By Alison Freeman (link to About Us)
When I first stepped into the world of triathlon on my entry-level road bike, I was somewhat taken aback by all the fancy, tri-specific equipment – time trial bikes and disc wheels and, in particular, those long-tailed aero helmets. I thought that normal bikes and normal wheels and normal helmets were for normal people like me, and all that fancy gear was for the fancy people winning the races.
Fast forward almost a decade, and my concept of “normal” has changed considerably. I still consider myself a normal person (as in, not one of the fancy people winning races) but I am now surrounded by lots and lots of fancy, tri-specific equipment. My one hold out has been my helmet – I just haven’t been able to get past the idea that I need to be really, really fast not too look like a massive poser in an aero helmet. My mind may have been changed, however, by the Rudy Project Boost 01 helmet.
WHAT IS IT?
The Boost 01 is Rudy Project’s first ever road aero helmet. Which begs the question, what exactly is a road aero helmet? Like a road helmet, the Boost 01 has a standard profile – no tail – and provides ventilation through 10 strategically placed vents. Like an aero helmet, the Boost 01 has a smooth, mostly solid surface and was crafted in a wind tunnel in order to achieve superior drag reduction. So: the Boost 01 is an aero helmet shaped like a road helmet, a.k.a. a road helmet with aerodynamic properties, a.k.a. an aero helmet that you can wear every day.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
To better understand the wearability and aero properties of the Boost 01, but not having access to or the budget for a wind tunnel, I conducted highly scientific field testing based solely on observation. Observation which is definitely not subject to perception bias, as evidenced by the fact that I definitely thought the Boost 01 was a little heavier than my WindMax when it is, in fact, almost 30 grams lighter.
So while we can acknowledge that my high school physics teacher would not have signed off on my experiment, I still did my best to be as scientific as possible. I rode a rectangular, rolling route on a gorgeous, 65 degree day with a slight breeze that (because: Boulder) was always either a crosswind or a headwind. I tested three different setups: Boost 01 with Optical Shield, Boost 01 with Sintryx sunglasses, and Boost 01 with Stratofly SX sunglasses, and made sure to experience both climbs and descents with each setup.
I started out my ride wearing the Boost 01 with Optical Shield. The shield itself can be popped in and removed easily, but feels snug once it’s in place, and has a hinge so you can flip it up and down (that’s so you can get the helmet on and off while the visor is installed, which I quickly discovered). Having sun protection without wearing glasses was a new experience for me, and I did initially have to resist the urge to push the visor up the bridge of my nose. I also fidgeted a bit with the fit of the helmet to get the proper shield position, but that may be the result of my head being slightly miniature.
I spent a lot of time throughout my ride popping back and forth from my basebars to my aerobars to get a sense of the aerodynamic benefit that I would (or wouldn’t) get from riding aero. With the Optical Shield, I noticed a distinct and sizable difference in wind noise each and every time I dropped into aero. (Holy cow it’s working!) I also noticed the center hinge on the shield disrupting my view each time I popped into aero, and couldn’t decide if this was a big deal or not.
After about 7 miles I swapped the Optical Shield out for the large profile Sintryx sunglasses, and I immediately noticed a smaller visual field relative to the shield – and decided that the minor annoyance of the hinge from the shield was a small price to pay for that wide angle view. I again popped back and forth from basebars to aerobars, this time noticing an occasional but not consistent difference in wind noise between the two positions. At higher speeds there was a lessening of wind noise – and in my mind, drag – in aero, but at lower speeds there seemed to be no difference.
For the final leg of my ride I swapped out the Sintryx for a pair of small profile Stratofly SX sunglasses. At this point I was really jonesing to put that Optical Shield back on, to return to the wide angle view and get the pressure of the sunglasses off my nose, but I stuck with the Stratoflys to complete my testing. I was a little tired of the back and forth between aero and basebars, and when I found no discernible difference between the two I decided to stay in my comfy position and just ride home.
Overall I really like the Boost 01. Based on the fact that cyclists in the opposite direction were waving in response to my wave (and sometimes waving first!), I concluded that I did not look like a giant bozo wearing the helmet. I also appreciated how forgiving the aero profile was – I didn’t notice any crosswind issues while riding or when turning my head to check for traffic, and didn’t feel that I had to hold a specific head position in aero to attain the aero benefits (yes, I did try several head positions!).
What I actually appreciate the most is the fact that I can get that race day pop in speed by saving the Optical Shield for racing only, and wearing my smaller profile sunglasses for every day training rides. So unlike my race wheels, the Boost 01 is an investment in free speed that you can use more than a handful of days each year.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
The Boost 01 is available direct from Rudy Project in a variety of colors, and both with and without the Optical Shield. I highly recommend springing for the shield for race day speed as well as the uber cool vibe.