suppose that never leaving the aero position to drink will net a substantial time saving over the entire length of a bike course. The longer the bike leg, the greater the time savings.

The Profile Design HC Mount carries the polymer/composite Profile cage and will mount the Speedfil A2 well forward on the cockpit. Other options enable a more rearward mounting orientation.

Speedfil does not supply mounting hardware with the A2 and this is a good decision since there are already so many cockpit hydration mounting options available. Different mounts can carry the bottle in a forward orientation, as with the Profile Design system we rigged or a more rearward orientation as with the elegantly simple King Cage system that replaces the top cap on your stem and angle the bottle very slightly upward facilitating easier filling and emptying.

The King Cage top cap mount for a bottle cage combined with the excellent X-Lab Gorilla Carbon Cage provide an excellent rearward mount in the cockpit. The mounting tabs on the King Cage mount can be bent carefully to slightly alter the angle of the Speedfil.

Assembly of the Speedfil A2 is simple. The system is supplied with a long length of tubing and a right angle elbow connector. You slide the tubing into the bottle and leave enough protruding for the elbow connector to slide into. The rest of the tubing goes on the other end of the ninety-degree tubing elbow and will protrude upward. This section can be covered with the neoprene sleeve. A bite valve style mouthpiece attaches to the end of the drink tube and keep fluid in the tube so your first “pull” on the drinking tube delivers liquid into your mouth.

Assembly of the Speedfil A2 is simple. This is cutting the tubing to insert the ninety-degree elbow.

Another benefit to the Speedfil A2 design is a non-rigid straw. While there may be an aerodynamic cost to this design versus the more rigid, airfoil shaped drink tube on a Torhans system there may be some benefits to the straw being flexible. There certainly is a benefit to the bite valve design since you do not have to suck fluid up from the fluid level inside the straw.

To fit the bite valve you simply cut the drink tube to length and insert the bite valve assembly.

The Speedfil A2 is a simple and elegant design with the industry best refill cap. Speedfil deserves credit for a well executed design with the A2 that not only improves bike and rider aerodynamics but is also easy and quick to fill and does not slosh or spill. Additionally, the system is not reliant on any one mounting optioin but highly adaptable to a wide range of mounting systems already available. You may already have a cage mount hydration system on your aerobars that a Speedfil A2 will fit. In every regard this is elegant engineering, and the A2 moves Speedfil to the top of the short list of industry best hydration options.

Speedfil's A2 is simple, elegant, functional and inexpensive. It is among the very best hydration options in the industry.
KASK K.31 Crono Helmet. Thu, 01 Mar 2012 22:41:40 +0000 KASK is an Italian manufacturer of cycling, climbing and industrial helmets. We pull on their new K.31 Crono aero helmet and find some impressive features and benefits unique to this brand that make it the new Top Gun in aero helmets. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for

"Tower, This is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby." The KASK K.31 Crono brings fighter pilot design themes to aero helmets.

Italian helmet manufacturer KASK has introduced their new K.31 Crono aerodynamic helmet to the U.S. market. KASK, located 37 miles from Milan, Italy in Chiuduno, makes helmets for cycling, skiing, alpine climbing and industrial applications. The 20 year old company does all its own manufacturing in Italy, much of it by hand. Their cycling helmets are revered by European pro cycling teams and their alpine helmets have gained a reputation for performance among European mountain guides.

The KASK K.31 Crono uses a slightly different tail design than other aero helmets. The tail of the helmet forms a vertical “fin” like the tail of an aircraft. This may offer some advantage when a rider lowers their head, as with reading a cyclometer or reaching for a bottle. Some other aero helmet designs feature a more conical tail fairing, potentially creating more drag in the head-down orientation.

The K.31 is built on the platform of KASK’s K.10 DIECI road helmet. The K.31 Crono uses the internal design of the K.10 DIECI with an aerodynamic shell co-molded onto the outside. If you wear the KASK K.10 DIECI as a road helmet, and some pro teams do, switching to the K.31 aero helmet means the aero helmet will fit and feel exactly the same.

The K.31 Crono helmet uses the chassis of the K.10 DIECI (right) as a basis for it construction. Notice how the interior is nearly identical.

