Our baseline for improvement was Rudy Project’s previous time trial/triathlon helmet: the Wing 57, co-developed with aerodynamics expert John Cobb in 2013. That helmet was preceded by the Wingspan, debuted in 2009, also a Cobb partnership project. The goals? Quite simple: a faster helmet for a wide range of cyclists—and a cooler helmet. It’s quite common to achieve excellence in one category, but fail miserably in the other. To score wins in both categories would be a tall task.
The project to make the fastest time trial/tri helmet in the world began in Treviso, Italy. Rudy Project’s team of engineers at the company headquarters decided to make every investment in creating the fastest helmet in the world—for every rider. We relied upon our team of designers to create the helmet, but also partnered with Swiss Side. Known best for its range of aero wheels, the Zurich-based company led by CEO Ballard—a former F1 racing concept design lead—has been on the leading edge of wind tunnel testing, with a unique access to Airbus wind tunnel in Immenstaad, Germany. The tunnel itself is earning a reputation; while every tunnel can test airflow aerodynamics, the Airbus facility has the unique capacity to test thermodynamics, with the ability to calculate heat rejection via head forms wired with thermal measurement capability. “The facility is cutting edge in every way,” Ballard said. “The aero data is granular, but we can also now quantify cooling based on how much air can get through a helmet.”
The two companies also share several athletes in common like long course triathlon pro Andreas Dreitz, so creating a helmet that made their collective athletes faster took on greater importance for both companies. “The Wing 57 was a good baseline for us, but we agreed it was just that—good,” Ballard said. “We wanted this to be great, so we started effectively with a blank sheet of paper.”