The cycling world has become infatuated with aerodynamics. One particular brand even goes as far as to state that aero is everything. While we might not agree with that 100 per cent, we do agree that the best aero helmets can come with many benefits. After all, there's a reason the majority of the WorldTour peloton use aero helmets for all but the hilliest of days.
The benefits of aerodynamics have long been explored by time triallists, whose discipline relies on innovation because every possible time-saving measure is crucial. However, over the past decade, the marginal-gains mentality has seen it filter onto the road, in turn leading to the creation of the aero road cycling helmet.
For many, the best road bike helmet will come from this list of the best aero helmets, as the prospect of higher speeds for fewer watts - cycling’s holy grail if you will - is the sole focus when making a purchase. However, if you're a time triallist, you can typically save even more watts with the best time trial helmets.
The aero road helmet is easily distinguishable by its profile, often featuring a smooth frontal area with a decreased quantity of air vents. Occasionally the rear will extend to guide the passing air beyond the rear of the head with minimal turbulence.
With the reasonably large frontal area of a cycling helmet, it makes sense that the easier it can slice through the air, the higher the speed and less power output required. This is where a rider such as a breakaway specialist might see the attraction, for whom that extra half a kilometre per hour could mean the difference between winning and losing.
This is also particularly attractive to cyclists who want to save as much energy as possible, such as sportive riders who have long distances to cover, sprinters who need the energy for that final huge effort, and even commuters who just want to get to work feeling fresher.
All of the best aero helmets are unisex, but there are a few brands making women's specific products with features catering to the needs and wants of women cyclists, if that's you, check out the best women's bike helmets.
The aero helmet that kicked off the Air Revolution concept
RRP: £179.99 / US$170.00 / €195.95 | Aero claim: Best at an average speed of 40km/h | Frontal vents: Seven | Safety: In moulding EPS Foam | Retention: Magenetic buckle, micro-adjustable dial | Sizes: S, M, L | Weight: 285g (actual, large) | Pro team: Astana Premier Tech
Limar's Air Speed helmet has a decent amount of ventilation for an aero helmet, with effective cooling channels to help you shed heat. It's the very helmet that Limar used to kick off its Air Revolution concept, inspired by the shapes formed in nature. It was developed in collaboration with the Astana Pro Team, and tested at the Magny-Cours wind tunnel in France.
It has a long shape with an unvented crown area, while the low and wide shape extends behind the ear for some additional coverage. It's constructed with EPS and finished with a Monoshell in-mould, which essentially means the helmet is made up of a single piece to reduce turbulence as air flows across it.
Limar's Air Fit retention sits comfortably against the back of your head, while there's vertical adjustability in three positions. The Air Speed helmet is comfortable enough to be worn all day without any pressure point build up or points of irritation, though its ovalised egg shape may not suit all heads, so we advise you try before you buy.
A popular and well-revered helmet that can be used in all conditions and for a range of cycling disciplines
RRP: £199.99 / US$249.00 / AU$365.00 | Aero claim: None | Frontal vents: 12 | Safety: In moulding EPS Foam | Retention: Octo fit, rubberised micro dial | Sizes: 52cm - 62cm in S / M / L | Weight: 215g (medium) | Pro teams: Ineos Grenadiers
The Kask Protone is a well-revered helmet that strikes a perfect balance between aerodynamics and ventilation. The 12 large frontal vents offer a great amount of airflow across the head, while the smooth rounded profile at the back helps guide air beyond the head with minimal turbulence.
Kask's 'Octo Fit' system serves to offer a range of adjustability to fit all head sizes. This offers a secure all-around fit, that holds the head in a secure, but comfortable fit. There is also an eco-leather chin strap, along with 3D dry padding, which both serve to offer additional comfort.
While the omission of a slip liner might be off-putting to some, the Kask Protone still surpasses the level of protection required by industry standards, including 'EN 1078', 'CPSC 1203' and 'AS/NZS 2063'.
