Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | May 20, 2010

Cycling Performance Tip #16: Use an Aero Helmet in Time Trials and Triathlons

For this week’s cycling performance tip, I’m going to continue the two themes I started last week: cycling equipment and more specifically, helmets.  Last week, I emphasized the need to wear a helmet for safety, as well as for practical reasons.  Wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of head injury in an accident, and since you are required to don one for all organized races, tours and events, you might as well get used to it.  However, there is more to helmet selection than safety.  There is an important performance element as well, particularly in the “race of truth”, better known as the individual time trial (ITT).  In the ITT, riders start one at a time, usually at one or two-minute intervals.  It is known as the race of truth because every rider’s performance is based entirely on his or her ability.  There is absolutely no drafting or team tactics.  Whoever navigates the course in the shortest amount of time is the winner.  While this is obviously relevant for cyclists, it is important for triathletes as well since most triathlons use a time trial format during their bike leg.  

A vitally important element of success in the time trial is achieving an aerodynamic position.  This is where an aero helmet (those funny looking helmets with a pointy back) can pay great dividends.  Wind tunnel tests demonstrate significant performance gains for cyclists and triathletes who use an aero helmet vs. those wearing a standard helmet (over one minute performance improvement for elite athletes competing in a 40K TT).  So get over the funny look and get huge performance gains by switching helmets.  Some of the more popular aero helmets are the Giro Advantage 2, the Specialized TT2, the Garneau Superleggera, the Lazer Tardiz, and the Rudy Project Syton and Wingspan helmets. Plan to spend between $150.00 and $300.00 for a good aero helmet.

NEXT POST – May 24, 2010

Cycle Log: Competition Phase Week 5

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