Using a conventional road helmet chassis for the K.31 Crono is a strong idea since it fits and feels like a road helmet. The helmet uses the KASK “Up & Down” adjustment system, an occipital lobe retainer that extends around the back of the helmet similar to other cycling helmets like Bell and Giro. A big improvement over Bell and Giro is the hinge on each side of the retainer to fit the helmet on different head shapes or facilitate a ponytail. The Up & Down system stabilizes the helmet on the head and improves fit, preventing it from moving when you hit rough roads, during flying mounts in T1 or are running in the transition area. The hinges on the Up & Down System also move with you, so when you change the angle of your head the brace at the back of your head moves too. This angle-adjustable, pivoting retention system works better than any other helmet retention system I’ve used, and is more comfortable once adjusted also.

The KASK "Up & Down" adjustment system means the helmet stays put on your head and moves with you. This system is used in the chassis of the K.31 Crono and improves comfort, safety and performance.

Hatband adjustment for the helmet is done with a ratcheting wheel that rotates clockwise and counterclockwise to tighten and loosen circumferential fit. You can adjust the helmet easily with one hand while riding. 

A lot of practical thought went into this chinstrap.  The section under your chin uses smooth “Eco-Leather” . This non-abrasive synthetic is more comfortable than a traditional nylon webbing chinstrap. The chin strap does not rub you raw or produce raised bumps under your shin when you sweat heavily. The buckles under the ear are self-adjusting and help keep the chin strap in the right orientation under your ear for best helmet retention in a severe crash. When you wear this helmet on a hot day the benefit is obvious- and welcome.

A rotating knob allows on-the-fly one hand adjustment. The smooth Eco-Leather chinstrap is very comfortable in extreme heat and does not retain perspiration or irritate your chin.

Like many helmets their is a structural polystyrene cage molded inside the EPS foam crush chassis. This holds the helmet together in the event of a severe impact providing protection from secondary hits. The interior pads of the helmet use Coolmax fabric to wick perspiration away from the skin.

Speaking of perspiration: A criticism of most helmets is poor management of perspiration flowing into the eyes from the forehead. The K.31 Crono is no exception. The KASK K.31 Crono and the K.10 DIECI both have three small points at the front. This funnels sweat down your nose and eventually, into your eyes. On a long climb in hot weather this is awful. Several aftermarket sweatbands such as the Sweat Gutr prevent this, but it is one more thing to put on in a triathlon. Helmet manufacturers need to be more proactive about keeping perspiration out of our eyes.

The ear fairings on the KASK K.31 are flexible enough to allow pulling it on and off quickly in transition.

The visor on the K.31 Crono is the best design I’ve used so far. Like a motor racing or fighter pilot’s helmet the visor hinges upward on the fly with one hand. This is useful while taking nutrition or drinking from large water bottles on the fly. Aero helmets that use a non-moving visor lack the ability to raise the visor while riding. The visor on the K.31 Crono is also removable. The pivots unthread from the helmet, you remove the visor, then re-thread back in place to plug the hole. If you notice the optical quality of the visor seems oddly good it is because a major optics manufacturer makes the visor for KASK. The helmet comes with a mirrored, tinted visor with a roughly G15 color-neutral gray tint. This visor doeseffectively replace high end sunglasses on the bike with similar optical quality and very low aspherical distortion. Since using a visor on an aero helmet makes the helmet much more aerodynamic it’s important to have a good one- and this one is the best.

a key feature of KASK's excellent visor on the K.31 Crono is the hinge that allows you to raise and lower the visor with one hand on the fly.

The arrangements of vents on the KASK K.31 Crono is good with a large chevron-shaped vent at the top of the helmet. This vertical vent facilitates heat rising out of the helmet when you are going slow, and the chevron shape helps produce a venturi effect at higher speeds. Great design.

The underside of the fairing on the KASK K.31 is open, not faired-in as it is on the Spiuk Kronos. Closing the underside of the the helmet tail improves aerodynamics, especially in the head down position.

The main vent is venturi or chevron shaped and works well when grinding up a climb at low speed and while going fast in the aero position.

Triathletes need an aero helmet that can be pulled on and off quickly in transition and the KASK K.31 Crono is perfect for quick transitions. The ear fairings are flexible enough to pull to the helmet on and off quickly.You can adjust the helmet to full-open with the rotating knob in the back, pull it on very quickly in transition and reach back to snug it up once you are out of T1 for a precise fit.

Finish and assembly quality on the K.31 Crono is better than most of the other aero helmets I’ve used, and I’ve used most of them. There are two colors in the KASK K.31, a white carbon-fiber look pattern and a black carbon fiber look pattern.

Aero helmets aren't usually lightweight and the KASK K.31 Crono tips the scales at a hefty 495 grams. In this case I'll suggest the performance features are worth the exra weight.

