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Aero Helmets for Triathlon, Time Trial, and Road

Time Trial Cyclist with Triathlon Aero Helmet

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Next to having aero bars or a time trial bike, an aero helmet delivers proven ROI in terms of reduced drag and maximizing speed. Whether for triathlon, time trials, or road, aero helmets can help you save considerable watts (studies mentioned below indicate between 6 and 12 watts).

With cycling technology improving every year, the spectrum of helmets and protective wear continues to evolve. Choosing the right aero bike helmet to match your riding type, fashion sense, and price point is not an easy decision (especially if aesthetics matter).

How much time does an aero helmet save?

aerodynamic cyclist in a time trial helmet

There are several variables that can influence aerodynamics on the bike, from the body, arm, and head positioning to equipment like carbon wheels, helmets, and clothing. One study that looked at the aerodynamic advantage of time-trial helmets in cycling racing found that both helmet shape and head position significantly influence drag forces. (1) Another study observed that the addition of a large visor provided a substantial drag coefficient reduction. (2) 

With so many factors involved, it can be difficult to assume a specific amount of time saved with an aero helmet. But based on the studies above, as well as an in-depth analysis of a normal versus an aero helmet on an elite cyclist in the dropped position(3), the general conclusion is that a cyclist can save between 30 and 60 seconds per hour of riding with an aero helmet, or a 0.83 percent to 1.66 percent improvement.

How many watts does an aero helmet save?

Triathlete using an Aero Helmet for Triathlon

The amount of watts saved with an aero helmet depends on the model and design. For example, KASK’s Utopia, an aero road helmet that came out in 2018, was wind tunnel tested to save up to 6 watts at speeds of 30 mph (50km/h) compared to a conventional road helmet. Actual time trial helmets have been shown to save even more watts, with some TT helmets saving upwards of 8-12 watts, depending on the model, compared to a normal road helmet.

Aero Helmet Recommendations

If you’re in the market, here are some of our favorite aero helmets for triathlon, time trial, and road.

POC Cerebel Raceday

POC Cerebel Raceday Aero Helmet for Triathlon

The POC Cerebel Raceday Helmet is a compact, aerodynamically-optimized triathlon helmet that’s designed for top performance. The helmet features a magnetically-detachable ZEISS visor and lightweight EVA shell that’s soft-molded for minimal drag.

If you’re familiar with POC, then you’ll know that few aero helmet brands compete with the quality and performance that POC offers. Award-winning and wind tunnel tested, the POC Cerebel Raceday is one of the best aero helmets for triathlon and time-trialing alike.

Learn more or purchase directly from POCsports.com.

KASK CPSC Bambino

Kask CPSC Bambino Pro Bike Helmet

Hands down a podium topper in the helmet world, Kask is a brand that continues to push the envelope. The KASK CPSC Bambino is a testament to the company’s research and development in aero helmets, offering one of the best options for triathletes and time trialists alike.

At a glance, you can tell the CPSC Bambino offers the ultimate aerodynamic efficiency. Wind tunnel tests back it up, too, as its shell offers one of the best-performing options for minimal drag helmets. In short, there’s a reason why multisport pros use this as their triathlon helmet.

Complete with Mit technology and an integrated magnetic visor, the KASK CPSC Bambino is just as functional as it is good-looking. For hot weather use, it has a Coolmax interior with a removable inner padding that can be tossed in the wash. Weight weenies will appreciate that it’s only 350 grams (medium size), which is one of the highest aero helmets out there.

Available in three sizes and multiple colors, the KASK CPSC can be purchased on Amazon starting at $420.

Rudy Project Wing Aero Helmet

Rudy Project Wing Aero Helmet

The Rudy Project Wing Aero Helmet is an advanced time-trial helmet that’s optimized for multiple rider positions, especially a fully tucked aero position. The helmet has been engineered and developed with the renowned aerodynamic team at Swiss Side, and it comes backed by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and intensive wind tunnel testing.

The Wing features a removable magnetic visor made from an ultra-peripheral lens with enhanced deep-horizon vision. The visor provides UVA and UVB protection and reduces eyestrain. It’s becoming one of the top-performing triathlon helmets on the market and has great reviews from its current users.

While it’s not a cheap aero helmet, it’s worth the $400+ price tag. Buy it on Amazon.

Trek Ballista

Trek Ballista Aero Road Helmet

Trek’s new Ballista is an updated version of its aero road bike helmet. It’s the brand’s fastest and most aerodynamically advanced helmet, and the wind tunnel tests back it up. According to Trek, the Ballista aero helmet saves upwards of 10 watts over the course of an hour of riding when compared to its own Velocis road helmet. Compared to the previous version of the Ballista, the new model delivers an 18-second aero improvement.

Unlike most aero helmets, the Ballista is designed to be lightweight and airy, providing adequate ventilation and comfort. It has an adjustable BOA fit system dial for a comfortable, customizable fit. And it features the MIPS Air safety system for optimal protection. The Ballista is also sleekly designed and not overly gaudy like some aero helmets.

Get the new Ballista and buy directly from TrekBikes.com

Giro Aerohead

Less dramatic compared to traditional teardrop helmets, the Giro Aerohead has become a trusted staple in the triathlon community. The Aerohead has a more aggressive aesthetic that can be perfectly fitted with easily adjustable tension and vertical positioning. 

For competitive athletes, this flagship aero helmet from Giro checks all of the boxes for speed, ventilation, and crash protection – all without breaking the bank. Equipped with Multi-Directional Impact Protection (MIPs), it’s also one of the safest TT helmets out there. Roc Loc Air technology helps optimize comfort and ventilation as well. 

This TT-minded aero bike helmet is available in a matte black finish (along with black and yellow accents) and matte white. It’s on Amazon for about $299.

