It’s not an epidemic just yet, but over-the-ear aero helmets are taking over the Tour Down Under.
The Ineos Grenadiers team have already been afflicted, courtesy of what we presume is the new KASK Utopia, but now earodynamics has spread to the EF Education-EasyPost squad.
First spotted by Escape Collective, Harry Sweeney of the men’s team has been wearing what appears to be a wild new aero helmet from sponsor POC, which looks like some sort of road-going mashup of the Procen time trial helmet.
Such is the radical design and time-trial style of this road helmet that, on first sighting, I thought there must have been a prologue or time trial stage that I had somehow missed.
While the KASK helmet bears resemblence to a road helmet, just with extra bits over the ears. POC – a brand that has form with wild helmets, let’s not forget – has very much said “hold my beer” with the design, integrating a visor up front, ear covers that extend downward from the shell in a different material, and a full exhaust vent at the rear.
POC has evidently taken significant inspiration from its Procen time trial helmet, but has pared back the features somewhat to make it more appropriate for road use. For example the tail is shorter, and the ear covers only come down half way, both likely to save a bit of weight and retain the ventilation.
Like the Procen time trial helmet, there are three large vents across the front of the head, and it even integrates a visor, something which has fallen out of fashion in recent years despite attempts from the Giro Vanquish to keep it alive. This visor appears to mount using three magnets on the underside of the brow, and looks as though it can be removed and refitted to the rear of the helmet, as Sweeny has done in the photo above.
The result, it would seem, is a helmet that bridges the gap between aero helmets and time trial helmets; one that is faster than POC’s current aero road line-up while remaining within the UCI’s rules.
What do the UCI rules say?
There are no rules in the UCI Technical Regulations that say a helmet can or cannot cover the rider’s ears, but they probably do still play a part in the ear sections’ design.
The UCI has rules that govern the dimension of helmets in track and road races, presumably to limit aerofoil teardrop shapes that were previously prevalent in time trials.
The rulebook says:
“For road and track disciplines, the dimensions of the helmet (including accessories) must not exceed the below dimensions: Length (L) can be less or equal to 450 mm; Width (W) can be less or equal to 300 mm; Height (H) can be less or equal to 210 mm.”
For reference, a standard road helmet measures approximately 160-180mm tall, so the 210mm height is likely limiting how far down over the ears a helmet can come.
When can I buy it?
As this stage, we don’t know. The UCI states that “commercialization will take place no later than 12 months after the first use in competition,” suggesting it must be available for purchase within the year, but there are ways for brands to push that back if needed.
Regardless, we expect to see more details in the coming months, and love it or hate it, you can bet it’ll show up at a crit near you soon.