The helmet packs a lot of features into its 495 gram weight but it isn’t a lightweight leader. The KASK website claims 280 grams helmet weight. That is incorrect. The features on the helmet are so good though I’ll trade a little weight for a great retention system, superior comfort and protection and the best visor design I’ve tried.

The helmet is sold in size name “U”, presumably for “universal”. We fit-tested it on a 7.5 hat size male and two very small females to see if the size range is truly universal. It is. The helmet adjusted precisely across all helmet size ranges. That’s impressive. The adjustable feature means triathlon clubs can order a few of these and all members can use them on race day regardless of head size. It also means if you order the helmet from an online retailer it will fit when you get it.

The KASK K.31 Crono has an adjustable fit that spans a wide range of head sizes making it versatile for club use.

KASK did a good job of including a number of details such as precise fit adjustment, a very wide size range, a more comfortable chinstrap, the best visor in the category, extremely comfortable and secure fit across a wide range of head shapes and excellent finish on the K.31 Crono. The few nicks against it such as the non-faired underside of the tail, the lack of an effective sweat management system and relatively heavy weight don’t detract much from the helmet. It’s still very impressive. At $349.99 it is more expensive than the Lazer Tardiz, Giro Selector, Bell Javelin Giro Advantage 2, Gray Aerodome and all of the Louis Garneau helmets but arguments can be made the extra cost is worth it.

The KASK K.31 Crono pulls together an impressive list of features to lead the aero helmet category.
Mavic Plasma and Synchro Helmets. Sat, 04 Feb 2012 00:16:18 +0000 Mavic is a proven innovator in cycling with impressive high-end quality. It's no surprise their new helmets move to the very top of the category leapfrogging some legacy helmet brands for fit, feel and protection. See how Mavic got these two new helmets so right here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for

Premier cycling brand Mavic expands their line with two helmets for the 2012 season: The Synchro (left) and the Plasma (right).

Mavic has released their new helmets for 2012, the Plasma and Synchro. Mavic, a legacy cycling brand dating back to 1889, enters the helmet market with several key technologies; Ergo Fit Pro Pads, Ergo hold Retention and the Ergo Shape.  We rode in both helmets across a wide temperature range from 34 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees Fahrenheit in our tests.

The Mavic Plasma (left, $179.95) is 323 grams measured weight in size Medium and the Mavic Synchro (right, $124.95) is 304 grams measured weight in a size Medium.

Mavic’s Plasma helmet is $179.95 and weighs 323 grams measured weight in a size Medium. The less expensive Synchro is 19 grams lighter at 304 grams measured weight for a size Medium. While the more expensive helmet being slightly heavier seems unusual the $179.95 Plasma provides more coverage, a more aerodynamic appearance and larger vents. If you compare the weights of the helmets on Mavic’s website, the site states the weights for both at “150 grams”.

The Plasma and the Syncro both come with removable visors that snap into place. There are snap-in covers for the visor mounting points when the visor is not installed. We used the helmet with the visor on one ride and it provided a nice level of sun protection without obstructing the field of view. A removable visor is also useful in bad weather since it prevents heavy rain from hitting you directly in the eyes.

The removable visor on both the Plasma and Synchro (shown) attaches and detaches easily, provides good sun and bad weather protection and uses small covers for the visor mount points when not in use.

In our road tests of both helmets we felt the $179.95 Plasma offered slightly better ventilation than the Synchro at $125.95. Both helmets had very good ventilation but the slightly heavier, $179.95 Plasma was noticeably cooler and also appears to provide greater head coverage. If you look closely at the helmets side by side it is easy to see that the vents on the Plasma are slightly larger than the Synchro.

The Mavic Plasma at $179.95 features large vents that are well positioned to draw cooling air through the helmet.

Both helmets use an adjustable internal hatband device Mavic calls the Ergo Hold Retention System. Ergo Hold adjusts the helmet size internally with the turn of a wheel, an easier system to use that Giro’s Roc-Loc system. The adjustment wheel turns in both directions, one direction tightens the helmet, the other loosens it. Since the attachment point for the Ergo Hold Retention System is well forward inside the helmet this adjustment effectively changes the shape of the interior of the helmet in contact with your head, making the fit feel very precise and keeping the helmet in place on your head. This helmet sizing adjustment system is among the best we’ve tried from any brand.

The Mavic helmets adjust for precise size with Mavic's Ergo Hold Retention System, a hat-band style adjustment controlled by a two direction wheel that reaches forward for a contoured fit.
The Ergo Hold Adjustment System uses a two direction wheel for adjustment on the fly. The internal hatband extends far forward inside the helmet allowing the fit to conform comfortably to your head.