A well-ventilated helmet designed with CFD to create an optimal balance of weight, aerodynamics and ventilation
RRP: £270.00 / US$290 / AU$495.00 | Aero claim: None | Frontal vents: 5 | Safety: SPIN | Retention: Dial adjustment | Sizes: 50cm to 61cm in S / M / L | Weight: 248g (medium) | Pro teams: EF Education Nippo
The POC Ventral Spin helmet is not necessarily the first you'd look to when seeking an aero helmet, however, it's a contender worth considering for those who include ventilation as part of the equation.
Unlike POC's previous aero helmet, which consisted of little more than their Octal being fitted with a solid outer shell, the POC Ventral Spin underwent considerable aerodynamic and CFD testing throughout its development. POC adopted a 'whole-helmet approach', which they claim has helped to enhance aerodynamic performance and decrease air turbulence. Additionally, the air-flow design has been optimised in order to increase ventilation and thus accelerate cooling.
Like most of the helmets in POC's line-up, the Ventral uses SPIN technology (Shearing Pad INside) to protect your brain against the effects of oblique or rotational impacts.
Koroyd-protected aero helmet
RRP: £149.99 | Aero claims: N/A | Frontal vents: 12 | Safety: Koroyd | Retention: Dial | Sizes: S-M, M-L, L-XL | Weight: 241g | Pro teams: None
Endura offers a helmet that combines aero tech and aesthetics with a Koroyd honeycomb design for safety purposes.
According to Endura, the Koroyd material crushes in a more linear fashion. This means that when the helmet hits the ground or an object in a crash, the forces will be more evenly spread out throughout the helmet. This, Endura says, lowers the chance of injury.
Our testers found that the Pro SL is a lightweight, feature-packed helmet, but that the airflow on this helmet is not particularly great, so it's not suited for the hottest summer rides. On the other hand, it does offer some insulation for cold winter base miles.
S-Works Evade II MIPS ANGi
An aerodynamic helmet that focusses on speed, improves ventilation and adds a raft of safety features.
RRP: £230.00 | Aero claim: 50 seconds at 40kph over a standard road helmet | Frontal vents: 10 | Safety: MIPS and ANGi | Retention: Magnetic buckle, micro-dial adjustment | Sizes: 51cm to 63cm in S / M / L | Weight: 269g (medium) | Pro teams: Bora-Hansgrohe, Deceuninck-Quickstep, Boels Dolmans
Specialized's focus with the Evade II was to take their original aero helmet, and make it faster, lighter, and more ventilated. Specialized says the new Evade is as cool as a bare head while saving six seconds over the previous Evade. Developed in their own wind tunnel, dubbed the Win Tunnel, Specialized claim this is the fastest helmet they've ever tested.
One of the unique features of the Evade II is Specialized's crash detection device, ANGi (angular and ground force interface). When paired with the Specialized app, if it detects an impact, a message will be sent to your pre-chosen contacts to notify them. Strava's Beacon feature offers a similar outcome but is triggered by a speed decrease, which from experience, can lead to unwanted panic at a simple traffic light stop. The ANGi technology does come at a premium, with a non-ANGi equipped model is available at £30 less.
The Evade II comes with a 'gutter action' brow pad, which is designed to direct sweat away from the eyes and, in a nod to their female customer base, it uses their Mindset HairPort II micro-dial fit system, which aids ponytail management.
At the time of writing, the Evade II MIPS ANGi is available in six colourways.
A tech-compatible aero helmet with great safety features and flexible ventilation
RRP: £219.99 / US$269.95 / AU$449.00 | Aero claim: None | Frontal vents: Four plus 'Airslide' sliding vent | Safety: MIPS | Retention: Advanced Turnfit system | Sizes: 50cm to 61cm in XS / S / M / L | Weight: 315g (small) | Pro teams: Team Jumbo-Visma men & women
The Lazer Buller 2.0 is a helmet that will capture tech-lovers' imaginations with the array of features that are available, some of which are standard but others will come at a cost.
However, before we get into these features, it’s worth stating the Lazer Bullet 2.0 is, as a standalone helmet, a worthy inclusion in this list. It features a MIPS slip liner for added impact protection, an 'Airslide' closeable vent, a magnetic clip-on panoramic Zeiss lens, and internal channeling that uses the Venturi effect to help you keep a cool head. It also comes with a rear LED light and reflective stickers to increase visibility in low-light conditions.