Abus GameChanger

abus gamechanger aero helmet for road tt or triathlon

If you’re a  most comfortable, well-ventilated, and aerodynamic (and also lightweight) helmet, the Abus GameChanger is indeed your new favorite helmet. The strategically-designed ventilation speaks for itself (hello, hot summer days.) And more vents mean less weight, implying that the GameChanger is just 260 grams

Available in a rainbow of colors, the Abus GameChanger is a beautiful helmet for any occasion. It’s a unisex design seen on today’s top male and female cyclists across a range of riding, from world-tour road cycling to ultra-distance gravel cycling.

German-made and globally proven, the Abus GameChanger is competitively priced at $249 on Amazon.

Giro Vanquish

Giro Vanquish Aero Road Helmet

For a less time-trial-aggressive look, the Giro Vanquish is a true aero road helmet that delivers universal utility for all types of riding. It delivers on many of the same features as the Aerohead (MIPs, magnetic visor, aero design, etc) but offers slightly greater air ventilation and overall versatility for road, TT, tri, or gravel.

The Vanquish aero helmet is designed around Giro’s TransformAir Technology, which is engineered to improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce drag. Completing the aero look, the visor from Zeiss Optics is worth mentioning, as it’s designed with clarity-enhancing VIVID lens technology. 

Available in a range of colors and sizes, Giro Vanquish starts at around $299 on Amazon.

KASK Utopia

kask utopia aero road helmet

The KASK Utopia is my go-to aero helmet. It’s a perfect hybrid for triathlons, road races, gravel events, and more. It’s a fantastic all-around option that delivers uber-aero, KASK-quality performance for all types of riding. The Utopia is also one of the lightest options at a mere 260 grams.

In addition to providing wind tunnel-approved aerodynamics, the KASK Utopia is also strategically ventilated to keep cyclists cool, particularly at top speed like time trials and tris. Its dual adjustments for vertical fit and tension make it a nicely-fitting helmet. 

It’s also a well-designed aero helmet that is just attractive as it is fast. Wear it for training, racing, and everything in between, the KASK Utopia is a 5-star bike helmet worth every penny. It’s also stamped with KASK’s WG11 test, so it doesn’t compromise on crash protection. 

Available in a wide spectrum of beautiful colors, the Utopia is usually $299 on Amazon.

LAZER Tardiz 2

LAZER Tardiz 2 Time-Trial & Triathlon Helmet

As a long-standing leader in the world of time trial helmets, LAZER designs some of the most aerodynamic, well-ventilated, and lightweight helmets available.

The LAZER Tardiz 2 is a 335-gram (small size) “aerodynamic race helmet” that’s been specially designed for triathlon and time trial. It’s one of LAZER’s entry-level options that fits the bill even for the fastest cyclists. Its cut teardrop design is preferred for being more functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing.

Get it in matte white or flash yellow, the Tardiz 2 starts at $159 on Amazon.

Smith Jetstream TT

Smith Jetstream TT helmet for triathlon and time trial bike racing

The Smith Jetstream TT is arguably the safest aero helmet on the market today. It combines MIPS and Zonal Koroyd technology to deliver optimal impact protection, giving the most competitive cyclists best-in-class confidence.

Weighing in at 410 grams, the Jetstream TT offers a lightweight feel and is aerodynamically designed for top performance in time trials, track cycling, and triathlon. It comes with two switchable visors – one in clear and the other in visual-enhancing ChromaPop lens.

If there’s one thing Smith takes seriously it’s comfort and ventilation. The Jetstream TT is designed with ample vents to help maximize airflow and cool factor. So if traditional TT helmets are too hot for your head, the Jetstream may be the anomaly.

Smith’s Jetstream TT is a top-shelf choice priced at $380 on Amazon.

SLS3 Triathlon Helmet

SLS3 Triathlon Helmet

If you’re looking for an affordable triathlon helmet for around $100 or less, the SLS3 is a performance-minded option that comes highly reviewed (4.2/5 stars across over a hundred reviews). Like Abus bike helmets, it’s German-designed and provides ample aerodynamic performance for any competitive cyclist.

Weighing just 280 grams (with shield), the SLS3 is extremely lightweight for a TT-oriented helmet with a magnetic visor affixed. It’s also well-ventilated with four front and four rear vents for optimal airflow. Keep in mind that it’s universally fit with just one size.

You can purchase the SLS3 triathlon helmet for just $99 on Amazon.

Because shopping for aero bike helmets comes with a lot of questions, below we discuss a few frequently asked questions on the topic. Do you have a specific question that’s not mentioned below? Contact us and ask!

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Scientific References

1. Beaumont, F et al. “Aerodynamic study of time-trial helmets in cycling racing using CFD analysis.” Journal of biomechanics vol. 67 (2018): 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.10.042

2. Chabroux, Vincent et al. “Aerodynamics of cyclist posture, bicycle and helmet characteristics in time trial stage.” Journal of applied biomechanics vol. 28,3 (2012): 317-23. doi:10.1123/jab.28.3.317
 
3. Pedro Forte, Daniel A Marinho, Tiago M Barbosa, Jorge E Morais. Analysis of a normal and aero helmet on an elite cyclist in the dropped position[J]. AIMS Biophysics, 2020, 7(1): 54-64. doi: 10.3934/biophy.2020005
 
Head of Content at Better Triathlete | Website

Endurance athlete, professional off-road cyclist, and avid blogger, Tyler Tafelsky participates in long-course multisport and cycling events. Today, Tyler competes in ultra-distance cycling races at the professional level. Since starting Better Triathlete in 2014, he has been the head of content for the site's editorial team. Learn more about Tyler