The chin strap on the Mavic Plasma and Synchro are fully adjustable for precise fit, a refreshing feature some helmet manufacturers have eliminated to save weight and cost. It is important to have a fully adjustable chin strap harness for precise sizing when you wear a thin hat under your helmet on cold days, then take the hat off as the temperature rises. Between the adjustable Ergo Hold System and the fully adjustable chin strap harness it is easy to tailor the fit of both Mavic helmets for good comfort.

Mavic uses a fully adjustable chin strap on both helmets, a nice feature to make the helmet fit precisely and improve helmet retention.

Both Mavic road helmets are sold in three sizes; Small, Medium and Large. We found the helmets trend slightly small. This reviewer with a size 7&1/4 hat size wears a size “Medium” Giro brand road helmet but needed the “Large” in both Mavic models.

The key difference between the two helmets is coverage and ventilation, with the more expensive Plasma road helmet using the larger vents. It may seem curious that the more expensive helmet is a trifle heavier. Helmet brands have been on a race to the bottom with weight being the metric some consumers have focused on. That is a mistake when buying a helmet. The primary purpose of any cycling helmet is protection. Mavic’s designs provide excellent coverage and protection, especially at the back of the head, to exceed both U.S. consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and EN1078 standards. As importantly, the Mavic helmets are built to last with reliable, adjustable hardware and durable full-coverage hard shells to protect the helmet when being transported.

The Mavic Plasma (white, left) at $179.95 has larger vents than the Mavic Synchro (black, right) at $124.95.

Having ridden in the Mavic Plasma for about 2 weeks across a wide temperature range I am impressed with its fit, comfort and ventilation. The size run is slightly different from U.S. brands Bell and Giro causing me to “size up” to a Large Mavic helmet from my usual Bell and Giro Medium. Ultimately, the fit and feel are nicer than Giro and Bell and the adjustment seems more robust; only time will tell.  On warm days the ventilation is superb at high speed and at very low climbing speeds. Another thing I appreciated about the Mavic Plasma was it did not dump perspiration in my eyes even when the interior got wet from sweat, a thoughtful design feature.

Based on Mavic’s strong legacy for high end cycling innovation and proven quality we aren’t surprised the new Mavic Plasma and Synchro helmets are so good. The dedicated helmet brands should take notice of these two introductions as Mavic has stolen the show from dedicated helmet brands with the Plasma and Synchro. They are true stand-outs in the helmet category.

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Bell Javelin Aero Helmet. Thu, 26 Jan 2012 22:45:27 +0000 Bell's new Javelin is the aero helmet designed for triathlon users. With an integrated visor, ear fairings and a host of practical, quick donning features Bell may have just moved to the front of the triathlon aero helmet category. Try on the new Bell Javelin here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly.

Bell's all new Javelin enters the aero helmet category for the U.S. market with new SeamFlex ear pieces and removable visor.

Bell Sports USA has released their new Bell Javelin aerodynamic helmet in time for the 2012 race season. The Javelin is a lightweight, integrated visor aerodynamic helmet with design features for quick donning and removal, making it an option for multisport users.

“The older Bell Meteor is not CPSC approved, the new Bell Javelin is CPSC approved for triathlons.”

Our first look at the Bell Javelin was at Bicycle Dealer Camp 2011 before its release.

The Javelin joins the massive Bell helmet line-up for the U.S. market. It is not to be confused with the Bell Meteor, a different Bell aerodynamic helmet intended for the European retail market. The Meteor is an earlier design that lacks the new U.S. Javelin’s integrated visor and SeamFlex ear fairings. The Bell Meteor is not CPSC approved, the new Bell Javelin is.  Some U.S. consumers bought the Meteor and used it in U.S events. According to most sources, the Bell Meteor complies with USA Cycling helmet rules with it’s European CE EN1078 certification ( However, according to USA Triathlon rule Article 5, 5.9A, “a. Type of Helmet. All participants shall wear a protective head cover, undamaged and unaltered, which meets or exceeds the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)” , the Bell Meteor is notlegal for USAT sanctioned triathlon use. This information is according the .pdf document “USAT Approved Helmets Notice” using USAT Commissioner of Officials, Charlie Crawford, as the source.