If your helmet has been involved in an accident it can be replaced at a reduced price of approximately 50 per cent for up to three years after the purchase date, however, the dealer’s discretion will dictate the exact discount you receive. This is limited to select countries, however; the UK and Australia are not currently included.
The Bullet 2.0 is compatible with Lazer's integrated helmet tech, meaning for an added fee, you can add the Inclination Sensor and the LifeBeam heart-rate monitor.
While calling a product 'GameChanger' is a bold move, the Abus helmet goes a long way to live up to its name
RRP: £179.99 / US$235.00 / AU$369.00 | Aero claim: None | Frontal vents: 7 | Safety: EPS Foam | Retention: Micro dial | Sizes: 51cm to 62cm in S / M / L | Weight: 270g (medium) | Pro teams: Alpecin-Fenix, Movistar Team
One of the major attractions of Abus GameChanger is the fact that Abus have optimised the helmet's aerodynamics across a range of head tilt angles. So no matter what your position on the bike, you can be confident the helmet is cutting through the wind with ease.
The GameChanger is a highly adjustable helmet, meaning there should be a comfortable configuration for all head shapes and sizes. The 'FlowStraps' are aerodynamically positioned, skin-friendly chin straps that offer a close, yet comfortable, chafe-free fit. The one downside is that these straps don’t feature adjustable dividers, but our tech writer Josh and his race teammates have been using this helmet for three years now and can attest that this doesn't cause any issues.
Finally, while the Gamechanger's aesthetics are somewhat divisive, you can at least be confident that you won’t be wearing the same as everyone else on the Sunday club run.
A lightweight, well-ventilated aero helmet
RRP: £220.00 / US$300.00 | Aero claim: 4 watts at 50kph | Frontal vents: 7 | Safety: MIPS | Retention: MET’s Safe-T Advanced micrometrical fit system | Sizes: 52cm to 62cm in S / M / L | Weight: 250g (medium) | Pro teams: UAE-Team Emirates
The MET Manta was first launched at the 2015 Tour de France, ridden by the likes of Steve Cummings for the then MTN-Qhubeka team. Now, there's a 2021 model that has improved on its predecessor and is worn by UAE Team Emirates.
One of the biggest positives of the Manta is the balance that MET has struck between a closed aerodynamic shape and good levels of ventilation. Users of the Manta are quick to remark at how well the helmet cools the head, rather than causing overheating.
The latest version of the Manta MIPS uses a similar design to its predecessor and keeps certain features like the NACA vent on the top of the helmet, which promotes maximum efficiency with minimal drag. The brand has also enhanced some features like the Fidlock magnetic buckle and the inlet sunglasses port.
The new Manta boasts aero savings thanks to a lower, tube-shaped profile at the rear of the helmet. In the wind tunnel, the 2021 Manta saves 4 watts over the 2019 version while positioned at 77-degrees, and it saves 3 watts at 65-degrees. MET also claims to have an improved front-facing airflow.
Bontrager Ballista MIPS
A great value helmet, with MIPS and a crash replacement guarantee
RRP: £129.99 / US$199.99 / AU$229.99 | Aero claim: None | Frontal vents: 3 | Safety: MIPS | Retention: Small Boa dial adjustment | Sizes: 51cm to 66cm in S / M / L / XL | Weight: 265g (medium) | Pro teams: Trek Segafredo men and women
The Bontrager Ballista MIPS is, on paper, one of the best value aero helmets available. There are a number of features that make the Ballista stand out even in this category, and at £129.99, it's also one of the cheapest in this bunch. The construction feels solid, there is reflective detailing across the helmet, the inclusion of a MIPS liner increases rider safety, and with Bontrager's crash replacement guarantee, your helmet will be replaced free-of-charge if you have an accident in the first year of ownership.
While there are no specific aerodynamic claims from Bontrager, the original Ballista came out on top when we wind-tunnel tested helmets back in 2015. Given the shape hasn’t been greatly altered, we’re assuming the Ballista MIPS can still give its rivals a run.
