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The lowest drag of any road helmet, according to the US brand

Giro have revealed their new aerodynamic road helmet, the Air Attack, that will be used in this year’s Tour de France and on the track at the London Olympics and then launched to the public in the spring.

The Californian brand claims that the Air Attack reduces aerodynamic drag while still being lightweight and cool. One problem with time trial-style helmets is that they often lack enough ventilation for long events on hot days but Giro reckon that they’ve dealt with that. They’ve extensively tested the new helmet in the wind tunnel and claim the Air Attack possesses the “lowest wind-averaged aerodynamic drag of any ‘road’ helmet design tested”.

The aerodynamic statistics that Giro claim for the Air Attack are these:

• 12% less drag than the Giro Aeon (standard style) road helmet

• 17secs faster than the Aeon in a 40km (25 mile) time trial at 40kph (25mph)

The Air Attack, which has already seen action on the heads of pro racers in a few races, will be available in two versions, one of them with a magnetically-anchored optical shield – what we Brits would call a visor but that’s confusing because that’s the word the Yanks use to describe a helmet peak.

“The two biggest obstacles a rider has to overcome are the wind, which forces a rider to work harder, and heat which forces the body to divert energy to cooling,” said Eric Richter, Giro Senior Brand Manager. “The Air Attack can help riders to overcome both obstacles more efficiently, and essentially creates an entirely new category of helmets that are light, cool and aerodynamically efficient at the same time. From road races and criteriums, to the track and triathlon, we see performance benefits for a lot of riders with the Air Attack.”

These are the Air Attack’s key features according to Giro:

• To minimize aerodynamic drag, the Air Attack features a frontal profile similar to conventional aerodynamic helmets, but without the need for a longer tail section. Giro reckon they’ve managed to truncate the rear while still getting the air to behave as if it’s still there. That makes us think a little of the Kammtail Virtual Foil frame tube profiles that Trek use on their Speed Concept bikes; they’re totally different shapes, obviously, but the principal of chopping off the rear end of the airfoil is similar. We don't have wind-tunnel figures but Giro reckon the Air Attack sits midway between their Selector TT helmet and their Aeon road helmet in terms of drag.

• The Air Attack features a new, adjustable fit system called Roc Loc Air, which acts as the head form of the helmet and a key part of the ventilation system. Rather than the polystyrene (sorry, EPS) sitting right next to your head, this system suspends the helmet 3mm above your head, creating additional ventilation space and taking advantage of air pressure and flow patterns to create a Venturi effect (where pressure is reduced when air flows through a restricted space) that forces air throughout the helmet’s vent channels and exhaust ports. Six external vents are synchronized with the deep channels in the helmet’s liner to improve cooling. You might get 20-odd vents with a standard road helmet. Giro reckon the Air Attack's level of cooling rivals that of their most ventilated helmets and it provides 28% better ventilation than the Selector TT helmet.

• The Air Attack Shield model features a magnetically-anchored optical shield by Carl Zeiss Vision, which is easy to install or remove with one hand. It can be flipped upside-down and stored on the outside of the helmet if you want it out of the way.

• The Air Attack uses featherweight webbing straps with an ultralight buckle. We’re assuming they’ll be similar to those used on the Giro Aeon, for instance. 

• It’ll come with X-Static anti-microbial padding, as Giro already use extensively in their range.

The Air Attack will be available in three sizes in circumferences from 51cm to 63cm. The estimated weight for the Air Attack Shield in size medium is 270g.

The relative lack of vents gives the Air Attack an almost urban helmet appearance. It might take a while to get used to those looks but that's often the way with genre-busting kit. The Cervélo P3 TT bike took a lot of flak for its looks when it was launched... until it started winning races. The same is true of aero road bikes, TT helmets... in fact, bike helmets in general. So maybe you'll learn to love those looks over time. Or maybe you won't.

We don’t have UK prices yet but the Air Attack will be €200, or €240 for the version with the Air Attack Shield with the optical shield.

For more info, check out the Giro website

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.