We all know how much I love Rudy Project and its products. Eyewear needs to look cool, but more than anything it has to stand the test of time and function, which Rudy does, hands down. However, its only been less than a decade that Rudy Project has really take hold of the helmet market, first with road cycling helmets like the my long-time favorite the Kontact, then later the Sterling, and currently, the best helmet I’ve ever worn, the Windmax (light, comfortable, and looks awesome). However, Rudy really took the time trial helmet market by storm with the release of its Wingspan in 2009, which I reviewed on the podcast featuring aero guru and helmet designer John Cobb. So you can imagine how excited I was to receive the new Wing57 time trial helmet. Here are my first thoughts on the new helmet as I settle into the end of summer and some more rides with what will become the most used helmet in triathlon.
ONE WORD: AWESOME!
Seriously, never have I been so giddy to put on a helmet. The thing is sick looking and light. Here is the description from the website:
Designed with the aide of legendary aerodynamics guru John Cobb, the new Wing57™ has undergone extensive wind tunnel testing to become the best TT helmet on the market. Through this testing, Rudy Project and Cobb developed a unique tail geometry that works best for all TT positions and back profiles. Proven to beat out most competing aero helmets in time simulations, the Wing57™ will be, without question, the best aero helmet on the market throughout the triathlon and cycling worlds.
The helmet weighs in just over 300 g and feels it. I also noticed its less voluminous. While aero tested, I did feel the Wingspan looked big on my noggin, but this thing is refined and sleek (see a comparison between the two below). The new features include an option for an integrated visor, which never worked for me on other helmets, removable vent covers, and a customizable tail to better accommodate different rider shapes. While field aero testing can be difficult, I hope to get some comparisons this winter.
Obviously, looks aside, a helmet has to function well, and by function it needs to be adjustable and comfortable. Considering I was short on time to hit the road, I found the strap set-up to be more time consuming than I wanted, mainly because the ear flaps make fiddling with straps under them difficult; the tradeoff for aerodynamics for sure. I could get the fit good enough to ride in a few minutes, so off I went. With the vents exposed I still noticed less airflow than my Windmax helmet, not surprising really, but for a TT helmet, it was pretty good even for a 90+ degree day. I did notice that the smaller profile seemed make for a smaller internal structure, which was less comfortable than the Wingspan, however, I have yet to fiddle with the new comfort ring, so I’ll have to get back to that issue later. Finally, the speed test. Well without actually doing any true test runs the helmet feels fast. Sure that totally subjective, but I ride the same loop often in the summer under similar conditions and power outputs. This ride was fully 6 min faster. Could it be all from the helmet? Doubtful, but 6 min is a lot of time to shave without trying, so I am curious to see how it will fair in better controlled tests against its brethren the Wingspan; hell, maybe I’ll pull out my circa 1989 Giro Hammerhead to compare.
Is there even a such thing as initial conclusions? Well I’m going on record to say this is great helmet. It seems to really exceed the Wingspan’s versatility and adaptability to race situations, and offers more options than Giro’s Selector helmet. However, at $499 its going to bite into anyone’s budget, however, considering the ubiquity of e-Rudy deals that come out, I can easily see this helmet becoming the favorite for many athletes. Look for a follow-up review later in the year.