There are a couple of negatives we've found with the Ballista MIPS. Frustratingly, the adjustable straps don't seem to sit flat on your face, they twist to a slightly uncomfortable position and catch the wind. Secondly, the overall profile is somewhat large for a given head size. This is purely aesthetic, though, and the weight and comfort of the helmet aren't affected.
Giant Pursuit MIPS
A good alternative to the more mainstream aero helmets, but there are no specific aerodynamic claims, and it carries a little more weight than most
RRP: £189.99 / US$263.00 / AU$ n/a | Aero claim: None | Frontal vents: 8 | Safety: MIPS | Retention: Cinch Pro | Sizes: 51cm to 63cm in S / M / L | Weight: 320g (medium) | Pro teams: None
The Pursuit MIPS is touted by Giant as the ultimate in all-around aerodynamic performance. While no specific aerodynamic claims are made by the Taiwanese brand, they do claim that it minimises drag, producing maximum speed in real-world rider positions and that the eight vents up front are 'drag neutral', which, when combined with internal channeling and vents at the back, allow for good airflow through the helmet without compromising aerodynamic performance.
Speaking of fit, the Pursuit MIPS is notable in its offering of two fit styles, Western (with a more oval shape) and Asian (with a more round shape). The Pursuit also uses Giant’s Element Strap System which combines with the MIPS Cinch Pro retention configuration to provide a secure fit with plenty of adjustment.
A sleek-looking helmet with a comfortable retention system and a noise-reducing design
RRP: £219.00 / US$270.00 / AU$395.00 | Aero claim: 6w at 50kph over best rival | Frontal vents: 6 | Safety: In moulding EPS Foam | Retention: Octo fit, rubberised micro dial | Sizes: 50cm to 62cm in S / M / L | Weight: 235g (medium) | Pro teams: Ineos Grenadiers
The Kask Utopia is the Italian brand’s aero-specific helmet. At the expense of a few grams and the frontal vents, the Utopia is claimed to save 'up to six watts than the most efficient rival helmet at 50km/h' which is 31mph. Bear in mind, the majority of other manufacturers make claims at 40km/h (25mph).
Kask hasn't ignored ventilation though; the Utopia is said to be equally at home on climbs and in time trials. Using the Venturi effect, the way air is channeled through the internals of the helmet is claimed to improve both ventilation and aerodynamics.
The helmet is also designed to reduce wind noise around the ears, for a 'quiet ride experience', and features 5mm of moisture-wicking material called Resistex, which claims to take moisture away from the rider's head, moving it to the helmet's outer shell in order to improve comfort.
Bontrager XXX Wavecel
Unmatched safety claims that come at the expense of some weight and a divisive aesthetic
RRP: £199.99 | Aero claim: None | Frontal vents: 7 | Safety: WaveCel | Retention: Boa dial adjustment | Sizes: 51cm to 63cm in S / M / L | Weight: 352g (medium) | Pro teams: Trek Segafredo men and women
The main talking point about the Bontrager XXX WaveCel helmet is the technology that Bontrager claimed to be 'cycling's most important change for 30 years'. This WaveCel technology is a honeycomb-like collapsible cellular structure that lines the inside of the helmet. It is claimed to be 48 times more effective than traditional helmets in protecting against head injuries during an accident. That said, although independent tests are yet to replicate these lofty claims; American testing facility Virginia Tech has WaveCel helmets occupying two of the top five slots in their independent tests.
While comfort and looks are completely subjective, the XXX WaveCel uses a Boa dial for adjustment, which in itself is rather large for a helmet dial. The mere fact that we found this an uncomfortable helmet wouldn't be worth a mention but similar feedback isn't hard to find online. It does have the option for vertical adjustment, but it can be difficult to find a comfortable spot. As for the looks, the green honeycomb-styled liner is somewhat polarising.
In terms of aerodynamics, there are no specific claims made by Bontrager. However, if it's anything to go by, their original Ballista helmet did top our aero helmets wind tunnel test back in 2015, so it’s safe to say Bontrager knows a thing or two about making fast helmets.