As aero helmets go the Javelin is relatively light weight, especially compared to longer tailed versions. The new Bell Javelin weighs 442 gramsactual measured weight in a size Large with the removable visor attached. Aero helmet pundits use helmet weight as an argument against aero helmets on hilly courses but the aerodynamic benefits above 18 M.P.H. substantially exceed any drawback from weight than a non-aero, ultra-lightweight helmet. Director of Marketing for Bell Sports, Don Palermini, told me;

“I think a more apples-to-apples comparison of weight would be to remove the shield and then put it on the scale. Most other TT helmets don’t have a shield, making them lighter by virtue of omission. If you weighed competitive helmets with a pair of sunglasses that would be somewhat equivalent, though our shield is heavier than most sunglasses as it is large for optimal aerodynamics—something you don’t get with separate eyewear. My personal size medium helmet weighs 408 grams without the shield (a little better than most CPSC TT lids) and 436 grams with the shield installed.”

At only 442 grams measured weight for a size Large with visor the Bell Javelin is relatively light for an aero helmet.

The Bell Javelin features a tinted visor that eliminates the need for donning sunglasses in the transition area and improves the overall aerodynamics of the helmet. The visor is removable via a series of snaps that worked well when we carefully removed and replaced the visor on a production Javelin. The visor is lightly tinted so should provide enough sun and glare protection for most conditions.

The tinted visor on the Bell Javelin snaps on and off the helmet easily, but do use reasonable care during removal and installation.

When we opened the box on the Bell Javelin we initially thought the ear covers were also removable, like the Giro Selector. The ear covers are not removable on the Bell Javelin. They are, however, a slightly different polymer than the main helmet shell. The ear covers are relatively flexible, allowing much faster donning than other helmets we’ve tried with ear covers. This quick-don feature of the ear covers along with the fairing and other features make the Javelin a strong option for triathletes.

The ear fairings on the Bell Javelin are flexible polymer that allows you to quickly don and remove the helmet in the transiton area.

The expanded polystyrene or EPS impact absorbing material in the Bell Javelin extends all the way to the tail of the fairing. This adds durability and stiffness to the helmet. There are three large vents in the helmet shell. The vents are oriented to help heat rise from the helmet at low speeds, as with climbing a hill, and vent through the helmet at high speeds.

(Left) The ear fairings on the Bell Javelin seem like they may snap off, but they don't. The ear flaps are permanently attached. (Right) The EPS foam extends all the way to the tail of the helmet.

Another quick-donning feature of the Bell Javelin is the adjustable helmet fit hatband. Almost every modern road helmet has some type of size adjustment but some aero helmets lack this useful feature. If you are a Bell Helmet owner already this adjustment wheel will be familiar. For transition you can just open the hatband up for quick donning and then snug the helmet down with the adjustment wheel with one hand on the fly. The ratcheting adjustment is easy to use.

An adjustment wheel enables quick helmet fitting on the fly.

Overall the new Bell Javelin is more comfortable than other aero helmets I’ve worn. The ventilation worked well even in a quick test ride at low speeds. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this helmet even in hot conditions. There are a boggling five color schemes in the Bell Javelin. The helmet is sold in three sizes, Small, Medium or Large. At a 7&1/4 hat size I took the size Large. The helmet runs slightly small compared to Bell road helmets, in which I wear a Medium.

Mr. Don Palermini of Bell Sports, USA mentioned “The Javelin goes on with less “ear impact” if you put it on back-to-front pulling the straps and ear flaps open as you do so.” We tried this high speed donning technique, pulling the helmet on from back to front, and found Palermini was right. This is another feature that makes the helmet work well for triathletes.

Most CPSC approved aero helmets look enormous as viewed from the front and the Bell Javelin has that slightly “martian” appearance. That said, an aero helmet is one of the least expensive ways to save substantial time on the bike.

Bell has achieved one of the most practical, comfortable and overall “wearable” helmets in the new Javelin. At $199.99 it is in line with most other high end aero helmets with a visor and less than Giro’s Selector. The Bell Javelin is an aero helmet intended for multisport athletes, as opposed to the Giro Selector which is better suited for bicycle time trials where quick donning is not a concern. In only one ride I would add the new Bell Javelin to my very short list of favorite aero helmets that includes the Spiuk Kronos, a longer tail helmet with no visor provision and fewer sizes. Bell did a very good job with the Javelin aero helmet, a welcome addition for multisport aero helmet users.

Bell's Javelin helmet addresses the quick donning and ventilation features needed by triathlon aero helmet users while retaining the aero benefits of a smooth shell and integrated visor/ear fairings for best aerodynamics.

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