With so many shapes and options now available in TT/Tri helmets, the challenge can be to find the one that is best for you from three key perspectives. First is simple- does it fit YOU? It matters, as if it doesn't fit, the finer points of aerodynamics are irrelevant. Second- what is your optimal bike/riding position, which translates to your head angle- and does the helmet shape and adjustment system allow for the proper aero alignment? Third- are you a "quiet" rider, meaning are you disciplined and stable in your body and head position within the context of the aero position?
The Specialized S-Works TT Helmet evolved from the previous S-Works McLaren TT, which was fast in the wind tunnel and fast in the real world, but lacked enough airflow to keep one cool on a hot, long race against the clock. Specialized has fit, adjustment and pure aerodynamics down, but there is one other defining feature of the S-Works TT Helmet. By today's standards it is a little longer than most. Hence the question about how stable you are in your position. A longer tailed helmet can be supremely fast with perfect angle to your back when set-up properly, but if you tend to dip or wag your head, that length now has more side and top interaction with the airflow, reducing it's aerodynamic efficiency and could indicate that a shorter aero design may be a better choice for you. Your coach and position expert can assist you with all three of these questions, and if you decide you favor the design of the S-Works TT, here are the details and features you need to know about.
Specialized has their own wind tunnel on their campus, called the Win Tunnel. This offers the design and engineering teams to combine testing with the active development process in the same location. Immediate changes can bring immediate feedback so the process is faster, innovative, verifiable. As mentioned, the previous McLaren version was proven to be aero and fast, so the starting point created an accelerated approach, no pun intended. By working through a detailed evaluation and Finite Element Analysis assisted approach, the goal was to create the necessary cooling airflow without compromising aerodynamic effectiveness. Thus the biggest innovation found on the S-Works TT are the patented side Gill Vents that pull air into the helmet and allow it to freely flow out of the rear exhaust port. This makes for a time trial helmet that's not only fast (62 seconds over 40 kilometers compared to a standard road helmet- to be exact), but will also keep you cool on the course. Problem solved, but clearly it took considerable iterative design and testing to create the proper shapes, angles, air flow into the shell and around the head, etc.
A fast helmet is useless if it doesn’t fit well, after all, so that’s why the team spec'd the S-Works TT with the height-adjustable, Mindset micro-dial fit system that makes for a tremendous fit and fast transitions. The height adjustment allows you and your fit person to find the correct helmet angle to your back, so this is a crucial component of the fit system, and the Mindset micro dial really helps get the proper fit and retention, while, as noted, is also optimized for faster and easier helmet use during triathlon transitions. This set-up, along with Specialized's lightweight 4X DryLite webbing- which won’t stretch out with sweat or water, and proven Instrap webbing system provide ultra-light stability and security, ensuring comfort and set-up for short and long events. Just a quick note on the retention system- it is ANGi crash sensor ready, which you can learn more about on Specialized's website. That segways nicely to another innovative safety feature.
High speeds and TT/Tri bike geometry can be unsettling, so reassurances about head and helmet safety help to ease your mind. You never want to think about helmet safety while you race the clock, and Specialized goes to great lengths to ensure you don't. In addition to the CPSC required impact requirements, Specialized has integrated their exclusive MIPS SL system. The company teamed up with MIPS researchers to create MIPS SL, a new, ultra-light, and supremely comfortable version of the proven MIPS layer. With MIPS SL, the designers essentially integrated MIPS technology within the helmet padding itself. MIPS SL's minimalist "watchband" attachment system provides 10 to 15 millimeters of rotation in every direction and offers the same brain protection benefits as other versions of MIPS, while also ushering in a new level of comfort and weight savings. This basically means that at impact, the helmet shell and the retention system (and by association, your skull) aren't fixed together, the rotation dissipates the energy that would normally be directly passed into your head. Brain injuries are frequently caused by shearing and rebound actions of the brain within the skull. The simple MIPS "slip-plane" concept goes a long way towards minimizing any such effects, and it is the best helmet safety addition made since the EPS foam structure was developed- which is used in virtually every helmet made now. Hopefully MIPS or something similar will be as well.
Each S-Works TT helmet has been designed around a removable shield, which means that you get a TT helmet that's just as fast with a shield as it is with sunglasses, the first of its kind. Each helmet comes with two removable shields (Smoke and Clear) that allow for the ultimate in visibility when cranking out power while in the aerobars. The helmet also comes with a sweet, structured soft case, designed specifically for the shape of the helmet.