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Three new helmets merge road and tri features for the perfect combo of comfort and speed.
Triathletes know every second counts when you’re racing the clock. That mindset reigns supreme in professional cycling as well, as shown by the use of aerodynamic helmets designed specifically for road racing. They offer an aero edge without sacrificing ventilation or a huge weight penalty. Some pro triathletes are even opting for aero road helmets, giving rise to a category of helmets that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
Bell Star Pro
$280 with magnetic visor, $240 without, Bellhelmets.com
The most significant drawback to aero helmets is their lack of ventilation. The Bell Star Pro tackles this issue head on with an inventive design that allows the helmet to be worn with the vents opened or closed. Bell’s designers wanted to create a lid with the breathability of a road helmet that still offered an aerodynamic advantage. To accomplish this, Bell’s engineers built a mini wind tunnel to test prototypes and craft the fastest, most breathable helmet possible. The overbrow ventilation draws air through intake ports above the forehead and pushes it out the rear exhaust port. This design is surprisingly effective at moving air through the helmet, although it feels a little strange at first to not have the brow of the helmet flush with your forehead. Available late November 2014.
The price tag is hefty, but the exquisite Italian craftsmanship is immediately apparent when examining the smooth lines of the Kask Infinity. Like the Star Pro, the Infinity aims to be a hybrid of sorts with adjustable vents, allowing the wearer to prioritize aerodynamics and ventilation. The “mobile aerator” can be partially opened to regulate the amount of ventilation. At 343 grams for a size medium, the Infinity is one of the heaviest road helmets around. But it redeems itself with a few clever features like ample Coolmax padding to provide a comfortable fit, faux leather straps that feel smooth against the skin and a highly adjustable retention system.
POC Octal Aero
POC has cultivated a reputation for creating innovative ski helmets that value safety above all else. The company’s safety-first ethos and sci-fi aesthetic carry over to the road in the Octal Aero, a bulbous aero road helmet that features a single front vent and large rear exhaust port. The Aero is essentially the same helmet as POC’s lighter, more ventilated Octal with the addition of a cover over the vents. Both models feature extended coverage around the temples and the back of the head compared to most helmets on the market. The EPS liner is strategically thicker in vulnerable areas, and the fully wrapped unibody shell construction enhances the integrity. The single front vent doesn’t do much to keep your head cool, making the Octal Aero best suited for cooler conditions. The helmet sits low on the forehead, which makes it better for those with oval faces rather than round.