There is more to your triathlon cycling than just pedaling and steering. Whether you are cycling to stay fit, cycle recreationally or competitively, there are many factors you should consider when cycling including aerodynamics, breathability of your gear, and of course, comfort. As a result, you should consider these factors when choosing your gear, including your triathlon cycling helmet.
What are triathlon cycling helmets?
Triathlon cycling is an intense sport, which has its fare share of risk. Even if you are a pro triathlete and are highly skilled, you can never rule out the possibility of a crash. Crashes are a particular concern during competitions where the pressure is high and emotions are raw.
As a result, helmets designed specifically for triathletes; triathlon cycling helmets, are a necessity. There are set specifications for triathlon cycling helmets, which every helmet manufacturer must meet to ensure that triathlon cycling helmets serve the primary purpose of their design.
What are triathlon cycling helmets? They are helmets built with the purpose of protecting your skull from harm and for improved aerodynamics; triathlon cycling helmets are designed to cut through the air at turbo speeds.
What is the difference between triathlon cycling helmets and other helmets? For one, they tend to appear and look utterly ridiculous! Typically, they are rounded in the front and sometimes feature a face shield with a long, pointy back.
The early stages of triathlon cycling helmets
Contrary to what you may believe, helmets with designed lids were available as early as the mid-1980s, but despite their potential benefits, few athletes adopted them. One such athlete was Scott Tinley, an ultimate multisport athlete who won the 1985 Hawaii Ironman.
Initially, safety was not a top feature for triathlon cycling helmets. In fact, during the 1990s, they were only intended to improve aerodynamics, but offered little or no protection to the athlete. Scary thought! However, in 2003, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), a cycling governing body, finally ruled that any helmet worn by an athlete should offer protection.
Since then, manufacturers have tweaked the designs of triathlon cycling helmets to not only protect the athlete, but also improve the rider’s position on every race. Other notable benefits of triathlon cycling helmets include a reduced drag generated by dropping your head and improved performance in the wind. Today, there is a wide range of triathlon cycling helmets to suit a variety of courses and conditions.
How and why to use a triathlon cycling helmet
The primary purpose of a cycling helmet is to protect your head, which is particularly important when a crash occurs. But with a cleverly shaped cycling helmet, your covered head can also be more aerodynamic than a bare one!
In addition to apparent aero-gains, when you wear a correctly fitted tri-cycling helmet, you will be faster than you would be if you were only wearing a standard bike helmet. Since these helmets are designed to optimize your position, you will be more likely to experience time gains measurable in minutes.
Aside from proper fit, your triathlon cycling helmet should also transition smoothly to your back with a small gap, otherwise, your helmet could slow you down. Your helmet could also slow you down if you tend to move your head a lot when you cycle; this tends to occur when you are tired or have poor concentration.
As a result, you should always test a triathlon cycling helmet when you are tired as well as when you are well-rested in order to determine which triathlon cycling helmet meets your needs.
Other factors to consider
Safety and aerodynamics aside, you need your helmet to be comfortable. Let’s face it- if you don’t feel comfortable in your helmet, you will be distracted and be less efficient. Since triathlon cycling helmets come in a variety of styles and designs, it is more likely that you will find one that suits your specifications for comfort.
Overheating should also be a consideration if you plan to wear a triathlon cycling helmet while training or racing. This is particularly important if you are competing in long course races or Ironman bike legs in hot weather; a triathlon cycling helmet will always be hotter to ride in than a standard cycling helmet.
As a triathlete, you must also consider the transition to make sure that wearing your triathlon cycling helmet will not cost you a chunk of time. This may not be an issue on longer races, but for Olympic-distance and sprint races, this is critical due to shorter bike legs.
Looking for reviews?
This year we’ve reviewed over 30 helmets to come up with the best options available for you. Read our Top 10 Triathlon Helmets Guide to find the perfect one for you!
Getting the most out of your cycling helmet
Finally, don’t use your triathlon cycling helmet solely for race days. As with all race gear, training with it is your only means of ensuring that it is comfortable and the right choice for you. A triathlete cycling helmet is a must. In fact, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and it could surely save you in the event of a crash.