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by James Huang
May 19, 2016
Photography by James Huang
BMC rider Rohan Dennis used a mysterious new Giro time trial helmet on his way to winning the prologue at last year’s Tour de France. Finally officially launched here at the Amgen Tour of California, this new Aerohead is supposedly not only — naturally — the most aerodynamic helmet Giro has produced to date but it’s also the most expensive, too.
The new Aerohead actually comprises two slightly different variants — the Aerohead MIPS and the Aerohead Ultimate MIPS — both with a new streamlined shape that Giro says will save its wearer up to four seconds over a 40km-long time trial relative to its already-fast Selector, and up to 20 seconds over a 180km-long Ironman leg.
Where the standard Aerohead MIPS is aimed for more mainstream time trial and triathlon use with a conventional polycarbonate shell and four external vents, the Aerohead Ultimate MIPS goes for all-out speed with a TeXtreme carbon fiber shell and no external venting whatsoever. Giro says the decision to use carbon fiber wasn’t driven by weight, however — and indeed, the Aerohead Ultimate MIPS has the exact same 450g claimed weight as the standard Aerohead despite costing more than twice as much.
“We’ve been wanting to incorporate carbon fiber into a helmet for years now,” said Giro marketing director Dain Zaffke.
Instead, the carbon composite greater strength relative to polycarbonate allows for a slightly trimmer outer profile (a scant 2%) that isn’t noticeable to the naked eye but nonetheless plays out in wind tunnel testing, according to Giro. Even so, that difference is pretty small in the wind tunnel, too, with just a single second difference in time saved between the Aerohead MIPS and Aerohead Ultimate MIPS over 40km and five seconds over 180km.
Despite the minimal venting, Giro says the standard Aerohead MIPS is slightly better ventilated than the Selector, too. Unsurprisingly, the absence of external vents means the sleeker Aerohead Ultimate MIPS will be a fair bit warmer.
Giro claims the new Aerohead MIPS and Aerohead Ultimate MIPS are measurably faster than its current Selector model. Photo: Giro.
The ventilated Aerohead MIPS is slightly cooler than the current Selector while the non-ventilated Aerohead Ultimate MIPS is a fair bit warmer, according to company-supplied data. Photo: Giro
Other common features include huge Zeiss-certified eye shields with slick magnetic attachments, new strap sliders that are supposedly easier to use than before and also lay flatter against your face, a new hydrophilic antimicrobial brow pad that supposedly won’t dump sweat into your eyes, and Giro’s Roc Loc Air retention system, which helps suspend the helmet off of your head and provides more room for air to flow through the full-length internal channeling.
Giro will include a single mirrored grey eye shield with the standard Aerohead MIPS; the Aerohead Ultimate MIPS will also add an additional clear one, too, plus a custom molded EVA soft-shell case.
The Aerohead MIPS will go on sale beginning in August with a retail price of US$250/£229/€300 and a choice of five different colors. The Aerohead Ultimate MIPS will be a bit further off — likely October — and will only be offered in two different colors, both with a whopping US$550/£499/€600 price tag. Australian pricing is still being determined (but a specific model is being certified for that region).
For more information, visit www.giro.com.
Rohan Dennis (BMC) used a prototype Giro Aerohead Ultimate MIPS helmet during the opening prologue of last year’s Tour de France. Photo: VK/NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2015
Giro’s new Aerohead Ultimate MIPS time trial helmet is arguably its more futuristic-looking yet.
This is the first time Giro has used a full carbon fiber shell in a helmet.
The enormous Zeiss eye shield attaches with magnets.
The TeXtreme carbon fiber shell isn’t used to save weight, but rather to decrease the helmet’s overall size slightly to improve aerodynamic efficiency.
The rounded and slightly snub-tailed shape is intended to be fast across a wide range of wind and head angles.
Both helmets use Giro’s handy Roc Loc Air retention system but only the high-end Ultimate version gets the Lycra cover over the bottom of the tail, which supposedly further decreases drag over an open tail. The stretchy material also makes it easy to access the retention system dial, too.
Big channels around the base of the helmet are meant to draw in cooling air through the interior.
Both helmets feature the MIPS liner, which helps the helmet rotate independently of the rider’s head upon impact to supposedly reduce the chances of brain injury.
The new sliders don’t lock in place but are easy to use and sit flat against your face.
The new Giro Aerohead MIPS (left) and Aerohead Ultimate MIPS (right) bear nearly identical profiles that are virtually indistinguishable by the naked eye.
The standard Giro Aerohead MIPS helmet is, by far, the better value of the two, offering nearly identical aerodynamic performance, better ventilation, and the same weight but at less than half the price.
Just two forward and two rear vents are used on the Giro Aerohead MIPS but the company claims it’s cooler than the current Selector nonetheless.
Only riders with the deepest of pockets are likely to splurge on the carbon fiber Giro Aerohead Ultimate MIPS (right).
A second set of magnets allows users to ‘dock’ the eye shield up on top of the helmet. One bonus of the shield’s enormous size is that it leaves the ears uncovered when not in use, making it much easier to get the helmet on and off.
The custom EVA soft case is designed to protect your new Aerohead while in transit, along with up to two eye shields. It’s included with the Aerohead Ultimate MIPS and optional with the standard Aerohead MIPS.
Giro has a long and storied history with aero helmets.
In fact, the company’s very first helmet was an aero helmet for time trials, built in 1985.
Few aero helmets elicit memories quite as much as this one, which Greg LeMond used in his historic final-stage victory over Laurent Fignon in 1989.