Aero road helmets are this year’s trend it seems with Giro, Specialized and Kask all launching aero optimised lids, now Scott join the party with their just launched Vanish Aero helmet. We first spotted it at Milan-San Remo, because with its lack of vents its hard to miss in the peloton. Scott claim it cuts drag by 30% compared to their standard vented Vanish helmet.
Scott collaborated with sports engineers at the University of Adelaide with the primary objective being to significantly reduce drag, we'll take a punt here and say that's the primary objective when designing all aero helmets, well we'd hope it is. Anyway the Vanish has been a year in development with the assembled boffins looking at the difference in airflow around the helmet in different positions, from cruising, when your head is level, to flat-out sprinting, when the head is typically angled down. The shape they’ve developed is one they say offers the best aero balance in these different positions.
The development comprised 40 prototypes and much work in the University’s wind tunnel to find the optimum shape. "The challenge was to perfectly match the ideal aerodynamic shape given by the wind tunnel study with the manufacturing and the cooling requirements,” says Alexandre Dimitriou, helmet engineer at SCOTT Sports, “while also keeping an attractive and aggressive design.”
They tested many iterations, and homed in on a round cover with open notches at the rear and central vents with two 1.2mm ribs running from front to back along the sides. The helmet has three vents at the front with inner cooling channels and exhaust ports around the back to ensure it offers a degree of ventilation. It’s obviously not going to be as well vented as a regular helmet, but some is better than none, especially with the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France approaching, races with long stages and very hot weather.
It was the request of team ORICA-GreenEDGE that led to the development of the helmet, they wanted it for the sprint stages. But Scott didn’t want to rush to market with it they wanted to do it right.
They wanted to do it right, as John Thompson, Helmet Product Manager at SCOTT Sports tells us: “Admittedly we are not the first manufacturer to provide an aero road helmet to our pro team, but we were determined to do it right, and not just glue an uncut standard shell on our existing helmet. Responding to the request from team ORICA-GreenEDGE, our development team partnered with the University of Adelaide, renowned for excellence in aerodynamics. As a result of this collaboration we are very proud to offer our riders a helmet with a real competitive advantage, based on solid science.”
It seems aero helmet are here to stay then. As we mentioned above Specialized are at it too with their aero helmet, which funnily also debuted at the same race. Giro area ahead of the curve with their Air Attack, which launched last year and is becoming a regular sight in the peloton. And Kask have developed an aero helmet too. It’s obvious the pro riders will choose them, sponsorship requests aside, they’ll go with any aero gain, no matter how marginal. It will be interesting generally to see whether the pros carry on using them in hot weather and if they'll be using them still next season or whether aero road helmets will be a one season flash in the pan.
If you want to get your head in a Vanish don’t go rushing to the shops just yet, the helmet won’t be available until December 2013, and UK pricing is still to be confirmed.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.