Rudy collaborated with aerodynamic specialists Swiss Side to deliver an “aero-road” helmet that checks the boxes of aerodynamics, ventilation, weight, and comfort.
Minimal wind noise
No fancy bells or whistles
May not be for the warmest of days
No fancy bells or whistles
Novel WG11 Rotational Impact Testing
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Rudy Project Nytron: The Basics
Rudy Project, sometimes known as “Most Worn Helmet at the Ironman World Championships” may not be on your radar for “just a road” helmet; and honestly, it wasn’t on mine. When I heard I would be reviewing a Rudy helmet, I was expecting another full aero helmet with a face shield designed to eek out additional marginal gains. Much to my surprise (and delight), Rudy produced far more than “just a road” helmet. The Nytron is the company’s aero road helmet built in collaboration with famed aerodynamics company Swiss Side. Although this helmet had it’s maturation in the wind tunnel, Rudy set out to deliver a helmet that is just as sought after for its road riding and training talents as it is for its aerodynamic benefits.
Rudy Project Nytron: The Good
In terms of fit, Rudy Project’s Nytron rests in the middle between a round- and oval-shaped interior making it appealing to riders of varying shapes and sizes. The helmet is well-ventilated, comfortable and is incredibly lightweight coming in at only 250g. For comparison, one of the lighter helmets we’ve tested recently, POC’s Ventral Lite tips the scales at 270g. For a road helmet the Nytron’s weight is very good, for an aero road helmet, it’s fantastic.
Usually the end design to achieve aerodynamics results in a fast but “clunky” feeling helmet that tends to remain on the shelf for all but race days. This is not the case with the Nytron. It is a well-balanced helmet that adjusts easily with a minimal and simple retention closure—simple latches and adjustment points give the helmet a familiar feeling. The sense is that Rudy did not spend the R&D money on proprietary latches and adjustment dials, but rather on a helmet designed to go fast in races and in training.
Typically, aerodynamic helmets result in something noisy that gets pushed on your head during cross winds—a side-effect of having a sail atop your melon. However, on descents of over 40 mph I intentionally turned my head, expecting whiplash…and nothing! The air flowed over the helmet as smoothly as it does from head on. The helmet was unaffected by wind coming from different directions and remained quiet—leaving this helmet feeling more like a typical road helmet than a TT aero helmet.
Related: Deep Dive: Smith Podium TT Helmet
Additionally, I donned the helmet on hot days and rides with climbs and was surprised that my head was not scorching. I was fortunate that my helmet was matte white, which may have helped keep the temperature down (opposed to the other color offerings of black and red), but the ventilation is exceptionally and noticeably good for an aero helmet—you can feel it. I have tested several aero helmets where the pamphlet has that cute cartoon sketch with the blue arrows of wind flowing through the helmet and cooling the riders head. Maybe my head is unusual, but I certainly did not feel the cool wind arrows flowing over my head like it showed in those diagrams. With the Nytron, you can feel it—the breeze is palpable.
Rudy even spent some time quantifying both the cooling and the aero benefits of the new Nytron versus some of their road and time-trial helmets. Results below:
Rudy Project Nytron: The Not-So-Good
I had to scratch my head to think of some negatives to this helmet, then it came to me. It is difficult to scratch my head. Literally. Although the vent ports are effective at moving air across your head, the shape makes getting to an annoying itch just that difficult to reach. A minor nuisance but worth noting for those athletes where this is an issue.
When purchasing a helmet in this price zone, you might be expecting rotational contact pivot points that Bluetooth your music through cochlear transduction while simultaneously giving GPS coordinates to your loved ones—but you will not find it here. Rudy uses the same plastic chin buckle, ear tab adjustments, and retention systems you have become familiar with over the years. Nothing fancy. The retention system (RSR 10 Adjustable Retention System) is a basic, easy to use dial, with pads that are a little stiff and unable to be microadjusted unlike some offerings from other manufacturers. Personally, I did not find this to be a bother, but for some that like ultimate adjustability it could be an issue.
Although the helmet does vent well, it is not a super vented road helmet. It is designed to be an aero road helmet, so if you tend to run hot, you would be better served having a multi-vented helmet for those hot days in the mountains. But of course, you’ll have a hard time finding an aero road helmet with better ventilation than the Nytron, so that’s more of an “aero-road thing” than a “Nytron thing.”
In terms of safety, a helmet is safest when properly worn on your head. Beyond that, helmets are required to pass the CPSC certification standard. Rudy has adopted their own protocol for evaluating the impact safety of their helmets known as WG11 Rotational Impact Testing, alongside the CPSC rating. Their test may quickly become adopted as the industry standard once used over time, but for now, it is “different.” Not that different is bad, it is simply unique to Rudy Project.
If you have ridden on a Peloton, you will recognize familiar favorite parts of prior indoor spin bikes that make their way onto the Peloton, married with the magic of their own touch to elevate the total package. This helmet is like that. Rudy Project has done an impressive job at taking the basic elements from helmets over the years and blending them into next-level performance improvements to produce the Nytron. When bikes are referred to as a “quiver killer” it means it’s one to replace many solutions. In terms of a helmet “quiver killer,” the Nytron would be that helmet. It is comfortable, lightweight, not affected by winds, and neatly holds your sunglasses in the front vents like any good road helmet would. Yet it is aerodynamic, comfortable, cooling, and is easy to don/doff and adjust on the fly, like any good race day aerodynamic helmet would. As long as the hefty price tag doesn’t deter you (and you take into account that it could conceivably replace two helmets), this is a great option.