Time Trial Helmet Testing

With so many options available on the market, selecting the right time trial helmet can be a tricky decision.

Following the results of a recent online poll, team SSEH have been back in the Wind Tunnel to test 6 different helmets from our Equipment Room in order to highlight the typical differences in power required (to ride at a certain speed) you can expect to see when testing in the Sports Performance Wind Tunnel.

Testing protocol

The tests were performed with 6 different helmets, by two riders, to demonstrate how the rider’s physiology, or position on the bike may affect the results. For reference Rider 1 was 6ft, 0″ and weighs 80kg. Rider 2 was 5ft, 10″ and 71kg.

The speeds selected for the test were 40kph and 50kph, across two yaw angles of 0 and 5 degrees, representative of what a rider may typically encounter when riding or racing in a Time Trial, or Triathlon.

As with the Road Helmet and Skinsuit testing, the riders’ edges were captured during the baseline test, which were then projected in front of them for each subsequent run as a reference point in order to maintain the same position on the bike and ensure the data was accurate and repeatable. A 20 second pedalling tare was also completed prior to each run to account for any relative changes in mass of the riders set up.

Results

The full results of each test can be found in the graphs below; however, we have summarised some of the key points below:

Differential (watts required) between slowest and fastest hemet:

  • Rider 1 at 40kph – 14w.
  • Rider 1 at 50kph – 19w.
  • Rider 2 at 40kph – 20w.
  • Rider 2 at 50kph – 19w.

Fastest Helmet:

  • Rider 1 at 40kph – Helmet 1.
  • Rider 1 at 50kph – Helmet 1.
  • Rider 2 at 40kph – Helmet 4.
  • Rider 2 at 50kph – Helmet 4.

Slowest Helmet:

  • Rider 1 at 40kph – Helmet 6.
  • Rider 1 at 50kph – Helmet 6.
  • Rider 2 at 40kph – Helmet 6.
  • Rider 2 at 50kph – Helmet 6.

*The graphs below have been presented in order of Rider 1’s results (from fastest to slowest)

Conclusion

The results show that whilst there were some similarities between the two riders, with both finding Helmet 6 to perform worst throughout testing, and similar overall gains, the order in which the remaining helmets were ranked was very rider specific. An example of this would be Helmet 1, which for Rider 1 was the fastest across both tests, however for Rider 2 ranked 5th fastest at each speed. In a similar fashion, the helmet which was fastest for Rider 2 (Helmet 4), was the 4th fastest overall for Rider 1.

It was also quite interesting to see the relation of yaw to power required between the two riders. Rider 1 was typically faster at 5 degrees, whereas Rider 2 performed better at 0 degrees.

The differential in power required between the slowest and fastest helmet was quite substantial for both riders, particularly for Rider 2 with the potential to gain 20w at 40kph and 19w at the higher speed of 50kph.

In conclusion, the results from the test clearly demonstrate that there are significant gains to be made from selecting the right helmet. However, the results are quite rider specific, dependant the rider’s physiology and position on the bike.

The helmets used for this test, along with a wide variety of other equipment such as road helmets, skinsuits, aero shoe covers/ socks, handlebars and wheels are all available to try in our Equipment Room.

If you would be interested in arranging a session in the Sports Performance Wind Tunnel to optimise your own equipment choices, please refer to the Performance Consultants section of our website for further information – https://silverstonesportshub.co.uk/consultants/