The final worthy mention is Bontrager's Crash Replacement Guarantee. If you have an accident in the first 12 months of ownership, Bontrager will replace your helmet free of charge.
Giro Vanquish MIPS
An aero helmet that looks equally at home on the morning commute as it does in a time trial
RRP: £219.99 / $280.00 / AU$429.99 | Aero claim: 12 seconds faster than Ballista in a 40km TT at 400 watts | Frontal vents: 4 | Safety: MIPS | Retention: Roc Loc micro-dial adjustment | Sizes: 51cm to 63cm in S / M / L | Weight: 300g (medium) 52g visor. | Pro teams: Groupama-FDJ, Team BikeExchange, Canyon Sram
The Giro Vanquish MIPS is the one helmet in this list that would look equally at home in a time trial as it will on the road. Designed using CFD and wind tunnel testing, Giro makes some rather tough-to-compare aerodynamic claims about the Vanquish. When compared to a Bontrager Ballista, the Vanquish MIPS (with visor) will supposedly save 12 seconds in a 40km TT at 400 watts, and removing the visor will cost you two watts. They also claim a saving of 62 seconds in a 180km TT at 250 watts.
A stand-out feature is undoubtedly the removable Vivid Shield visor. It easily snaps into place thanks to three strong magnets and can also be flipped and affixed upside down. It’s worth mentioning that finding the exact position one-handed can often take a bit of adjustment, although removing and reattaching the shield mid-ride isn't a common occurrence. It uses optics by Zeiss, and is suitable for all but the most overcast of conditions. The helmet also plays well with standard sunglasses, even utilising the outer two of the four frontal vents as an eyewear dock.
During the development of the Vanquish, Giro has greatly considered the science of aerodynamics. The helmet takes advantage of the Venturi effect to channel air across the head and exhaust warm stale air, and the four-piece polycarbonate hardbody shell interlocks in such a way that it creates a step-down. Giro claim this tricks the air into behaving as it would with a traditional teardrop TT-shaped helmet.
How to choose the best aero helmet for you
This ought to be the first consideration for anyone buying a new helmet. After all, the whole purpose of the cycle helmet is to protect your head in the event of an accident. All helmets in this test will have passed the relevant regional industry-required standards, however, others go beyond the call of duty by utilising technological innovations such as MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), which is a 'slip-liner' that enables the helmet to rotate independently of the head during impact. This means that during angular impacts, more energy is absorbed by the helmet, rather than being transferred to the rider’s head.
More accurately, aerodynamics. The majority of helmet manufacturers will make aerodynamic claims about their helmets, usually a saving of power or an increase in speed, based on their own in-house testing. Sadly, we don't have a wind tunnel at our disposal, so we’re at the mercy of these claims and personal feel. We're aware feel is subjective, so where possible, we will try to standardise these claims to make them easily comparable.
A helmet may make you ride faster but if you're stopping mid-ride to adjust the fit, then all of those precious seconds you've saved will be wasted. Of course, fit is very personal and, as such, we shan't focus too greatly on this.
The gradient at which weight has a greater effect on speed than aerodynamics is approximately six per cent. Based on this, for the majority of the time, weight should be a secondary consideration but one worth noting nonetheless.
While ventilation might not be the primary focus when searching for an aero road helmet, it's a worthy consideration – especially for those riding in hot climates. Aerodynamics and ventilation in cycling helmets tend to have a degree of mutual exclusivity, however, some manufacturers claim to take advantage of the Venturi effect, which in short, states that air will accelerate when pushed through a small hole. This means that air can be guided into small air vents and out of the back dragging the warm air out to aid cooling. Our reviews below will outline whether the manufacturer has considered this, along with the number of frontal vents, however, vent size is also worth noting.
Looks may be completely irrelevant to the performance of an aero helmet but it's still likely to be considered when it comes to making a purchase. Of course, it's completely subjective, so while this won't be a major consideration in our reviews, we may make the occasional reference to our opinion, and we will include as much detailed imagery as possible to ensure you can make an informed judgment.
Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.
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