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2016 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Helmets

A look at the eight helmets reviewed in the 2016 Triathlete Buyer's Guide.

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The draw: Safety features and extreme ventilation

Giro claims that extensive testing in the wind tunnel showed that this helmet is nearly as efficient as the top-performing time-trial helmets. Two features that really stood out: an internal “roll cage” that provides added stability around the head, and even internal airflow via 26 vents. The extra $20 for the MIPS safety technology—Multi-directional Impact Protection System (intended to absorb both linear and rotational forces in the event of a crash)—is a worthy spend.

The draw: Real-world aerodynamics

With many aero helmet designs, the rider must stay tucked in the aero position to see the most wind-cheating benefit, but POC claims that this helmet still does the job even as the rider changes upper-body position. This compact helmet comes with two visors (one for low light conditions and a tinted one), which attach to the helmet via four small magnets. Adjusting the visor on the fly is easy, but one tester thought it was a little too easy—it went flying off during a test ride. Despite the helmet’s solid surface, air doesn’t feel stagnant around the head.

The draw: Small details add up to big comfort
*Best Value*

The Tardiz delivers all the aero performance features you’d expect, as well as some clever features you don’t. Three small vents on top, two at the sides and one at the rear keep air moving through the helmet. An additional “Aqua Vent” releases sweat condensation (and allows cold water in to cool you down). A simple roller dial lets you easily fine-tune fit, and a magnet closure at the chin makes for a fast on and off (after some practice!). An add-on inclination sensor alerts you when your body position is outside the optimal aero range.

The draw: Versatile aero solution
*Best Value*

Priced $70 less than Giant’s Rivet TT helmet, this option is the most affordable in this review—and a solid choice whether you’re sprinting off the front of the weekly group ride or hammering on your TT bike. Three large intake vents funnel air over the head through deeply recessed channels, and air escapes out four rear ports. Adjusting helmet tightness is a cinch—just turn the rear dial for even pressure around the head. One tester also appreciated the simplicity of the chin strap system, which isn’t bulky.

The draw: Responsive cooling

Available in five different color combos, the Infinity is one of the most breathable aero road helmets we’ve tested. A layered honeycomb of padding and foam forming the helmet’s interior offers significant protection while letting air flow around the head. The rider can control the amount of airflow by easily sliding back a panel at the front of the helmet—opening it feels like pointing an air-conditioner vent at the hairline. It’s a smart feature that allows the athlete to negotiate a balance between aerodynamic performance and comfort.

The draw: Best lens integration

Like the Lazer Tardiz, the Javelin comes with an integrated lens, but the Javelin’s is much larger, covering more of the face. It takes a little effort to swap out the lens (smoke or clear options), but you can trust it won’t come loose mid-ride. Ten deep channels running along the helmet’s interior funnel air out the back, and it feels surprisingly airy considering there are just two front vents (and one rear vent). The sides of the helmet brush the cheekbones but don’t pinch thanks to the pliable construction and supple padding. Narrower and lower profile than similar aero helmets, the Javelin is sleek, comfortable and functional.

The draw: Affordable aerodynamics

The Ballista prioritizes affordability and comfort right up there with aero performance. Three large vents at the front ensure cool heads prevail even in the warmest conditions. It’s easy to dial in fit on the fly with a turn of a knob, and the internal antimicrobial padding wicks away sweat and kills odor. This high-vis highlighter yellow is a safety bonus, although the helmet is also available in three other white and black options. Priced on the lower end of the current aero road helmet offerings, it’s a lid with a lot of value.

The draw: Customization, aero attributes

Rudy’s top-end time-trial helmet was designed with help from wind tunnel maestro John Cobb and gives the rider significant choice for optimizing comfort and aero performance. A removable tail that attaches via magnet can improve aerodynamics depending on the build/positioning of the rider, and the front vent can be left open for cooling or covered to further minimize drag. The optional “optical shield” fully integrates and is available in multiple tints. The helmet comes in a dozen color schemes, so there’s likely one to perfectly match your race kit.