From some information supplied by bike helmet manufacturer rh+ I have come to understand that there is a see-saw relationship between good aerodynamics and aeration, to keep the cyclist cool.
RH+ believe that they have found a solution after getting a helmet designed in the Powerlogic Lab and then tested in wind tunnel trials. They have called the result Z Alpha, shown in the image above.
The Powerlogic Lab team wanted to go beyond the design features typical to second generation aerodynamic bike helmets, which until now have set the market standard for top range helmets created in wind tunnel trials. As a result, the Z Alpha began life on the drawing board in the Powerlogic Lab as a third generation aerodynamic helmet.
According to Samuele Bressan, rh+ Product Line Merchadiser: “With second generation aerodynamic helmets, there is always a negative trade-off in terms of ventilation, and therefore also thermal regulation. This was the starting point for the Powerlogic Lab team, who wanted to go beyond this technological limit in the design of the Z Alpha.”
Following the initial design and prototype stage, the Z Alpha was tested in wind tunnel trials and was proved to offer optimum performance in terms of both aerodynamics and ventilation.Its design balances the air flow both inside and out at various angles. This was proved again and again, not only in static conditions, but also when tested by real cyclists in real situations, including when taking the position on the bike and typical inclination of the head into consideration.
These real life tests were made possible thanks to the athletes from Team Fundacion Contador who helped with both road tests and wind tunnel trials. The helmet has a couple of other important features.
Multi-directional Impact Protection System or “MIPS”: The MIPS system increases safety as it protects riders from rotational energy to the brain in angled impacts. The flexible internal cell means that rotational impacts are more easily absorbed, so much so that this brain protection system has become an indispensable feature in all the best sports helmets.
Removable Cap: The cover increases air flow speed, as well as guaranteeing aeration through the helmet, from front to back. This increases aerodynamics, particularly at speeds of 40 km/h and above, while also obviously offering protection from the elements. This allows riders to regulate the level of ventilation – and comfort – depending on the atmospheric conditions.
Amazing what science can achieve. With my level of cycling, improved aeration to cool me down would be just great. With my standard of cycling, shedding a few kg of my (and my bike’s) weight would probably be the best way to get more speed! But if you are taking the sort of approach that Team Sky adopted, where you look at small incremental gains in every area, I can imagine that there are people out there prepared to pay the £160 for the version with “MIPS”, or £130 without.
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